No dog owner wants to watch their canine companion suffer from mobility problems. Unfortunately, it's only a matter of time for a lot of dogs. As they get older, your furry friend's joints can experience a litany of problems.
The previously soft cartilage becomes worn, creating tons of painful friction with every step. In serious cases of osteoarthritis, the pain gets so unbearable that dogs are unable to walk.
Some breeds are also genetically predisposed to joint problems. Conditions like hip dysplasia and arthritis are quite common in larger breeds, making the threat of joint pain a persistent threat.
In the past, there was no choice but to let dogs suffer in silence. Thankfully, that's not the case today!
Dog food formulas have come a long way in the last couple of decades. Manufacturers are capable of creating premium products that address a wide range of health problems. Some of the most useful types of dog foods contain glucosamine and chondroitin.
These two compounds are known to alleviate pain by improving the joints' condition from within. They provide benefits on a biological level, changing the way the joints move and operate. The compounds take time to work. But with regular targeted meals, your pup will be up and moving in no time!
There's no shortage of joint-focused foods out there. However, not all products have the goods to back up marketing claims. To help you provide the relief your dog needs, here are some of our top picks for the best dog foods with glucosamine and chondroitin.
7 Best Dog Foods With Glucosamine and Chondroitin in 2023
1. Hill's Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Large Breed Chicken Meal, Brown Rice & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food
The "Healthy Mobility" formula from Hill's Science is specially made for large breeds. The recipe caters to the biological needs of adult dog breeds between 55 and 110 pounds.
All of the nutrients exceed industry standards, ensuring that your dog is getting the best of the best.
The addition of glucosamine and chondroitin helps to support the joint cartilage. Meanwhile, a slew of vitamins and antioxidants give the immune system a much-needed boost.
Pair all that healthy stuff with the omega fatty acids, and Hill's Science claims that most dogs can experience better mobility in their joints in as little as 30 days!
2. Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food
Another recipe catered to large adult dogs, this kibble product has everything your pooch needs to stay healthy.
It's a well-rounded formula that contains about 750 milligrams of glucosamine per kilogram of kibble. Plus, it contains omega fatty acids for further joint support. Highly digestible and nutrient-rich, the dog food has it all. It even contains probiotics to support long-term gut health.
The recipe lacks any unnecessary fillers, too, favoring wholesome ingredients that can improve your dog's health instead.
3. Nulo Freestyle Senior Grain-Free Trout & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food
Nulo is no stranger to creating premium dog food products. This senior formula is a testament to the brand's dedication to your dog's health. It's a targeted formula that can help older dogs achieve better overall health.
Glucosamine and chondroitin help with aging joints. Other beneficial nutrients, such as L-Carnitine, work to boost a flailing metabolism.
Deboned trout is the first thing on the ingredient list. It pairs nicely with the turkey and salmon meal to contribute to the 30-percent protein content! It has enough goods to keep your dog's muscles strong and healthy despite the sands of time.
4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
Blue Buffalo is another respected brand with a lot to offer. This senior formula has a lot going for it. First off, it has a good amount of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health.
You're looking at about 400 milligrams and 300 milligrams per kilogram of kibble, respectively. On top of that, this food has Blue Buffalo's iconic LifeSource bits.
These tiny morsels contain a blend of antioxidants. Rich in plant-based ingredients, the LifeSource bits intermingle with the standard kibble to create a well-rounded diet.
5. Dogswell Happy Hips Chicken & Oats Recipe Dry Dog Food
From Dogswell is the "Happy Hips" formula. As the name would suggest, this recipe is all about keeping the joints in good working shape!
The recipe calls for nutrient-rich chicken as the main ingredient. Dogswell uses real chicken complete with natural cartilage to provide glucosamine and chondroitin.
The food also has a slew of antioxidants and vitamins. They come from several fruits and vegetables, which also double as a nice source of dietary fiber.
6. Ziwi Peak Chicken Grain-Free Air-Dried Dog Food
Ziwi Peak is an interesting brand that takes an unorthodox approach to create dog food! This recipe has limited ingredients.
Single-source chicken raised on sustainable farms is the very first ingredient. It contributes to the outstanding 38-percent protein content!
The food also contains green mussels. Not only do they boost the protein content, but they also act as a wonderful source for glucosamine and chondroitin.
