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Explaining joint supplements for dogs and cats

As a pet owner, you may have noticed the multitude of joint supplements that are available to purchase for your pet. Joint supplements for dogs are the most widely available.

The idea behind joint supplements is to provide the building blocks that make up the parts of the joint, so that when degeneration or damage occurs – for example as the dog ages or if an injury occurs – the ingredients are there to help to repair and support the cartilage and synovial (joint) fluid.

It is important to purchase a joint supplement specific to your dog’s needs. The range of joint supplements available is vast and the ingredients in different products vary significantly. To make the right choice you need to be informed of the way that these ingredients work. 

Joint supplements can be given in conjunction with prescription products, but it is always best to check with the vet before supplementing. In some cases supplementation can reduce the amount of prescribed medication needed, so your vet needs to be aware of what the animal is taking so they can prescribe the correct dosage.

The lists of ingredients below are commonly found in joint supplements:


Glucosamine is an amino sugar that is a precursor to glygosaminoglycan, a major component of cartilage.  It is commonly sold as glucosamine sulphate or glucosamine hydrochloride. Glucosamine supplementation enhances the body's ability to manufacture collagen and proteoglycans, which are essential for maintaining and repairing joints, as well as the production of the joint fluid that acts as a lubricant within the joint.


Chondroitin is also a major structural component of cartilage structure as Chondroitin sulphate. 

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane)

MSM is an organic (biologically active) form of sulphur that is believed to have health benefits due to an antioxidant effect, and by enhancing anti-inflammatory action of cortisol already present in the body.


Manganese is a trace mineral needed for healthy bones and to help manufacture cartilage repair enzymes. It also acts as an antioxidant. 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is needed to maintain connective tissue and collagen. 

Green lipped mussel

Green Lipped Mussel is only found in New Zealand. It contains a unique omega 3 fatty acid as well as glucosamine and glycosaminoglycans. Helpful in joint mobility and cartilage maintenance.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that the body cannot naturally produce. Found in cold-water fish and certain plant oils, Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to alleviate sore joints, morning stiffness, and allow a reduction in prescription medications that are necessary for severely arthritic animals.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid is a major part of synovial fluid, the cushioning fluid in the joint which helps lubricate and cushion the joint during movement.

Forms of joint supplement


Joint supplements can come in various forms, including liquid, tablets, chewable treat-type tablets, capsules, and can even be built into specific veterinary diets.

Often manufacturers recommend that supplements are fed at a higher rate for the first 4-6 weeks, then the daily amount can be reduced according to the vet’s recommendations.

Remember - if in doubt, ask your vet!