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Along with getting older and wiser, we can also get a little stiff. It's no different for your pets.
Let’s take a dog for example—once hyper and nimble, may begin to slow and laze about in their mature years. The pup that used to bolt to the door as soon as he hears “W-A-L-K” may now be more content on the couch.
Even if we all age gracefully, there's bound to be a little creaking in the joints eventually. It can be challenging to watch your puppy get older, but you can do things to help.
Just as we take supplements to grease up our joints, your pets can take animal health supplements to oil the spots that may be giving them discomfort.
Wouldn't it be a dream to support your pet’s joint health and mobility from here on out?
Most people will get caught up in which animal supplements to purchase. There are so many joint and mobility animal supplements to choose from, so where do you start?
Well, you've stumbled upon the right article! We'll tell you about our top favorite animal supplements to support overall pet health.
Common Types of Supplements for Animals
There are a variety of animal supplements that you can give your pets. Let’s explore the different types in more detail below:
1. Animal Nutrition Supplements
Sometimes, our pets can experience a nutritional deficiency in an essential nutrient or need supplementation for other reasons, such as when they are being fed a raw diet. Dogs and cats need water, fat, protein, carbs, and a variety of vitamins and minerals in their diet. Calcium and phosphorus are especially important to dogs, while taurine is important for cats.
2. Animal Thyroid Supplements
While it may be tempting to give your cat or dog suffering from thyroid disease a supplement to help them feel better, most animal thyroid supplements on the market contain ingredients that can be difficult to determine the actual therapeutic value of. For instance, Bugleweed, a common ingredient in human and animal thyroid supplements, has little research on the actual therapeutic value, while an actual thyroid medication like Methimazole for cats has evidence-based research and multiple studies conducted vouching for its efficacy.
3. Mobility Supplements for Animals
Joint supplements are an effective way to help your dog or cat suffering from lameness, arthritis, and other joint conditions feel better. Most pet owners will give their pet NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to provide pain relief, but these drugs can cause nasty side effects because they negatively impact the kidneys, liver, and stomach. Joint supplements like TRI-ACTA with glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM, when given on a regular basis, have been shown to help decrease the use of NSAIDs and even get your pet off of them altogether.
TRI-ACTA for Pets
A proactive approach for developing and younger adult pets to maintain optimal joint health mobility, minimize inflammation and fend off age-related ailments.
4. Anxiety Supplements for Animals
Sometimes our animals can get a little anxious. Calming treats or supplements with melatonin can help them relax, and some pet owners have even begun to discover the benefits of CBD supplements for pets—a natural solution for helping your pet to calm down and relax.
Animal Supplements Evaluation Criteria
The products on our top animal supplements list were ranked with the following in mind:
Price and Manufacturing
Though we can all agree that it’s not necessarily the most important consideration for our pet's health, price is one of the first things we tend to think about when considering a product. We often think that the more expensive something is, the better the quality.
But just because an animal supplement is expensive doesn’t automatically mean it’s the best option for your pet. The pet supplement manufacturing process that a company uses can significantly affect the final product's price and the cost of raw ingredients. The blending, extrusion, shaping, testing, and bottling process can also affect the cost of a product. Designations usually cost more for manufacturers to get because of strict requirements, but they are worth it for pet owners to look for to ensure quality ingredients and good manufacturing practices (GMP).
Whether you are buying food for yourself or your animals, ingredients are essential and not something to glance over, so it’s important to know how to read a supplement label properly. We know organic, natural, unprocessed foods are better for us, right? The same goes for your dog.
There are three essential ingredients in animal health supplements for your pet:
- Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound found in cartilage. As a supplement, glucosamine for animals has the ability to repair cartilage. Essentially, it leads to the production of proteoglycans, which leads to the production of cartilage.
- Chondroitin Sulfate works alongside glucosamine for animals to make the perfect cocktail for anti-inflammatory, regenerative effects to the damaged joint tissue. This is the component to prevent cartilage from breaking down or deteriorating. It does this by inhibiting the destructive enzymes that wear away cartilage.
- MSM also aids in reducing pain and inflammation and is a commonly used ingredient in joint health supplements.
