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Giving a Dog Joint Medicine: Benefits, Types, & More

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Not all of us are marathon runners, and neither are our dogs. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t benefit from taking joint supplements, and the same goes for our furry friends

In fact, osteoarthritis in dogs (also known more generally as dog arthritis), is a common degenerative joint condition (DJD) in dogs that is estimated to affect as many as 20% of all dogs over one year old.

Other joint-related conditions that can affect your pup include:

  • Hip dysplasia (a condition that occurs during development, and is very common in purebred dogs, affecting an estimated 70% of purebreds)
  • Torn cruciate ligament (also known as a dog ACL injury)
  • Osteochondrosis (commonly affects the joints of young, rapidly-growing dogs like Labradors, Great Danes, and Rottweilers; the surface cartilage on the joint fails to convert into bone, instead resulting in thickened cartilage that can easily become loose)
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Kneecap displacement
  • General joint trauma

That’s a lot of joint conditions!

Even though joint disorders in dogs are common, thankfully there are preventative measures that you can take to help maintain your pup’s joint health. Aside from ensuring they maintain a healthy weight and are getting regular exercise, you can also give your pup dog joint medicine, also known as a joint supplement for dogs.

It’s important to mention that for the purposes of this article, the term “dog joint medicine” will refer to joint supplements for dogs unless otherwise stated. This is a key thing to remember because dog joint medicine could also mean non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), often prescribed as dog joint pain medicine.

In this article, we uncover the benefits and types of dog joint medicine and give insight into which type is the best for your pup: powder, liquid, chews, or capsules.

When Should You Give Dog Medicine for Joint Pain?

As a dog owner, you may wonder when the best time is to start your pup on dog joint medicine. Regarding joint health, it’s better to be proactive rather than reactive. You can really start your dog on joint supplements anytime, not just when they show signs of joint pain.

  • Puppies can benefit from taking joint supplements, especially if they are a breed that is predisposed to joint problems, like a Golden Retriever or German Shepherd. TRI-ACTA is a great choice for a preventative dog joint supplement, as it includes 100% all-natural ingredients, including therapeutic amounts of glucosamine for dogs, chondroitin, and Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
  • Old dogs or dogs with existing joint mobility conditions or problems can still benefit from joint supplements. TRI-ACTA H.A. is recommended in these cases, as alongside the other ingredients, it also includes hyaluronic acid. This key ingredient helps thicken the fluid in the joints, making movement easier and reducing pain.

The essential ingredients that you should be looking for in any dog joint medicine are outlined in the table below:



Glucosamine (HCL or sulfate, or both)

  • Sulfur is an essential component of joint tissue, so the inclusion of glucosamine sulfate dog joint medicine means that you’re providing your pup with this component should their body need it.
  • Glucosamine Hydrochloride (HCL) is more stable than glucosamine sulfate, as it doesn’t require salt to be a stable ingredient. This may mean that it’s more bioavailable (your dog’s body may absorb it easier) There’s also research that suggests glucosamine HCL reduces articular cartilage degradation (the cartilage that lines the surface of joints) in horses, which may provide the same benefit to dogs.


  • When glucosamine and chondroitin are given together, they promote cartilage repair and help prevent degradation.


  • As a natural anti-inflammatory, MSM helps reduce swelling in your pup’s joints, helping them feel more comfortable and reducing or eliminating pain.

Hyaluronic acid

  • Improves the viscosity of the synovial fluid in the joints, meaning that your pup can move easier and reduces friction on the joints.

If your dog shows signs of joint pain (limping, avoiding pressure on a limb, excessive licking, etc.), your veterinarian may prescribe dog joint pain medicine in the form of NSAIDs to help your dog with their joint pain. In this case, it’s important to give your dog the pain medication exactly as your vet prescribes to help prevent negative side effects.

