Published: October 2020 | Updated: December 2022
Joint Supplement. Just the thought may send shivers down your spine and make you cringe. I understand the feeling. The world of joint supplements (human, horse, dog, you name it) can be downright overwhelming.
It’s hard to sift through hundreds of articles and products to determine which supplement is actually the best for your dog (and not detrimental to your pocketbook). So, in this article we are going to dive into joint health to give you some insight into your dog’s joints and what can REALLY help them.
Dog Joint Anatomy
To understand how joint supplements can help dogs, we must first understand the joint itself. While overall anatomy will vary greatly from breed to breed and dog to dog, some anatomical features are consistent in all dogs.
Every dog has three different types of joints:
Fibrous Joints: Found primarily in the skull, these joints allow for growth and will ossify (or become actual fixed bone) as a dog ages; minimal movement occurs at these joints.
Cartilaginous Joints: Connected completely by cartilage, such as the joints between vertebrae in the spine; allow for more movement than fibrous joints but not as much as synovial joints.
- Synovial Joints: The major articular joints which contain two or more bones, the ends of which are covered in articular cartilage. These bones are separated by a joint cavity, which is filled with synovial fluid. Articular cartilage and synovial fluid are responsible for absorbing shock and reducing friction during movement. When cartilage begins to degrade it is difficult to repair, causing pain and other joint problems.
As dog owners, when we feed a hip and joint supplement to our dogs, we are targeting the synovial joints.
Dogs Prone to Joint Problems
Joint pain can occur in any dog, but some breeds are more likely to develop joint problems than others. Dog breeds that are prone to hip dysplasia include Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers. The condition is also common in small dogs like Dachshunds and Terriers.
In addition to breed, there are other factors that contribute to decreased joint health in dogs.
Risk factors for joint problems include:
- Age: As dogs age, their joints tend to become less flexible and more susceptible to injury or damage. This is due to changes in cartilage (a soft tissue that provides cushioning at the end of long bones) with age. Cartilage serves as a shock absorber between bones and helps with both flexibility and strength. However, although joint problems are more common in older dogs, young dogs can show signs of joint issues as well.
- Sex: Females appear to be at a slightly higher risk for hip dysplasia than males.
- Environment and lifestyle: Joint problems tend to be more common in dogs that live an inactive lifestyle or have been overweight for many years.
- Weight: Overweight or obese dogs often have weakened muscles, which may make them more prone to injury during exercise or strenuous activity. Overweight dogs are also more likely to develop joint problems later in life because excess weight puts additional stress on the joints, which can lead to arthritis and other skeletal diseases.
- Genetics: Dogs with hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia are more likely to develop arthritis than other dogs. The same goes for dogs who have suffered traumatic injuries to the joints or who have been overweight for a long period of time.
What Active Ingredients Should Be in the Best Dog Hip & Joint Supplement?
There are a plethora of supplement ingredients touted to improve joint health in dogs, but we’re only going to talk about the best active ingredients that are backed by science.
Glucosamine Hydrochloride: An important component of collagen and a building block for cartilage. By supplementing glucosamine hydrochloride, cartilage tissue can be maintained, and dog joint pain may be alleviated.
Chondroitin Sulfate: Another important component of cartilage; this compound can also inhibit enzymes that degrade cartilage. It is generally used in combination with glucosamine for dogs for optimal cartilage protection.
Hyaluronic Acid: A component of both cartilage and synovial fluid, this molecule is responsible for stimulating cartilage growth as well as providing synovial fluid with its lubricant quality, easing joint pain.
Collagen: The main structural component of articular cartilage. As dogs age, the body’s production of collagen slows down, making it more difficult for senior dogs to maintain cartilage health. Providing collagen can help maintain cartilage and may decrease pain in the joints as well.
- Cannabidiol (CBD): I know what you’re thinking… Oh brother, that stuff again. But hang in there with me. CBD is derived from hemp and is NOT going to make your dog high. Furthermore, research has indicated a reduction in pain and increase in activity and quality of health in dogs with osteoarthritis who were given CBD oil.
While these ingredients have been shown to help decrease pain and maintain cartilage health, there is no real way to completely overcome damage to cartilage that has already occurred.
Because of this, it is optimal to use the best joint supplements with these ingredients starting earlier in life as a preventative measure in order to make a lasting benefit.
Rocket Animal Health’s Canine Cush soft chews go the extra mile as the best joint supplement for dogs by providing ALL of the ingredients described above for ultimate joint support.
Further, the glucosamine, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, and collagen found in Canine Cush are derived from eggshell membrane. This means they are a natural source of these anti-inflammatory compounds rather than synthetic as many products found on the market are.
Eggshell membrane has been found to be absorbed at levels of upwards of 80%, which is MUCH greater than its synthetic counterparts, meaning more of the good stuff is able to be utilized by your animal.
With so much quality packed into one small chewable tablet, Canine Cush just made navigating joint supplements for your dog a whole lot easier.
When Should My Dog Start Taking Joint Supplements?
There's no one answer for everyone; it depends on your dog's individual needs. If your puppy has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia or arthritis, then it might be a good idea to give them a joint supplement early on in their lives so they don't develop any problems later on down the line.
If your dog has already developed some sort of degenerative joint disease, then there's no point in waiting until they're older before giving them supplements because it might be too late by then!
In general, professionals recommend starting your puppy on a joint supplement around 6 months of age. At this point in their life, they are developing strong bones and joints that will last them into adulthood. By introducing these supplements at this stage of development, you are giving them a head start on building healthy bones and joints that will last them throughout their lives.
If your puppy is 6 months or older, you may want to get started offering an optimal joint supplement like Canine Cush to your dog. Not only will this aid in preventing future damage, but it could save you pain, agony, and hundreds of dollars in veterinary bills later in their life.
In addition to providing the joint supplement, don’t forget to feed a high-quality diet and keep your dog’s physical and mental health in check. Supplements work best when combined with a healthy lifestyle.