How common is arthritis in dogs?

Dog with ArthritisArthritis, or osteoarthritis, is one of the most common disorders in dogs. It is estimated that 20% of adult dogs in the USA show signs of osteoarthritis.1,2 A small study at the University of Tennessee in 2013 showed that 68% of dogs (5-12 years of age) that presented for dental cleaning had signs of osteoarthritis on x-rays. The most common joints affected were the hips, hock, wrists and knees.2


  1. Fox, Steven. Canine Osteoarthritis and Neurobiology. Western Veterinary Conference Proceedings. 2013. Veterinary Information Network.
  2. Millis, D., et al. Prevalence of Osteoarthritis in Dogs Undergoing Routine Dental Prophylaxis. World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings. 2014. Veterinary Information Network.

How do glucosamine and chondroitin in dog joint supplements work?

Glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfate are compounds called glucosaminoglycans, or GAGs for short.   GAGs are naturally found in the joints of mammals and in shellfish. Glucosamine is used by cells within cartilage to produce other GAGs and hyaluronan. These compounds help to lubricate the joint and protect cartilage cells. Glucosamine also has a mild anti-inflammatory effect. The production of collagen and proteoglycans in cartilage also relies on glucosamine.

The aging process, trauma and disease in the joint makes it harder for the dog to produce their own glucosamine. When feeding GAGs in the form of joint supplements for canine arthritis to mammals, such as dogs or cats, this helps to nourish their cartilage.

Chondroitin sulfate helps to inhibit destructive enzymes that may form in an inflamed joint. It also stimulates the cartilage cells to produce GAGs. Which is why these joint supplements for arthritis in dogs can be helpful.

How long can I keep my arthritic dog on a joint supplement?

It is generally thought to be safe to give dogs joint supplements for life, provided that they only contain glucosaminoglycans (GAGs) such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. Ask your veterinarian if you use a combination product with herbs or other ingredients.

Do dog joint care supplements have any side effects?

Side effects of joint supplements are very rare. Occasionally dogs may suffer from digestive upset (soft stool or flatulence) after starting the supplement. Allergy to joint care supplements is possible, especially if the dog has a shellfish or beef allergy. If your dog suffers from food allergies, it is best to check joint supplements carefully.

Can I give my dog joint supplements containing chondroitin or glucosamine with prescribed medicines or other painkillers?

NSAIDs for canine arthirtisIt is generally safe to give joint supplements containing glucosamine or chondroitin along with other drugs. It is best to talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s current medications and medical conditions.

Joint supplements are often given with painkillers such as Tramadol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as Rimadyl (carprofen).


How are dog joint supplements different from human joint supplements?

Dog joint supplements can differ from human joint supplements in the quality of the product and dosage. Studies that have been done on dog joint supplements efficacy were using veterinary-specific products such as Cosequin.

What is perna mussel?

Perna mussel is also known as the New Zealand green-lipped mussel. It has been used as a food supplement for many decades. It naturally contains glucosamine, Omega-3 fatty acids and other anti-inflammatory factors. After harvest, the soft tissue of the mussel is processed into a fine powder and added to joint supplement products.

What is creatine?

Creatine is an amino acid. It is often found in combination with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate in joint supplements for dogs. Beneficial creatine supplementation has been researched in humans suffering from osteoarthritis in the knees. In humans, creatine supplementation has been shown to increase kidney values on bloodwork. While this has been seen clinically in dogs taking double doses of joint supplements, it has not been studied. If your dog suffers from kidney disease or elevations in blood kidney values, talk to your veterinarian before starting your dog on supplements containing creatine.

What is MSM?

MSM stands for methylsulfonylmethane. It is a compound that is found naturally in small amounts in plants. MSM is often found in dog joint supplements with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. MSM is thought to have anti-inflammatory effects and may help treat osteoarthritis in dogs. It is generally safe in the doses provided in over-the-counter dog joint supplements. A recent small study in rats showed that appropriate intake can be beneficial in patients with osteoarthritis but may be harmful to internal organs if taken in excess.1


  1. Ezaki, J. et al, Assessment of safety and efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane on bone and knee joints in osteoarthritis animal model. J Bone Miner Metab. January 2013; 31(1):16-25.

What are the key ingredients I should look for in dog hip and joint supplements?

The key ingredients to look for in dog hip and joint supplements are glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and omega-3 fatty acids. The combination of these ingredients is the safest and often most effective for reducing signs associated with arthritis in dog.

Written by Dr Deborah Shores – B.S in Animal Science, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.