Benefits of Medicine for Dog Joint Pain

Aside from generally helping your dog feel more comfortable and helping to protect their overall joint health, medicine for dog joint pain in the form of supplements can have a wide variety of additional benefits for your pup. These benefits include:

1. Reduces or Eliminates the Need for NSAIDs

NSAIDs can cause negative side effects in animals, including dogs, that range from mild stomach upset to kidney or liver failure. Typically the more serious issues with NSAIDs are caused by higher doses and prolonged use, so your vet will usually only prescribe a NSAID for a short period of time.

If your pup is suffering from chronic joint pain, however, you may feel like there is no other option than keeping them on the NSAIDs. Thankfully, you can give your pup dog hip and joint medicine in the form of joint supplements while they are taking NSAIDs.

Giving your pup joint supplements while taking NSAIDs often results in them needing a lower dose of NSAIDs and in some cases, even going off the NSAIDs altogether.

2. Provides Digestive Health Benefits (MSM)

A little-known fact about dog joint medicine is that as long as it contains therapeutic amounts of MSM, it can provide a variety of digestive health benefits for your pooch, including:

  • Acting as a powerful antioxidant by activating “transcription factors”, which are proteins that keep antioxidant enzymes in your pups cell’s balanced and stable. This helps ensure that your pup’s cells are able to fight off free radicals as part of a normal immune response, which are bad molecules that can damage their cells.
  • Helps eliminate intestinal parasites like roundworm, giardia, trichomonas, and others that can cause tummy and intestinal troubles, uncomfortable and painful itching around your dog’s anus, and more.
  • Can help your dog’s body absorb nutrients more effectively by boosting the cell’s ability to absorb nutrients and vitamins by making the cell walls more permeable to certain types of vitamins and nutrients, including A, C, D, E, B, Coenzyme Q10, amino acids, and more.

The amount of MSM for dogs that you should give your dog depends on their weight and overall size. TRI-ACTA makes it easy for you to give your dog a therapeutic amount of MSM by giving you clear directions on how much supplement to give with the included scoop.

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.


3. Helps Prevent Cartilage Degradation

As your pup ages, their bodies are less able to repair and develop cartilage in their joints. Exercise, playing, work, and any activity will cause cartilage to naturally degrade over time. When cartilage gets thin in certain areas of the joint, it is less able to absorb impact and shock, resulting in pain for your pooch as they move around.

Dog joint medicine in the form of supplements can help by providing the essential ingredients your dog’s joints need to continue producing new cartilage. The combination of glucosamine and chondroitin in dog joint medicine helps your dog’s body repair degraded cartilage by producing new cartilage to replace it, so they can continue to play, walk, and run around unhindered.

4. Provides Enhanced Joint Lubrication

Just like the cartilage in your dog’s joints degrades over time, their joints will also produce less fluid. The synovial fluid in your dog’s joints provides lubrication to prevent the cartilage on the bones from rubbing together and causing friction that would result in greater cartilage degradation. Similar to cartilage production, when your dog is young, they are able to produce synovial fluid with no problem. However, as they age or if they suffer from a chronic joint condition, the production of this essential lubricant is lessened. Giving your dog hip and joint medicine with hyaluronic acid, such as TRI-ACTA H.A., thickens the synovial fluid, providing enhanced lubrication.

Types of Dog Joint Medicine


Dog joint medicine comes in a wide variety of forms, including:

  • Capsules (usually made with a hard gel coating that contains the supplement powder inside of the capsule)
  • Chewables (dog joint medicine made into a treat, often contains flavourings similar to regular dog treats so that they are palatable for your dog)
  • Liquid (comes in a bottle with a syringe)
  • Powder (often comes with a scoop for easy dosage measuring)

While these dog joint medications may seem like these are largely the same, and that which one you choose is more about the owner’s preference versus the dogs, there are several considerations that you should be aware of before you choose a solution.

