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8 Things You Must Know Before Giving Your Dog a Joint Supplement

Written by: Justin Palmer
Justin Palmer is a Certified Pet Food Nutrition Specialist and co-founder of Inspired by his rescued husky, Splash, he dedicated himself to learning about extending both the length and quality of her life. Splash lived and thrived until 18 years old, and now Justin is on a mission to share what he learned with other dog owners.Read more
| Published on December 19, 2018

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#1: For Maximum Efficacy, Choose a Supplement with Multiple Active Ingredients Rather than Just One

When most people think of a joint supplement, glucosamine comes to mind. And while glucosamine is the most popular active ingredient, other powerful nutraceuticals include MSM, chondroitin, and turmeric (curcumin). If your supplement contains only one or two of these, you may be missing potential benefits. Different dogs respond to different treatments, so when in doubt, offer a broad spectrum of nutrients.

#2: Always Check The Amount of Active Ingredients

If the quantity of active ingredients (in milligrams) is not made available, the product likely contains low levels that are unlikely to have a therapeutic effect on your dog’s joints. For example, a 50 lbs. dog should receive at least 1000 mg of glucosamine daily. Budget oriented joint supplements (often in the $15-20 a bottle range) often contain levels as low as 300 mg. In addition, dry dog food manufacturers have begun including trivial amounts of glucosamine in their products in an attempt to woo consumers. Make sure your dog receives enough to matter!

#3: Always Buy Made In USA

While you’d expect that most pet stores would have transitioned to only carrying consumable products that are made in the USA, this is simply not the case. Many budget oriented pet stores, online retailers, and grocery stores still carry inferior supplements made in factories outside the USA with far lower production standards.

#4: If Your Dog Has Allergies or Food Sensitivities, Choose a Hypoallergenic Option

If your dog has reacted to ingredients in the past, pursue a hypoallergenic joint supplement. While there’s no 100% guarantee that your dog won’t react to the ingredients, they are far more likely to cause allergies due to a focus on ingredients that rarely cause sensitivities in dogs.

#5: Results Will Vary Based on Your Dog’s Age and Condition

Ideally, a joint supplement regimen should begin before signs of pain are present in your dog. (ideally around 5 years of age, although large breeds may need earlier) In reality, however, we often don’t consider the need until signs of pain are apparent. If your dog is already showing signs of distress, a joint supplement can still offer substantial relief. However, it may take 1-2 months to show signs of improvement.

#6: Supplements Are Not a Replacement for Proper Diet and Exercise

If your dog is overweight and overfed, no amount of supplementation or even pharmaceutical drugs will mask the root problem. Make sure your pup gets appropriate exercise daily and consult your veterinarian to ensure you are not overfeeding them.

#7: Start a Regimen Before The Colder Months

The winter months can be excruciating for dogs with joint pain, as colder weather activates their arthritic inflammation. Ideally, begin a supplement regimen before the weather gets too cold. If you live in an area with colder weather year-round, your dog is especially in need of relief.

Related: The 10 Best Calming Supplements for Dogs

#8: Taste and Format Matters

The best joint supplement in the world is worthless if your dog refuses to eat it. The most popular formats of delivery for joint supplements are liquid, tablet chews, and soft chews, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. When it comes to palatability, soft chews and liquids tend to please the most canine palates. Because a soft chew can contain a wider variety of nutraceuticals (see item #1) it’s our preferred method.

Where Our Research Led Us

Our research in hip & joint supplements for dogs led us to develop & recommend the iHeartDogs Health 8-in-1 joint care supplement. An added bonus is that each purchase goes towards helping provide food for animal shelters in need.

The product is also available in a 9-in-1 version which includes broad spectrum hemp oil.

Thank you for reading this guide. Remember to always consult your veterinarian when making changes to your dog’s diet and routine.

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