Did you know that 1 out of 4 dogs suffers from arthritis?
Arthritis isn’t always the result of old age either … 70% of joint disease is the result of developmental diseases and 22% of arthritis cases are in dogs under one year.
So it’s never too late to think about your dog’s joint health …
… or if there are natural joint supplements for dogs that can help.
Before we get to that, let’s take a quick look at what causes arthritis and joint pain in dogs.
What Causes Joint Problems In Dogs?
The two main types of joint problems in dogs are developmental and degenerative.
Developmental joint disease includes:
- Hip or elbow dysplasia
- HOD (hypertrophic osteodystrophy)
- OCD (osteochondritis dissecans)
Degenerative joint disease is usually seen as osteoarthritis. Degenerative joint disease can also get worse with age if you don’t treat it.
Both developmental and degenerative joint disease involve inflammation. This isn’t necessarily bad … swelling and pain aren’t pleasant, but this is part of the body’s attempt to heal from injury and wear and tear. This is how the body sends antibodies and white blood cells to promote healing.
But if inflammation goes unchecked for weeks, months or even years, it can add to your dog’s joint issues.
Joints are lined with a thin layer of cartilage that produces a fluid that lubricates the joint. This helps the joints move and function without any friction or pain.
Over time, antibodies from chronic inflammation will begin to attack the joint lining … and ironically, cause the joint disease they’re supposed to protect against.
And that’s when you’ll start to see the symptoms of joint disease in your dog. But before you go to the vet for pain meds, you’ll want to read this next bit …
The Trouble With NSAIDs
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) are drugs your vet might prescribe for your dog. These drugs (including Rimadyl, Metacam, Deramaxx and Previcox), are also called cox-2 inhibitors. This means they work by inhibiting the inflammatory process … which happens through something called a cyclooxygenase pathway (COX).
The COX pathways are important for many body functions including:
- Blood vessel constriction and blood clotting
- Stomach acid production and mucus lining
- Blood flow to the kidneys
- Inflammatory response
So controlling inflammation with NSAIDs can cause issues in other parts of the body.
Boehringer Ingelheim, the makers of Metacam explain, “As a class, cyclooxygenase inhibitory NSAIDs may be associated with gastrointestinal (gut), renal (kidney), hepatic (liver) toxicity. Serious adverse reactions associated with this drug class can occur without warning and in rare situations result in death.”
And in case you’re looking for another reason to avoid NSAIDs, here’s a good one …
… NSAIDs can make your dog’s joint pain worse.
According to Dr Ross Hauser, a prolotherapy doctor who focuses on pain and rehabilitation, “one of the most serious adverse reactions to NSAIDs, that is little appreciated, is that as a class of compounds they cause the breakdown of articular cartilage, thereby accelerating osteoarthritis, the very disease for which they are most commonly prescribed! The pathogenesis of osteoarthritis is accelerated by NSAIDs.”
Simply stated, that means the risks of using NSAIDs outweigh the benefits …
… especially when there are natural alternatives that are just as effective.
So let’s take a look at our top 6 natural joint supplements for dogs.
6 Natural Joint Supplements For Dogs
When some algae get stressed out they release a powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin (red algae) is a red pigment and it actually turns animals that eat it pink. Salmon and shrimp would be a different color if they didn’t eat astaxanthin. And flamingos are born with grey feathers. They don’t actually turn pink until they start eating algae and crustaceans.
It’s one of the most popular natural joint supplements for dogs because it relieves pain and inflammation and cleans the cells in the body. It actually blocks and handles several different chemicals that create pain.
It’s also great for heart health, cancer prevention, immune system health and slowing the aging process.
If you buy an astaxanthin supplement for dogs, follow the directions on the label. If you buy one made for people, assume the dosage is for a 150 lb person and adjust for your dog’s weight. For example, many human astaxanthin supplements recommend 8 mg to 12 mg per day, which means you can give your dog 1 mg to 1.6 mg daily per 20 lbs of body weight.
Turmeric is one of the most researched herbs available today …
… and a ton of that research has focused on joint pain relief.
The key constituent of turmeric is curcumin, also known as “Cure-cumin” because of its long list of amazing benefits.
The key constituent of turmeric is curcumin, also known as “Cure-cumin” because of its long list of amazing benefits. Not only does it decrease inflammation, it can also relieve the pain and stiffness.
In many studies, turmeric has outperformed:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Pain killers
- Arthritis medication
Seriously, research shows aspirin is no match for the power of turmeric.
To give turmeric to your dog, add it to his food. Give 1/8 to 1/4 tsp per day per 10 lbs of your dog’s body weight. Make sure you find organic turmeric. You can also buy a turmeric supplement and add it to his food. Just be sure to follow the directions on the label.
A word of caution: some dogs who are “hot” (seek out cool places to lie) may not do well with turmeric because it is “warming.”
3. CBD Oil
CBD oil comes from the cannabis plant. Unlike marijuana though, which contains high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD oil must have a THC content of 0.3 percent or less, so it won’t make your dog high …
But it will give him some major pain relief.
The cannabis plant contains many different chemicals, including CBD oil. Humans and dogs have specific cannabinoid receptor sites in the body, and when you feed these receptors there are major benefits.
- Decrease chronic inflammation
- Reduce pain
- Stop premature aging due to oxidative stress
How much should you give your dog? Every product is different, so in general follow the manufacturer’s dosing instructions but start out at the lower end and build up gradually.
PS – it’s also good for managing seizures, anxiety, even fighting cancer!