1. Administration Method

Looking at the above list of dog joint medicine types, you might be automatically drawn to a certain one because you think it would be easiest to administer. However, you should know a few things about how each type of dog hip and joint medicine is administered before you make your choice.

Type of Dog Joint Medicine

Notes About Administration


  • May need to give your dog more than one capsule according to dosage directions
  • May be the most difficult to administer because dogs tend not to want to take capsules by themselves, meaning you have to hide it in food or a treat


  • Easy to administer; simply give your dog one or two chewables based on dosage directions


  • Usually comes with a syringe that is used to draw fluid from the bottle (sometimes this can be tricky to do properly depending on the type of bottle and syringe)
  • Can be squirted directly on your dog’s wet or dry food


  • Usually comes with a scoop for easy dosage measuring
  • Can be easily sprinkled on wet or dry food
  • Usually flavourless, but some brands can incorporate flavourings

2. Palatability

While it may seem like chewables are the easiest dog joint medicine choice in terms of administration, there’s your dog’s unique palate to consider.

  • Capsules are flavourless, but they almost always need to be hidden in a treat or favourite piece of food so your dog will take it. This means that you’ll need to purchase pill pockets or have a piece of cheese, hotdog, or other irresistible food ready to hide the capsule in. This adds calories to your dog’s daily diet, and your dog may find clever ways to avoid eating the capsule altogether.
  • Chewables can come in various flavours like regular dog treats, but it may take some trial and error to find one that your dog likes. For example, many chewable dog joint supplements contain fish oil for dogs because of its added joint benefits, which, as you can imagine, gives the supplement a fishy taste. If your dog doesn’t care for fish, they may not want to eat the supplement.
  • Liquid might be flavourless or flavoured similar to a chewable, to be more palatable for your dog, but like chewables, your dog may not like a certain flavoured liquid supplement. Liquid can be easily squirted on your dog’s wet or dry food, but putting it on dry food will cause the food to become soggy, which may affect whether your dog wants to eat it or not.
  • Powder is usually flavourless, but in some cases, it may have a flavour like beef or chicken. Typically powder is the easiest for palatability because it can be mixed into wet or dry food, and the texture of the powder is unassuming enough that your dog will likely not even notice it.

3. Shelf Life and Storage

To be as cost-effective as possible, you may want to purchase larger quantities of dog joint medicine. However, depending on your chosen type, there’s the shelf-life and storage to consider. Some dog joint medicine formulations have a longer overall shelf life compared to others and are easier to store.

  • Capsules and powders have the longest shelf life than liquid or chewables because they are dry products. They are also the easiest to store in a cupboard or on a shelf.
  • Chewables and liquids have the shortest dog joint medicine shelf life. A product with a higher moisture content invites deterioration and the possibility of bacterial growth. While most of these supplements can be stored in a cupboard or on a shelf, some of them need refrigeration.

Some general rules to keep in mind when it comes to veterinary medications can apply to supplements as well:

  1. Potency may decrease after expiry—if you administer the supplement after it expires, it may not be as effective, meaning that your dog won’t receive the full benefit of the supplement.
  2. Development of mold or bacteria—expired supplements have the potential to develop mold or bacteria due to the breakdown of the supplement’s ingredients. Chewables and liquids are especially susceptible because of moisture.
  3. Capsules and powder last the longest—Most dog joint medicine in the form of capsules or powder can last up to three years, provided they are stored in a cool, dry place.

Why Integricare Recommends Powder

Out of all the different types of dog joint medicine, powder checks off most boxes for convenience, ease of administration, long shelf-life, and easy storage.

Powdered pet joint supplements are also highly absorbable in your dog’s body compared to a capsule or chewable, as powder easily dissolves in your dog’s stomach and starts to work quickly, whereas a capsule or chewable has a higher digestible component.

Liquids tend to be less concentrated compared to other formulations of dog joint supplements. They also often have the least amount of therapeutic ingredients, meaning that your pup may not be getting enough active ingredients to have a positive effect on their joint health with the recommended dosage.

