How Joint Health Supplements for Dogs Work

Posted by Dr. Roth on

How Joint Health Supplements for Dogs Work

Joint problems are a common problem dogs face as they age. Large dogs are especially prone to hip dysplasia and can have trouble sitting, walking, and controlling their bowels. Thankfully, there are many dog joint health supplements available to help prevent and slow the deterioration of a dog's joints. 


Common Joint Disorders in Dogs

The cartilage is an important connective tissue that provides a cushion to prevent bones from rubbing together. Joint conditions typically wear down the cartilage around the joint over time and become extremely painful.

Large dogs are known for joint problems, but smaller dogs can have the same issues. The following disorders are common bone and joint disorders in dogs:


Osteochondrosis occurs when cartilage develops abnormally. Cartilage is the tissue that acts as a cushion between the joint bones. As a dog moves, the joint bones rub back and forth. Without cartilage, the bones will rub together and cause various problems such as inflammation, bone spurs, and arthritis. 

This disease commonly occurs in dog breeds that have rapid growth spurts. When the cartilage doesn't develop properly, it can break off and cause extreme pain. Surgery may be needed to remove the pieces of cartilage. 


Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease that occurs when the joint cartilage deteriorates. This is the most common type of arthritis in dogs and is usually caused by other developmental problems in the bones. There's no cure for this disease, but the deterioration can be slowed. 

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a debilitating disease caused by improper hip joint and femur development. If the two bones don't grow correctly, the hips will dislocate and cause the dog a lot of pain. Also, the femur and joint rub together in a way that expedites wear and tear on the cartilage. 

Hip dysplasia is common in larger dog breeds and is hereditary. Pet parents of large dogs should have regular radiographs (X-rays) taken of their dog's hips to ensure they're developing properly. If the pet parent adopts their dog from a breeder, they should make sure the breeder is reputable. A good breeder should be able to provide proof of lineage and confirm there's no hip dysplasia in the dog's bloodline.

Joint Health Supplements for Dogs

To help ensure their dogs grow up healthy and stay healthy, pet parents need to feed them a high-quality diet, no matter their life stage. 

In addition to their diet, pet parents can give their dog supplements that promote healthy growth and maintain their joint health. However, the supplement shouldn't replace a high-quality diet. 

Commonly, dog joint health supplements will contain at least one of these four active ingredients responsible for good joint health in dogs. Each provides various benefits:


Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound that helps make up cartilage. It is also a popular ingredient in many supplements for dogs. This ingredient has anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce swelling in the joints. It also helps reduce wear and tear on the cartilage by repairing it and preventing it from breaking down. 

Pet parents may want to consider giving their young dog a daily supplement containing glucosamine as a preventative, especially if their dog is a breed that's known for developing arthritis.


Chondroitin is another compound found in cartilage. Chondroitin absorbs water and prevents enzymes from breaking down the cartilage. It can also help make new cartilage. 

The ingredient form of chondroitin is often used in conjunction with glucosamine. Some evidence suggests chondroitin promotes cartilage production. Studies on the effectiveness of glucosamine and chondroitin are limited. However, many vets recommend using supplements containing these ingredients based on results they've witnessed from their patients. 



Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is another supplement that contains anti-inflammatory properties. It also has antioxidant properties and is recommended by vets for various conditions. Conditions that potentially benefit from this ingredient include some cancers and arthritis. 

Green-Lipped Mussels and Fish Oil

Supplements containing green-lipped mussels can help dogs suffering from osteoarthritis. They are a species of mussel found off the coast of New Zealand and contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the inflammation and pain in the dog's joints caused by osteoarthritis. Several supplement products contain green-lipped mussels, so pet parents don't have to go to New Zealand.

Fish oils found in salmon, sardines, and anchovies are also a source for Omega-3s. 

Fuzzy Vets Can Help

If pet parents aren’t sure which joint health supplement might be best for their dogs, they can always seek advice from Fuzzy’s veterinary support team. Fuzzy vets are available 24/7 to help pet parents navigate dog health problems.

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