Like in humans, nutritional supplements can be beneficial in reducing the pain or discomfort associated with arthritis in dogs and cats. This is achieved in three ways:
- Structural support (Glucosamine and Chondroitin)
- Anti-inflammatory support (Omega Oil)
- Adjunctive Herbal support (e.g. Curcumin)
In our experience supplements are most effective if used as part of a multi-modal arthritis plan so the first step is speaking to your vet about the best options for your pet. Unfortunately, the supplement market is poorly regulated and there are many ineffective products available. For this reason, we suggest sticking to reputable brands and using the tips below to help you find the right supplement for your pet.
Tips for picking the right supplement for your pet:
- You may need to do some trial and error to see what is right for your pet. Try a couple of types and observe your pet for improvement.
- The product should state the amount of each ingredient on it. If it does not list the amounts it’s unlikely to be effective.
- Stick to the recommended dosing on the pack. Loading doses are often recommended.
- Expensive is not necessarily the best. Do you research and use cost per day calculations to work out what will me most economical.
- Once you have picked your supplement, buy the biggest box possible as this is more economical. Often if there is a powder form this is the cheapest option particularly for larger dogs.
- Be aware many of these products are off label for cats (Antinol is the only supplement registered for use in cats).
- If your pet has food allergies check the flavour of chew options to ensure they won’t react.
- Look for glucosamine hydrochloride NOT glucosamine sulfate as the latter has questionable ability to end up in synovial fluid in the joints.
- For more information about specific ingredients check out this article.
We base our supplement recommendations on scientific research and the clinical responses we have seen over many years, but we understand every pet responds differently. So, if you find a supplement that seems to have a significant impact on your pet’s joints then go for it! Just double check with your vet is has no reported adverse effects and be aware of the limited information available regarding the systemic impact of their long-term use.
Below are 5 nutritional supplements that are well known to the veterinary industry that we consider to be of some benefit. All of these products are over-the-counter and can be purchased from us. If you are looking for more individualized advice on which may be best for your pet, please speak to our vets.
|Green Lipped Mussel
|Cost per day*
|*Cost determined based on largest pack size possible at a maintenance dose for a 30kg dog September 2020.
|Powder or Chew
|Powder or Chew
|Granules or Liquid
We often get asked whether human formulations could be considered. Here are our tips regarding human formulations:
- Humans and animals are different! So our supplements are different and this is why the above supplements have been specifically designed for dogs and cats. This would always be our preference.
- The above brands offer customer and vet support if any concerns were to arise. Human formulations obviously will not.
- Some human formulations contain other ingredients or flavouring that may be harmful to a pet. Please read ingredients labels carefully.
- Be sure to dose to the size of your pet. They are usually not as big as a human! Please seek professional advice on doses.
- Avoid flax seed oil. It is readily converted to omega three acids in the human body but is very poorly converted in dogs and cats – only 10% converts. Fish oil is much more effective.
- If using herbal supplements such as turmeric, you are best to use medical grade supplements. Simply sprinkling turmeric spice powder on their dinner is very unlikely to have any effect.
- Omega 3 essential fatty acids (e.g. Fish oils) have a proven effect on inflammation in the joint and are also known to prevent progression of arthritis. The dose is 100mg/kg/day which when purchasing human formulations can work out to be quite a lot of capsules so consider this when comparing costs. The ratio of EPA (Eicosapentanoic acid) to DHA (docoseahexanoic acid) should be around 3:2 for best effect so please check this on the product you are considering using for your pet.