There’s more to keeping your dog’s joints healthy than just glucosamine. Whether you have a younger dog and are ready to get proactive about taking care of their joints (good job dog mom/dad!) or have an elderly pup who is starting to slow down from arthritis, these 10 nutrients – all completely natural – are essential for keeping their joints happy and healthy.
We’re kicking the list off with this no-brainer. Providing your dog with a steady supply of cool, fresh water is one of the easiest (not to mention cheapest) things you can do to promote healthy joints. Proper hydration is key for keeping joints adequately lubricated, allowing them to move and flex as needed. Dehydration can lead to stiff tendons and ligaments, which can cause heightened pain in arthritic dogs and increase the risk of injury.
2. Omega 3-Fatty Acids
While we used to think joint conditions like arthritis were solely the result of normal wear and tear as dogs age, we’re now seeing that chronic low-grade inflammation is a major culprit as well. Omega 3-fatty acids are a powerful, natural way to reduce inflammation, which will help younger dogs maintain healthy joints, and older dogs manage joint pain.
You’ve probably heard of using fish oil as an omega-3 supplement, but by far our favorite source is the green lipped mussel. What makes green lipped mussels so unique and efficient in improving joint health is their diverse omega-3 profile. Unlike fish oils used in most supplements which only contain 2 kinds of omega-3 fatty acids – Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) – the green lipped mussel also contains a third called Eicosatetraenoic Acid (ETA). This complete combination, provided in our Flexerna joint supplement, means less inflammation, less pain, and more mobility for your canine companion.
A holistic mindset is key to maximizing your dog’s joint health. When most pet parents approach this issue, they’re thinking only of their dog’s joints. But equally important is taking care of the muscles and soft tissues that support the joints and contribute to the overall health of the musculoskeletal system. If a dog starts to slow down from arthritis, the “if you don’t use it, you lose it” principle kicks in and they start to lose muscle mass, compounding their joint issues.
Proteins are the ticket to keeping your pup’s muscles healthy. They are the main building blocks of the body, used to build and repair muscle and other body tissues. While the importance of protein is no secret, it can be hard to understand exactly how much your dog needs. You can learn the amount and type of proteins that will best benefit your dog (and get 3 protein-packed homemade treat recipes) in our article The Power of Protein.
4. Natural Anti-Inflammatories
As we mentioned, inflammation is the #1 enemy of healthy joints. While anti-inflammatory drugs can have harmful side effects, nature provides a host of safe anti-inflammatories that will help keep chronic inflammation at bay in younger dogs, and reduce painful joint swelling in dogs with arthritis. Some of our favorites include blueberries, turmeric (fresh root, powdered, or in supplement form), fatty fish, sweet potatoes, fresh ginger root, spinach, and pumpkin. Don’t be afraid to add these “people foods” into your dog’s meal rotation for a healthy kick. You can read more about what foods to stay away from here.
Methylsulfonylmethane(or MSM) is a naturally-occurring, easily-absorbed sulfur that is an essential building block for all cell membranes. In a nutshell, it is a cell rejuvenator, antioxidant, and joint healer. Highly effective at relieving pain and inflammation, it is typically given in pill form but is unfortunately left out of the majority of dog joint supplements. Our supplement GlycanAid contains the only patented, 99.9% pure, premium distilled MSM on the market and is an easy way to provide your dog with this incredible nutrient. Hint: If you want a shortcut to providing your dog with MSM (plus the next 5 nutrients on our list!), GlycanAid contains them all in one convnient joint supplement.
Despite the long name, there’s a chance you may have heard of this one. Glucosamine is the oldest and most researched ingredient in the joint supplement world, and with good reason. An amino sugar that is essential for maintaining healthy cartilage and joint function, glucosamine is naturally produced by your dog’s body. But over time, their natural production becomes inadequate at preventing joint damage and must be supplemented. If you have an older dog or a pup suffering from arthritis, be sure to help boost their reserve of this crucial nutrient.
Chondroitin is a cartilage component that promotes water retention (remember, hydration is key!) and elasticity needed for mobility and inhibits many of the degradative enzymes that break down cartilage and joint fluid.
8. Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid (or HA) is a gel-like substance that is naturally produced by your dog’s body, serving as a shock absorber and helping to lubricate their joint fluid. In older dogs, highly active dogs, or dogs that have suffered an injury, HA can become damaged and lead to joint issues. HA given in supplement form has been shown to be effective in replacing damaged HA in the joints that commonly occurs from overuse, age, or trauma. TopDog’s GlycanAid HA is one of the few supplements on the market that has Hyaluronic Acid.
9. Cetyl Myristoleate
A relative of the omega-9 fatty acid found in olive oil, cetyl myristoleate is a completely natural long chain esterified fatty acids found in certain animals, such as cows, whales, beavers, and mice – but not dogs (or humans, for that matter). It is a wonderful anti-inflammatory, as well as a pain reliever and immune system modulator. Again given to dogs in supplement form, it helps to maintain joint mobility and improve range of motion.
10.Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Unlike humans, dogs’ bodies are able to create their own vitamin C, but dogs with joint problems need more than what their bodies produce naturally. This antioxidant protects against free radicals that accelerate the aging process and aids in the absorption of the other ingredients. If your dog tends to have a sensitive belly, our joint supplement GlycanAid contains Ester-C®, a patented, innovative form of vitamin C (4 times stronger than ordinary vitamin C) that is non-acidic – meaning is does not cause acidity problems normally associated with ascorbic acid and therefore does not upset the stomach.
Whether your dog is a puppy, an older dog, or anywhere in between, providing them with these 10 nutrients will support their overall joint health, prevent potential issues, improve mobility, and decrease discomfort – so your beloved pet can enjoy as many long walks, brisk runs, and tail-wagging adventures as possible.