You might not hear of glucosamine and chondroitin until your dogs are already showing signs of joint pain and degeneration in their senior years. In many dogs, that looks like stiffness in the hips when rising or laying down, decreased pep, difficulty climbing stair, getting into the car or up onto the couch or bed.
Dogs gradually produce less glucosamine as they age, resulting in degeneration of joint cartilage. “Glucosamine is naturally occurring in the body and helps form and repair cartilage,” explains Dr. Rolan Tripp, DVM, CABC, and founder of PetHappiness.
Glucosamine supplements given during a dog’s adult life can help prevent joint wear and tear and improve mobility and comfort their later years. “Ideally, joint supplements for dogs should be given well before you see any signs of joint degeneration,” explains Dr. Antje Joslin of Dogtopia and Co-owner of 99th Avenue and Lower Buckeye Animal Clinic in the Greater Phoenix, Arizona area. “Any large breed dog or dog that is predisposed to developing osteoarthritis should be started on chondroprotective agents as early as possible. They can be given to puppies as young as 8 weeks of age. Dogs that have been diagnosed with early osteoarthritis will benefit from supplementation as well.”
Adds Dr. Tripp, “Glucosamine supplements are also given to performance dogs and dogs with hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis to alleviate discomfort and slow down joint cartilage degeneration.”
When selecting your dog joint supplements, look for those that contain both glucosamine hydrochloride (HCl) and chondroitin sulfate as these ingredients work best when given in tandem.
You can choose the form that your best friend prefers, too. Chews, tablets, powders, liquids, treats, daily food and bone broth are all available today. If you’re not sure, try a couple different styles until you find the one you both like and more importantly, one that you will remember to give every day.
We developed this list of some of the top-rated dog joint supplements available so you can proactively protect your dog’s future mobility and help your older dogs feel stronger.
“You’ll know glucosamine supplements are working,” says Dr. Tripp, “when your dog rises easily from a resting position, shows a normal gait, is happier on walks, and is more willing to go up the stairs or play.”
1. Pet Honesty Hip and Joint Health Maximum Strength Soft Chews
To earn the Best Overall spot, the supplement must have healthy, natural ingredients with balanced, optimal levels of glucosamine and chondroitin. They must also be affordable and taste good to dogs without using cheap fillers. This one also happens to be non-GMO.
Each chew includes 400 mg of glucosamine HCl from shellfish plus added methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and sodium hyaluronate, also known as hyaluronic acid (HA). MSM is a common anti-inflammatory used to treat osteoarthritis and other tendon and ligament disorders. It also promotes healthy digestion.
You may recognize HA because it is common in human skincare products because it helps your skin retain moisture. In dog supplements, it keeps joints hydrated and increases the thickness or viscosity of the fluid in their joints providing a cushion between their bones. Other benefits include improved wound healing and prevention of acid reflux.
Added organic turmeric—a spice used in curries and mustards—contains the active ingredient curcumin, which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, wound healing and anticancer activities. When given with the black pepper (which contains piperidine), turmeric is about 2,000% more effective.
An interesting ingredient, New Zealand green-lipped mussels (GLM), are a rich natural source of glucosamine, chondroitin, glycogens and omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Easy to digest and absorb, GLM improve joint health and promote a healthy skin and coat naturally. Additional omega fatty acids come from fish and wild Alaskan salmon oils. Ground egg shell provides an excellent source of cartilage-building collagen.
Another bonus ingredient comes from the plant, Yucca schidigera. While the yucca plant is toxic to dogs, the root extract naturally reduces swelling, promotes healthy digestion and reduces the odor of dog waste.
What’s not included is just as important. Made without corn, wheat, soy, or artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, your dog will love the natural blend of chicken, bacon and hickory flavors.
Customers confirm that it can lessen joint stiffness in just a couple of weeks. These excellent chews are appropriate for all life stages and sizes. They’re also Certified by the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) meaning they are responsible suppliers that have successfully passed a comprehensive third-party audit and exceed NASC quality requirements.
