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5 Best Dog Food for Joint Health [Types, Benefits & Selection Criteria]

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Feeding your dog the best of the best is the goal of every pet pawrent. They deserve to be spoiled with the tastiest, most nutritious food available – but what is actually good for them? And how can you manage their health and help support them as they age through food and diet? 

The answer could be to try a specialized blend, like dog food for joint health. As you can probably guess, this type of dog food is all about protecting, supporting, and strengthening your pup’s joints as they age. 

But with a myriad of options out there and so many different formats and types of food to choose from, it can be challenging to find the right one for your pup.

That’s why we’re here to help break through the noise and get to the true benefits of dog food for joint health, as well as recommend some top-tier options fit for your canine King or Queen. Plus, we’ll share some tips for taking their joint health care beyond the bowl for a healthier, happier life!

Benefits of Joint Health Dog Food

When you are considering a diet for your dog and you have joint problems on the mind, you may be considering joint health dog food.

But what’s the benefit of these kinds of dog diets? And can dog food for joint health really help your pup feel like their bounciest, happiest selves?

We’ll outline three key benefits of joint health dog food below.

But before we get to the benefits of joint health dog food, we want to take a moment to note that even the best dog foods that are designed to support joint health are just that – a support. 

Often, these foods purport to contain about 1000 to 1500mg of glucosamine on the bag or on the nutrition label. However, this is per kilogram of food. Consequently, you have to feed several kilograms of food to have any therapeutic value – which isn’t exactly a realistic daily serving size. Additionally, much of the efficacy of glucosamine is lost in the cooking and processing of the food. 

Ideally, your pup with mobility concerns should also be fed a joint supplement like TRI-ACTA alongside their food. With therapeutic levels of active components packed in a small serving size, plus the addition of other joint health ingredients like chondroitin and MSM. That way, your pup is getting as much joint mobility and support as pawsible in their daily routine!

Okay, with that disclaimer out of the way, let’s talk about the additional benefits your pup can derive from dog food for joint health.

Benefit #1: Supports Growth of Healthy Joints

A dog needs a balanced diet packed with functional nutrition to grow healthily and steadily, especially to avoid the problems associated with too much growth too quickly in large dogs. That’s where the right dog food for joint health can come into play.

Two of these common problems include hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a condition that describes what happens when a dog's ball and socket hip joint does not grow uniformly, causing problems for the functioning of the joint. Elbow dysplasia, on the other paw, is what happens when your dog’s elbow doesn’t develop properly and leaves them with an incongruous joint.

Prevalence of these genetic-type joint disorders is more common in certain breeds such as:

Both of these problems—hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia—are largely related to your puppy's breed, but sometimes uncontrolled growth can make these conditions worse, and increase the risk that they will occur in the first place. Regardless of whether or not you have a breed that’s listed above, it’s important to understand the role nutrition and dog food has on joint health at this young age. Feeding your dog the right balance of ingredients can be a life changer for your pup down the road. 

When you’re selecting and feeding a joint health dog food, there are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • Choose the right formulation for your dog’s size
  • Don’t overfeed! Studies have found that controlling the amount of food and time of eating gives your pup a better chance of fighting off conditions like hip dysplasia when compared to unfettered access 
  • Go easy on the number of treats you feed
  • Avoid overdoing it with calcium, vitamin D, and certain other minerals and vitamins

By following these tips, you can say, “Bone Appetit!” without worrying about your dog’s joints down the road.

Benefit #2: Helps Reduce Symptoms of Canine Arthritis

We all get a little stiffer and less agile as we age, but what happens to our canine’s joints as they age?

Unfortunately, it often manifests as one doggone painful condition—dog arthritis



Canine arthritis, also known as canine osteoarthritis, is a degenerative joint condition affecting dogs of all ages and breeds. 

It’s caused by the slow wearing away of a cushiony material between your dog’s bones called cartilage. When that cushion is slowly degraded, you can imagine the pain your dog could be in, thanks to the bones rubbing against one another. This can result in inflammation and—you guessed it—discomfort and stiffness for your poor pup. 

The good news is that there are plenty of great options out there to help protect your pup’s joints from this breakdown, and joint health dog foods are just one way to deliver a dose of joint health protection to your pup.

Dog food for joint health often contains a few common ingredients that help:


Key Joint Health Dog Food Ingredient

How it Helps

Omega 3 Fatty Acids (EPA, DHA, ALA)

This is a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid, which is essential for a dog's growth and neurological function. It may also have anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial for joints.


In addition to supporting healthy, normal growth, glucosamine for dogs can help heal damaged cartilage.


