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Unfortunately, arthritis and joint disease are common in aging dogs. In particular, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Great Danes, and Rottweilers are most susceptible to joint pain.
Dogs may experience joint issues because of either genetic malformation or degenerative deterioration from aging or inflammation. Both causes bring about discomfort, pain, and mobility issues, and they can diminish the quality of life. Joint problems only get worse as collagen production decreases with age. Collagen acts as the joints’ shock absorber.
You can give your dog supplements for joint pain in a wide range of forms: their natural diet, pills, herbal supplements, and treats. Below we’ve provided a few of the best natural joint supplements for dogs with arthritis, as well as guidance on how to prevent and reduce inflammation through your dog’s diet and other natural ingredients.
In this guide:
- Best joint supplements for dogs
- When does my dog need joint supplements?
- Symptoms of joint pain in dogs
- Effective ingredients in all-natural joint supplements for dogs
- Reducing joint pain and inflammation
- Does inflammation cause joint disease
Best joint supplement for dogs
Here are several of the best natural supplements for arthritis in dogs and other joint problems. As with any treatment plan, be sure to work with your vet to diagnose and address your dog’s health issues.
Natural hip and joint supplements for dogs with arthritis
- Made with MSM, glucosamine, and chondroitin to maintain and rebuilt joint cartilage.
- Includes wild Alaskan salmon oil to promote joint and hip health.
- Organic turmeric to fight inflammation.
Rusty’s Pet Essentials makes all-natural joint supplements for dogs. These supplements are made with naturally occurring ingredients that fight inflammation and provide your dog’s body with healthy fish oil and nutrients needed to maintain flexible joint cartilage. Rusty’s offers a 20% to 35% discount if you set up a flexible subscription program, so you’ll always have your dog’s supplements in stock.
- Improves the flexibility and lubrication of joints to support daily activity.
- Prevents cartilage breakdown that leads to long-term joint stress.
- Reduces joint inflammation and stiffness from daily exercise.
- Enables a more healthy, active lifestyle free from joint discomfort.
Taken in the morning, this supplement is intended to allow your dog to keep doing the things they love without experiencing as much soreness and inflammation later in the day. You can try it once or get $5 off when you subscribe.
Cartilage building supplements for dogs
- Promotes mobility through connective tissue support and cartilage development.
- Eases joint stiffness and inflammation due to normal daily exercise.
- Enhances the health of bones and joints, joint fluid viscosity, and the function of joint and connective tissue.
With a higher dose of glucosamine (625mg) than many supplements, Pet Honesty can promote cartilage development and support connective tissue and synovial fluid. It can also support dogs who experience stiffness or pain in their joints, so they can get back to normal daily activity. For senior dogs, check out Pet Honesty Hip + Joint Seniors.
Preventative joint supplements for dogs
- Includes glucosamine, chondroitin, and curcumin (the anti-inflammatory component in turmeric) to promote healthy joint cartilage and reduce inflammation.
- Promotes proper digestion, heart health, supple skin and coat, and fresh breath.
- Take 50% off your first order if you subscribe.
Named “The One” this non-GMO supplement is a blend of 12 ingredients that support the most vulnerable areas of your dog’s physical and cognitive health. So, while it builds joint cartilage and protects against everyday wear and tear, it also addresses other key areas of your dog’s holistic health.
Natural supplements for occasional joint pain
- Made with chondroitin, glucosamine, turmeric, and Green Lipped Muscle to fight inflammation and improve joint health
- Bacon flavor your dog will love
- Take 15% off if you subscribe.
Finn’s Hip & Joint supplement is excellent for occasional joint stiffness or regular preventative care. It’s made with ingredients that promote joint flexibility and cartilage health, including glucosamine, chondroitin, and Green Lipped Muscle. It also includes turmeric to help fight inflammation. Order once or subscribe to save 15%.
Organic joint supplements for dogs
- Contains the main active ingredients known to help strengthen joints and relieve pain: glucosamine, MSM, Omega-3s, and GLM. It’s not just for joints; it's total body support.
- GLM helps rebuild joint tissue to improve mobility and flexibility.
- Beneficial for all dogs, particularly senior dogs, large breeds, or working dogs.
This holistic supplement aids in allergy relief, promotes healthy gut flora with probiotics, includes digestive enzymes to aid in nutrient absorption, boosts the immune system with added antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and it contains the complete amino acids profile for fundamental growth and repair.