It’s not uncommon for pet supplements to use natural ingredient sources. Green lipped mussel for dogs, a common anti-inflammatory supplement often compared to glucosamine, uses green lipped mussels, which are indigenous to New Zealand. The New Zealand government needs to extensively regulate the farming of these creatures to ensure that waste products from the farming process aren’t released into the coastal and intertidal regions where the mussels reside. Plus, green lipped mussel powder on its own typically doesn’t provide as much therapeutic value as glucosamine that is sourced from shellfish.
Shark cartilage for dogs is another example of a natural-source supplement that has a negative environmental impact. Sharks ingest environmental toxins like mercury during their long lives, which can make it into the supplement. Plus, farming shark fins (the source of shark cartilage) has extremely negative effects on not only shark species but also the marine environments they live in.
To ensure the quality of ingredients and GMP, animal supplements can have a designation that customers can look for.
- The Veterinary Health Product designation for Canadian-made products can be found just above the barcode on applicable animal supplements. This designation means that the product is made with vetted, batch-tested ingredients.
- The National Animal Supplement Council in the United States is a non-profit organization that animal supplement manufacturers can seek out to gain a quality seal on their product. Getting the seal means the manufacturer has to follow the NASC’s labeling guidelines, ingredients quality control measures, and random product testing.
Potential Side Effects (if any)
Strange things can happen when you give your dog new meds or animal nutrition supplements. It's essential to pay attention to the ingredients because some dogs are more sensitive to tomatoes than others, while other dogs may be susceptible to another component.
Customer Service/Post-sale Support
Doesn't it ruffle your feathers when you try to return something, and there is no phone number or customer service on the website? When you need help with a product and the post-sale support is MIA, that is unacceptable and just plain bad business.
Top 6 Animal Health Supplements For Healthy Pets
Based on ingredients, product benefits, manufacturing and sustainability, and reviews, here are our picks for top animal health supplements:
1. Integricare | TRI-ACTA Pet Supplements
Hey! That’s us! We might be a little biased here, but this list wouldn’t be complete without us. We truly stand by our animal supplements. Integricare has been supplying Canada’s animal lovers with premium, all-natural animal nutrition supplements for pets since 1999.
Integricare is unique in that we use only active ingredients in our product. That means no fillers and no useless junk going into your furry friend's body. The customer is getting exactly what they have purchased, a quality product that will:
- promote mobility
- decrease stiffness
- encourage & maintain healthy cartilage
- protect joints
TRI-ACTA is a powder that is mixed in with your pet's food once a day. TRI-ACTA contains ONLY four ingredients and our maximum strength TRI-ACTA H.A. contains five ingredients. Both include two different types of glucosamine, and all are essential and active in the health of your dog's joints.
Why are two types of glucosamine important? Sulphur is an essential component of joint health, helping to repair and maintain the various joint structures. Including glucosamine sulfate ensures that your pet gets the sulfur that their joints need. Glucosamine HCl is a highly bioavailable form of glucosamine, meaning that your pet’s joints are able to reap the benefits of the ingredient quicker than glucosamine sulfate. Together, these two forms of glucosamine provide the maximum joint protection possible for your pet.
Such an active formula results in a few things:
- Value: You're not spending your money on anything but the active ingredients! Low cost per serving.
- Efficiency: You can rest assured that every ingredient in TRI-ACTA will revitalize your pet's precious joints.
- Small serving size: No need to hide a pile of powder under a hamburger or a pill inside a chicken breast. Since TRI-ACTA only has active ingredients, the serving size is just one gram per 35 pounds.
- Safe: No weird and unexpected side effects from fillers you weren't expecting to be in there.
Besides the selling point of ONLY having active ingredients, TRI-ACTA is also made of all pharmaceutical-grade materials and is a Health Canada-approved Veterinary Health Product. This ensures the quality and contents are verified and regulated. In addition, all components are third-party independently tested for purity and quality at a local lab in Ontario, Canada.
TRI-ACTA H.A. for Pets
Our maximum strength formula is optimally designed to accelerate the formation of cartilage, minimize inflammation, expedite the healing process, and improve joint conditions.
TRI-ACTA starts at $23.99 CAD for a 60g container, and TRI-ACTA H.A. starts at $27.99 CAD. Pricing as of August 2023.
2. Grizzly Hip & Joint for Dogs & Cats
While liquid joint supplements are typically more diluted compared to powders, Grizzly joint aid is still a reasonable option. In terms of ingredients, the supplement contains glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, MSM, sodium hyaluronate (which offers the same benefits as hyaluronic acid), and Krill oil—which has been shown to help prevent kidney issues and help with anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity in dogs and cats. Though, these benefits may have more to do with the high presence of omega 3 fatty acids, which can be found in a variety of fish oil for dogs and cats, rather than the krill oil itself.