Reduces swelling and helps reduce the breakdown of cartilage in dogs' joints.


A powerful anti-inflammatory, MSM is an essential component of a joint supplement.


This substance is crucial to the integrity of your pup’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It also helps reduce age-related loss of collagen, which plays a role in the overall health of joints. 


By integrating dog food for joint health with ingredients like these, you’re on your way to healthier dog bones and joints for years to come.

One thing to remember? As good as the best dog joint foods are, they will never offer your pup as much joint health help as a joint supplement for dogs. Adding a daily supplement like TRI-ACTA for pets delivers 100% active ingredients, whereas a dog joint food simply features some bonus ingredients that add to the nutritional value of the food itself. So consider a joint health supplement that is the peanut butter to their dog food’s jelly 🥜.

Benefit #3: Maintains Overall Health

While targeting your dog’s joints with the right ingredients is one way to look at the benefits of a dog food for joint health, you need to look beyond their joints and consider the whole picture when it comes to their health. For example, you can feed your pup all the dog food for joint health you like, but if you aren’t focused on helping reduce obesity in your pup, and keeping excess weight off their joints, then it’s not exactly going to be a barking mad success.

So-called 'functional' foods provide health benefits beyond essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, water, protein, carbohydrates, and fats. This supports your pup’s overall health and boosts the impact of feeding a dog food for joint health.

Other benefits of functionally nutritious foods include:

  • Physiologically modifies the digestive system
  • Enhances biochemical changes
  • Enhances the function of the brain
  • Reduces the risk of developing specific diseases

Functionally nutritious ingredients to look for in a balanced dog diet food include:


Functional Benefit

Examples of Ingredients in Dog Food

Joint Health

  • Glucosamine
  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Chondroitin
  • MSM
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Vitamin C
  • Turmeric

Skin and Coat Health

  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Chelated zinc
  • Biotin

Gastrointestinal Health

  • Prebiotics
  • Probiotics
  • Postbiotics

Immune Support

  • Mannan oligosaccharides
  • Nucleotides
  • Vitamin C

Weight Management

  • L-carnitine


It’s not only worth giving the ingredient list a look for the right things, but also for the wrong things, too.

And what do we mean by that?

Modern dog food often contains plenty of fillers, and while most aren’t harmful, you want to ensure your pup is getting more wholesome ingredients than empty fillers.

Watch for some dog food for joint health fillers like:

  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Seed hulls
  • Soy

Seeing a few of these items on your dog food for joint health’s ingredient list is not necessarily the end of the world, rather the amount it contains is more crucial to understanding. For example, if there is a higher percentage of fillers than wholesome ingredients like meat or vegetables, it would not be the best option for healthy and nutritious dog food.

Types of Dog Food for Joints Health

types of dog food for joints health


Wet, dry, fresh, raw – there is practically a dog food for every kind of pup palette (and nutritional need) out there!


The type of dog food you choose is ultimately up to you, but if you’re searching through dozens and dozens of dog food for joint health options, it can be good to have some knowledge under your belt about what exactly you’re looking for. 

Here are three general categories of dog food that will often offer at least one or more options to specifically target dog joint health:

  1. Wet dog food for joint health and mobility
  2. Dry dog food for joint health
  3. Specialty or other dog food for joint health

Wet Dog Food for Joint Mobility

If your dog has a picky palette, you know how quickly even the pickiest pup will gobble up wet food. That’s thanks to the scent that dogs find appealing and humans are often grossed out by, and the higher moisture content in these types of foods. Wet dog foods often come in canned formats, making them easy to store for long periods of time.

When it comes to dog food for joint mobility, you want to ensure your pup is eating their whole serving to get the most benefits possible. Some dogs simply prefer the taste of wet food, while others prefer it for its ease of eating. Along with arthritis and aging can come dental problems, which makes dry, hard kibble hard to eat.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of feeding your pup wet dog food for joint health.


Pros of Wet Dog Food for Joint Mobility

Cons Wet Dog Food for Joint Mobility

  • Tastier and more appealing for dogs
  • Easy to eat and digest for most dogs, especially those who have dental problems
  • Best option for dogs with renal problems thanks to the water content
  • Wide range of options available that target dog joint health, including different flavours
  • Though it is easy to digest, it can cause loose bowel movements
  • Often comes with a higher price tag
  • Wet foods can vary widely in the quality of ingredients, including varying amounts of ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin


Dry Dog Food for Joint Health

Easily the most common and popular type of dog food, hard kibble is a great way to feed your pup a serving of dog food for joint health. It’s often a doggie go-to because so many options and varieties are available to help with a wide range of health concerns, including joint health.