- Packed with natural antioxidants, its unique medicinal mushroom formula fights free radical cell damage caused by age, exercise, and stress.
- Promotes circulation, eliminates toxins, and fights inflammation at the source.
- Formulated with Natural Eggshell Membrane (NEM), which is clinically proven to reduce joint and soft-tissue pain.
If you want to ensure everything you feed your dog is organic, then check out this brand. BIXBI Organics is a powerful supplement for dogs with existing joint pain and soft tissue damage. It has been clinically proven to reduce both joint issues.
When does my dog need joint supplements?
Most dogs should begin taking supplements when they reach older adulthood—about 7 years for medium to large breeds—or if your dog has been diagnosed with arthritis or another joint problem.
Natural dog joint supplements do not heal joint problems, but they can help:
- Keep your dog active
- Reduce pain and inflammation
- Reduce cartilage deterioration and premature aging
- Promote the growth of new cartilage
- Slow progression of diseases
Symptoms of joint pain in dogs
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis in dogs, is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Pain, stillness, and lameness
- Swollen joints
- Refusal to jump, run, or use stairs
- Difficulty lying down and getting up
- Restlessness, inability to get comfortable
- Lack of enthusiasm for walks or play
- Whining, irritability, or aggression
- Licking, chewing, or biting at joints
- Stiffness after resting
- Slow shuffling walk
- Stumbling or slipping while walking
Effective ingredients in all-natural joint supplements for dogs
So, what is good for dog joints? Supplements have various combinations of ingredients, but the majority of them contain one or more of the following: glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin. There’s evidence to support the use of glucosamine and chondroitin to treat osteoarthritis, although the effectiveness of these elements is still debated among professionals.
When giving your dog these supplements, give them time to work. You could see symptoms start to improve within a few weeks, but it could take several months. Always follow the guidelines of your veterinarian.
These naturally occurring ingredients can be found in your kitchen, at the grocery store, or in supplement powder or pellet form. Nutritional supplements are often preferred to other treatments since they tend to have little to no side effects.
Glucosamine is found naturally in your joints and their components. Some animal studies have found that glucosamine can both delay the breakdown of cartilage and repair it. One study’s results show a significant improvement in the symptoms of osteoarthritis after 70 days of treatment with oral glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate.
In Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats, he recommends adding glucosamine from plant-based sources like soy or vegetables since ocean sources are largely contaminated.
- Dosage: 10 milligrams per pound of body weight
Wait a few weeks to see if this dosage has any effect. If there is no improvement, the dose can be increased gradually without worry of overdosing. As always, it’s a good idea to work with your vet as you address your dog’s health issues.
Chondroitin provides elastic properties to cartilage. It also helps slow or prevent the degeneration of joint cartilage. It is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce painful swelling. But whether or not it should be used to reduce pain is debated.
Methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM, can be beneficial in many ways; but for arthritis, it is known to reduce pain by blocking pain signals in the nerves. It also inhibits a protein that is responsible for an inflammatory response in the body. MSM also contains antioxidants that bind and inactivate harmful free radicals.
Green-Lipped Mussels (GLM)
A Clemson University study found GLM to be effective in reducing arthritic pain and inflammation and in building-up cartilage. The results are improved mobility and the ability to endure exercise. Additionally, GLM is a natural source of fatty acids (including Omega-3s), amino acids, and other nutrients that improve organ function and prevent disease.
The key beneficial element in turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin provides a host of amazing benefits to the body, but one of its best-known benefits is its ability to calm inflammation and, therefore, relieve pain and stiffness.
Bone broth can reduce inflammation and provide your dog with various nutrients and collagen. Chondroitin and glucosamine are key building blocks of animal cartilage, and both are released from animal bones when you make broth. Additionally, research has shown that the amino acids produced during the making of bone broth can reduce inflammation in the respiratory and digestive systems.
A Pup Above offers fresh food made with bone broth, which could transform your dog’s joint health. We discuss it more in the diet section, below. Open Farm Dog Food also offers dog-safe bone broth, which you can order online.
Interested in making your own bone broth gelatin treats your dog will love? Check out our home remedy for dog joint pain.
This red pigment is naturally found in algae, yeast, and animals like shrimp and salmon. According to one study, astaxanthin can help fight inflammation by reducing oxidative stress and improving your immune response. In another study, astaxanthin works by suppressing the elements in the body that cause inflammation. This inflammation suppression can relieve pain. Astaxanthin is “one of the most powerful natural compounds with remarkable antioxidant activity,” according to this research.
Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient. We haven’t seen any studies on ginger’s effects on dog joint health specifically. However but there is an abundance of evidence showing ginger’s positive anti-inflammatory effects on human arthritis, specifically on how it can reduce pain. Speak to your vet before giving it to your dog because too much ginger could upset the digestive system.
Omega-3 fatty acids
There’s evidence that shows Omega-3s help reduce inflammation and pain associated with canine arthritis. Specifically look for EPA and DHA, since they decrease the inflammatory process caused by arthritis. For proper dosing, use the chart provided here or ask your veterinarian.
Natural egg membrane, or NEM, is the thin, white membrane under an eggshell. A canine study showed that when taken daily, NEM “significantly reduced joint pain and improved joint function rapidly and demonstrated a lasting improvement in joint pain leading to an improved quality of life.” Another study states that NEM contains “naturally occurring glycosaminoglycans and proteins essential for maintaining healthy joint and connective tissues.”
A 2018 study found that the dogs given CBD “were perceived to be more comfortable and active” when compared to a placebo. Another 2020 canine study found that CBD was effective in relieving arthritic pain in dogs, while another veterinary study found that CBD decreased pain while increasing mobility
Ideal for the thin-framed dog with a bent toward digestive problems and arthritis, alfalfa (Medicago sativa) can reduce pain by reducing inflammation. It also contains antioxidants that help reduce oxidative damage, according to research on rats.
- Dosage: add 1–3 tsp (depending on dog size) of ground or dry blended alfalfa to food. Or 2–6 alfalfa tablets per day. Check the packaging for additional dosing instructions.
The following are taken from Veterinarian Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. Always consult with your veterinarian first before treating your dog.
Rhus toxicodendron 6c: This homeopathic remedy is advised for dogs with chronic arthritis, pain, or signs of stiffness in the morning, but flexibility after a few minutes of moving. Rhus tox will be especially beneficial if your dog tends to have red, swollen, itchy skin because it treats these symptoms as well.
- Dosage: Provide 1 to 2 crushed pellets once per day, depending on the size of the dog. (If the pellets are small, similar to the size of poppy seeds, use more, about 10.) Provide no water or food for five minutes before or after treatment. Treatment usually lasts 7 to 10 days. As always, follow the dosage instructions that come with your supplement.
Bryonia 6c: Bryonia is used to treat arthritis that is present with movement of any kind. Unlike the above scenario, this dog is not just sore after lying still for a while but is in pain with any movement. A dog suffering this much will often lay still to maintain comfort.
- Dosage: Provide 1 to 2 crushed round pellets once per day, depending on the size of the dog. (If the pellets are small, similar to the size of poppy seeds, use more, about 10.) Provide no water or food for five minutes before or after treatment. Treatment usually lasts 7 to 10 days. Your packaging instructions may vary.
Belladonna 6c: Belladonna may be useful in treating inflammation and an accompanying fever, or when you can feel heat coming from an inflamed joint.
- Dosage: Provide 1 to 2 crushed round pellets once per day, depending on the size of the dog. (If the pellets are small, similar to the size of poppy seeds, use more, about 10.) Provide no water or food for five minutes before or after treatment. Treatment usually lasts 7 to 10 days. Dosage instructions may vary by package.
Reducing joint pain and inflammation
Best thing for dog joints: a healthy diet
A healthy diet full of minimally processed ingredients can provide your dog’s body with the nutrients it needs to maintain healthy joints (in addition to numerous other bodily functions).
Typical dog kibble is made with low-quality, leftover ingredients that are overprocessed and produced in a high-heat extrusion process. This extreme heat destroys much of the nutritional content, so there is little left for the body to process and absorb.
Dog owners and pet nutritionists debate whether a raw diet or a cooked diet is better for dogs’ health (more on this below). Either way, a diet full of minimally-processed, whole-food ingredients is the goal.
We have tested a number of fresh pet food brands. For dogs with joint inflammation, we recommend A Pup Above. A Pup Above is a lightly cooked dog food made with human-grade ingredients. In particular, A Pup Above contains turmeric (anti-inflammatory) and bone broth, which provides important glucosamine, chondroitin, and collagen while also soothing the gut lining. For further reading, check out our full A Pup Above review.
