A Guide on Dog Supplements - Types, Benefits, Usage & More

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Your sister won’t stop talking about them. The lady in line at the grocery store won’t stop talking about them. Your best friend’s mom’s neighbour won’t stop talking about them.

Dog supplements.

You’ve heard more than once or twice now that dog supplements can improve your dog’s health, from soothing achy joints to building muscle mass.

But with so many different types of supplements on the market, how are you supposed to choose the right one? 


Some supplements are better for your dog than others.  And if you’re going to feed your dog one, you want to be positive it’s actually going to benefit your pup.

Fortunately, we’ve created a handy guide to help you navigate the huge world of dog supplements.

In this article, you’ll learn all about the benefits of supplements, as well as tips and strategies for choosing the right one for your dog.

And in case you still have any doubts, we’ve provided you with seven solid reasons to use pet supplements.

Intrigued? Read on.

Introduction to Dog Supplements

It helps to have a little background before we dive into the details. This section covers the history and benefits of dog supplements, as well as some general tips on choosing the right supplement for your dog.


Dog supplements have become more and more popular in recent years, and for good reason! Supplements help ensure your pet has everything it needs to live a long, healthy, and comfortable life.

A supplement is anything you feed your dog to enrich his normal diet.

But not all supplements are created equal.

A good dog supplement contains active ingredients that provide your dog’s body with key nutrients.

As supplements have gained popularity, responsible pet parents (like you!) are doing their homework on exactly what makes a good supplement. This means that manufacturers have started making dog supplements even healthier for your dog.

Way to go, pet parents!

Let’s get into the weeds now and learn more about the benefits of good dog supplements.

Benefits of Supplements for Dogs

Dog supplements offer a wide range of benefits, from preventing conditions like arthritis to treating injuries like a torn ligament.

Supplements can help maintain or improve the health of your dog’s joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. They can also keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy or improve digestive health.

In order for a supplement to do these things, though, it has to contain active ingredients.

Certain active ingredients found in dog supplements, like glucosamine, can help your dog manage health conditions like:

  • Arthritis
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Luxating Patella
  • Ligament Strains and Injuries

We find the active ingredients listed in the chart below to be especially beneficial for dogs.

Active Ingredient Benefit
Glucosamine Rebuilds lost cartilage
Chondroitin Prevents cartilage deterioration
MSM Reduces joint pain
Hyaluronic acid Improves viscosity of synovial fluid (which lubricates joints)

Tips/Strategies for Choosing the Right Supplement

dog vitamins

So you’ve decided that this whole dog supplement thing sounds like a pretty good idea by now. But with so many different options on the market, you’re still a bit overwhelmed trying to choose the right supplement.

Have no fear!

There are certain golden rules that can help you find the best supplement for your dog. You want a supplement that is:

  1. Full of active ingredients
  2. Free of fillers
  3. Bioavailable (so your dog can actually use the nutrients)
  4. Safe
  5. Effective

Always try to find dog supplements with as many active ingredients as possible.  You want each item in your dog’s supplement to serve a clear health purpose.

This means that you should steer clear of ingredients like binders and added flavours, which primarily serve as fillers.

And it would be pointless if those active ingredients weren’t usable by your dog’s body. You want to find supplements that have ingredients with high bioavailability (for example, glucosamine hydrochloride).

Finally, choose a supplement that’s been reviewed and approved by a regulatory body or veterinary authority. This can help ensure the supplement you’re feeding your dog is both safe and effective.

For example, TRI-ACTA and TRI-ACTA H.A. for pets have been given a Veterinary Health Product (VHP) designation by Health Canada (they also hit all the other “gold standards” listed above!).

We know this can get confusing, so we have a handy guide about how to read a supplement label on our website.

Types of Dog Supplements

Supplements come in all shapes, colours, and sizes – just like dogs!

Some dog supplements are ingested through a pill or treat, and others are added to your dog’s food in powder form. Each type of supplement has its benefits. When choosing a supplement to give to your dog, you should consider your dog’s unique preferences.

Does he love mealtime? A powdered supplement is easy to add to your dog’s kibble and can super-boost his breakfast and dinner.