The recommended dosage for Grizzly Joint oil is a bit higher than you’ll find with powders at 3.5 ml, so that’s a consideration with regard to daily cost.
Starts at $30.99 CDN for a 16oz (473ml) bottle. Pricing as of August 2023.
3. Zesty Paws Mobility Bites
Zesty Paws Mobility Bites are fairly affordable and easy to give. You only need to give one chew for every 25 lbs your dog weighs.
Zesty Paws use all of the vital ingredients for joint health and regeneration—Glucosamine HCI, Glucosamine sulfate, and MSM, plus it contains Yucca Schidigera extract (has shown some effectiveness for reducing joint inflammation), and Vitamin C. It’s tough to measure the therapeutic value of a plant-based ingredient, however, so it’s unclear how much actual benefit the Yucca is providing to your pup.
Many of the animal health supplements that come in "chew" form have a ton of fillers to keep the chew in one piece. It's like making cookies with eggs; the egg holds everything together. Unfortunately, when dog foods and packaged foods are made, they can't include fresh ingredients like eggs. That stuff would be rotten by the time it hit the shelf. So they use things like flour and flavours to keep everything together and tasting okay.
Zesty Paws uses a lot of different flours; it's almost a flour charcuterie with the array of flours available. In the inactive ingredients, you'll find pea, tapioca, and garbanzo flour—fancy. However, that isn't great if you have a gluten allergy, but it's nothing detrimental to dogs.
$39.99 CAD for 90 soft chews. Pricing as of August 2023.
4. Geri-Active Chews
If nothing else, you have to give them props for the clever name.
Geri-Active chews come in two different sizes—one for small dogs and one for medium and large. They have the basic building blocks of joint health, Glucosamine, and MSM, along with Creatine, Bromelain, and Omega-3 fatty acids. So if your dog is training for the next bodybuilder competition, they should be all set!
Creatine is known to increase muscle mass, boost strength, and lend energy in humans; it is unknown how much it can really do in dogs.
In humans, creatine is used as a supplement to help make ATP in the body. ATP keeps muscles pumped up and ready to go for a longer period so that one may work out longer than they would have otherwise.
For dogs, the point is somewhat moot. Though creatine will help your dog to make ATP, creatine itself doesn't "grow muscles." It just pushes your muscles to keep working longer. So, unless you're weight training your dog to be buff, there isn't a need for creatine in their diet.
Side effects of creatine include:
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Muscle cramps and spasms
- Pulled muscles from all the extra energy they get from the creatine
Maybe this is a good option for you, but don't be upset with your dog when they're going nuts from all the muscle milk.
Starts at $41.62 for 60 soft chews. Pricing as of August 2023.
5. Extend Joint Care
Another group of pet parents that went on a quest to make a quality product for their animals, Extend's joint care can help strengthen and nourish joints in aging dogs specifically.
Extend joint care powder comes in a handy little tear-open pouch for easy mixing. The contents of the pouch are mixed with water and topped with a gravy, which is included.
Extend joint care does appear to have the active ingredients necessary for a good supplement. Still, information on how much of each active ingredient in their animal health supplements are not readily available. Other inactive ingredients are not evident on the website either, but we managed to find them online.
Extend joint care can be found on their website for $64.95 for a one-month supply or $51.95 for repeat delivery. The website also says you can order on Amazon, but ordering pet meds from Amazon is like getting your wedding dress on eBay. Read the ingredient list and tons of reviews to make sure you get the intended product.
Extend has a pretty short list of ingredients with Glucosamine and MSM at the top and beef liver meal and oat fibre at the bottom, not bad. Unfortunately, the product also has Maltodextrin on its list of inactive ingredients.
What is Maltodextrin?
Maltodextrin is a commonly used filler or thickening in pet food, supplements, and probiotic products. It’s made from corn, rice/potato starch, or wheat. Like any sugar, maltodextrin provides energy and calories for your fur baby, but too much can potentially cause harmful side effects:
- Allergic reactions (itching, swelling, etc.)
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Nutritional deficiencies (maltodextrin acts like a simple carbohydrate; it uses vitamins and minerals from your pet’s body to provide energy, without contributing anything back—meaning it depletes your pet’s vitamins and minerals without replacing them)
- Poor gut health
The FDA has deemed Maltodextrin safe for consumption for pets as an additive, but just like humans, too much sugar can cause issues.