Other experts suggest feeding your dog a raw diet because the ingredients are even less processed. But raw diets need to be prepared safely, and they can make a mess. A brand we’ve tested and that does this for you is We Feed Raw. Here is our We Feed Raw review if you’re interested in going this route.
Finally, if either one of those options doesn’t meet your needs, check out Just Food For Dogs’ Joint and Skin Support, a recipe that contains Type II collagen. Learn more about the brand in our Just Food For Dogs review.
>> Read more: Just Food For Dogs vs Farmer’s Dog
NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are frequently prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation associated with joint problems and arthritis. But the FDA says the way NSAIDs work is by interfering with prostaglandins, both their negative functions (inflammation and pain) and their positive functions in the body.
The result of blocking these prostaglandins is that dogs can experience a variety of side effects including but not limited to vomiting, diarrhea, reduced appetite, ulcers, and serious issues with the digestive system, kidneys, and the liver.
But what’s worse is that, according to human and animal research, NSAIDs “have a significant negative effect” on healthy cartilage and cause the deterioration of cartilage to accelerate. When NSAIDs are continued in cases of human arthritis, the researchers insist that there will be a marked, correlating rise in degenerative arthritis and surgeries, such as hip and knee replacements.
Maintain a healthy weight
Being a healthy weight has significant benefits for your dog’s overall health. In particular, maintaining a healthy weight will help prevent your dog from placing excess pressure on its joints. According to the VCA, “being overweight and obese set the stage for increased risk of joint damage and subsequent osteoarthritis (OA), leading to chronic pain.”
Certain vaccines are important, but many pets are over-vaccinated. By their very nature, vaccinations kick-start the immune system, which can lead to inflammation and cause temporary arthritis.
Before getting your dog vaccinated, discuss with your vet which ones are important at that stage in your dog’s life, given their daily routines and age. Certain vaccines may not be necessary, and others may be administered less frequently.
Some people assume that exercise will wear down arthritic joints. However, regular exercise both prevents and helps to relieve joint pain, maintain joint mobility, keep muscles and tissues strong, and maintain a healthy weight.
One study on humans with arthritis suggests “aerobic exercise helped to reduce joint pain when performed at least three times a week” and dog studies, although limited, show similar benefits. Of course, exercise will need to be tailored to your dog’s health and the severity of their joint issues. Vets suggest swimming or taking multiple short, slow walks, rather than a long, intense walk or chasing down tennis balls in the backyard.
Does inflammation cause joint disease?
There’s a rising theory in the medical community that inflammation is at the root of most diseases. Inflammation can be caused by many things, but low-quality food or ingredients your dog cannot easily digest is a likely cause. Another common cause is developmental joint issues that begin months after birth.
Inflammation is the immune system’s normal response to various health issues. However, when these problems do not resolve, chronic inflammation develops. Over time, chronic inflammation can cause deterioration of your dog’s joints (as well as other parts of the body).
In some cases of arthritis, the body produces antibodies that mistakenly attack healthy joint tissues, causing deterioration of those tissues. That’s why it’s best to prevent or treat the inflammation before it starts to have negative effects on the joints.
Veterinarian Richard Pitcairn suggests that prevention should be the focus of addressing arthritis since it is irreversible once it sets in. Dr. Pitcairn suggests taking preventative measures starting with a healthy diet full of whole, natural meats and produce while your dog is still young. You should avoid typical store-bought kibble, which has little nutritional value. Unfortunately, if you’re reading this guide, there’s a good chance your dog is already older. In that case, you can find several excellent dietary options in our guide to the best soft dog food for senior dogs.
Yes, clean, natural joint supplements can help address inflamed joints, but the most improvement will come from a combination of all-natural joint supplements and an upgrade to a healthy, whole-food diet. Real whole food will likely fix the inflammation issue at the root. Supplements can help reduce inflammation while the body repairs, but you won’t have as much success if you keep the same processed, inflammatory diet and simply top it off with dietary supplements.
Interested in a diet change? Two of our favorite options are The Farmer’s Dog or Nom Nom, but see above for more information on beneficial diets specifically for dogs with joint problems.
Prevention is key to an irreversible health problem. If your dog is starting to show symptoms of joint pain, take action now. If you do nothing, the situation will only get worse.
I’d recommend upgrading your dog’s diet to a nutritious, whole-food recipe along with one of the supplements mentioned above. You may be shocked at the change that can happen in just a few days or weeks.