Do Joint Supplements for Pets Really Work?

There has been some controversy lately about the effectiveness of joint supplements for pets. For many years, veterinarians have recommended using joint supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, to help rebuild cartilage in the joints. Why? Because they seem to work, and many veterinarians and pet owners saw improvement in their pet’s functioning after starting the supplements. Joint supplements are also very safe, and pets who take them rarely experience any side effects at all.

Many veterinarians recommend joint supplements in addition to pain medications to help reduce the amount of pet medication needed

But recent studies have questioned the long-held belief that joint supplements actually work. Skeptics suggest that what pet owners are seeing is a placebo effect rather than a real improvement in functioning. They believe that the pet owners want their pets to feel better, and they believe in joint supplement therapy, so they see what they want to see.

So what is the answer? Are joint supplements effective?

The best answer is that there is evidence that joint supplements do have a positive effect, and there’s no solid evidence that they don’t work. There’s also very little risk in giving joint supplements to your pet, so most veterinarians still recommend joint supplements to help pets with arthritis, joint injuries, or hip dysplasia. In most cases, they can also be used in conjunction with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), such as Rimadyl, which is available through 1-800-PetMeds. To purchase Rimadyl, you will need a prescription from your veterinarian.

What types of joint supplements are available for my pet, and how do they work?

  • Glucosamine and chondroitin are two of the most popular joint supplements. They both help rebuild smooth cartilage in the joints. Smooth cartilage is necessary to prevent bones and joints from rubbing together and causing inflammation and pain.  For best results, glucosamine and chondroitin should be used together. There are supplements, such as Cosequin for dogs and Cosequin for cats, that contain both types of supplements.
  • Cosequin DS Plus MSM also comes with the added benefit of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). Bodies need the type of sulfur in MSM to help produce collagen, glucosamine, and chondroitin, which are all necessary to make cartilage. MSM also helps the body make antioxidants, which can have many positive effects.
  • Certain types of Omega-3 fatty acids are also thought to have a positive effect on joint health. Omega 3 is an antioxidant that is thought to help help maintain  joint and organ health. It may also have the added benefit of  maintaining coat and skin well-being and promoting optimal health for the heart, brain, and eyes. You can get pure Omega-3 supplements at 1-800-PetMeds.
  • Creatine may help rebuild cellular walls. Although it doesn’t have a direct effect on joints, there is some evidence that it may, in conjunction with exercise, be helpful for dogs who are losing muscle. One joint supplement that has added creatine is Joint Chewys. Joint Chewys are treats that contain glucosamine, MSM, and omega oils, which all work together to help strengthen your dog’s joints. They also contain creatine, which encourages cellular reconstruction.

To supplement or not to supplement, that is the question.

In the end, you and your veterinarian will need to decide whether or not to give joint supplements to your pet. But keep in mind that there’s no evidence that supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin, or Omega-3 can have any negative effects on your pets, and there’s a good chance they will help. Most pet owners believe that, because the potential benefits are great and the risks are minuscule, there’s really no reason not to try joint supplements. Just remember, although these supplements are extremely safe, it’s best to contact your veterinarian before giving your pet any new supplement or medication.

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