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When a human gets older, they often suffer from joint pain. Their body feels stiffer and less supple, making even afternoon walks somewhat uncomfortable. The same can be said for dogs. In fact, depending on the breed of your dog, they may suffer from joint pain early on in life. There are plenty of joint supplements on the pet market that claims to help dogs with joint pain, but for a vet recommended brand, we look to Cosequin – a product line from Nutramax that offers joint support for dogs of all sizes and all ages.
What is Cosequin?
Cosequin is a supplement created to promote joint health in dogs and support joint mobility in dogs of all ages. The joint supplement comes from the brand Nutramax, whose laboratories have been producing quality joint support supplement products for quite some time now.
The joint supplements that we’re talking about here are Nutramax’s Cosequin line of products. These include several supplements of various types (such as chewable tablets and soft gels). Some of the Cosequin product lines include MSM, which is the acronym for Methylsulfonylmethane. This is a natural chemical that is typically used as an anti-inflammatory for animals like dogs and horses. It also has antioxidant properties, which makes it a great addition to any joint health supplement product like Cosequin.
Although you can buy MSM for dogs as a separate supplement, having MSM combined with the other active ingredients in Nutramax’s Cosequin make taking joint supplements much easier for your pup. The average dog isn’t going to enjoy taking any kind of medication or supplement, so why use more than one supplement for dogs if you don’t have to?
Cosequin is a trademarked name and product created by Nutramax Laboratories Veterinary Sciences, Incorporated. No other Cosequin joint supplements should exist outside of the Nutramax brand. At present, there are 14 different Cosequin products available from Nutramax and traders who stock the brand’s products.
How Does it Work?
All of Nutramax’s Cosequin products use a combination of naturally occurring supplements to protect existing cartilage in your dog’s joints, support their joints as they grow and get older, and help your dog’s joints feel more mobile and healthy.
To understand how Cosequin supplements work (including Cosequin DS and other Nutramax Cosequin products), it’s best to break down the active ingredients. This will give you a good understanding of how each of their products can be effective for your dog, and then we can break down the individual benefits of each of their 14 Cosequin products.
Cosequin supplements often contain some variation of the following ingredients:
FCHG49 Glucosamine Hydrochloride (trademarked)
TRH122 Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate (trademarked)
Both of the trademarked ingredients listed are the result of in-depth research and meet vet-researched specifications. The Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate is derived from bovine cartilage.
Glucosamine is used for humans, dogs, and a few other animals. It’s used to alleviate pain and other symptoms that are caused by joint damage and can aid in the repair of cartilage damage and cartilage production. It’s the most common ingredient in joint care supplements and is often a supplement all on its own.
There’s been plenty of research on the effects of using Glucosamine (and Chondroitin) to help our furry friend’s joints. This research has shown that Glucosamine helps maintain the fluid which lubricates a dog’s joints and then goes on to aid in cushioning their cartilage. Healthy dogs may not seem like they need a joint care supplement, but many young dogs may not show signs of joint damage until they’re older. There’s no harm in giving dogs joint and hip supplements to help maintain their youthful joints.
While Glucosamine lubricates a dog’s joints, Chondroitin helps keep up joint elasticity and promotes water retention in the cartilage. By doing this, Chondroitin can help give your dog’s joints the right amount of shock absorption that they need to stay active. This supports cartilage production and keeps your pup’s joints healthy.
Between Glucosamine and Chondroitin, your dog should have a great foundation for maintaining healthy joints that can function without discomfort. Dogs with canine arthritis benefit extremely well from these two supplements, but they would also help older dogs who are entering their senior years. For a wider selection of choices, check out our guide on the best supplements for older dogs.
Remember, not all pups with arthritis are elder dogs. Toy dog breeds can suffer from joint issues from extremely early on in their life. Small breeds of dogs can show signs of arthritis from as young as 12 months. Puppies with joint problems aren’t unheard of, either.
MSM, or Methylsulfonylmethane, is a natural form of sulfur that can help relieve pain, soreness, and discomfort in dogs. It is particularly helpful for adult dogs that have joint issues, so pet parents can be sure that their canine companion is taking a supplement with some key benefits from its active ingredients.
MSM is considered to be a great anti-inflammatory, and many different supplements include it. Small dogs that live an active lifestyle could gain a lot more comfort from taking a supplement that includes MSM. The same can be said for active large breed dogs.
A less common active ingredient in supplements made for your pet’s joints, Manganese plays a big role in the general health and maintenance of your dog’s bones and cartilage. Dogs need a good amount of Manganese to be able to produce energy, make fatty acids in their bodies, and be able to metabolize carbs and protein.
