MINI SERIES #1: Osteroarthritis PART 3

I’ve done 2 previous posts on osteoarthritis and what it is, on how we diagnose it, and on how we treat it. Today, we are going to discuss different types of supplements.

As we’ve discussed, we cannot cure OA with medication but we can slow the progression of the disease and manage the pain. Dietary supplements can help to nourish the joint and work in a similar manner. Often, they work towards preventing cartilage degradation. Chances are you've heard about or researched joint supplements. There is a lot of information out there and it can be super confusing on what is the best option to give your pet.


A dietary supplement is a food or food product (without adverse effects) that can provide health benefits like preventing disease onset or progression.


-Chondroitin sulfate - it is an amino sugar that works by inhibiting cartilage-destroying enzymes. Because it is a large molecule, it can have variable absorption in the gut. Some companies make a low-molecular weight version that increases absorption.

-Glucosamine hydrochloride - it is an amino sugar building block that creates cartilage and stimulates the growth of cartilage cells. It exerts anti-inflammatory and anti-catabolic (anti-breatdown) effects in the joint.

Chondroitin and glucosamine can have a synergistic effect and work better when given together (15-30mg/kg per day - high dose for 4 weeks initially). Oral supplementation with glucosamine and chonroitin is effective but it can take a bit longer to see clinical improvement (~70 days) compared to cartrophen injections.

- Undenatured type II collagen - it has high levels of amino acids, especially glycine and proline, that are essential for the stability and regeneration of cartilage. It has been shown to reduce pain of OA and improves activity but the scientific studies are lacking.

- Avocado soybean unsaponifiables (ASUs) - dried plant extracts derived from avocado and soya bean oils. These contain multiple compounds including fat-soluble vitamins, sterols, triterpene alcohols, and fatty acids. They protect the cartilage matrix against damage and stimulate healing of osteochondral defects in the joint. Also, have a delayed onset. (10mg/kg per day).

- Omega 3 fatty acids - omega 3’s (EPA/DHA) are knowns to be a multimodal supplement. Omega 3’s are metabolized into eicosanoids that act as an anti-inflammatory agent in the body, including in joints. (100mg/kg combined EPA and DHA a day).

- Egg shell membrane - egg shell membrane has high concentrations glucosamine, chondroitin, collagen, and hyaluronic acid. Sounds like a pretty great supplement but the absorption of this in dogs is unknown.

- Green-lipped mussels - this is a supplement taken from a type of mussel native to New Zealand. They are high in Omega 3 fatty acids but also have other compounds that also fight joint inflammation and pain like eicosaterteaenoic acid (ETA), glucosamine, chondroitin, zinc, magnesium, etc. (500mg-1000mg per dog per day).

This is not a complete list but it gives you an idea of some of the more common joint supplements. REMINDER: overconsumption and/or improper consumption can also be dangerous.


Unfortunately, there is very limited regulation on dietary supplements and products do not have to have evidence of efficacy to be marketed as a dietary supplement. This is why you need to be informed and do your research! Look for evidence that the product works. For example, labels that say ‘double-blind placebo studies’, ‘independent third party’, 'prospective study', etc. You can also call the company and ask for what research has been done on the product. If they cannot give you information, then it probably isn't a great product.

You can get these products in a single form or in a combination. You can buy joint supplements at your local vet clinic in the form of treats, pills, oils, kibble, etc. Choose whatever is easiest for you and your pet. Just remember to always factor these in to his/her daily calorie intake!

Make sure you read the label to ensure your pet is getting an adequate amount of joint supplement. Some treats will contain a supplement, but require you to feed an enormous amount in order to give your pet the recommended dose.


You can start joint supplements as early as possible (>8 weeks), especially in breeds that are predisposed to OA.

If you have any questions, talk to your vet about the best options for your pet!

#jointsupplements #arthritis #petcare

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