Joint health is one of the most important aspects of helping our dogs live a full and happy life. However, there is so much information out there, where do you as your pet’s guardian even begin??
If you do a Google search for “joint support for dogs” you will get about 81,900,000 results. Literally. That’s how many Google gave me. And, most of those results were trying to get me to buy something indiscriminately. *insert eye roll here*
Now, I know that we don’t have time to visit even 0.00001% of those search results, and, even if we did, the likelihood that they had much expert-advise is pretty slim.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Start earlier than you think. Prevention is the best medicine for joint support! For dogs that do repetitive movements, are larger breeds, breeds prone to joint or spine issues, working dogs, high-impact sporting dogs, retrievers, or dogs that do any sort of repetitive motions, it is wise to start joint support in dogs while they are still very young. Even dogs as young as 6 weeks old have shown to benefit from research-backed joint support.
- Look for quality + quantity. Supplements are not beholden to quality control measures because they are not regulated by the FDA. One way to help determine the quality of a supplement is by looking for the National Animal Supplement Council’s Quality Seal on the supplement packaging. When comparing joint support supplements, Dr. Coger recommends finding a supplement that contains glucosamine + chondroitin + MSM, and she prefers capsuled support over soft chews (here is one example of that). While Dr. Coger loves using natural food sources for joint support, she does not recommend relying solely on kibble diets – even those claiming to contain joint support ingredients – to provide enough of a benefit for your dog.
- Feeling fishy? Omega-3 fatty acids can be another great source of joint support. Dr. Coger reminds us that air and heat quickly degrade fatty acids. As such, she recommends sourcing fish oil that comes in glass or metal bottles or in capsules (here is one example of that), because plastic containers accelerate their degradation. Also, make sure you are providing enough mgs for your dog’s size. Colorado State University has a great resource for this!
- Integrate holistic and rehabilitation techniques. There are many different therapies and holistic supplements that can be beneficial for supporting our dog’s joints. Laser, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and PEMF therapies are all wonderful arthritis support. In addition to more holistic practices, do not discount the benefit of checking your dog’s Vitamin D levels and supplementing as needed, as well as including medication for pets in pain. Dogs are very good at hiding pain – so good that it might be necessary to try a medication or a therapy for a few weeks. If you notice an improvement, that is an indication your dog was previously in pain.
Lastly, we want to stress the importance of having a good relationship with your veterinary team. The more you can collaborate and work together to support your pet’s health – especially before problems arise – the more full and happy a life you and your dog can have together! Looking for a holistic veterinarian near you? Check out AHVMA.org.
Time Stamps for easier review:
1:15- Considerations for starting early with joint support
6:00- Research considerations
8:20- Vet recommendations for supplements
14:25- Considerations for looking at supplements
16:40- Example amounts to consider
19:25- Storage considerations for fish oil
20:30- Cost considerations
22:30- Vitamin d and joint health
24:20- Signs to look for
26:24- Medication tips and additional therapies