Unfortunately, many of our furry friends suffer from joint issues as they age (and some even suffer from them while they’re still young).
This is obviously pretty rotten news for Rover, but there are a number of ways you can help your marvelous mutt manage his symptoms. You’ll want to work closely with your vet to devise a good overall treatment strategy, but one of the key components of your overall joint-care plan should usually include feeding your pooch a food designed to nurture his ailing joints.
Below, we’ll share a few of the best dog foods for joint health and discuss some of the other things you can do to help protect your pet’s joints!
What Makes a Dog Food Good for Joint Health?
Wondering what makes a food good for supporting joint health? Here are three things to look for when looking for the right food for Fido.
- The best foods for joint health are fortified with joint-supporting supplements. Ideally, your dog’s diet should include joint-supporting supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin. Other helpful ingredients include omega-3s (often provided in the form of fish oil supplements) and taurine to help manage canine inflammation.
- The best foods for joint health feature an appropriate calcium to phosphorus ratio. Your pooch not only needs to consume enough calcium and phosphorus, he must also get them in the proper ratio. This is especially important for large breed dogs, and it’s also one of the leading reasons vets discourage the use of homemade diets.
- The best foods for joint health encourage your pooch to maintain a healthy body weight. Excess weight can put unnecessary pressure on your dog’s joints, so it’s imperative that his diet promotes a healthy body weight for your furry friend.
The 5 Best Dog Foods for Joint Health
Now that you know what to look for in a joint-supporting dog food, we can talk about some of our favorites. Here are six of the best foods to support joint health. Just remember that you need to work with your vet to devise a comprehensive joint-care plan and make sure he or she gives the green light to the food you select.
1. Merrick Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe
About: Despite being a mainstream food that’s not specifically marketed as a joint-supporting recipe, Merrick Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato is a great choice for dogs with joint issues. Featuring most of the hallmarks of a great all-around food, plus three different kinds of joint-supporting ingredients, this is the best choice for most dogs with arthritis or other joint problems.
It’s also a great dog food for pit bulls or any other breeds with a tendency to suffer from joint issues as well as allergy issues, since this dog food recipe includes glucosamine while also being grain-free.
- Real, deboned beef is the first listed ingredient
- Fortified with chondroitin, glucosamine, and omega-3s for joint support
- Cooked in Merrick’s own US kitchens
- Full of tasty ingredients, including beef liver, salmon oil, and blueberries
Deboned Beef, Lamb Meal, Salmon Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes...,
- This recipe is packed with four different animal proteins.
- It’s fortified with three different joint-supporting ingredients (chondroitin, glucosamine, and omega-3s).
- Probiotics are included to support digestive function.
- This is a grain-free dog food, which may present concerns about your dog’s heart health.
- Because it is a multi-protein food, it may be a bad choice for dogs with food allergies.
2. Blue Buffalo Prescription Mobility Support
About: Some dogs need a little more joint support than over-the-counter kibbles can provide. Blue Buffalo’s W+M Recipe is a great choice for these situations, so it’s worth discussing with your vet. You’ll need a prescription to order this food, but this salmon and chicken recipe is worth the effort, as it’s fortified with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin.
As a weight management formula, it’s also a great dog food to help a dog lose weight and maintain a healthy weight that won’t exacerbate joint issues.
- This joint-supporting food may also help your pup lose weight
- Fortified with omega-3s, vitamins, minerals, and joint supplements
- Whole fish is the first ingredient
- Made in the USA
- A fiber-rich recipe, this food will also promote proper digestive function
Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Powdered Cellulose, Peas...,
Tapioca Starch, Natural Flavor, Pea Starch, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Fish Oil (source of EPA-Eicosapentaenoic Acid), Gelatin, Cranberries, Dried Tomato Pomace, Canola Oil (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Shrimp Meal (source of Glucosamine), Potassium Sulfate, Pea Fiber, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Betaine Hydrochloride, Calcium Chloride, DL-Methionine, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Chicory Root (source of Soluble Fiber), Taurine, Calcium Sulfate, Potatoes, Turmeric, Pomegranate, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, L-Threonine, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, L-Tryptophan, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, L-Carnitine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Chondroitin Sulfate, Garlic, Vegetable Juice for color, Salt, Blueberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), L-Lysine, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Copper Sulfate, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.