This food contains highly digestible ingredients. It's also air-dried. The lack of heat preserves the nutritional content while adequately preserving the food and killing off potentially dangerous pathogens.
7. Purina ONE SmartBlend Large Breed Adult Formula Dry Dog Food
The Purina One dog food is made with large dog breeds in mind. It's a high-protein recipe that prioritizes joint health.
The recipe is perfectly balanced to meet your dog's dietary needs. However, it also has things like glucosamine and chondroitin to address common health problems with larger dogs.
You're also getting a unique dual-defense blend of antioxidants. The blend of vitamins and minerals works to improve ocular health, enhance the immune system, and keep the joints strong.
What is Glucosamine and Chondroitin?
When people hear terms like glucosamine and chondroitin, many automatically think of prescription medications and drugs.
While these two compounds are often prescribed by vets and doctors alike, they are not chemical-based or harmful for your dog. In fact, they're relatively safe and don't require a prescription to get!
Glucosamine and chondroitin are both naturally-occurring in your dog's body. Let's look at the two ingredients individually.
Glucosamine is an amino sugar that occurs within the cartilage of your dog's joints. You even have some in your own joints! The body naturally makes glucosamine to support the constant stress the joints are put under.
It acts as the building block for your cartilage, a tough and flexible tissue that holds all joints together. With a healthy supply of glucosamine, your pup's body can continue to repair and replace cartilage as it experiences damage.
Thanks to the high compression rate of glucosamine molecules, it also works as a fantastic shock absorber!
Unfortunately, a canine's body produces less and less glucosamine with every passing year. It's the same decline that hormones experience. The body decreases production, leading to a short supply of glucosamine as your pup gets older.
Chondroitin is another substance that's naturally found in joint cartilage. Usually, it's bound to proteins and continually works to support joint health.
This substance is a little different from glucosamine. While they work hand in hand, chondroitin is all about repairing the joint cartilage.
It helps to prevent cartilage breakdown and speeds up the renewal process, keeping your dog's joints in good shape.
Like glucosamine, the body produces less chondroitin over time, leading to problems like osteoarthritis and debilitating pain.
Where do Glucosamine and Chondroitin Come From?
So if they're produced in the body naturally, where do dog food manufacturers get them? Well, the sources for glucosamine and chondroitin can vary quite a bit.
In more nature-focused formulas, you'll find that both are added with real-meat cartilage. It's the tough sinew and gristle that appears in cuts of meat.
Because they're often cut off human-grade cuts, they're a cheap and easy way to add them to dog food. Plus, it's all-natural, which is always a good thing.
Glucosamine can also come from other natural sources. It's sometimes harvested from shells and shellfish.
Finally, both glucosamine and chondroitin can come from a lab. Usually, synthetic additives are a big no-no. But in the case of these supplements, synthetics aren't so bad. Synthetic forms are quite efficient and can provide many of the same benefits as all-natural alternatives.
How Do Glucosamine and Chondroitin Improve Canine Joint Health?
Glucosamine and chondroitin work in a couple of different ways.
Dog food with glucosamine helps to replenish declining levels that occur naturally within the body. As mentioned earlier, your pup's body will produce less and less glucosamine with every passing year.
In turn, the joints receive less support. Glucosamine additives aim to combat that dip, ensuring that the joints stay soft, pliable, and pain-free.
The same goes for chondroitin. However, chondroitin also serves some targeted tasks. It prevents cartilage breakdown while stimulating the body's natural repair processes.
Anytime the cartilage gets injured, the body releases special enzymes as a response. The enzymes are meant to alleviate inflammation. However, they also have the unwanted effect of breaking down the cartilage even more!
Chondroitin is said to counteract that effect, keeping the joints in good condition for much longer.
Now, before you start stocking up on dog food with glucosamine and chondroitin, there are a few things you need to think about. These joint health ingredients can work wonders on most dogs. But, they can have negative side-effects in others.
Those with blood-clotting diseases, such as Von Willebrand's disease or Hemophilia A, should not have a diet that contains more glucosamine and chondroitin than normal.
Glucosamine will slow down the blood's ability to clot properly, exacerbating issues related to your dog's blood condition.