Is he a finicky eater? Then perhaps a treat form of supplementation is the way to go.

Dog supplements also serve different purposes. Some common types of supplements are listed below:

  • Joint Supplements
  • Skin and Coat Supplements
  • Muscle Supplements
  • Calming Supplements

Before choosing a specific type of supplement, keep in mind what benefit you’re trying to provide your dog.

We’re going to focus primarily on the benefits of joint and muscle supplements below, as we feel these supplements are what really maximize your dog’s overall health.

But it’s possible your dog just needs a calming supplement to help him out during thunderstorms. You know what’s best for your pup.

7 Reasons to Use Pet Supplements

Let’s dive into some of the reasons you should use pet supplements to promote your dog’s health. Pet supplements not only give your dog a health boost but can also help them manage a variety of health conditions, from arthritis to hip dysplasia.

1. Maintain Joint Health

dog joint health

Supplements help maintain joint health and ward off common dog joint issues, like arthritis. This means your dog can get up to all his favourite shenanigans, whether chasing squirrels or digging holes.

Joints are made up of cartilage and synovial fluid, which allow your dog’s joints to move smoothly. For joints as a whole to be healthy, all the different parts have to be healthy as well.

Active ingredients like glucosamine help accomplish this. Glucosamine helps build joint cartilage.

There are two types of glucosamine in particular that can benefit your dog’s joints:

  1. Glucosamine Hydrochloride
  2. Glucosamine Sulfate

Glucosamine hydrochloride is easy for your dog’s body to use. In other words, it has that high bioavailability we discussed earlier. Glucosamine sulfate assists in collagen production, which is an important component of healthy cartilage.

Other active ingredients that can help maintain your dog’s joint health are chondroitin, which prevents further cartilage breakdown, and MSM, which reduces inflammation and pain.

Some dogs are more susceptible to joint problems, such as bigger breeds like Great Danes and St. Bernards. Additionally, dogs that are a bit overweight might have more difficulties maintaining their joint health.

Fortunately, joint supplements provide the building blocks to maintain your dog’s joint health and slow or prevent these joint health problems – no matter the size of your pet.

Key Takeaway (TLDR)

Dog supplements with active ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM provide your dog’s joints with the key building blocks to maintain joint health and prevent dog joint conditions.

2. Promote Ligament and Tendon Health

You thought joint supplements were only good for joint health?

Think again.

Dog joint supplements often contain active ingredients that also support the health of your dog’s tendons and ligaments. Glucosamine and chondroitin are building blocks for healthy ligaments and tendons, just like with joints.

Both ligaments and tendons allow your dog to move fluidly throughout his day:

  • Tendons connect muscle to bone.
  • Ligaments attach bone to bone.

Some signs your dog may be experiencing problems with his ligaments or tendons are listed below:

  • Limping
  • Lameness
  • Swelling
  • Heat

Aside from helping your dog maintain overall ligament and tendon health, dog supplements can also help your dog recover from surgery. A  2015 study found that glucosamine and chondroitin enhanced bone-to-tendon healing in rabbits.

So if your dog has a cranial cruciate ligament tear (similar to an ACL tear in humans), a joint supplement could help him heal.

Key Takeaway (TLDR)

Dog supplements that contain glucosamine and chondroitin promote ligament and joint health because these compounds are the building blocks of these connective tissues.

3. Avoid Injuries

Your dog is busy playing frisbee outside and just went for that epic catch. Unfortunately, he landed wrong on his leg and now you’ve found yourself sitting in the vet’s office waiting for a diagnosis… again.

Unexpected injuries happen all the time, especially for particularly active dogs.

Fortunately, dog supplement powder, such as TRI-ACTA, improves your dog’s health and serves as a great way to reduce the likelihood of injuries.

Strong joints, muscles, and tendons mean your dog is less likely to get injured even when he happens to find himself in a sticky situation. The healthier your dog’s body is, the more likely he is to bounce back after a setback.

Additionally, many dog supplement powders include ingredients, such as MSM, that help reduce pain and inflammation in your dog’s body. This is great if your dog is currently recovering from his latest injury.