Best Home Treatment Medicine for Dog Joint Pain


While powder is the recommended dog joint medicine formulation when making a decision on the best dog joint medicine to give your dog, it helps to compare different types of products. Below are our recommendations for each category.

Best Powder: TRI-ACTA Products

triacta dog joint supplement

Our pick for the best powdered dog joint medicine has to be TRI-ACTA products. This powdered dog joint medicine has 100% active ingredients, meaning each dose is small. Most dogs will only need 1-2g of supplement per serving to get the maximum benefit (1g for dogs 10-35 lbs (4.5-16 kg), and 2g for dogs 35-75 lbs. (16-35 kg)). This means that when mixing it into your dog’s food, they will be much less likely to notice or care about the supplement.

Because TRI-ACTA is taste-free, you don’t have to worry about your dog not liking it. And because TRI-ACTA doesn’t contain any flavourings, fillers, additives, or preservatives, you can rest assured that your dog will not have any allergic reactions to the product or get any additional calories that they don’t need. Plus, TRI-ACTA products are approved veterinary health products, which means they meet the rigorous criteria set out by Health Canada in terms of manufacturing and quality of ingredients used.

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 June 2023.

Best Liquid: Ultra Joint



Ultra Joint is a product created by Ultra Oil, which is a company that has been known for making skin and coat supplements for pets but has recently come out with this joint supplement product. This supplement's therapeutic levels of ingredients are 426mg of glucosamine sulfate, 320mg of MSM, 106mg of Chondroitin, and 13mg of hyaluronic acid, which is relatively comparable to TRI-ACTA. However, this supplement does contain additional ingredients that you should be aware of in case of allergies, including ginger extract, beef collagen, Boswellia serrata extract (a type of plant, also known as Indian frankincense, that has anti-inflammatory properties), manganese gluconate (helps with tissue development), and peanut butter.

Starts at $29.99 for a 236ml bottle. Pricing as of June 2023.

Best Chewables: Bayer Synovi G4 Joint Supplement Chews for Dogs



These chews were chosen because they are pretty cost-effective for the number of chews that you get, and the ingredients are solid. The key ingredients that these chewables contain are glucosamine HCL (sourced from shellfish), MSM, and a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. A typical dose is ½ a chew to 1 chew daily, depending on your dog’s weight.

While this supplement has a variety of active ingredients, not all of them are related to joint pain (some of them, like turmeric, are meant for immune system health). However, the product is approved by the National Animal Supplement Council, a United States non-profit organization committed to improving the animal supplement industry.

Because it is a chewable, it does have some fillers, additives, and preservatives, so it’s important to read the ingredients carefully to ensure that there is nothing in there that could potentially cause side effects for your pup. For instance, it does contain dried poultry liver, and poultry can be a common allergen for dogs.

Starts at $65.99 CAD for 60 chews. Pricing as of June 2023.

Best Capsules: Rx Vitamins MegaFlex Capsules



Dog joint medicine capsules are more difficult to find compared to other formulations, likely because they are the most difficult to administer. While this joint supplement does offer therapeutic amounts, you must feed your dog up to 6 capsules to get them, which can be difficult if you’re feeding them one at a time. Each dose contains glucosamine, MSM, Sea cucumber ( a natural anti-inflammatory), and vitamin C.

What’s notably missing from this supplement is Chondroitin, which is a key ingredient that helps prevent joint structure deterioration when paired with glucosamine.

$82.37 CDN for 600 capsules. Pricing as of June 2023.


Whether your pup is young or old, suffering from a joint condition or not, they can benefit from taking dog joint medicine to keep their joints healthy and strong. Incorporating dog joint medicine into your dog’s daily diet is easy. With TRI-ACTA, you can simply sprinkle the supplement directly onto your dog’s food using the included scoop.

Purchase TRI-ACTA for pets online today, or learn where to buy.

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.