supplements to help your dog's arthritis

Arthritis is one of the more common health issues pets face today. Arthritis can occur in any joint, from the neck to the toes, although it’s commonly found in the hips and elbows.

Arthritis and joint pain can have a profound impact on your dog’s quality of life. Fortunately, there are some common supplements that can help put a spring back in his step.

The Cause Of Arthritis

Articular (joint) cartilage

Articular (joint) cartilage

A joint is the place where two bones meet. The ends of the bones (the joint) are surrounded by a fibrous joint capsule, which is filled with a thick molasses-like joint fluid. Surrounding the joint is soft tissue, tendons, ligament and muscles that all move and support the joint.

Each bony end is covered in a smooth, porcelain-like surface called joint (articular) cartilage, which protects the joint from damage. Articular cartilage contains a high concentration of nerve fibers, and when anything touches the cartilage, it can be as excruciating as hitting your funny bone … which really isn’t all that funny.

Inside the joints is a gooey fluid, which is made from some very unique sugars. But the sugars in joints aren’t as simple as table sugar. They combine amino acids to create compounds with some exceptional shock absorbing properties.

These specialized fluids aren’t just in the joints of you dog: they’re found in all animals. So if your dog is lucky enough to be enjoying a raw diet, complete with bones, he’ll be getting all of those joint protecting nutrients that are found in the joints of the animals he eats.

But dogs eating a cooked or kibble diet won’t get the same benefit.

The Three Major Joint Supplements

If your dog is eating a cooked diet, or if he has existing joint disease, then these three primary joint supplements can help:

  • Glucosamine
  • Chondroitin
  • Hyaluronic Acid

These three nutrients can help lubricate your dog’s joint fluid and can even repair damaged joint cartilage.

When glucosamine is absorbed by the body, it converts into chondroitin and hyaluronic acid molecules that are two to three times the size of the glucosamine molecule. Chondroitin is a component of cartilage that gives it a spongy texture, helping the cartilage resist compression. Hyaluronic acid is contained in the joint fluid that lubricates the joints and gives the fluid a viscous consistency.

When you give your dog glucosamine, about 30 to 40% is actually absorbed into the bloodstream. Because chondroitin and hyaluronic acid are larger and don’t pass through the stomach easily, only about 10% of these substances are absorbed into the bloodstream, while the rest is broken down in the stomach.

While daily glucosamine supplementation can thicken the joint fluid, hydrolyzing enzymes enter the scene and break down the joint fluid. So the next day, the glucosamine supplement thickens the fluid again, and the enzymes will instantly break it down again.

Other Remedies For Joint Pain and Inflammation

Herbs For Joint Pain

Herbs can be a great addition to your dog’s daily joint supplements. Here are a few to look for:

  • Licorice root is a natural corticosteroid and stimulates the secretion of hormones by the adrenal glands. It is an anti- inflammatory and reduces swelling and eases some skin conditions. Licorice shouldn’t be given long term.
  • Boswellia stimulates tissue immunity, repairs damaged tissue, compare with Ibuprofen.
  • Bromelain is a protein digesting enzyme that relaxes muscles, helps with spasms, anti-inflammatory.
  • Comfrey reduces bone inflammation.
  • Cayenne is great for pain relief.
  • Chamomile is anti-inflammatory, good for spasms, relieves pain and reduces swelling.
  • Curcumin is anti-inflammatory, reduces pain, swelling and tenderness.
  • Ginger reduces inflammation, pain and swelling. Blocks the body’s production of inflammatory chemicals such as prostaglandin and leukotriene.
  • Gotu Kola stimulates Collagen synthesis for healing tendons and ligaments.
  • Find a joint support product that contains some or all of these helpful herbs or get the herbs from your local health food store and sprinkle some in your dog’s meals.


Homeopathy can also help arthritic dogs. The potency and dosage you choose depend on your dog and his symptoms. Be sure to have a good Materia Medica for reference or a good homeopathic vet to guide you.

  • Rhus tox 30c if pain and stiffness is better after movement.
  • Arnica 30c for bruising, aching and soreness.
  • Ruta grav 30c helps ease inflammation.
  • Hypericum 30c if pinched or injured nerves may be involved. Is particularly good for back pain.
  • Bryonia 30c if your dog prefers to stay in one place.
  • Acid salicylicum 6c  if the pain is aggravated by movement and the joints are tender to the touch.
  • Actaea rac 6c for heaviness in the limbs, stiffness and awkwardness while moving.
  • Calc fluor 30c for swelling of the joints – especially useful for pain in the carpus.

Omega-3 fatty acids also have long term anti-inflammatory effects on the joints.

Source: Helping Joints Last A Lifetime, Chris Bessent DVM  Dogs Naturally Magazine January-February 2014