Key Takeaway (TLDR)

Prevention is worth its weight in gold when it comes to dog injuries, and supplements can help you minimize the risk of health setbacks.

4. Combat Arthritis

dog arthritis

Is your dog suffering from arthritis pain? Joint supplements can help.

Arthritis (also known as osteoarthritis) is a degenerative joint disease. Over time, the cartilage wears away in the joints of dogs with arthritis. This leads to pain and inflammation.

Some common signs your dog might be suffering from arthritis are:

  • Stiffness/lameness
  • Moving more slowly
  • Reluctance to walk upstairs
  • Slowness getting up
  • Being less active

While arthritis is most common with aging dogs, dogs of any age can suffer from this condition. In fact, 25% of dogs are diagnosed with arthritis over the course of their lives.


Fortunately, active ingredients in dog supplements help your dog combat arthritis.

Hyaluronic acid improves the viscosity of the synovial fluid, which lubricates your dog’s joints. Additionally, glucosamine and chondroitin rebuild cartilage and prevent further deterioration in your dog’s joints.

If you’re looking for a dog joint supplement to help your dog with arthritis, we highly recommend TRI-ACTA H.A. for pets. This supplement has all the active ingredients listed above, as well as MSM to help with pain and inflammation.

Key Takeaway (TLDR)

Dog supplements, and in particular ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid, can help your dog with arthritis move around more comfortably.

5. Support Muscles

Dog supplements help your dog maintain muscle health so he’s strong enough to run, fetch, and jump to his heart’s content.

Muscle supplements can:

  • Strengthen muscles
  • Improve mobility
  • Increase stability

Increased mobility and stability help your dog avoid muscle injuries, such as dropped hock. Building muscle strength also helps your dog as he ages and muscles begin to atrophy (a natural part of the dog aging process).

One way to help promote muscle growth and strength is by feeding your dog a protein powder supplement. The supplement will likely include protein (duh!), creatine, and riboflavin.

Another way to support your dog’s muscles is by ensuring your dog has healthy joints. Healthy joints support healthy muscle movement because they provide stability for muscles when your dog is bustling around.

Additionally, some ingredients found in joint supplements, such as MSM, can do double-duty for muscles. MSM is an antioxidant that not only reduces inflammation in joints but also can soothe sore muscles.

Key Takeaway (TLDR)

Dog supplements support muscle health so your dog can maintain his active lifestyle well into adulthood. 

6. Recover from Luxating Patella

dog luxating patella

Joint supplements provide relief for dogs suffering from luxating patella. The term ‘luxating patella’ may sound exotic but it’s just the scientific term for your dog having a dislocated knee cap.

Some signs your dog may be suffering from luxating patella are:

  • Limping
  • Swelling
  • Not putting weight on their leg
  • Licking leg

Your vet may recommend several treatment options for luxating patella, including anti-inflammatories and joint supplements.

Fortunately, many joint supplements include anti-inflammatories, such as MSM, as part of their ingredient list. MSM also assists with minimizing the pain your dog may experience from this condition.

A symptom of luxating patella is the deterioration of cartilage on your dog’s knee cap. Active ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin help maintain this cartilage and slow deterioration.

Luxating patella normally goes away on its own. If rest, light exercise, anti-inflammatories, and supplementation do not heal your dog, your vet may recommend surgery.

Key Takeaway (TLDR)

Dog joint supplements help your dog recover from luxating patella by promoting overall joint health and rebuilding damaged cartilage.

7. Manage Hip Dysplasia

Just found out your dog has hip dysplasia? We know what a bummer that is. Dog supplements can assist with managing the painful symptoms of this condition.

Hip dysplasia is a hip disease that affects more than 15% of dogs and is caused by instability in a dog’s hip joint. While your dog may not be diagnosed with it until adulthood, this condition starts in puppyhood when the ball and socket of your dog’s hip joint don’t develop properly.

Over time, instability in your dog’s hip joint leads to degeneration in his joints. This can lead to pain, inflammation, and even arthritis. Hip dysplasia is especially common in larger breeds of dogs.

