Are joint supplements right for your dog?

If you have a dog with joint issues, you may be considering joint supplements to help improve the quality of life for your pet. Here’s what you need to know about these products.

Benefits of joint supplements

Joint supplements contain glucosamine and chondroitin, which are nutrients that can aid joint health. In dogs, joint health begins in puppyhood with proper nutrition, weight management, and exercise. As dog’s age, natural wear-and-tear on their joints can lead to arthritis or other conditions that cause pain and loss of mobility. Joint supplements with glucosamine and chondroitin might provide some benefit if given early enough in this process–ideally before your dog shows any signs of joint discomfort.

Glucosamine and chondroitin can also help maintain the cartilage in your dog’s joints and improve joint flexibility. Some studies show that these supplements may help prevent osteoarthritis from developing by slowing the breakdown of cartilage in older dogs. Additionally, there is some evidence that glucosamine and chondroitin might benefit dogs with hip dysplasia. However, results have been mixed; more high-quality research is needed to determine whether these products can prevent or treat this disease.

Cautions about joint supplements

Be cautious when choosing a supplement for your pet. Although glucosamine and chondroitin are safe for most pets, they may cause adverse effects, especially if your pet has a health problem. Talk with your veterinarian about whether supplements are appropriate for your dog’s specific condition and what dose is appropriate.


As always, check with your vet first before you give your dog any supplement or medication. Your dog should have a physical exam every year to monitor his overall health and alert you to potential problems just as a yearly physical does for people. Joint supplements might not be for every dog, but many dogs seem to experience some reduction in pain from using them together with other treatments such as weight control and exercise. The best treatment plan will vary depending on the individual dog so be sure to talk to your vet about whether joint supplements are right for your pet.