2. Reggie Morning Hip and Joint
We’ve tried these at home and our dogs loved them. Also coming in at 400 mg of glucosamine HCl, these soft chews are similar in quality to our Best Overall pick. They are a good fit for our younger dogs because they are made in the U.S. and are simpler, without MSM, HA, and all the extras—just the essentials you need in a daily dog joint supplement for dogs without known joint or pain issues.
Morning is in the name because Reggie has developed a wise system to help you remember to give the supplement, without having to give them all at once. They also recommend their Morning Multivitamin and Evening Skin and Coat supplements as part of a complete balance for your dog.
There is added miscanthus grass to provide some natural fiber that keeps your dog regular. They’ll drool over the peanut butter, pork liver and sunflower oil that contribute to the flavor.
3. PetPlate Joint Jumpin’ Mobility Cookies
Your canine companions can age gracefully enjoying these cookie treats every day. We’ve tried these and our dogs beg for them and drool while they are waiting.
These vet-designed dog joint supplements are fortified with glucosamine HCl (220 mg per treat) and chondroitin and made with simple organic ingredients like organic oats, coconut flakes, blueberries, whole dried eggs and strawberries. Made in small batches in US Department of Agriculture approved kitchens, your dogs will love the flavor. For adult dogs only, each bag includes 28 cookies, a two-week supply for a medium-sized dog.
4. Finn Hip & Joint Supplement for Dogs
Chews are my dog’s favorite form of supplement and they’re an easy way to make sure they’re getting a full daily dose. We’ve used these supplements, which are made in the USA and NASC-Certified. These soft chews are veterinarian-endorsed and have
500 mg of glucosamine HCl plus chondroitin, organic turmeric, MSM, GLM and yucca too. There is added BioPerine, a proprietary black pepper extract that amplifies the natural anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric.
Our dogs loved the bacon, beef liver, organic honey and cheese flavors. Appropriate for adult and senior dogs in small, medium and large breeds, they’re also grain- and soy-free.
Another reason I like this company is their choice to use reusable, recyclable metal tins instead of plastic containers.
5. Natural Dog Company Hip and Joint Supplement
BEST RUNNER UP CHEW
We’ve tried these soft chews and the dogs drooled in anticipation. They’re appropriate for dogs of all ages proactively or to provide some relief.
In addition to the 400 mg of glucosamine HCl, these chews have chondroitin, wild Alaskan salmon oil, GLM, MSM, organic turmeric and flaxseed. These high-protein, grain-, soy- and corn-free soft chews are manufactured in the USA in a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-certified facility.
Customers noted noticeable improvements in their dog’s mobility, energy and even their mood. You can give your dog the gift of an active, comfortable lifestyle, even as they go grey.
6. Zesty Paws Senior Advanced Mobility Bites
BEST FOR SENIOR DOGS
If your dog is already in their golden years and you’re just hearing about dog joint supplements, you’ll want to start with these functional joint supplements that are appropriate for senior dogs in any size breed.
This chew contains 450 mg of glucosamine HCl, as well as chondroitin, GLM, HA and vitamins C and E. What you’ll also see on the label is Qmin+, a curcumin from turmeric and BioPerine, a black pepper extract that makes Qmin+ work even more powerfully. This joint supplement also includes OptiMSM, a premium purified form of MSM. The NASC Certification gives you peace of mind that you’re getting the highest quality, too.
7. Nodens Small Dog Hip and Joint
BEST FOR SMALL BREEDS
The majority of joint supplements come in doses for all sizes of dogs, meaning you might need to give your small dog a fraction of a single chew or treat. Remove the guess work and get the exact right dose by using this liquid joint supplement designed specifically for small dogs.
