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Do Joint Supplements for Dogs Really Work?

If you have ever tried to find a joint supplement for your dog, you most likely ran into thousands of different options, which likely led to overwhelm. And at that point, you were probably wondering if these supplements were even worthwhile. Do they actually work or are they just a waste of money? 

To answer these questions, we have to start by understanding a dog’s joint, what it contains, and how it works. 

Dog Joint Anatomy

Synovial joints are the most common type of joint in a dog’s body, and they are the ones we typically think about when we hear the word ‘joint.’ Synovial joints allow for movement and transfer load in the body. Some examples of synovial joints include the elbow, knee, hip, and shoulder. 

A synovial joint is made up of the ends of two different bones and a joint capsule which contains synovial fluid, cartilage (collagen + proteoglycans), and the synovial membrane. All of these components working together in harmony and good health keep your dog functional and comfortable. 

In terms of supplements and joint health, there’s typically 3 big ingredients that are discussed: glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid. 

Glucosamine for Dogs

Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid are truly the original meaning of the new buzzword “all-natural.” All three substances are naturally produced by the body and found in your dog’s joints. 

Glucosamine, in particular, is an amino sugar that the body uses in the healthy development and maintenance of cartilage, the connective tissue found between the bones in the joints (1). You can think of glucosamine as food for the joints to help produce structural support. The body’s ability to produce glucosamine decreases with age, which is unfortunate since senior dogs also have increased joint ‘wear and tear.’ 

In dogs with arthritis and joint pain, the cartilage network between bones has begun to break down in a degenerative process, leading to discomfort, inflammation, and limited mobility.  

The idea behind feeding supplemental glucosamine is that it can help prevent and repair joint damage, but this finding varies based on the form of glucosamine fed and how well it is absorbed by the dog. Most hip and joint supplements for dogs contain synthetic versions of glucosamine, which is generally not well-absorbed.  

Chondroitin for Dogs

Chondroitin sulfate is a glycosaminoglycan (proteoglycan), which is just a building block of cartilage. Chondroitin is one of the building blocks that acts as a cushion and shock absorber. Where glucosamine acts as ‘joint food’ so it can produce more chondroitin sulfate (and related substances), chondroitin is the actual building block. 

Chondroitin is thought to work synergistically with glucosamine, which is why they are often fed together in supplements for dogs. 

Hyaluronic Acid for Dogs 

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is another glycosaminoglycan which is found in synovial fluid and cartilage. It also functions as a shock absorber, as well as an important lubricator. 

As a dog ages, he/she will produce less HA. Supplements with HA are thought to be beneficial for comfort, flexibility, and range of motion. 

What Can I Give My Dog for Joint Pain? 

Overall, it is a good idea to provide your dog with joint supplements, especially as they age and become prone to joint problems, as the body becomes less efficient at producing its own support. The key is finding the joint supplements which contain natural, highly absorbable forms of the big 3: HA, glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate. 

Rocket Animal Health’s Canine Cush product was designed with exactly this in mind! We formulated this supplement with eggshell membrane, which naturally contains HA, glucosamine, chondroitin, AND collagen. 

What does this mean for you and your dog?

Because the ingredients in this product come straight from nature, dogs will actually absorb the supportive nutrients. 

Some research estimates up to 80% of eggshell membrane can be absorbed (2)! That’s a heck of a better number than the average rate of absorption of synthetic glucosamine (at MOST 12%) and chondroitin sulfate (5% absorption rate) (3). 

Basically, we just made your hunt for the best dog joint supplement very simple. Joint health and joint care for dogs has never been easier, or more effective. 

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