The problem with maltodextrin is that it’s found in a lot of pet foods and supplements, and these manufacturers may not list maltodextrin specifically on their label, instead using terms like syrup solids, dextrins, or glucose polymers.
If your pet has allergies, diabetes, kidney or weight issues, the best course of action is to research the product online to see if it contains maltodextrin, or contact the company directly to double-check.
$64.95 CAD for a one month supply or $51.95 for repeated delivery. Pricing as of August 2023.
6. NaturVet | Hemp Mobility Chews
Oh, hemp. You've been around for so long, but only recently have people been raving about all of your benefits!
Hemp seed oil has more essential fatty acids than flaxseed oil and can offer many benefits like digestive, skin, and heart health. It is full of antioxidants to keep the wrinkles away and vitamins and minerals to boot.
In terms of direct joint benefits, each NaturVet Hemp Joint Health soft chew contains glucosamine HCl (500 mg), chondroitin (60 mg), and MSM (500 mg) as well as other ingredients like hemp seed oil and hemp seed powder, yucca schidigera (helps reduce inflammation) vitamin C, and vitamin E. While the therapeutic amounts of glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM are ok, it’s tough to ascertain how much value your dog will get from the plant-based ingredients. These are often not as stringent in production compared to synthetic ingredients, meaning there’s no real way to control or tell how much therapeutic value they have.
$30.99 CAD for 60 soft chews. Pricing as of August 2023.
Considerations When Reading Animal Supplements Reviews
We all look at the reviews when we are shopping around for a new pair of shoes or a new product for ourselves or our beloved pets. Did you know that some sites pay for five-star reviews? It's not that surprising, but just a friendly warning, don't believe every review you read.
We've even noticed some websites that appear to have hundreds of reviews. You read all of the stellar first-page reviews and click on page two of 10, nothing. It's a farce. Maybe the reviews on the first page are real, and maybe they aren't, but it doesn't leave you feeling warm and fuzzy.
Some companies and corporations are willing to go to extreme lengths to trick the reader into believing that they have hundreds of positive reviews when they don't. Considering that information, why would you trust the company at all? Again, you make your own opinions; we're just here to help you stay aware and informed about your pet and their health.
Active and Inactive Ingredients in Animal Nutrition Supplements
Inactive ingredients don't necessarily benefit your pet in a meaningful way but are in the product for things like preservation or as a thickening to hold everything together. Sometimes they are just there to make it taste better, can't fault them for that, but how much is too much?
Do you really need all of that other "junk" in the supplement that you're giving to your dog on a daily basis?
Think about it, if you're going to give this supplement to your dog every day for the remainder of their life, are all of these ingredients necessary? Our bodies, as well as our animals' bodies, work most optimally with an unprocessed, balanced diet.
Though all of the active and inactive ingredients are made apparent on only some of the company's websites, we could dig them up on the good old internet for comparison's sake.
Integricare | TRI-ACTA
Grizzly Hip & Joint for Dogs & Cats
Zesty Pets Mobility Chews
Extend | Joint Care
Pet Honesty | Hemp Mobility Chews
In general, fewer ingredients means more room for the stuff that matters. We don’t want to pump our kitties and pups full of preservatives and gluten when what they need is lubrication around their degenerating joints. It’s like wanting a salad but forcing yourself to eat a piece of cake first. Doesn’t make much sense.
TRI-ACTA and TRI-ACTA H.A. are our top pick as the best animal supplements in Canada.
This is because the supplements contain only active ingredients and no fillers.
Extra fillers derail the effectiveness of animal supplement ingredients that regenerate joints and ease stiffness. With Integricare, you get only the good stuff at the same price as competitors—meaning you save money with much smaller doses each day.
Joint and mobility animal supplements can help our pets tremendously, but like anything, it’s important to do your research. We love our pets and want them to be as comfortable as possible throughout their time on this earth.
TRI-ACTA H.A. for Pets
Our maximum strength formula is optimally designed to accelerate the formation of cartilage, minimize inflammation, expedite the healing process, and improve joint conditions.
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Proactive & Therapeutic Joint Supplements
When given daily, Integricare joint supplements recover bone and joint injuries faster and help prevent mobility injuries from happening in the first place.