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How to Choose the Best Joint Medicine for Dogs

Table of Contents

Dogs have been man’s best friend since time immemorial. Humans have relied on dogs to help them with herding livestock, travel across vast snowy plains, provide mobility and navigational support for people who need it, and of course, perhaps most importantly, companionship and love.

The American Kennel Club officially recognizes about 200 different dog breeds from around the world, but that doesn’t include mixed breeds, so the real number is probably closer to 400.




Even though there are so many different types of dogs, they all have one thing in common: joint issues and degradation. It’s estimated that as many as 20% of all dogs over one year of age suffer from some level of joint degradation, often presenting as dog arthritis—regardless of breed. However, with that being said, some dog breeds, especially large and giant dogs, are more susceptible to joint problems because of their size. Of course, joint issues in dogs usually only worsen as the dog ages.

If your dog is suffering from joint issues, they usually present as:

  • Lameness, limping, or generally having trouble with walking
  • Stiff joints, which usually present when your dog rises from a sitting or laying down position
  • Irritability and increased aggression—being in pain is annoying and uncomfortable!
  • Creaking or grating sound coming from the joints when your dog walks
  • Trouble jumping and getting up stairs
  • Disinterest in regular activities

If your dog presents any of the above signs of having joint pain, they need intervention and treatment right away. But even if your dog isn’t showing any signs of joint pain, it’s important to take preventative measures—by giving your pooch the best joint medicine for dogs—to ensure that your pup is able to run, jump, and play even when they become an old dog.

This article explores the characteristics of the best joint medicine for dogs, including which ingredients they should include, the most effective formulations, and much more. We even provide recommendations for the products that provide the best joint support for dogs overall.

What Exactly is Joint Medicine for Dogs?

Dog joints, like other animal joints, usually comprise various structures: bones, cartilage, and fluid. Some joints your dog has are stationary, which means they don’t move, while others constantly move!

The different types of joints that a dog has are outlined in the table below:

Type of Joint


Fibrous joints

These joints are united by fibrous tissue and usually have little to no movement. Skull sutures (fibrous bands of tissue that connect the pieces of your dog’s skull) are an example of a fibrous joint.

Cartilaginous joints

These joints are connected by cartilage and allow some movement. The joints between each vertebra of the spine are an example of a cartilaginous joint.

Synovial joints

These are the most common type of joint, providing free movement with the linked bones. Their name comes from the lubricating synovial fluid within the joint cavity. The knee, elbow, and wrist are all examples of synovial joints. Because these joints experience the most movement, they are the most susceptible to injury and degradation.

When a dog experiences an issue with their joints, veterinarians will often recommend some sort of medication to treat the pain and inflammation characteristic of joint problems. When we say “dog joint medicine”, it can refer to NSAIDs, which are painkillers like human ibuprofen (but don’t give your dog ibuprofen; it’s toxic!) that work to reduce the swelling and inflammation of the affected joint, and as a result reduce pain.

Dog joint medicine can also refer to joint supplements, which are a more natural remedy that dog owners use to provide joint support for their dogs. For the purposes of this article, we will be specific as to whether we’re using the term dog joint medicine to refer to NSAIDs or supplements.

While NSAIDs are very effective, they also come with risks. Giving your dog NSAIDs for a long time can result in nasty side effects like liver and kidney damage, ulcers, and general gastrointestinal upset. These symptoms can range from minor to severe, depending on the dog. For some dogs, such as dogs that already have kidney, liver, or stomach issues, the risk factor of using NSAIDs increases even for short-term use. Anything that affects the function of the kidneys and liver can be potentially life-threatening for your pup.

As a result of the potential side effects that NSAIDs can cause, many dog owners are looking for safer options to treat their pup’s joint issues that don’t cause any of the side effects listed above. This is where dog joint supplements come in.

Joint supplements are considered a safer alternative to NSAIDs because they are made with naturally-occurring ingredients, like glucosamine for dogs, chondroitin, Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), and, for extra-strength versions, hyaluronic acid. Your dog’s body naturally produces these ingredients, so the supplement is simply giving your dog more of them to promote joint healing and protection. The worst side effect that can happen with giving your dog a joint supplement is that they might get some mild stomach upset, but this usually goes away with time, and the chances of this happening is greatly reduced when the supplement is given with food.

However, even the top joint supplements for dogs won’t start working right away. You typically have to give your dog a consistent daily dose of the supplement for at least four weeks to start seeing benefits. Because of the time it takes for joint supplements to work, some owners use NSAIDs and joint supplements simultaneously for the first while. After some time, the dosage of NSAIDs can usually be reduced and finally eliminated as the joint supplements provide enough pain relief and joint support on their own.

Choosing the Best Joint Support for Dogs


There are many options online that all try to say that they are the best joint medicine for dogs (supplements) on the market. In addition to the online options, you’ll probably find at least a few varieties of good joint supplements for dogs at your vet’s office.

