The best joint supplements for dogs 2024

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(Image credit: Getty Images/Martin Ruegner)

If you want to keep your dog’s joints healthy or are worried about arthritis, then you’re right to be on the hunt for the best joint supplements for dogs. Joint supplements are not a medication and so cannot treat a condition, but keeping your dog’s joints in good health is the best way to keep your dog feeling younger for longer. They come in various forms, like chews, powders, and treats, making them easier to feed than you might think, too.

These supplements help keep their joints healthy and maximize comfort, often containing ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin, naturally found in the cartilage. To learn more about what these ingredients are, our glossary can help.

If you're looking for other ways to support your dog and ensure he’s comfortable, you could invest in one of the best orthopedic dog beds too.

Expert vet Dr. Hannah Godfrey says: "I always recommend joint supplements to pet parents with ageing dogs or dogs with an injury or condition meaning they’re more likely to develop arthritis. Sometimes, pet parents are a little skeptical about whether or not joint supplements are necessary or effective. In my experience (and in scientific studies), they are beneficial in slowing the progression of arthritis and delaying the need for other medications. However, to get the most benefit from joint supplements, start them sooner rather than later."

The best joint supplements for dogs 2024

How we tested the best joint supplements for dogs

To ensure your purchase is worth every cent, we thoroughly researched the best joint supplements for dogs. 

After speaking with a vet about the best ingredients to look out for, we searched high and low for the perfect match. As well as ensuring the products had those golden active ingredients, we made sure everything else inside was healthy for your dog to consume. 

Our team of testers then reviewed them based on: 

  • Affordability: Since supplements are an ongoing purchase and expense, we included a variety of options to suit every budget. Good health should be accessible to every pup!
  • Value for money: We asked our testers whether the products were good value for money based on the quality and quantity. 
  • Easy to use: Dogs aren't always the biggest fans of taking supplements. We asked our testers how easy it was for their dogs to take it, how palatable it was, and whether they turned their nose up at all. This gives you complete transparency of what to expect.
  • Repurchase: We also asked our testers the most important question – would they buy it again? This helps you to make an informed decision about whether it's worth your money.

Owner holding out a white tablet in front of a dog's face

(Image credit: Getty Images/Daria Kulkova)

How to choose the best joint supplements for dogs

Choosing the best joint supplements for dogs can feel very overwhelming. That's why we asked Dr. Godfrey what ingredients to look out for.

She says: "Joint supplements usually contain glucosamine and chondroitin, while some contain additional beneficial ingredients like hyaluronic acid, Boswellia, and green-lipped mussel extract

"Although there are many similar products available, there are differences, so it’s important to choose a reputable brand that is open about its ingredients and uses research to back its claims. For instance, you might feel tempted to use human glucosamine supplements since they are often cheaper. However, dogs can’t absorb glucosamine sulfate, the human version. Instead, choose glucosamine hydrochloride."

Feeling confused about what these long-named ingredients mean? Here's a glossary to help:

  • Glucosamine hydrochloride: An amino acid that's found naturally in cartilage (tissue that protects your bones and joints). This is often extracted from shellfish for supplements.
  • Chondroitin: This chemical is also found naturally in the body and keeps cartilage healthy.
  • Hyaluronic acid: This natural substance helps to lubricate the joints and keeps moisture locked in.
  • Boswellia: A herbal extract from the Boswellia serrata tree that may be anti-inflammatory. 
  • Green-lipped mussel extract: Contains omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): This chemical is found in the body or can be produced in a lab. It helps to make collagen and glucosamine.
  • Turmeric: A natural spice that may have anti-inflammatory properties. 

Owner holding a tablet in their hand near a dog's face

(Image credit: Getty Images/Hugo Alejandro Salazar S)

Is it ever too late to give my dog joint supplements?

These supplements are a great way to keep your dog's body healthy. If your dog already has joint problems, you might be wondering if it's too late to start taking them. 

Dr. Godfrey says that they're less effective in established arthritis and that pain relief medication is the most important thing to take with advanced cases. She explains that supplements have "comparatively little effect since the joint tissue is already so abnormal". 

She says: "Joint supplements can be safely used in dogs from one year old when they've finished growing. By giving your dog joint supplements throughout their life, you’re doing all you can to prevent degenerative joint disease in the first place, which is particularly important if your dog's breed is genetically predisposed to arthritis."

How do I know if my dog needs a joint supplement?

Joint pain in dogs is very common, but how do you know if your pooch needs to take a supplement? 

Dr. Godfrey explains: "Any dog can benefit from a joint supplement, especially those likely to develop arthritis in the future because of their breed, an injury, or a health condition. German shepherds, labradors, golden retrievers, springer spaniels, and some other breeds are prone to joint problems."

If your dog is prone to arthritis, she recommends starting joint supplements at an early age to help prevent it, and if they're already showing signs, they might still be useful. However, you should always consult your vet as they might need additional treatment to help with pain. 

Dog being fed a tablet by owner

(Image credit: Getty Images/Sanjagrujic)

Do I need to ask my vet before giving my dog joint supplements?

Most joint supplements are very safe and you can easily buy them over the counter. However, Dr. Godfrey recommends telling your vet about any changes to your dog's care so they can check that it's appropriate, safe, and likely to work (plus whether your dog needs pain relief treatment).

Dog being checked by a smiling vet

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Curated by
Megan Milstead smiling
Curated by
Megan Milstead

Megan is Staff Writer on PetsRadar and is passionate about animal wellness. As a former dog owner, she is committed to finding high-quality products that are effective, safe, and don't cost the earth. She has a keen interest in health; that's why she researches each and every ingredient within the products before putting them to the test on our dogs. 

Dr. Hannah Godfrey BVetMed MRCVS
Dr. Hannah Godfrey BVetMed MRCVS

Dr. Hannah Godfrey is a qualifiedvet who graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2011. She is passionate about soft tissue surgery, ultrasound, and canine and feline dentistry, and completed additional training in these areas.

Megan Milstead
Staff Writer

Megan is a Staff Writer on PetsRader, covering news, features and buying guides. She has a wealth of experience looking after animals, having grown up with dogs, cats and horses all of her life. She’s particularly interested in pet happiness and behavior, which she loves to research in her spare time. You’ll often find her watching webinars on reactivity in dogs or researching cat body language. She loves going the extra mile for her cats Chilli and Nala (who also help out with testing the best products for our buying guides). 

Megan studied BA Journalism at the University of Westminster, where she specialized in lifestyle journalism and was editor of Smoke Radio’s online magazine. She also graduated from West Herts College with a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Journalism. Before joining the PetsRadar family last year, she worked on the editorial team at Harrods and has spent most of her career writing for specialized titles, like RunningShoesGuru, Licklist and Mr. After Party. 

Megan works alongside qualified vets and accredited trainers to ensure you get the best advice possible. She is passionate about finding accurate and helpful answers to your pet-related questions. 

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