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Canine Joint Supplements

This page looks at common canine joint supplements - nutraceuticals - such as using glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, Omega-3 fatty acids, etc. to treat osteoarthritis and other joint pain in dogs.


Nutritional supplements - "nutraceuticals" - are now commonly used to prevent and control pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis in dogs.

These joint supplements for dogs are non-drugs and are naturally occurring substances taken as an addition to a normal diet. Their use is often preferred because they are natural and cause very little side effects, if any. Toxicity levels are rarely attainable if they are used in reasonable amounts.

Understand that joint supplements for dogs cannot cure or reverse osteoarthritis. Most supplements work primarily to help decrease the inflammation in the joints, thereby relieving some or most of the pain caused. Using joint supplements may lessen the need for anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or Rimadyl.

Common canine joint supplements used in the treatment of osteoarthritis in dogs include:
  • Glucosamine
  • Chondroitin sulfate
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin C
Let's take a look at each of them.


Glucosamine is one of the most commonly used canine joint supplements. It is a naturally occurring sugar-and-amino acid compound that is manufactured and found in large quantities in cartilage. Glucosamine is one of the major components necessary for the formation of joint lubricants and shock absorbers vital to the maintenance and restoration of healthy joints.

As a joint supplement, glucosamine works as an anti-inflammatory which helps limit cartilage destruction and pain and probably also provides some benefits in the process of cartilage healing.

Glucosamine is derived from chitin, which is found in the shells of shellfish such as crabs, shrimps, or lobsters. There are three forms of glucosamine - the sulfate form is recommended because it seems to be absorbed and utilized the best.

The purity of glucosamine varies, so does the quality of different brands of the supplement. Make sure to buy a highly purified product produced by a reputable company.

Chondroitin Sulfate

Chondroitin sulfate is also one of the most frequently used canine joint supplements. Chondroitin sulfate is a complex molecule found mainly in cartilage and also some other parts of the body. It controls the flow of water in and out of cartilage. A lack of chondroitin sulfate results in a decrease in the cartilage's ability to regulate water flow, causing dehydration and hardening of the cartilage which as a result will lose its cushioning effect in a joint.

In addition, chondroitin sulfate can protect cartilage by blocking the actions of certain enzymes that lead to breakdown in the joints. It may contribute to improvement of cartilage healing.

Chondroitin sulfate has anti-inflammatory properties. It has been found that, combined with glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate may decrease the need for NSAIDs.

Green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) is a good source of chondroitin sulfate.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

MSM is a naturally-occurring form of sulfur compound. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties and is therefore widely used as joint supplements for dogs. Please visit our page on MSM for Dogs for more information on this supplement.

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties. They work by replacing a element in the cell walls (Arachidonic acid - "AA") with another element (Eicosapentaenoic acid - "EPA"). When a joint is injured, AA breaks down into chemicals that increase pain and inflammation. However, when EPA breaks down upon a joint injury, it produces chemicals that are less inflammatory and even potentially anti-inflammatory. Therefore, by replacing AA with EPA, pain and inflammation as a result of osteoarthritis or joint problem will decrease.

One study has found that about 80% of the dogs in the study showed improved joint function after being supplemented with Omega-3 fatty acids. It has also been found that by supplementing a dog with Omega-3 fatty acids, the use of NSAIDs can be decreased. Please visit this page for more information on this supplement.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Therefore, it can ease pain and reduce inflammation brought on by osteoarthritis.

Vitamin C also helps build new cartilage by producing collagen which is a tough and ropy protein found in cartilage.

This vitamin is often found in combination products with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.

A Good Product of Canine Joint Supplements

Getting all of the above supplements separately can be costly and it may be difficult to get some dogs to take 3 or 4 pills at a time. Wouldn't it be nice to have just one pill that contains all of the above joint supplements?

Look no more - we have found one for you:

Resources Re-Flex Ultra

This formula contains the key joint support ingredients, including glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, MSM, Omega-3 fatty acids, along with antioxidant vitamins that support joint health.
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