- Several owners reported improved mobility and weight loss after switching to this food.
- Most dogs absolutely loved the taste of this food (which isn’t always the case with prescription diets).
- A couple of owners noted how their dogs seemed more energetic after switching to this food.
- Like most prescription diets, this food is relatively pricey.
- This is a grain-free diet, which may give some owners pause.
3. Blue Buffalo Large Breed Chicken & Rice
About: In addition to having nutritional requirements that differ from small and medium-sized dogs, many large-breed pups are particularly susceptible to joint issues.
But fortunately, there are options — such as Blue Buffalo Large Breed Chicken & Rice — a dog food designed specifically for big dogs. And in addition to the included joint supplements, this recipe is made with an array of impressive ingredients to support your pet’s overall wellbeing.
Considering it’s made for big boys in mind, and boasts glucosamine and chondroitin as well, this is one of our favorite dog foods for Dobermans, a top pick for the best dog food for golden retrievers, as well as for other large-breed canines!
- Designed specially for large breed dogs
- Includes glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3-rich ingredients
- Made in the USA
- Protein-rich, grain-inclusive dog food recipe
- Made with Blue Buffalo’s antioxidant-packed LifeSource Bits
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Barley...,
Pea Starch, Peas, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed (Source of Omega 3 And 6 Fatty Acids), Pea Fiber, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein, Fish Oil (Source of Epa-Eicosapentaenoic Acid), Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potassium Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Potatoes, Dried Chicory Root, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dl-Methionine, Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Vitamin E Supplement, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Garlic, L-Carnitine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice For Color, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), L-Lysine, Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Sulfate, Chondroitin Sulfate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus Niger Fermentation Extract, Dried Trichoderma Longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Extract, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.
- This food is loaded with joint-supporting supplements and inflammation-fighting omega-3s.
- This is a grain-inclusive recipe containing lots of impressive ingredients.
- Proper calcium to phosphorus ratio for large breed dogs.
- Fortified with five probiotic strains for gut health.
- This food is designed specifically for large breed dogs, so it’s not appropriate for small dogs.
- Some dogs tend to pick around the LifeSource Bits.
4. Hill’s Diet Prescription Joint Food
About: It’s important to watch your woofer’s weight if he’s suffering from joint problems. Fortunately, this specialized food from Hill’s Diet makes this easy, as it is designed to support your dog’s joint health while helping portly pups slim down a bit. Just note that this is a prescription dog food, so you’ll need approval from your veterinarian before the food is shipped to your doorstep.
- Clinically designed to support weight and joint management
- Includes Omega-3s to combat inflammation
- Includes glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health
- It’s a great source of fiber
- Made in the USA with globally sourced ingredients
Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Pea Fiber, Whole Grain Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Flaxseed...,
Soybean Mill Run, Dried Tomato Pomace, Powdered Cellulose, Wheat Gluten, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Liver Flavor, Fish Oil, Coconut Oil, L-Lysine, Lactic Acid, Pork Liver Flavor, Potassium Chloride, DL-Methionine, Iodized Salt, Carrots, Dicalcium Phosphate, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Lipoic Acid, Choline Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, minerals (Manganese Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, L-Carnitine, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, Chondroitin Sulfate, Beta-Carotene
- Owners reported that even picky pooches seemed to enjoy this recipe.
- Some owners saw improvements in their dog’s weight and energy levels after switching to this food.
- Unlike Blue Buffalo’s prescription diet, this is a grain-inclusive recipe.
- This food doesn’t include any whole meat protein.
- This food is relatively expensive since it is part of a prescription diet plan.
5. Nom Nom Turkey
About: Unfortunately, none of the leading fresh dog foods are specifically designed to support joint health. However, many owners may still find them quite appealing, given the premium ingredients they feature and the lip-smackin’ taste they provide.
Nom Nom is likely the best choice for owners who want a fresh option for dogs with joint issues. The brand’s science team typically recommends their turkey or beef recipes for dogs in these situations, though you should still fill out their entire questionnaire to make sure you end up with the best recipe for your specific dog.
Want more info about this brand? Make sure to also check out our full hands-on review of Nom Nom!
