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Do Vets Recommend Dog Joint Supplements?

All pet owners, be they dog owners or otherwise know that the best source of advice for anything related to their pets is a licensed professional such as a veterinarian.

A vet will advise based on an objective perspective as it his or her job is to assess your pet’s health and needs and then provide the most practical information based on the said assessment.

Thus, if your vet makes a recommendation for you to use certain products, it is because your pet needs it and not because your vet only wants to sell you a particular product. 

Looking after dogs takes a great deal of care and attention and sometimes, supplementation, like those for your dog’s joints. Sometimes, dog owners will buy a product based only on online reviews or recommendations by friends.

While these recommendations can be helpful in deciding whether a product gives the best value for money, it may not be of so much help when it comes to assessing whether your dog really needs it.

Such products include joint supplements and joint chews for dogs specifically. Dog owners, especially those who own large breeds, tend to worry about their dog’s joint condition as larger breeds are generally known to be predisposed to joint issues. 

Some veterinarians have already weighed in on the use of dog joint supplements

Can Joint Supplements Cure Existing Joint Conditions?

A dog who is already suffering from joint issues will not be cured by supplements. However, joint supplements for dogs will help in alleviating the pain that your dog is enduring and may even speed up the recovery of an existing condition if it is curable.

Since health conditions that affect joints and bones can be very painful, your dog will most likely also experience restlessness, loss in appetite, and vomiting as a result of dealing with the pain.

Veterinarians recommend supplements generally for two purposes: first, to prevent the development of joint issues in dogs; and second, supplements are useful in helping ease the pain your dog is suffering from and help them move again comfortably. 

Joint conditions occur due to various contributory factors such as age, weight, breed, and diet.

The most common joint problem experienced by dogs is arthritis, which is also common in humans as they age. It results when the cartilage, which serves as a cushion between the bones, wears out and becomes thinner. Consequently, the ends of the bones will brush against each other, causing inflammation which then causes pain. A dog suffering from arthritis often walks with a limp because of the pain. 

Taking supplements at an age recommended by a veterinarian in the case of any dog may help delay the onset of joint problems in dogs.

Likewise, a dog who is already suffering from a joint problem may be advised by a veterinarian to take supplements to manage the pain. Damaged cartilage does not fix itself and cannot reproduce on its own, as blood cells for example can do. Using supplements for joints may help in hastening the repair of the damaged cartilage though. 

Joint Supplement Ingredients Are Important

Veterinarians consistently advise dog owners to check the ingredients of the supplements they are buying, no matter what they are for.

Some ingredients may be more suitable for your dog than others. The best way to assess it is to familiarize yourself with what certain ingredients address and discuss it with your veterinarian. The most common ingredients found in canine joint supplements are listed below: 

Chondroitin Sulfate and Glucosamine

These particular ingredients help with easing the pain that your dog may be suffering from due to joint issues. The collagen synthesis in cartilage is regulated by glucosamine.

It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which is effective in reducing pain. Meanwhile chondroitin sulfate acts as an inhibitor of destructive enzymes found in cartilage and joint fluid.

When combined, glucosamine and chondroitin assist in the synthesis of building blocks that are essential in forming cartilage. Take note though of the possible side effects of using supplements with these ingredients which may include softening of the stool as well as flatulence. 

Cannabidiol (CBD) for Dogs

This ingredient, often known as ‘CBD’ comes from cannabis but it is that part that is non-psychoactive. Studies have shown that it acts on a broad range of receptors in the body, some of which are connected with pain receptors. 

There have been propositions that CBD helps alleviate pain felt by dogs with arthritis. This proposition has been tested by CBD manufacturers through small-scale clinical trials and these trials yielded positive results. 

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) for Dog Joints

Fish oils are the most popular source of EFAs. Among the wide range of EFAs, DHA and EPA show the most promising effect when it comes to arthritis among pets. Scientific trials conducted to test the efficacy of EFAs showed improvement in mobility.

Some of the patients in these trials were able to reduce the dosage of their prescription medicines for arthritis. EFAs also have antioxidant effects, which are good for the joints. 

Dogs suffering from osteoarthritis were given EPA and DHA doses of 230 to 370 mg per kilogram of body weight. This means that larger dogs may need bigger quantities of fish oil pills on their daily diet.

Thus, veterinarians now prescribe diets that contain EPA and DHA in high doses for dogs with osteoarthritis. Some of the studies conducted on these fatty acids revealed that dogs who were given at least 3.5% of fish oils have improved their mobility or lameness. 

Are Supplements Safe for Dogs?

Supplements are not strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as these are dietary supplements and not drugs. Nevertheless, these are only known to cause very mild or no side effects at all.

It can usually be taken with medications without adverse effects. If there is a hesitancy on your part about giving your dog supplements alongside prescription medications, it is best to discuss this with your veterinarian. 

Reviewed by

Laura Robinson, DMV

Dr Laura practices at the Antonio Animal Hospital in California, where she was born and raised. She is an advisor to Wuffes, ensuring all our products and content is of the highest standard

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