It can be difficult to pick the best joint medicine for dogs when there are so many different options, but there are a few important considerations to remember before you make your choice. These considerations include:

1. Ingredients

The best joint medicine for dogs companies will list their complete product ingredients, including the number of active ingredients in each dose. Learning how to read a supplement label is important in this case because when you know what to look for, it will be easy to compare different products.

The best joint medicine for dogs will include therapeutic amounts of the active ingredients listed in the table below:



Glucosamine Sulfate / Glucosamine HCl

The combination of both types of glucosamine works to provide the maximum benefits to your dog’s joint health:

  1. Glucosamine sulfate provides sulfur to your pup’s joints, which is an essential ingredient that helps maintain and repair the joint structures.
  2. Glucosamine HCl is a highly bioavailable form of glucosamine, meaning that your dog’s body is able to absorb it faster and easier. This means that your dog’s joints can benefit from increased lubrication and protection in less time.


Glucosamine and chondroitin together promote cartilage repair and help prevent cartilage degradation in your dog’s joints.


A natural anti-inflammatory, MSM is able to reduce swelling in your pup’s joints, relieving pain and allowing for easier movement.

Hyaluronic Acid

Increases the viscosity of the synovial fluid in your pup’s joints, facilitating easier movement with reduced friction on the joint structures.

The active ingredients in each dose can be easily calculated by looking at the dosage amount. For example, if the product says that each 1g (1000mg) dose contains 500mg of glucosamine and 250mg of chondroitin, it means that 250mg of that dose contains inactive ingredients, which are going to be the fillers and additives you see on the ingredients list, like gums and mineral oils.

These ingredients don’t benefit your dog’s joints, so ensuring that you choose a product with as little of them as possible is important. In some cases, fillers and additives can even aggravate allergies and cause stomach upset.

There are also some joint supplements that contain ingredients like rose hip, olive oil, horsetail, and other types of natural herb and animal ingredients. While these ingredients have been shown to have some beneficial effects on joint health, it’s essentially impossible to know exactly how much therapeutic value they are providing with each dose. Ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and hyaluronic acid, have a long history of research that show their efficacy and therapeutic value in supporting joint health.

TRI-ACTA products contain only 100% active ingredients, ensuring that your dog gets the maximum benefit from each dose that you give them. Plus, TRI-ACTA contains both types of glucosamine, so your dog gets double the joint support.

If your pup needs a bit more joint care because they have a chronic condition like hip dysplasia, arthritis, or joint degradation and need more support for their dog joint health, then TRI-ACTA H.A. with hyaluronic acid provides the best joint support for dogs with chronic joint issues.

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.


2. Designations

These days, it’s so easy to purchase a product online that doesn’t follow the quality standards that you’d expect. To prevent a flop purchase, it’s important to look for several indicators that your product has high-quality ingredients.

  • The best joint medicine for dogs made in Canada should have the Veterinary Health Product designation just above the barcode on the product label. This designation means that the product is made with reliable, batch-tested ingredients with scientific evidence that indicates their effectiveness in providing the best joint help for dogs.
  • In the United States, a non-profit organization called the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) provides a quality seal that the best joint medicine for dogs manufacturers can place on their product if it meets the requirements. To get the seal, manufacturers must follow the NASC’s labelling guidelines, prove that they have effective quality control measures for their ingredients, submit to random product testing, and more.

3. Reviews

Reading online reviews and asking the opinions of your family, friends, and even those on social media are all great ways to evaluate the reputation of the dog supplement product you’re about to buy. Also, take the time to check out the company’s website. If they are straightforward with the supplement's ingredients and the amount of active versus inactive ingredients, that’s usually a good sign that they are trustworthy. However, you can always ask a professional’s opinion, like your veterinarian, for advice on a specific product or to get a recommendation.

How to Get Maximum Effectiveness in Joint Medicine for Dogs

Aside from ensuring that you’re choosing a dog joint supplement product with as many active ingredients as possible, has a good reputation, and maybe has a designation or two, the other way that you can ensure you’re getting the maximum effectiveness out of the joint supplement for dogs that you choose is by considering how you’ll give it to your pup.

After all, you could provide the best joint medicine for dogs that money can buy, but it doesn’t matter if it’s difficult to give your dog!

In general, dog joint supplements that are capsules or non-chewable pills are the most difficult to give to your dog, as they usually need to be disguised in a treat to give to your dog. Many dogs realize that there’s something not quite right about the delicious treat you’re about to give them and come up with creative ways to eat the treat without consuming the pill.



Powders and liquids, on the other hand, are much easier to give to your dog because they don’t need to be hidden in a treat, they can be put directly onto your dog’s food. The next section summarizes the different formulations of the best joint health supplements for dogs and outlines how they are administered.

