Author: James St.Clair, DVM (Director of Veterinary Medicine, TopDog Health & Rehabilitation)

Overall it seems that most people are at least familiar with the concept of giving their dog a joint supplement. Yet the harsh reality is that almost no one has any idea actually how to choose the RIGHT supplement for their dog. What complicates things even more is the fact that there are tons of products which have flooded the market, most of which are manufactured by companies who don’t have the slightest clue about what a canine joint needs.  But as a consumer, how do you know?

So the real question is what do you need to look for and where can you find it for your dog?

The first thing you need to understand is these two key points:

  1. Not all joint supplements are created equal (the same holds true for all supplements)
  2. Not all ingredients used in different products are created equal. There are shocking differences between the quality and safety of ingredients. Simply put…There needs to be a huge buyer beware!

Unfortunately in today’s world the reality is that there are simply to many products on the market claiming do the same thing. Not only that, but there is huge diversity in the pricing of these products.

You can go to Petco and find a joint supplement for your dog that costs $12.95 for 60 tablets, while at the same time your veterinarian is recommending a joint supplement that costs around $35-$40 dollars for the same size bottle.

Due to the influx of inexpensive raw materials from overseas, primarily China, there are manufacturers who are not experts in animal health that are pumping out products and singing their praises. This has made it increasingly difficult for consumers to make the right choices for their pets and equally as hard for manufactures with integrity to get their message out.

Know the Company, Trust the Company:

The most important advice I can pass on to you is this: At the very least, it is critical that you know the company whose supplement you are choosing to give to your dog. You are your dog’s advocate, therefore you need to do your own research and find out who the company is that manufactures the product.

  • Are they a US company or foreign?
  • Where are the products manufactured?
  • Where are the ingredients sourced?

In many cases you can call the company and simply ask them any of these questions. In addition to this, it is always a good idea to seek the advice of your veterinarian.

A Scary Truth:

Recently I was at a meeting hosted by the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC). This is an independent watch dog group for the US animal supplement industry. Unfortunately, the reality is that even a group like the NASC cannot police all the companies who are producing pet supplements for the market. What was so mind blowing was the number of raw material manufacturers who were doing everything in their power to disguise the quality of their ingredients. The word for this is ‘adulterated material’. Essentially the goal was to find and use alternative ingredients that would “trick” the chemistry analyzers into thinking they were something they were not. Several examples were shown and all were ingredient suppliers from China.

The two most common ingredients known to be adulterated were chondroitin and MSM.

How do you avoid this? The answer is simple. Find a product that is not only produced in the USA but also ONLY uses raw materials from the USA. The guidelines for quality and safety are much stricter here in the USA. The USA to date is still the accepted leader when it comes to the best and safest raw materials in the world.