For dog lovers, nothing can be more painful than to watch your pet agonizing in pain and unable to move. Even the slightest movement can produce a sharp pain that can be felt right through our pet’s spinal column. They become fully agitated and some can be quite aggressive; not that it’s their fault, but rather they’re already frustrated at the experience of pain and immobility. Even before joint problems set in, it is important for dog owners to look after the welfare of their pets. Joint health supplements may not be the cure for these canine conditions, but these can sure help provide for healthier and more stable articulations.
Sadly, the market is littered with supplements for dog joints that do nothing to prevent canine joint problems. It is thus, imperative that we choose only those that have been proven effective. To give you a headstart, we’ve conducted a research into the 10 best joint supplements for dogs. Hopefully, these will give you an idea of what to give to your beloved pooch.
Why Are Joint Supplements Important for Your Dog?
Your dog having joint problems is not that different from you having arthritis or joint pain or swelling. You can barely move as each attempt to move a limb is like pulling on a 5-ton vehicle. It also gets worse during cold weather as the muscles tend to pull on the different structures that connect it to the joints, leading to increased swelling and pain. These physiologic responses are the same with dogs. Typically, a pet dog who has joint problems will often display the following manifestations.
- Highly irritable especially when made to move from a particular spot
- Difficulty sitting up from a lying position or standing up from a sitting position
- Purposely slower movements of the limbs
- Incessant licking of the joints
- Hesitates to move either to walk or to run or even avoids it entirely
- Whines or ‘cries’ even though there are no apparent reason
- Stays in its kennel, crate, or dog bed for unusually longer periods of time
- May not eat or drink unless its food and water bowls are brought closer
- Struggles climbing up and down stairs or avoids doing so
- Limps while walking sans any valid reason
- Behaves in a manner that is grossly different from past behavior
These are just some of the possible signs that your dog may already be suffering from joint problems. A trip to your veterinarian can help establish your suspicions with absolute certainty. Your dog will also be provided with a variety of treatments to help alleviate the symptoms as well as possibly reverse the progression of the condition. In many cases, you will be given a joint supplement which you will administer to your pet. But why are joint supplements important for your dog?
- Alleviates pain and suffering
Just like us, when our pets are in pain they get grumpy, agitated, irritable, and aggressive. They may not feed, refuse to play, or even go out for a walk simply because their focus is on the pain experience. Inadvertently, they may begin showing signs of deteriorating health. Many supplements for dog joints contain ingredients that have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. These can help reduce the inflammation which is technically the primary source of the pain. This way your pet can be really free from pain and suffering, allowing it to enjoy its being.
- Improves quality of life
As already presented above, the severity and magnitude of pain can have an impact in many aspects of a creature’s existence. Not only are they physically affected, their social and emotional wellbeing are also damaged. Dogs are very social animals, everyone knows that by now. If they are unable to join their masters and their children during family outings and activities, they will feel depressed and lonely, too. This can lead to a host of canine behavioral issues that may require professional help. That is why alleviating pain and suffering and improving overall physical mobility can help improve the quality of life of our dogs with joint problems. The best dog vitamins for joint health can thus, help.
- Enhances overall mobility
One of the most important reasons why dogs need joint supplements is to enhance their overall mobility. Your pet is not Garfield who loves to lie and sleep around all day long. They need plenty of exercise and play, lest they develop canine behavioral problems. And since they essentially have 4 legs to move about, a problem in any one of these can significantly impair their mobility. You don’t want this to happen, do you? Besides, a dog without play is a dog that is dull and quite unsocial.
- Facilitates positive canine behavior
Like we said, a mobile dog is a happy dog. If your pet is able to exercise, it is able to dispense of all that energy inside it. This leads to significantly more positive canine behavior. Your pet is a lot easier to train and will obey most of your commands. It really becomes a little bundle of joy for the whole family.
- Strengthens owner-dog relationship
Giving your pet the best supplements for dog joints essentially tells your pet that you care so much for its wellbeing. This endears you more to your canine friend, further strengthening the relationship that you have. For many, the loyalty of a dog is simply incomparable. No human being can ever replicate or even match the tenacious dedication, loyalty, and commitment of a pet dog to its master.
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Types of Joint Supplements
Now that you know why you need to give joint medication for canines, you may need to know how you can best provide such supplements. Currently, there are three basic forms of supplements for dog joints. These are the following.
- Liquids – This is often the most preferred type of supplement formulation as every bit of the active ingredients are easily absorbed by the dog’s intestinal tract. Some manufacturers recommend mixing it with food while others have to be given as a whole, usually through a medicine dropper or a specially designed liquid medication syringe.
- Tablets – One of the most common issues about using tablets is the relative difficulty of getting your pet to swallow it. While experts recommend pushing the tablet all the way to the back of the throat to bypass the pet’s gag reflex, it is just too painful to watch your pet suffer needlessly especially if your hand is a lot larger than your pet’s mouth. Additionally, tablet preparations often contain binders to compress the active ingredients and prevent them from loosening. Unfortunately, this can impact the amount of absorbable ingredient.
- Powders – These are excellent choices for those who don’t like to work with either tablets or liquids. These can be mixed with food or dissolved in your pet’s drink. Either way, you’ll need to check the package directions.
- Dog chews – Some manufacturers of supplements for dog joints design their products like doggie treats, making them more palatable for pets. You no longer have to shove the pill down your pet’s throat.
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10 Popular Ingredients and Their Benefits
There are a variety of ingredients that are considered vital to improving the overall health of canine articulations while also alleviating any symptom associated with such articular conditions. Here are ten of the most popular ingredients of joint medication for canines and what each does for your pet.