Many of these dry dog foods contain chondroitin and glucosamine for dogs that help your pup’s joints maintain their cartilage and strength. Ideally, kibbles should contain only one source of protein, such as lamb or chicken.

Grain-free diets are available, but dogs need carbohydrates for energy, and choosing which grain to feed them is important since some dogs are sensitive to wheat, corn, or soybeans. Always consult your vet if you find your dog has a bad reaction to dry dog food for joint health.

The table below highlights some of the pros and cons of feeding dry dog food for joint health.


Pros of Dry Dog Food for Joint Health

Cons of Dry Dog Food for Joint Health

  • Hard kibble is ideal for cleaning dogs' teeth
  • Available in tasty flavours
  • Generally an affordable option for feeding your dog
  • Feeding is easy and convenient
  • Easily stored and has a long shelf life
  • There may be more filler in this type of food than in others
  • May not be as palatable for some dogs' tastes
  • May be harder to chew for senior dogs or dogs with dental problems


Specialty Dog Food Joint Formula

Your pup is special. You know it, we know it. And sometimes, they just need an equally special food.


Some examples of specialty dog food joint formulas and foods include:

  • Raw dog food diet
  • Fresh, cooked joint health dog food
  • Frozen, cooked or raw
  • Dehydrated and raw dog food for joint health

Diets like a raw food diet for dogs are typically made of organs, raw meats, and bones. And while this may offer your pup plenty of other benefits, it may not be as reliably fortified with glucosamine and other ingredients as commercially available options. That is where an option like a fresh or frozen cooked joint health dog food can come in handy. These offer tasty, balanced feed formulas that are easier and safer to feed in your home.

More pros and cons of these types of specialty dog foods for joint health are outlined in the table below.


Pros of Specialty Dog Food Joint Formula

Cons of Specialty Dog Food Joint Formula

  • Can create a targeted approach to nutrition
  • A wide variety of options for unique needs of many kinds of dogs
  • Fewer fillers
  • Tasty and appealing to dogs
  • May be more expensive as a diet
  • Home cooked or prepared options can be time-consuming 
  • Home cooked or prepared options can be easy to spread bacteria and germs 
  • Can be challenging to fortify home blends with extra vitamins and minerals


Joint Care Dog Food Selection Criteria 

You don’t just want to choose any old joint care dog food. No, your dog deserves the best! After all, they are your furry family members. And you wouldn’t give your family member food that wasn’t of the highest quality.

But it’s hard to know what kind of food is the best for your dog, especially if you don’t know what to evaluate that dog food for. So before we share our picks for the best dog food for joint care, let’s focus on a few pieces of evaluation criteria. 

Quantity of Joint Health Ingredients

When choosing dog food for joint health, you must pay close attention to the number of ingredients that make up the blend. Some labels will claim to offer a ton of benefits to your dog but only have minuscule amounts of the key joint health ingredients.

The best thing to do when comparing two foods is to read the side of the label and compare the amounts of different ingredients such as:

  • Glucosamine
  • Chondroitin
  • MSM
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Collagen

Usually, it’s a safe bet to say that you should opt for the food that has the highest amount of functional ingredients possible. But, if you are having a hard time finding an option that works for your pet, or will suit a picky palette, contact your vet to get some advice. 

In any case, no matter how high quality the food for dog joint health is, it will never have as much joint health care as a specific dog joint supplement like TRI-ACTA for pets.

The reason is that there simply isn’t enough of the functional components, like glucosamine and chondroitin in the food to have any real therapeutic or preventive value. Many of the top foods will market containing 1000mg of glucosamine. However, that is only 1000mg of glucosamine per kilogram. That means you would have to feed your dog several kilograms every day to have any preventative or therapeutic value! In comparison, you get 1000mg of active components in just one tiny gram of TRI-ACTA.

Additionally they lose much of their value when processed and cooked in dog food.  A supplement like TRI-ACTA H.A. for pets offers more glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM than any food on the market would. 

And why does this matter? The fact is a supplemental, specialty food is often not enough for pups with serious joint problems and existing pain. In most cases, there is even limited preventive value. Adding a joint supplement alongside dog food for joint health is the best measure for both care and prevention.


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.



Key Question: What are the ingredients designed to target joint health problems in this product?


Quality of Ingredients

When you’re at the grocery store and looking for the healthiest foods to fuel your own body, you often find yourself coming home with products labelled “natural”, “organic”, “vegan”, or even things like “100% pure” or “ethically sourced”. 

The same applies when you’re shopping for your pup’s dog food for joint health. You should check the label for the quality of both the primary and secondary functional ingredients.