Dogs that have a higher risk for diabetes should lay off glucosamine and chondroitin, too. Again, glucosamine is the potential problem here. It's a sugar-based nutrient that may push a dog's risks for diabetic shock over the edge.
Related: The Best Dog Foods for Diabetic Dogs
As always, consult with your vet before you make any major dietary changes like this. Glucosamine and chondroitin can be life-changing additions. But, you have to be careful about going overboard.
Glucosamine toxicity is a real issue! Speak with your vet to ensure that it's the right move for your dog. They'll also guide you in the right direction in terms of dosage.
What to Look for in Joint Health Dog Foods
Finding the best dog food with glucosamine and chondroitin is no easy task. Take a stroll through your local pet market, and you'll find all kinds of products with some suspicious joint-related claims.
The key to seeing through the marketing fluff is to analyze what a product truly has to offer. Here are some of the most important things to look into as you shop.
Adequate Amounts of Glucosamine and Chondroitin
So, how much of these compounds should dogs get? Well, the answer to that question is a little tricky!
There's no designated amount. Unlike protein or fat content, the AAFCO doesn't recommend how much glucosamine and chondroitin canines need. It's not even a mandatory supplement according to official feed guidelines.
That said, most vets will say that healthy adult dogs need about 20mg of glucosamine per pound of body weight. There are no official guidelines for chondroitin, but it's usually less than glucosamine.
Use that figure as a baseline! The 20mg per pound of bodyweight is what a healthy adult dog needs for maintenance. If your dog is already in their senior years and suffering, they may require a higher dosage to start before weening down to maintenance level.
Again, here's where a conversation with your vet comes in handy! The only way to know how much glucosamine and chondroitin your dog truly needs is to ask a vet for guidance.
Generally, anything more than the baseline is good for dogs that need a boost. The best dog food for senior dogs with arthritis will usually have substantially more.
Pay attention to the dosage! You can easily find it on the back with the guaranteed nutrient analysis.
Omega Fatty Acids
Omega fatty acids are already a must-have in dog foods. But if you're providing one with glucosamine and chondroitin, it's even more important.
Omega fatty acids work alongside the compounds to improve joint health. They cushion the joints and improve cartilage health, which can dramatically reduce the symptoms of arthritis.
Look for foods with salmon oil or flaxseed oil. You can also provide omega fatty acids as supplements.
Of course, premium proteins are a given! Protein is the single most important ingredient your dog can have. It supports their muscles, provides energy, and maintains overall health. Most protein sources also contain glucosamine and chondroitin naturally!
Stick to whole meats and identifiable ingredients. Chicken, turkey, fish, bison, and more are all good choices. As long as you can identify the meat and animal, you're good to go.
Avoid byproducts and mystery meats. You want the very best for your dog, right? Feeding them questionable meats will only worsen their health problems.
At the very least, dogs need 18 percent protein. However, a higher percentage is also welcome.
Necessary Vitamins and Minerals
Next, look for additional nutrients and minerals that could support your dog's failing joints. Some of the best dog food for senior dogs with arthritis will contain calcium, antioxidants, and a bevy of other vitamins.
Calcium naturally strengthens the bones, while antioxidants fight off free radicals and the effects of aging.
Stick to foods with a healthy collection of plant-based ingredients. They never fail to supply vitamins and minerals!
When to Start Providing Dog Foods with Glucosamine and Chondroitin?
There's no established timeline for joint supplements. Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to wait until your pup starts experiencing problems to make the switch. In fact, it's better if you start early!
For generally healthy dogs, start providing glucosamine and chondroitin well into their adult years. You can supply joint-focused foods to stave off the effects of aging and keep your pup's joints in good shape for much longer.
Infused dog foods are the easiest way to add these compounds into your pup's diet. However, you can also use supplements.
Now, if you have a breed that has a higher risk of joint problems because of genetics, you can start even earlier. Some vets recommend a regime of joint supplements for puppies as young as eight weeks old if osteoarthritis is a threat.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are essential nutrient compounds that can make a world of difference in your dog's overall well-being. While there's no way to stop joint issues altogether, targeted dog foods can provide relief against painful symptoms and put off issues for as long as possible.
Check out one of your recommended picks and see the different dog foods with glucosamine and chondroitin can make. Just remember: All dogs have different needs. Have a chat with your vet first to ensure that a dog food formula change is the right step to take.