Glucosamine is well-regarded as one of the precursor molecules of glycosaminoglycans which are, in turn, very important component of cartilage, the tissue that makes up the joints. Glucosamine is a beneficial ingredient in the continuing formation and development of healthy cartilage. It can also help reduce the severity and extent of arthritis and may even help alleviate the pain associated with such conditions.
Typically, glucosamine is combined with chondroitin to help manage articular pain making it an equally effective arthritis medicine for dogs. It can also hasten the speed of wound repair and healing which should come in handy if your dog also has accompanying skin problems.
Physiologically, chondroitin is a very crucial structural element of cartilage. Its main function is in providing resistance against compression so that the underlying bone structure doesn’t get easily damaged. It has also been shown to significantly reduce the rate of breakdown of cartilage, giving the body sufficient time to repair and heal the damaged articular surface.
As we have already shared above, chondroitin is often combined with glucosamine especially in the management of osteoarthritis. Together, these substances are able to alleviate articular pain while also working to reduce the swelling associated with such inflammatory events.
Methylsulfonylmethane or MSM is another popular ingredient found in many supplements for dog joints. It is particularly helpful in reducing signs and symptoms of inflammation which is often a hallmark of joint problems particularly those affecting membranes. Adding to its exceptional anti-inflammatory property is its ability to neutralize circulating free radicals that may aggravate any inflammatory condition especially in the joints. MSM is also beneficial in the more efficient repair of cartilaginous tissues, providing the sulfur to the critical building blocks of cartilage. This also leads to the more efficient production of collagen, a protein that is an important component of many tissues in the body like the skin and cartilage. Increasing the supply of collagen can also help improve the overall health and flexibility of these structures.
- Hyaluronic Acid
Joints are composed of two opposing surfaces of bones which, if not properly lubricated, can lead to increased friction and increased risk of damage to the articular surfaces. The lubricant for the joints is known as synovial fluid and hyaluronic acid is a major component of this lubricant. Hyaluronic acid or HA is thus, important in making sure that your dog’s joints are fully functioning with each movement that your pet makes. If there is not enough synovial fluid in the joint capsule, moving will be a chore if not painful. HA is also known to be involved in tissue repair while also improving the overall hydration and elasticity of skin structures.
Coenzyme Q10, or more popularly known as CoQ10, is a fat-soluble substance that resembles those of vitamins. It is a well-known antioxidant that has been heavily marketed as a supplement for individuals with heart conditions. When used in veterinary medicine, especially dogs, CoQ10’s antioxidant properties can help in the reduction of inflammatory changes in the joints.
This leads to more flexible articulations alleviating pain and improving overall physical mobility. It is often used in combination with Vitamins C and E as CoQ10 has been shown to increase the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of these two vitamins.
This Indian spice may not really be at the top of your mind when it comes to canine joint health. However, numerous studies have pointed that turmeric is one of the most effective medicinal herbs, thanks to its active ingredient, curcumin. As an ingredient in supplements for dog joints, turmeric works as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, skin protective, and anti-arthritic preparation. Studies show that its most potent property is that of an anti-inflammatory. This addresses many of the signs and symptoms of canine joint problems such as pain, discomfort, swelling, and immobility or inflexibility. By reducing the inflammatory processes in the joints, dogs are able to move freely.
- Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
Known for their antioxidant properties, omega-3 essential fatty acids are just one of two types of polyunsaturated fats, the other one being omega-6. As an antioxidant, omega-3 fatty acids can help neutralize the action of free radicals in triggering inflammatory responses in the body.
This leads to the second benefit of omega-3 fatty acids in the reduction of swelling, alleviation of pain, and improvement of overall joint mobility in dogs with particular problems such as arthritis. While these should not be considered as arthritis medicine for dogs, they can form an excellent backup to a myriad of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances that can help reduce the severity and extent of canine joint clinical manifestations. For some great options, check out our review of the best fish oils for dogs.
- Vitamin C
One of the most important uses of Vitamin C in joint health is in its ability to stimulate the increased synthesis and secretion of collagen, a protein that is needed in the formation of the extracellular matrix. In other words, Vitamin C helps improve the body’s ability to produce collagen which can further strengthen and improve the overall integrity of your dog’s joints, ligaments, bones, and tendons.
Additionally, Vitamin C or ascorbic acid can play a huge role in the neutralization of free radicals which, in turn, can help reduce the incidence of clinical manifestations of inflammation. It also serves to repair and maintain other connective tissues while also slowing and preventing direct and indirect cellular damage. Technically, Vitamin C is a powerhouse substance that has many health benefits even to canines.
- Vitamin E
Like Vitamin C, alpha-tocopheryl or Vitamin E is an excellent antioxidant which can help in the prevention of inflammatory conditions in the joints of your pet dog. It has also been established that Vitamin E can help reduce the rate of cartilage destruction while promoting its repair. When used in combination with Vitamin C and CoQ10, the effects can be simply amazing for your pet.
It may not be as popular as the other micronutrients like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, but selenium has been proven to be particularly important in the more efficient remodeling and regeneration of damaged cartilage. This leads to stronger cartilaginous tissues and, in turn, healthier joints.
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Canine joint problems are a great concern for many dog owners as it affects their pet’s level of comfort and mobility and significantly impairs their ability to bond and socialize with their masters and other dogs. Giving them the right joint supplement should help prevent the rapid deterioration of their articular health while promoting optimum mobility and overall quality of canine life.