For example, the best dog foods should offer a limited source of protein, such as chicken or fish, and limited fillers. They should also detail the source of functional ingredients like chondroitin, which can be sourced from the less desirable green-lipped mussels or more sustainable options—but you won’t know unless it’s listed and you check. Before you try it, take a moment to consult the label for sourcing and details on where ingredients come from.

Key Question: Are the joint health ingredients in the food all-natural? Have they been verified as high quality?


Overall Nutrition

Ensuring your dog's food for joint health is overall nutritious is key to the impact it will have on your pet. Think of it as choosing a sugary breakfast cereal over a healthy granola blend—both are breakfast cereal options, but one will be a better choice in the long run. 

And while the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) has great guidelines on what can be sold and marketed to pet parents that keep your pup safe, some brands are just more beneficial than others. That can be because it uses fewer fillers, has more high-quality ingredients, or is in some other way more nutritious when compared to others.

Key Question: What is the content of the other ingredients in the recipe for dog joint health food? Are there many fillers? Is there a single or limited source of protein?


5 Best Dog Food for Joint Care

So what are the best dog foods for joint care out there? Whether you want wet or dry dog food for joint health or something in between, we’ve got our favourite picks for your convenience!

Without further ado, let’s take a bite out of these picks!


Best Fresh Dog Food for Joint Health

vital grain free fresh dog food

Freshpet Grain Free Salmon & Ocean Whitefish

If you're looking for a fresh, tasty treat for your pup that you can feel good about, then this option from FreshPet could be your best bet for fresh dog food for joint health. A grain-free, high-protein roll made with salmon, ocean white fish, spinach, blueberries, and cranberries.

This gives your pup a solid dose of Omega-3s thanks to all that fish, and the other antioxidant ingredients are a great bonus, too. It's also verified non-GMO. Nice!

Best Dry Dog Food for Joint Health

hill's science diet adult health mobility

Hill's Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility

With advanced nutrition that is specially designed for large-breed dogs who are more likely to experience joint issues, this dry dog food claims to improve mobility and support healthy joints. This food contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin, minerals that promote strong bones, and fish oil aids in maintaining cartilage health.

In addition to providing a healthy diet for your large dog, this natural dog food contains omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E to keep their coat nourished and their bellies full.

Best Canned Dog Food for Joint Health

true solutions mobility care

Blue Buffalo True Solutions Mobility Care

Blue Buffalo is known for its high-quality products, and this option for canned dog food for joint health is a great choice for any pet parent, especially for our pickiest eaters. With an appetizing (for your pup at least) flavour and inclusion of glucosamine and chondroitin for a joint health boost. The inclusion of a balanced set of vitamins and minerals is a great support to immune systems and growing dog’s needs, too.


Best Treats for Dog Joint Health

instinct raw boost mixers mobility support

Raw Boost Mixers Mobility Support Freeze-Dried Dog Food Topper

If you are trying to incorporate some dog joint health ingredients into your pup’s diet, then you should check out this option from Instinct. With cage-free chicken and vibrant, functional, whole-food ingredients, this freeze-dried raw option supports healthy hips and joints. You simply top your dog’s food with these tasty bits, and they get both a tasty snack and a joint health boost!

Best Supplement to Dog Food for Joint Health

tri-acta h.a. for pet

TRI-ACTA H.A. for Pets

When you’re trying to design the best diet for your pet, adding a supplement for joint health is always a great choice! It can help keep your furball healthy and bouncy by preventing and reducing symptoms of painful conditions like arthritis. 

A trustworthy dog food supplement with high-quality ingredients is what you need – not just any old supplement.

There's no doubt that Integricare's TRI-ACTA H.A. for pets is one that you can trust to add alongside dog food for joint health. Both our regular TRI-ACTA and TRI-ACTA H.A. contain valuable ingredients that are easy to add to any dog diet. Moreover, this product contains no fillers and is packed with 100% active ingredients, so you can keep your dog healthy and active for years to come.


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.



Final Thoughts

In the end, choosing dog food for joint health can be a challenging task. However, with the tips and information we provided above, you should have better luck selecting a dog food that will help you give your dog a healthy start to their life and nourish their joints for years to come. 

We’ve said it once, but we’ll say it again – to make sure your pup is getting the best joint support possible, don’t forget a dog food for joint health should be complimented by a powerful joint supplement like TRI-ACTA for pets. With more active ingredients per gram than a joint health dog food, you can easily incorporate a supplement like this into your daily feeding routine and offer your pup greater joint health impact.

Want to know more about Integricare’s TRI-ACTA? Check out our FAQs or drop us a line if you have any questions. We’d be happy to help get your pet one step closer to healthier joints.