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Joint Supplements for Dogs – Are They Worth It?

a senior pug laying down on tile

You may notice that as your dog ages, he or she has become significantly less agile than they once were!

Just like humans, dogs can develop arthritis and joint pain in their senior years. Arthritis and joint pain in dogs usually appear as stiffness in their gait, limping, or sometimes, even physical pain when you touch them in certain places.

The good news is there are many supplements that you can give your dog to help ease joint pain. Even better, most of these supplements are natural products that you can find in most pharmacies, grocery stores, and pet stores!

We are often asked if there’s a joint supplement that is effective and whether or not they are worth the cost, which is why we have decided to go over everything you need to know about joint supplements for dogs. We will explain how they help and which dietary supplements you can use.

As always, if you have any questions about dietary supplements, joint issues, or anything else to do with your dog’s health, one of our Hello Ralphie online veterinarians can help. Joint health is important, especially for older dogs, so we are always here to help. Our virtual veterinarians can give some advice on how to manage your dog’s joint pain, as well as recommend which joint supplements are safe and the most effective to help treat your dog’s arthritis.

How Do Joint Supplements Help My Senior Dog?

Most joint supplements are derivatives of naturally occurring substances. The most common ingredient found in most joint supplements is variations of fatty acids. These fatty acids are usually derived from fish oils; with the most common being omega 3 fatty acid and omega 6 fatty acid.

Omega Fatty Acids:

These healthy fatty acids work as natural anti-inflammatories. When your dog develops arthritis, they experience plenty of inflammation and pain around the joints throughout their entire body. The most common joints affected are typically the hips, elbows, and carpal or tarsal joints. Arthritis may also affect the bones in the neck and back. When the joints become inflamed, the omega fatty acids help to decrease this inflammation, which helps control the pain they experience when they move those joints.


Glucosamine is also a common ingredient in joint supplements, and it works differently than omega fatty acids. Rather than exhibiting direct anti-inflammatory effects, a glucosamine supplement helps aid more in the overall health and maintenance of the cartilage between the joints.

Cartilage in your dog’s joints helps by acting as a natural buffer and lubricant, which helps protect the joint from trauma. Healthier cartilage means your dog will have much healthier joints, which means your dog will suffer from much less pain and inflammation around the joints. You may come across an ingredient called chondroitin, which has a similar effect.

Many joint supplements contain a mixture of glucosamine, chondroitin, and fatty acids. If you are looking for more advice about which joint health supplement is appropriate for your dog or want to know if these supplements will improve your dog’s quality of life, schedule a Hello Ralphie virtual vet consultation today. One of our online veterinarians can give you more in

old dog with his owner

Are Joint Supplements Worth It?

The answer to this question is it depends on your dog’s specific situation. For most pets, supplements are safe to add into their daily routine, though it is always smart to consult a veterinarian prior to starting, especially if your pet is on other long-term medications.

Joint supplements are often the first step in helping control canine arthritis pain or slowing the progression of arthritis and preventing it from getting worse. In advanced arthritis and joint pain, joint supplements alone might not be enough to control pain.

In these cases, a consultation with one of our virtual vets can be helpful to assess whether or not your canine companion needs more advanced care, like prescription medication. One of our Hello Ralphie vets may recommend prescription anti-inflammatories or arthritis-specific medications that you can use in addition to joint supplements for managing your dog’s joint pain.

These medications consist of oral medications, injectable medications, and in some cases, even medicated prescription diets and joint-targeted laser therapy. Schedule a consultation with a virtual vet today for more information about your options.

What Else Can I Do to Help My Senior Dog?

If you suspect that your senior dog has arthritis, there are additional changes you can make around the house to help them live a more comfortable life. If you have hardwood floors, invest in some yoga mats, or padded flooring with grip, so that your dog does not slide or lose its footing when walking around the house.

Use ramps where you can so your dog can avoid jumping or having to strain itself as it climbs up the stairs. It may be advisable to wall off long staircases with baby gates so that your senior dog does not suffer an accidental fall.

Another good tip is to make sure your senior dog’s nails are short so that the dog experiences less difficulty walking. Provide access to many soft, comfortable beds, and make sure you raise the dog’s food bowls, so they do not have to bend too far down to eat or drink water to reduce the stress on the joints and can also help if you suspect they are suffering from neck pain.

old flatcoated retriever dog in front of grey background

What Else Can I Give My Senior Dog That Is Healthy?

Some fruits and veggies are also great options to give your senior dog, and you can even give them as treats!

One of the most effective ways to manage arthritis is to avoid excessive weight gain. Obesity in dogs is one of the main causes of arthritis. Rather than give your dog treats that are high in calories and fats, healthy foods, such as cucumber, apples, carrots, and red peppers can work.

Most fruits and vegetables are safe for dogs, but make sure you avoid anything within the grape family such as grapes, raisins, and prunes, or the onion family such as onions or garlic.

For more information, read our Are Fruits and Vegetables Safe for Dogs manual, as well as our Senior Dog Care guide.

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