Some signs that your dog might have hip dysplasia are listed below:

  • Stiffness
  • “Bunny hop” gait
  • Slowness when rising from resting position
  • Clicking sounds when walking

Your vet may prescribe pain medications or recommend surgery to manage this condition. Joint supplements can also be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Supplements provide support for dogs with hip dysplasia by assisting with the maintenance and rebuilding of cartilage that is often lost as a result of this condition. In particular, active ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin assist with cartilage health.

Additionally, hyaluronic acid can help replenish synovial fluid in your dog’s joints and MSM can minimize pain and inflammation.

Key Takeaway (TLDR)

Dog supplements can be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for your dog’s hip dysplasia.

Dog Supplements vs. Dog Vitamins

dog vitamin

Having read this article, you may be wondering about the difference between dog supplements and dog vitamins. We’re about to get a little pedantic over here, so bear with us!

Supplements are anything your dog might eat that has vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and other compounds (like glucosamine) which help promote your dog’s health.

Vitamins are key ingredients that your dog’s body needs to function properly, generally acquired through food.

And here’s where it gets a bit more technical: all vitamins can be taken as supplements but not all supplements have vitamins.


That’s okay. The long and short of it is that most dog foods contain all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your dog needs to survive.

Supplements provide your dogs with an additional health boost and may contain active ingredients that aren’t commonly found in dog food, such as glucosamine and chondroitin. 

Additionally, if your dog happens to be deficient in a certain vitamin or mineral, you can probably find a supplement to help replenish it.

The table below lists some of the key vitamins and minerals that help promote your dog’s health.

Vitamins and Minerals  Benefits
Vitamin A
  • Healthy eyes
  • Immune function
Vitamin B
  • Growth
  • Reproduction
  • Immune response
Vitamin D
  • Bone and muscle health
  • Reproductive health
  • Bone health
  • Blood coagulation
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Helps moves oxygen throughout the body
  • Skin health
  • Recovery from wounds

Dog Supplement FAQs

Should I Give My Dog Vitamins?

Vitamins for dogs can help supplement the nutrients your dog receives from its food, especially if you feed your dog a raw diet; however, most commercial dog food contains all the vitamins and minerals your dog needs to be healthy. It’s always a good idea to consult with your vet before adding anything new to your dog’s diet.

Finding the right vitamin supplements for your dog will depend on things like your dog’s activity level, age, and overall health. Your vet can help you determine what will best help promote the health of your best friend.

Can Dogs Take Human Supplements?

No! Certain vitamins and supplements that are safe for human consumption may be toxic to your dog. While man’s best friend requires many of the same nutrients as humans, dogs need these vitamins and minerals at different levels.

A safe dosage of iron in a human supplement could lead to organ failure in your furry friend. Always keep the supplements you take in places that are inaccessible to your dog, and only feed your dog supplements specifically made for dogs.

Is Hyaluronic Acid Safe for Dogs?

Yes, hyaluronic acid is safe for dogs and can help maintain the health of your dog’s joints. Hyaluronic acid is frequently added to dog joint supplements due to its relationship with synovial fluid.

Synovial fluid is found in your dog’s joints and helps lubricate them. Hyaluronic acid helps improve the viscosity of your dog’s synovial fluid, keeping your dog’s joints moving smoothly.

What is the best supplement for dogs?

The best supplement for your dog is going to depend largely on what health benefits you’re looking to achieve through supplementation.

If you’re trying to improve the health of your dog’s joints, a supplement with active ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, and MSM will be best. When looking for a supplement, look for a high concentration of active ingredients and try to avoid fillers.


dog joint supplement

Dog supplements offer a wide range of benefits, from supporting muscles to managing hip dysplasia. Perhaps most importantly, supplements provide your dog with the foundation to live a healthy, active life.

When considering the best dog supplement for your pooch, always read the ingredient label carefully and try to avoid products with a ton of fillers.

Finally, look for active ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin if you want to be sure you’re doing everything you can to maintain the health of your dog’s joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. 

Dog supplements like TRI-ACTA and TRI-ACTA H.A. for pets are high-quality, no-nonsense options that meet all the criteria above and more. Learn more about the many ways TRI-ACTA and TRI-ACTA H.A. can benefit your dog on our blog.