Feeding a Dog for Healthy Joints

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A common ailment that afflicts both humans and dogs is osteoarthritis. This has led to an explosion in demand for NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Humans often use drugs like Naprosyn and Ibuprofen to reduce the pain, while dogs are often prescribed Rimadyl (carprofen) or Deramaxx (deracoxib) to name a few.


While these drugs can certainly help ease the symptoms of osteoarthritis, they do not solve the underlying problem, nor can they reduce the likelihood that the disease will even occur. This is where diet can help. There are an assortment of foods that can help keep joints healthy and even help to repair joints that are in an arthritic state.


Nutrients for Healthy Joints

Copper. Copper is needed by the body to manufacture collagen, which is crucial component of connective tissue.


Foods commonly found in dog food that are high in copper include garbanzo beans and lentils, and leafy greens such as spinach and kale.

healthy joints

Vitamin C. Vitamin C, like copper, is used in the formation of collagen, which is important for connective tissue regeneration.


Foods commonly found in dog food that are high in Vitamin C include berries, broccoli, and kale.


Fish Oil. In a U.K. study at Cardiff University led by Bruce Caterson, Ph.D., cod liver oil was shown to stop or slow down cartilage-eating enzymes in knee joints. This combined with its anti-inflammatory benefits means fish oil packs a punch when it comes to keeping joints healthy.


Salmon, haddock, and sardines are commonly used in dog food formulas.


Water. Proper hydration is needed to keep the joints adequately lubricated and allows them to move and flex as the body demands. Dehydration can lead to stiff tendons and ligaments which might increase the chances of injury.


Make sure that your dog has an ample supply of fresh, cool water in a convenient location. Refill and refresh the water bowl several times each day.


Glucosamine and Chondroitin. Glucosamine and chondroitin are important structural components of joint cartilage, and these nutrients are probably the most common form of joint health supplement in the market. Although there has been some mixed research on the efficacy of glucosamine and chondroitin with regards to joint health, there has also been a plethora of published research supporting its benefits on joint health.


There aren’t many foods that are high in glucosamine and chondroitin so supplementation is usually the best way to add this to a dog’s diet. Bone gristle and meat cartilage as well as the shell of shrimp contain glucosamine and chondroitin.


Anti-inflammatories. Because osteoarthritis is thought of as an inflammatory disease, foods that are anti-inflammatory can help prevent or at least ease the symptoms of osteoarthritis. (We will be writing a separate piece on anti-inflammatory nutrients in the coming weeks). Some of the more powerful anti-inflammatories include turmeric, bromelain (found in pineapple), fish oil, and ginger.


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  1. I’m going to have to add some of these to my diet. Thyroid issues wreak havoc on joints. And beef trachea is a great source of glucosamine and chondroitin.
    Flea recently posted…The Curly Q – A New TreatMy Profile

  2. I was just wondering about Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans for dogs! Perfect timing!
    Jessica Shipman recently posted…Fresh, Cut Flowers – Pet Safe OptionsMy Profile

  3. It’s great information to have on hand. Sampson is on a supplement with shellfish, but Delilah is allergic to it. Plus she’s got some liver stuff going on and might be storing copper, so I have to be careful. 🙁 I’ve added some turmeric to her diet and hope it helps.
    Jodi recently posted…The Exodus of the WormsMy Profile

  4. Unfortunately, Haley’s starting to have some joint and arthritis issues after strenuous exercise, so we’re on track with a lot of your advice. Right now, I’m struggling with how to balance keeping her active and exercising with making sure we don’t overdo it.
    Elaine recently posted…The Pet Wellness Report Review (PWR)My Profile

  5. Just started with the Glucosamine. Since Harley’s 6 yrs old now and Jax is in the house, we figured it was time. Harley can’t seem to digest the fish oil, but the Chick peas sound like a great addition to our menu! Thanks
    Groovy Goldendoodles recently posted…JAX IN THE BOXMy Profile

  6. I’ve been meaning to pick up some fish oil; thank you for the reminder. We’ve had pretty good results with Glucosamine for Laika’s arthritis so far. I think we’re finally getting the right balance between exercise and nutrition since her arthritis hasn’t been showing any symptoms lately.
    Jen Gabbard recently posted…Lily the Hound Mix is Ready For Her New HomeMy Profile

  7. Great article. Thanks for sharing the importance of these nutrients.
    Jessica Claudio, DVM recently posted…World Health DayMy Profile

  8. Great post. We have been thinking about adding fish oil to Harley’s food to help with his mobility creaky-ness!
    MyDogLikes recently posted…Family Traditions: Merrick Brauts-N-TotsMy Profile

  9. I loved your organic turmeric tip & have incorporated it into our pups’ daily meals a while ago. We also just started adding salmon oil, and the pups love the taste!

    P.S. I’m a sucker for exchanging our pups’ water several times per day, and cleaning their water bowl out once per day with hot soapy water. I can’t stand the sight of stale water with dog hair and other “debris” floating around in it.
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Different protein sources in our homemade K9 dietMy Profile

    • I know what you mean about the water. It never fails when Maggie comes in from the backyard that she leaves dirt balls in the water. Ugh.
      mkob recently posted…Feeding a Dog for Healthy JointsMy Profile

    • I know what you mean about the water. It never fails when Maggie comes in from the backyard that she leaves dirt balls in the water. Ugh.
      mkob recently posted…Feeding a Dog for Healthy JointsMy Profile

  10. Lately, I’ve been using chick peas for my dog treats. Yes, to ginger. I shared before that I give Sugar flavored ginger water. Happy Tasty Tuesday. Golden Woofs

  11. Great information. We feed salmon based foods and Thunder and Storm are on a supplement that also has glucosamine and chondroitin. I think it has helped them.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Wordless Wednesday–SprintMy Profile

  12. Mom is a big water drinker, so are Bailie and I, and her previous dog was too. It has always bugged her that Katie doesn’t drink much. Funny as she is the only one who has arthritis too, and has had symptoms for years.
    Emma recently posted…April Showers Bring…My Profile

  13. Great post! I’ve been hearing more and more good things with fish oils.

  14. Thanks for the great info! We’ve increased fish oil and added turmeric (curcumin) to Sheba’s diet. I also plan to plant kale in my garden this year….I have no idea how to prepare it but I’ve heard such good things about it! Plus it’s supposedly easy to grow, which is always a bonus for me.
    Good to know about water, that is one thing I was not aware of.
    Jan K recently posted…Questioning Pet Vaccinations (Part 3 – Titer Tests)My Profile

  15. Great post!! We give Maggie, who was born with hip dysplasia, glucosamine and chondroitin supplements every day. We call them her little miracles pills, without them she wouldn’t be able to walk. We can’t speak highly enough about them!
    Golden Daily Scoop recently posted…Video: Dog Who Wants a KittyMy Profile

  16. I started giving my three rottweilers glucosamine and chondroitin supplements about two weeks ago, and I have already noticed a different. My 6 year old rottweiler was beginning to limp and not want to walk on one of his hind legs, so I took him to the vet and they recommended the supplements from Costco for people. At $18.00 per bottle, it was totally worth it. It so nice to see my boy jumping around like a puppy again.

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