- Fresh food is customized for your canine companion’s needs
- This premium food is made in the USA in small batches
- Food is fresh-frozen and shipped to your doorstep
- Most dogs, especially picky eaters, tend to love the taste of Nom Nom’s recipes
- This recipe is full of omega-3s to help support joint health
Ground turkey, brown rice, eggs, carrots, spinach...,
dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, citric acid, potassium chloride, salt, water sufficient for processing, fish oil, choline bitartrate, natural flavor, vinegar, iron amino acid chelate, taurine, zinc gluconate, vitamin E supplement, copper gluconate, niacin (vitamin B3), manganese gluconate, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), selenium yeast, riboflavin (vitamin B2), cholecalciferol (source of vitamin D3), potassium iodide, folic acid, vitamin B12 supplement.
- Made exclusively with US-sourced ingredients (a rare trait among dog foods).
- Contains omega-3-rich fish oil to help reduce joint inflammation.
- Few other foods are as tasty as Nom Nom’s fresh, human-grade recipes.
- You’ll receive a food that’s specifically formulated for your pooch.
- Like all fresh foods, Nom Nom’s meals are very expensive.
- This recipe is not fortified with glucosamine or chondroitin.
What Kinds of Joint Problems Do Dogs’ Suffer?
Unfortunately, joint problems are fairly common in dogs. Here are some of the more common conditions that your pooch may experience:
- Arthritis: Arthritis (technically termed osteoarthritis) is characterized by the chronic inflammation and degeneration of the cartilage in a dog’s joints.
- Dysplasia: Dysplasia occurs when a dog’s joint does not fit correctly into its socket, causing abnormal growth, inflammation, and lameness.
- Luxating Patella: A luxating patella is when a dog’s kneecap moves out of place which can be more common in smaller breeds.
- Osteochondrosis: This condition occurs as a result of abnormal cartilage development in large breed dogs.
- Trauma: Dislocation, fractures, and cruciate ligament tears can all lead to joint problems for pooches.
The takeaway? Joint problems for dogs can stem from a variety of issues. So, it’s important to see a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause of your pooch’s problems so that you can properly address the issues at hand.
Are Some Breeds More Susceptible to Joint Problems Than Others?
Some breeds are more susceptible to joint issues than others based on their build and genetic history. A couple of those breeds include:
- American Pit Bull Terrier (and other bully breeds)
- German shepherd
- Great Dane
- St. Bernard
- Golden retriever
- Cavalier King Charles spaniel
- Bernese mountain dog
Signs and Symptoms of Joint Pain in Dogs
Are you unsure whether your dog is struggling with joint pain? These are some telltale signs that your dog may be dealing with joint pain.
- Inability to move
- Excessive licking of one or more joints
- Yelping when touched
- Swollen joints
- Muscle loss
- Hopping when running
- Slowing down or lack of interest in activities
If your pooch is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it’s time to head to the veterinarian.
How Are Joint Problems Treated for Dogs?
There are a number of ways to address joint problems, which you’ll need to discuss with your vet. However, in many cases, feeding a dog food that supports good joint health is a valuable component of your approach. Your veterinarian may provide additional support for Spot through the following methods:
- Supplements: Joint support supplements can be a preventative measure for at-risk pups and also help dogs with joint issues feel their best. The two most common supplements are glucosamine and chondroitin.
- Medications: Your pooch may be prescribed medication to help cope with chronic pain or inflammation.
- Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can help strengthen a pooch’s joints and range of motion and is especially a great option for pups who aren’t eligible for surgical intervention.
- Management Solutions: Your veterinarian may recommend several lifestyle adjustments to limit your dog’s pain. This could include diet changes or adjustments to your pup’s usual routine or exercise plan. There are a vast array of arthritis treatment solutions for dogs, but a common first step is to work on management options like reducing stairs access, adding ramps to the home, and utilizing back waist slings.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgical intervention – such as an ACL surgery, may be able to correct the source of your furball’s joint issues.
- Weight Loss: Your dog’s joint issues could be caused or exacerbated by excess weight. Weight loss can help alleviate some of your dog’s symptoms and make for a happier furry friend.
Unfortunately, plenty of pooches are affected by joint issues at some point in their lives. Thankfully, these joint supportive dog foods can help your furry friend feel his best while managing his joint problems.
Does your dog suffer from joint issues? Has your pooch tried any of these joint-friendly foods? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!