4. Crominex 3+
Chrominex 3+ is a natural blend of 3 scientifically proven joint support ingredients. It contains:
- Chromium. Slows the loss of calcium, protecting your dog’s bones.
- Phyllanthus emblica, or Indian gooseberry. This is an antioxidant superfruit that reduces inflammation and even has anti-aging capabilities.
- Shilajit. Packed full of fulvic acid and humic extracts, it’s a powerful anti-inflammatory. It’s also a good pain reliever.
Studies show that Crominex 3+ can reduce arthritis and joint pain. It supports healthy joints and the circulatory system, and it can also help with weight control.
Find a supplement formulated for dogs and give according to the directions.
Chondroitin is the major glycosaminoglycan in cartilage. It’s often combined with glucosamine for double the power.
- inhibit destructive enzymes in joint fluid and cartilage
- help the body repair damaged cartilage and
- restore joint integrity
- help with shock absorption
- protect existing cartilage from premature breakdown
- keep cartilage tissue hydrated
You can find chondroitin at your local health food store. You want one that’s made from the cartilage of animal bones, not one made from synthetic ingredients. To give it to your dog, assume the dosage is for a 150lb human and adjust according to your dog’s weight.
Chondroitin is found in the cartilage of animals, so bone broth is an excellent way to feed it to your dog …
… And we’ve got an easy recipe:
How To Make Bone Broth
- Fill your pot (or slow cooker) with bones. Choose bones with cartilage in them (chicken feet or oxtails are great).
- Fill the pot with filtered water to cover the bones.
- Add apple cider vinegar which helps extract the nutrition out of the bones. About 3 or 4 tbsp in a typical crockpot is good.
- Let it cook on low for at least 24 hours or longer. If you leave it longer you may need to add more water.
- Strain the bones and chill in the fridge. If a layer of fat forms on the top you can easily remove it once it hardens. You can also freeze extra portions in mason jars.
- Add some broth to your dog’s meals or feed it as an extra snack. The amount isn’t important (it’s just food!).
Glucosamine is a combination of glutamine (an amino acid) and glucose (a sugar).
Your dog’s body naturally produces its own glucosamine. It’s a substance that helps create molecules that form the cartilage of your dog’s joints. But as your dog gets older, his body produces less and less of it.
Adding a glucosamine supplement can repair damaged cartilage and tissues. It can also help boost or replace lost joint fluid, helping joints glide without pain.
Glucosamine is found in things like shellfish shells and microbial grain fermentation.
Your vet may recommend veterinary glucosamine supplements. These are all expensive and most are synthetic. The problem here is that the cells in your dog’s body may not recognize or absorb them as they would a natural nutrient.
Like chondroitin, you can find natural glucosamine at your local health food store. Again, you want one sourced from natural ingredients (animal bones, shellfish), not created in a lab. To give it to your dog, assume the dosage is for a 150lb human and adjust according to your dog’s weight.
You can also give your dog foods some of these glucosamine-rich foods:
- Raw bones: trachea, chicken feet, oxtails or pig tails, beef knuckle bones
- Shrimp shells (make sure they’re wild, not farmed)
- Green lipped mussels: you can buy green lipped mussel powders for dogs. Make sure the product is cold extracted as heat destroys the nutrients. Give 15 mg of powder per lb of your dog’s body weight per day.
- Bone broth
[Related] How does joint support kibble stand up? Find out here.
Tips for Managing Joint Pain
Natural joint supplements for dogs are a great step to take. Here are some other things you can do to help relieve the pain and inflammation:
1. Switch to a raw diet.
Carbs are high-glycemic index foods that fuel the production of advanced glycation end (AGE) products. These AGEs form when food is processed and they stimulate inflammation. When your dog eats processed foods (kibble), AGEs get released into the body and cause inflammation. A fresh, whole-food diet without the inflammatory agents in kibble will help protect your dog’s joints from disease. Adding antioxidant rich foods like phytoplankton and astaxanthin to his diet will also help combat the oxidative stress that causes inflammation.
2. Keep him at a healthy weight.
If your dog is carrying more weight than he should be, that can put extra pressure on his joints so keeping his weight controlled will reduce the strain on his joints and can also decrease joint inflammation caused by fat.
3. Minimize vaccines.
Studies show that vaccines can actually cause dogs’ bodies to develop antibodies to destroy collagen, the tissue that keeps joints stable. Collagen makes up over 70% of your dog’s muscles, tendons, ligaments and other joint supporting tissues, but when it breaks down, your dog’s joints can’t handle movement as well and the muscles and tissues become brittle. This leads to inflammation, pain and eventually joint disease.
4. Regular exercise.
Regular exercise will tone the muscles around the joint, support the joint and keep the joint fluid viscous. Better muscle mass and muscle function can protect your dog’s joints, so you want to make sure you keep up the exercise. If your dog’s in pain, try to a few short walks a day, rather than one long one. If you can, take your dog swimming for exercise since it relieves stress on the joints.
5. Don’t use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
These drugs work by blocking inflammatory mediators. So they’ll reduce your dog’s pain but they also limit his body’s ability to heal itself. NSAIDs cause the breakdown of cartilage – something your dog’s joints needs to be healthy, so they can actually make the joint issues worse. They’re also known to have serious adverse reactions that can include gastrointestinal kidney and liver problems.
If arthritis or joint pain is stopping your dog from enjoying the things he loves, it’s time to give him the relief he needs. These natural joint supplements and valuable tips will really help.