Dogs don’t need much Manganese at all. In fact, approximately 1.8mg of Manganese per 1000 calories will do the trick. As a quick product-related comparison, Nutramax Cosequin Maximum Strength plus MSM has 3mg of Manganese per chewable tablet. Nutramax Cosequin Maximum Strength tablets also have a recommended dose of one tablet to maintain joint health in dogs that are 31 to 60 pounds. So you really don’t need much Manganese at all to aid your dog.
Often mixed up with the newer Nutramax Cosequin Maximum Strength supplement (they are two separate products, belonging to a long line of Nutramax supplements)
For dogs of all sizes
Contains Manganese, Glucosamine, and Chondroitin
“DS” for “Double Strength”
Best for: Dogs that need more joint support than the average pet
For our UK readers: This supplement is more readily available in the UK than other Cosequin joint health supplement products. Pets at Home, the UK’s most notable pet supply company, have access to Cosequin DS. In the US, Cosequin DS seems to be as easy to find as all other Nutramax supplements.
Side effects rarely occur when dogs are taking Glucosamine supplements. The risks associated with joint health supplements from reputable brands are extremely low.
Typically, if your dog is having a reaction to the supplement that you’ve chosen, they may be intolerant or allergic to one of the ingredients. The other issue is overdosing, which can happen when a dog is given too much of a supplement they aren’t used to.
Because of this, err on the side of caution and start small when giving your dog a new supplement to try.
Below are the possible side effects for each of the ingredients used in Nutramax Cosequin DS and all other Cosequin line products:
Soft stool, possibly diarrhea
Loss of appetite
HA (Sodium Hyaluronate/Hyaluronic Acid):
Loss of appetite
EPA and DHA:
These are both Omega-3 fatty acids, used to support healthier skin and coats in dogs. Unless given in high doses, there should be no side effects. High dose side effects include:
Oily or dry, flaky skin
All dosages for each individual Cosequin product are laid out on the supplement’s label. The dose required for your dog will depend on their weight.
As an example, the max strength version of Cosequin DS (plus MSM and Boswellia extract) suggests this for the first 4 to 6 weeks of your pup taking the chews:
10-29lbs dog = 1 soft chew per day
20-59lbs dog = 2 soft chews per day
60lbs+ dog = 3 soft chews per day
After the initial 4 to 6 weeks of introducing the supplement into your dog’s diet, the number of chews is practically halved. Maximum strength Cosequin DS plus MSM and Boswellia then suggests just 1 chew every other day for dogs under 29lbs, 1 chew per day for 30-59lbs, and 1 to 2 chews for dogs over 60lbs.
Pros & Cons of the Cosequin Line
All products are subjected to stringent quality control measures during production and packaging
Different tablet types to suit dogs (including sprinkle capsules for dogs that just won’t take supplements whole)
Ingredients that naturally occur
Fundamental ingredients to assist dogs with mobility issues, joint pain, and joint damage
Various levels of strength, from standard to double dose to maximum strength
No artificial flavors
Lots of products, many of which do practically the same thing, so it’s difficult for dog owners to know which one to choose
Not all dogs can tolerate high doses of Glucosamine and Chondroitin, overdosing can lead to toxicity and side effects
Alternatives to Cosequin
From the Nutramax brand alone, there are several alternatives to any Cosequin product that you might be using. Two of the most popular ones are Cosequin DS and Cosequin Max Strength, but these might not be what your dog needs or the type of supplement (capsule, gel, chewable, etc.) might not work for your dog. Cosequin DS is often mixed up with the newer Cosequin Maximum Strength in reviews of the Cosequin line, but they are two separate products.
Doggie Dailies Advanced Hip and Joint Supplement for Dogs
Liquid Health K9 Glucosamine Joint Supplement
PetLab Co. Joint Care chews
A good joint health supplement for your dog will always contain Glucosamine Hydrochloride because this is one of the best ingredients to aid with doggy joint problems. Of course, if you can find a supplement that also contains Chondroitin, that’s even better.
When shopping for a chewable tablet or other kinds of joint supplements, remember this warning:
When buying online, always ensure that you are purchasing a legitimate product, as there are many companies that will sell imitation products that can be easily mistaken for the real thing.
You can check for the legitimacy of a product by researching the brand and its online presence. Check for reviews from real customers, and look at negative reviews as well as positive ones. You’re more likely to find a reputable brand that way because paid-for reviews do, unfortunately, exist.
Is Cosequin Good for Dogs?
