Non-Prescription Joint Health Supplements for Dogs

Joint disease is a common ailment for dogs, especially older and large breed dogs, but many types of joint health supplements are available to help relieve systems of joint disease.

Joint Disease

Though more common in older and large-breed dogs, any dog can suffer from joint disease, which is caused by weakening of the connective tissue, muscles and ligaments around the joint bones. The effects of this can be made worse by overfeeding, injury or overexercise in puppies. Genetics is often a cause as well.

Symptoms of joint disease include limping, pain during activities such as running or jumping or awkward gait, such as the bunny hop run where dogs appear to jump rather than run with their back legs. Traditional treatments include surgery and pain killers, but many supplements are also available to reduce symptoms.

Since supplements are derived from natural sources already present in your dog's body, there are fewer side effects. Thus, supplements can also be used as a preventative if you are concerned about your large breed or older dog developing the disease later in life.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

One of the most common joint supplements is glucosamine, which is often paired with chondroitin to reduce inflammation and repair connective tissue in your dog's joints. Glucosamine is a major sugar that forms and maintains joint cartilage, and chondroitin inhibits enzymes that can damage the joint tissues.

Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements can be found almost anywhere, including your local grocery store. Many owners report results from these supplements, but other owners claim better results from more expensive supplements. The course you choose will largely depend on your dog's response to the supplements.

However, glucosamine and chondroitin supplements aren't always effective, especially if there is significant joint damage. It can also take several weeks to see the effects whereas prescribed painkillers often take effect immediately.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is another natural element found in joint fluid, lubricating the joints and reducing free radicals and inflammation in joints. Hyaluronic acid is formed when glucosamine forms with glucoronic acid.

Makers of hyaluronic acid supplements contend that hyaluronic acid is superior to glucosamine supplements because adding glucosamine alone may not be sufficient in restoring joint tissue if it doesn't form with glucoronic acid. If these connections aren't made, glucosamine itself may not improve your dog's joint health where hyaluronic acid might.

Most of the research done on hyaluronic acid has been done on horses and people, but it is gaining popularity in dog treatment. It was once only available by injection but is now available as an over-the-counter oral treatment.


Another highly regarded joint supplement is Cetyl Myristoleate, a fatty acid derived from myristoleic acid discovered to be the cause of good joint health in mice. These tablets, which can be purchased online and at pet stores, also contain glucosamine and chondroitin to promote joint health.

Cetyl-M has been effective in helping many pets recover from severe hip dysplasia and arthritis, but it is more expensive than traditional glucosamine pills, which are often equally effective.

There are many options for restoring joint health and preventing future problems. Though they don't work for every dog, they have no negative side effects and should be tried if you are concerned about your dog's joint health.