Made with human-grade ingredients, this joint supplement includes 260 mg of glucosamine HCl as well as chondroitin, MSM, HA and manganese. The beef-flavored daily dose is based on weight and can be given orally or dripped over their food. According to the manufacturers, one two-ounce bottle should last a 10-pound dog about 2 months.
Some ingredients in this supplement for dogs have “USP” after them. That means those ingredients meet or exceed the United States Pharmacopeia standards set by the FDA for human and animal consumption. Nodens also notes that although most MSM is sourced from China, theirs is of the highest purity and comes from U.S. sources.
Refrigeration is recommended after opening and the unopened bottle has a 1-year shelf life. There is a warning on the label that you don’t see on all supplements, “Consult your vet before using this product in dogs with clotting disorders, on anticoagulant medications, diabetes or metabolic disorder causing hypoglycemia, a history of urinary tract stones and allergies to shellfish.”
8. Nutriline Labs Flex-EZ Joint Supplement
BEST FOR LARGE BREEDS
Most supplements are formulated for a wide range of dog sizes, so getting a daily dose into your large or giant breed dog can require that you give four to six chews a day. Although your dog probably wouldn’t mind, your budget might.
Specifically designed for dogs 60 pounds and larger, this chew boasts an anti-inflammatory blend that includes 900 mg glucosamine HCl—the highest concentration of any tablet or chew on our list—as well as chondroitin, turmeric, MSM, Boswellia, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Forms of Boswellia serrata, also known as the Indian frankincense tree, have been used for centuries in Asian and African folk medicine as plant extracts to treat chronic inflammatory illnesses in humans.
EPA and DHA are omega-3 fatty acids that occur naturally in fish and are known to help reduce pain, swelling and degeneration.
Added molasses, pork liver and fish oil mean you won’t have to work to get a daily dose into your dog. Manufacturers also note that your dog’s dose can be halved after the first four to six weeks.
9. Paramount Pet Health Liquid Vitamins Skin and Coat Support Dog Supplement
Liquids are among the most easily absorbable form of joint supplements for both dogs and humans. This liquid supplement has a minimum of 300 mg glucosamine HCl along with chondroitin, MSM, EPA, DHA and coenzyme Q10. CoQ-10 also reduces inflammation that can damage joint cartilage. As a bonus, this liquid also includes a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals and a minimum of 1 billion CFU (colony forming units) of gut microorganisms (probiotics) to promote healthy digestion and absorption. So you can use it like a daily multiple vitamin and digestive probiotic all in one dose.
Although there are other supplements out there that combine probiotics, joint health and daily vitamins and minerals into one dose, this one contains no artificial flavors or sweeteners and has a 90-day shelf life after opening.
10. NaturVet Glucosamine DS Maintenance Joint Care
NaturVet is one of the few companies that offer multiple levels with differing ingredients depending on the cause of your dog’s joint issues. Level 1 Maintenance should be used as a proactive supplement for younger pets to help grow and maintain healthy cartilage and joint function in active pets. Level 2 Moderate is formulated to maintain joint flexibility and support healthy hip and joint function in adult pets, including large breed and overweight pets. Level 3 ArthriSoothe Gold is recommended for dogs needing the most support, such as senior dogs and those recovering from joint-related surgery. All three levels use the HCl form of glucosamine from a shellfish source.
Level 3 has added MSM, HA, a Proprietary Enzyme Blend that maximizes absorption plus GLM, Boswellia and yucca.
Like a few others on our list, this one is NASC Certified and appropriate for all ages and sizes. We prefer chews, but this system is also available as a liquid and tablets too.
11. Herbsmith Sound Dog Viscosity Advanced Joint Support
Using a powder can be an easy way to give joint supplements to your dog. When your dog is properly hydrated, powders are readily absorbed. Just sprinkle it over their dry kibble or stir into their wet food. This dog joint supplement was developed by a female veterinarian who is also the owner and operator of Herbsmith, Dr. Bessent, D.V.M. About 500 mg of glucosamine per serving, this supplement also includes MSM, HA, curcumin, Boswellia, flax seed, yucca and corydalis.