When you look online for the Cosequin line of products, you will undoubtedly come across Cosequin DS reviews and hundreds of other reviews for Nutramax’s products. They are overwhelmingly positive, but that doesn’t really tell you whether or not Cosequin is healthy for your dog.
Thankfully, we can tell you that none of the vital ingredients that appear in the Cosequin line of products have been known to cause adverse reactions in the average dog. Even the max strength Cosequin products, which have between 500mg and 600mg of Glucosamine per tablet, should not cause any harm to your furry friend if you properly monitor their intake and do some research into the amount of Glucosamine that is suitable for your dog to take.
To save you delving too far into that particular rabbit hole – it’s safe to give your dog around 15mg of Glucosamine per kilogram of weight (approximately 2.2lbs). A joint health maintenance level of Glucosamine for a 75lb dog is anywhere between 500mg and 1000mg. But that’s maintenance level, which is a reduced dose given after the initial period of 4 to 6 weeks on a higher dose than Cosequin products suggest.
Those numbers are in-line with the dosage suggestions on max strength Cosequin products. As a dog owner, you might need to play around with dosages during maintenance to figure out what suits your dog the best, but Cosequin’s guidelines are excellent. Seek vet advice if you’re uncertain during this process.
Cosequin is marketed as the number one Veterinarian Recommended Brand of retail joint health supplements. This is based on data from a survey reported by Nielsen from the US market in 2020. Each participant of the survey was a small animal veterinarian who recommended oral joint health supplements in the survey.
Initially, canines should take Cosequin supplements for 4 to 6 weeks at a higher dose before the dose is reduced to a maintenance level. Dogs can continue to take Cosequin for as long as their owner or a vet feels is appropriate.
The initial 4 to 6 weeks of taking Cosequin allow the supplement to get to work in your pup's body. These weeks are crucial because they will show you the level of improvement that your furry friend experiences from taking a Cosequin supplement. That will then tell you whether your dog needs a higher dose of Cosequin (such as DS or max strength) or if they react badly to the supplement and need an alternative.
Cosequin's ingredients should not make your dog sick. If your pup has any of the side effects we've listed, they may be sensitive to one of the ingredients in the supplement you're using or need a lower dose. Look out for signs of allergic reactions - such as difficulty breathing, vomiting and gagging, lethargy, and the like.
It's very rare for a dog to react badly to the natural ingredients listed in the Cosequin product line. Do not purchase counterfeit products (be sure to buy your supplements from reputable stores.
Cosequin Senior is the perfect Cosequin product for older dogs because it's formulated specifically for canines that have reached their elder years (for dogs, this is when they are over the age of 7). Your older dog could also benefit from the Hip and Joint variants of Cosequin, but Cosequin Senior is certainly the best choice for them.
Cosequin is excellent for controlling canine arthritis! In fact, the main ingredients in the supplement products (those being Glucosamine and Chondroitin) have been researched many times so that vets and pet owners can understand how they promote joint mobility, help heal damaged joints, and give dogs better quality of life when they suffer with chronic joint conditions like canine arthiritis.
If you still aren't convinced - did you know that humans also take these same supplements for arthritis?
It's ideal to start giving your pup joint supplements after they've reached 12 months of age. Before they turn a year old, your puppy is still developing and may not show any signs of joint soreness while they're bouncing around your home. You may, however, notice that your breed of dog does have joint issues. There are several breeds out there that are prone to joint issues, including toy breeds and large dog breeds.
Cosequin Senior is a unique product in the Cosequin brand line because it contains Beta Glucans which support a dog's immune system. They are also a soft chew, which is easier for an older dog to take than capsules or tablets. In addition to these great benefits, the supplement further contains Total Omega-3s, EPA, and DHA.
Cosequin should not cause kidney failure in dogs, but dogs that are given an overdose of Omega-3 fatty acids can end up with damaged kidneys if the overdose contains over a period of time. Eventually, the damage to the pup's kidneys can then lead to kidney failure. It's very important that pet parents regulate the supplements and diet that they are feeding their dogs so that these risks are as minimal as possible.
The joint supplement known as Cosequin is produced in the USA by the company Nutramax. Nutramax is based in South Carolina, and their Cosequin supplements are available through the Cosequin Store, Petco, or Petsmart in the US.
The only real difference between Cosequin and Dasuquin is that Dasuquin also contains ASU. ASU is Avocado and Soybean Unsaphonifiables, which is an ingredient that is believed to aid in the prevention of cartilage erosion and help repair stiff, sore, and damaged joints in dogs. There's a huge difference of opinion on which product is better for dogs with joint issues, but it seems that pet owners with dogs that have extremely severe joint damage like to use Dasuquin over Cosequin.