Best Supplements to Fight Arthritis in Dogs

The most widely recommended joint supplement for osteoarthritis in dogs is a glucosamine-chondroitin combination, although fish oil is close behind.


When it comes to recommended joint supplements for dogs with arthritis, most veterinary professionals start with a product that combines glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. Other top oral supplement ingredients to consider for your dog’s arthritis are fish oil and oral hyaluronic acid (HA). Joint supplements can slow the development of arthritis and ease joint pain.

The combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate has been used as a joint supplement for decades. Glucosamine and chondroitin are both naturally found in joint cartilage. Both have anti-inflammatory properties, help with pain, and cushion the dog’s joint, therefore easing the pain associated with arthritic joints.

While joint supplements help dogs with early arthritis, it’s wise to begin the treatment sooner rather than later. Active dogs, like agility dogs, often begin to take a joint supplement like glucosamine when they are around 1 year old to help support joint cartilage and slow the development of arthritis.

Many people cling to the decades-old belief that supplements to help arthritis don’t work. Well, that’s not entirely true. Joint supplements are preventatives that help slow the development of arthritis in your dog. They are not cures. Despite the belief that research is too inconclusive to believe, even as late as in a study released in 2023, huge numbers of anecdotal reports from veterinarians who recommend joint supplements to their clients show that joint supplements do help dogs with arthritis.

Glucosamine Dosages for Dogs

Overdoses of glucosamine are rare but can occur and usually show first as diarrhea and/or vomiting. Because the right amount of glucosamine to give your dog depends upon multiple factors, including what else is in the supplement, follow the manufacturer label instructions for your dog’s weight.

Most products recommend a short period of double dosing, which is called the “loading dose.” The loading dose jump starts the process, helping the glucosamine and chondroitin build up in your dog more quickly. You can do it with regular dosing, but it will take a lot longer to see results. Even with loading doses, it can take a month to six weeks to see a difference. Don’t give up too soon.

Note: Choose supplements made for dogs rather than sharing your human supplements, which may contain ingredients like xylitol that are toxic to dogs.

Fish Oil and HA  Are Effective Joint Supplements

Many brands of glucosamine-chondroitin for dogs include additional active ingredients like fish oil and HA. Fish oil has strong research showing it  to be a viable part of a pain-relieving treatment protocol for dogs battling arthritis, and was recommended by Dr. Joseph Wakshlag in Cornell DogWatch. In addition, a study on HA shows HA’s ability to increase the synovial fluid in a joint. HA has been long used as an injectable to promote joint health and ease arthritis, but many dogs, especially older ones, are responding extremely well to oral HA, which helps increase lubricating synovial fluid in the joints and avoids giving the dog an injection.

Best Brand of Glucosamine for Dogs

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When choosing a brand of glucosamine for your dog, look for a seal from the National Association of Supplement Companies (NASC), which verifies that the product you are buying contains the ingredients and amounts listed on the labels. We would avoid companies without that seal, with one exception: Products from Nutramax, maker of brands like Cosequin and Dasequin.

Nutramax has been an undisputable leader in joint-health research on supplements for animals for over 30 years. The lack of a seal on Nutramax products is not an issue for us.

Consult Your Veterinarian About Lameness

If your dog suddenly seems lame or sore when moving or getting up, don’t just guess arthritis, especially since arthritis has a gradual onset. The soreness your dog has may be due many problems besides arthritis. Never assume, even with an old dog, that glucosamine or fish oil for dogs are cure-alls. They aren’t.

If your dog is already limping from arthritis, chances are the pain is beyond the scope of a joint supplement. He may need a pain medication, such as the recently released Librela, which is an injectable drug that is helping a large number of dogs with serious arthritis.

Finally, keep your dog at a healthy weight. Maintain regular, appropriate exercise, like long walks and low-impact games. Tell your veterinarian if you see any evidence of early arthritis. The sooner oral supplements are started, the better the results. For active dogs, beginning joint-support supplements like glucosamine at an early age may have preventative properties and slow the onset of arthritis.

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Cindy Foley is the editor of Cornell DogWatch and Cornell CatWatch. She has competed in dog agility for over 17 years with her Papillons. A member of the Syracuse Obedience Training Club, she is currently doing agility with Aries, who has his AKC MACH and PACH titles, and Twisty, who is just beginning her agility career. A lifelong horsewoman, Cindy was a founding editor of Horse Journal and an assistant editor at The Chronicle of the Horse.


  1. Dog owners might want to check Consumer Lab ( to see if the supplement contains what the label says and is free of heavy metals. This resource also lists the cost per 500mg of glucosamine for each product.