Corydalis is a plant that has been used as a pain reliever in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. An active ingredient in corydalis, called dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB), has been shown in laboratory mice to be effective against inflammatory pain and injury-related nerve pain. DHCB won’t heal a joint, but it does block pain signals from reaching the brain the way some prescription pain killers work.
Made in the USA in Wisconsin in facilities that are FDA, NASC and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certified, this supplement is appropriate for all ages and sizes. This brand is a bit more expensive than some of the other brands because of the higher nutrient concentrations. You can also get a similar blend from Herbsmith in small and large chews.
12. Petaxin Hip and Joint Support for Dogs
BEST FOR WORKING DOGS
Dogs that are very active, such as those that compete in agility and frisbee competitions, and those that work, such as herding and police dogs, need a potent hip and joint supplement that will keep them strong and in top shape so they can handle the daily impacts of their work while also preventing weakness-related injuries.
This dog joint supplement has 500 mg of glucosamine per beef-flavored soft chew, plus chondroitin, MSM, HA, organic turmeric, vitamins C and E, manganese and yucca. Manganese is essential to build the enzymes that make healthy collagen, the main structural protein in skin and connective tissues. Your dogs will love the cheese and hickory flavors and beef liver powder.
Made in the USA in FDA-registered facilities that follow GMP-certified standards, this supplement is appropriate for all ages and sizes and contains no corn, grain, wheat or artificial flavorings.
Do Glucosamine and Chondroitin Actually Help?
“Glucosamine hydrochloride is a compound that is found in the body that is a building block of cartilage and stimulates the growth of cartilage,” explains Joslin. “Most joint supplements also contain chondroitin, which is a supplement that works by inhibiting cartilage-destroying enzymes. When glucosamine HCl and chondroitin are given together they appear to have a synergistic effect and have been shown to lessen joint inflammation.” Synergistic means that the two ingredients work better when given together than either of them do when given separately.
The science also supports the use of these supplements. “There have been several well-controlled studies that show improvement in dogs with osteoarthritis of the hip and elbow that responded after taking oral glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate,” notes Dr. Joslin. “Dogs showed improvement in pain scores and weight bearing activities. Although, the response to supplements took about two months to achieve.”
Does the Form of Glucosamine Matter?
“There is a difference between glucosamine hydrochloride and glucosamine sulfate,” notes Dr. Joslin. “The sulfate is better absorbed by the body but there is no evidence that it shows up in the joint tissues after being taken orally. Therefore, use a product containing glucosamine hydrochloride. It makes no sense to give your dog a product that won’t work where it is needed.”
Why Trust Spy?
This piece was written by Lorraine Wilde who has had at least two dog companions in her home for the past 35 years. She’s pet parented several dogs into their senior years and two have struggled with hip stiffness and pain. When researching these brands, Lorraine was able to use a few of these brands at home with her dogs, and watch them in action by her friends dogs. For those she couldn’t test, she evaluated the type and quality of the ingredients, the company’s research and development of the supplement, and their business ethics.
Lorraine also holds a Master’s degree in environmental science. She is a firm believer that consumers can make healthy, informed and environmentally conscious choices to protect their pets and our planet.
Dr. Antje Joslin has more than 15 years of small animal experience in both private and corporate practice. She is the staff veterinarian for Dogtopia, a group of more than 160 dog daycare centers, boarding facilities, training centers and spas throughout the United States and Canada. Dr. Joslin is also the co-owner of 99th Avenue and Lower Buckeye Animal Clinic in the Greater Phoenix, Arizona area. She earned her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University.
Dr. Rolan Tripp, DVM, CABC, is an author, speaker, inventor, and founder of the Animal Behavior Network and PetHappiness. Dr. Tripp received his doctorate in veterinary medicine from University of California Davis and is certified by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) in both canine and feline behavior.