Formulation Types

The best joint medicine for dogs comes in various forms—powder, liquid, capsules, and chewables. These different formulations are outlined in the table below:

Dog Joint Formula Type

How to Give It to Your Dog


Simply sprinkle onto your dog’s regular food. Most products include a scoop to make it easier to ensure you’re giving the correct dose.


Can be squirted directly into your dog’s mouth or onto their food. Usually comes with a syringe with indicators so you can draw up the liquid from the bottle to a specific level.


Needs to be administered orally. This can be done by disguising the pill in an irresistible food or by using a product like a pill pocket treat.


Flavoured and formulated into a treat, which can be given to your dog as you would any other treat.

Why Powdered Dog Joint Medicine is Recommended

As you can see, there are many options for choosing the best joint relief for dogs. In terms of the best formulation you can choose, powdered dog joint medicine sits above the others for a few key reasons:

  1. It’s convenient. Powders are easier to store than liquids and easier to give to your dog compared to capsules. Powders are also often flavourless, and don’t add as much of a texture difference to your dog’s food compared to liquid.
  2. It’s highly absorbable in your dog’s body. Capsules or chewables can take a while to work as they need to be broken down by your dog’s stomach. Powders, on the other hand, are highly absorbable, meaning that your dog can get the benefits of the supplement sooner.
  3. It supports full therapeutic amounts of ingredients. Liquids, in particular, tend to be less concentrated compared to powdered pet joint supplements, meaning that your dog may not get the maximum positive effect on their joints with the recommended dosage of the liquid supplement.

Best Joint Care for Dogs Recommendations


With all the information we have so far regarding choosing the best joint medicine for dogs, let’s get into our recommendations.

We’ve chosen the contenders for best joint medicine for dogs based on the following criteria:

  • Ingredients (active versus inactive ingredients)
  • Designations (Veterinary Health Product for Canada or NASC for products made in the United States)
  • Reviews

We’ll also point out whether there’s any drawbacks to any of the supplements listed below.

1. TRI-ACTA Products

TRI-ACTA Products

Our first recommendation for the best joint medicine for dogs has to be TRI-ACTA products. With a regular and an extra-strength version, there’s a TRI-ACTA to help every type of dog with their joint issues.

TRI-ACTA products contain 100% active ingredients, which means that every dose you’re giving your pup provides the maximum benefit to their joint health. Plus, the dosage is small—often only 1-2g for most dogs, depending on their weight—so your pup is much less likely to notice the supplement when it’s mixed into their regular food. Unlike most joint supplements, TRI-ACTA products contain two types of glucosamine: sulfate and HCl. Sulfate is an essential joint structure component, while HCl is highly bioavailable. With these two glucosamines together, you’re giving your dog the maximum possible benefit they can get from available formulations of glucosamine.

Because of Integricare’s commitment to providing the highest quality joint supplement, TRI-ACTA, and TRI-ACTA H.A. are approved veterinary health products by Health Canada, meaning they meet the rigorous criteria regarding manufacturing practices and quality of ingredients.

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.


Starts at $23.99 CAD for a 60g container of TRI-ACTA, and $27.99 for TRI-ACTA H.A. Pricing as of August 2023.

2. Paws Bonez Organic Hip and Joint Powder



This hip and joint powder checks all of our boxes for the best joint medicine for dogs, so it’s an easy recommendation. With clearly listed active and inactive ingredients, NASC certified (the product is made in the United States), and glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM, this product is sure to provide benefits for your dog’s joint health.

However, there are a couple of drawbacks. First, it’s unclear whether the amount of active ingredients is per container or per scoop and how big the scoop is, so it’s difficult to tell exactly how much of each active ingredient your dog is getting with each dose. Secondly, it does contain some inactive ingredients, and the amounts of those are not directly listed. What this means is that you’ll have to do some math to figure out the therapeutic benefits of each dose.

$74.99 for a 227g container. Pricing as of August 2023.

3. Vet's Best® Advanced Hip + Joint Chewable Dog Tablets



It may not be a powdered supplement, but these chewable tablets carry the NASC seal, have glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and Hyaluronic acid, and the dosage is small.

A few notes are that this supplement contains a fair number of inactive ingredients due to the need for flavouring and binding of the supplement. Among the active ingredients is a “proprietary joint support blend” that doesn’t list the specific ingredients.

$43.99 for 90 tablets. Pricing as of August 2023.


Choosing the best joint medicine for dogs requires some education. You want to make sure that the supplement you’re choosing has at least one type of glucosamine (although two types are better), chondroitin, and MSM, and if your pup is currently suffering from joint issues and needs some extra support, hyaluronic acid. Powdered supplements are usually preferred over other types because they are easy to store, to administer, and the ingredients aren’t diluted like with liquid supplements.

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.


TRI-ACTA provides the best joint help for dogs in the form of a powdered supplement. Purchase TRI-ACTA today or find out where to buy at a store near you.