Skip to Content

Vet Advice: Dog Food for Pain, Arthritis, Joints & Hip Dysplasia

Last year, I met the nicest man when he brought his 8-year-old Lab to see me for his yearly checkup. I asked how Ringo was getting along at home. The man replied, “Oh, he’s doing pretty good. You know… he’s just getting old. He can’t run or jump into the truck like he used to but most of the time he does alright.” 

That statement was unexpected because, to me, 8 years old is pretty young for a dog these days! Looking at Ringo, I knew we could improve his quality of life with a couple of slight changes in his daily routine. The dog was a good 10% or more overweight. And he was eating whatever low-grade kibble was on sale at the discount store that month. 

By getting this pup closer to his fighting weight and upgrading to high-quality dog food, I was sure he would be feeling better within a few months. But his owner wasn’t even aware that his dog was overweight nor did he know there is such a thing as dog food for arthritis and joint health.

Specially formulated dog food can significantly decrease pain from arthritis and improve joint health. Scientific evidence supports the use of omega-3 fatty acids and a few other nutritional supplements in improving the quality of life of dogs with arthritis.

The internet abounds with advice from well-meaning dog lovers on which foods will help arthritis and which will make it worse. Today I’m investigating whether there is effective dog food for pain

Skip to Food Recommendations

What Is Arthritis in Dogs?

What most people call “arthritis” in dogs is technically called osteoarthritis (OA) to differentiate it from other types of joint inflammation like rheumatoid arthritis. OA is the same thing as canine degenerative joint disease. This disease causes inflammation and joint pain. Arthritis will affect approximately 20% of all dogs sometime during their lifetime. (10) 

The hallmarks of canine OA are degeneration of cartilage and subsequent scar formation in a dog’s joints. It can occur as a primary or secondary disease. 

Primary OA results from age-related cartilage breakdown. Secondary OA occurs as the result of trauma, including chronic trauma from malformed joints like we see in hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. 

Any age dog can get osteoarthritis but young dogs are more likely to have the secondary form while an older dog will get the primary form. Although arthritis occurs in all breeds and sizes of dogs, a large breed dog is more likely to have significant osteoarthritis symptoms.

chocolate lab - dog food for arthritis pain
Labrador Retrievers are prone to getting arthritis

Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs 

  • Difficulty rising from a lying down position
  • Stiff gait especially when first Rising from lying down
  • Dog takes a while to get warmed up in the morning.
  • Decrease general activity level
  • Increased sleeping
  • Dog doesn’t want to play as much as he wants did
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Crackling sounds in the joint
  • Limping
  • Licking sore joints
  • Taking very small steps and specially with the hind limbs
  • Swinging the limbs outward when walking
  • Inability to fully flex or extend arthritic joint
  • Doesn’t want to be touched and sore areas
  • Increased heat in the tissues over the affected area
  • Swelling over an inflamed joint 

Can Dog Food Treat Arthritis?

The question today is: is it worthwhile to feed a specific dog food for the pain caused by osteoarthritis? And, furthermore, can dog food actually prevent arthritis?

If you read articles on the internet, you would think the overwhelming answer to these questions would be, “Absolutely!” 

But if you look at the scientific evidence, the answer is that dog food can kind of help a dog’s OA pain-but not exactly in the way you might think.

Certain nutrients can decrease inflammation and pain in arthritic dogs. But we have very little information on most of the foods that are touted as miracle cures.

We have good evidence that fish oil (high in omega-3 fats) can help dogs with arthritic joints. But the dosage recommended to prevent arthritis-related pain is quite a bit higher than the standard nutritional dosage.

Glucosamine and chondroitin might help dogs with arthritis. These nutraceuticals do seem to have some effect on joint tissue, but researchers have mixed findings on whether they decrease pain in arthritic dogs.

Several prescription dog foods are formulated with high amounts of omega-3 fats along with antioxidants, carnitine, and other supposedly helpful ingredients. The research done by the manufacturers of these prescription diets shows the food reduces pain in dogs with osteoarthritis.

I am not aware of any non-prescription dog foods that have proof that they decrease the pain level of arthritic dogs. It’s possible that fish-based, over-the-counter dog food could have enough  omega-3 fats to have an anti-inflammatory effect. But research is needed to prove it.

Can Dog Food Prevent Arthritis?

There is no scientific evidence of any dog food preventing arthritis in dogs. Your best bet to prevent arthritis is to feed a calorie-restricted diet and keep your dog on the lean side of normal weight. 

Large breed puppies benefit from eating food made especially for them. Future orthopedic problems (including osteoarthritis) are decreased by controlling the calories and calcium given to large breed puppies. 

Step One: Achieve Your Dog’s Ideal Body Weight

Experts have recommended over and over again that dogs with arthritis be kept in a quite lean body condition. Balanced nutrition without excess calories is the best-proven tactic for preventing osteoarthritis. (11)

What do I mean by a lean body condition? You should be able to feel the ribs but not see them (in short-haired dogs). You should be able to feel the outline of the pelvic bones. Your dog’s waist should be apparent when you view him from the top or the side.  

Many dog owners are alarmed if they can feel their dog’s hip bones, but it’s OK as long as there is a little fat and muscle over them. I think we’re all so used to seeing obese dogs, we don’t even know what I lean dog looks like anymore. I recommend you consult a body condition score chart to see how your dog will look and feel when they are lean.

If your arthritic dog is overweight, it can be a real challenge to take weight off of them without using a prescription weight loss diet. You can read my other article on this topic. 

You might like this article: Best Weight Management Dog Food

If you can do only one thing to treat your arthritis dog’s pain, get him to a lean body condition and keep him there. And the best way to prevent a dog from developing arthritis is to keep him lean throughout his life.

Step Two: Dog Food for Pain, Arthritis & Joint Health

If your dog is already at an ideal weight, it’s well worthwhile to use a prescription diet. These diets have high levels of omega-3 fats, glucosamine, and other joint health-promoting ingredients while having a controlled amount of calories so your dog won’t gain weight.

But prescription food costs more than non-prescription dog food but the benefits are worth it. Take the money you might have spent on hyped-up but ineffective supplements and spend them on a good prescription product recommended by your vet! See the top products below.

Anti-Inflammatory Dog Food Ingredients

Glucosamine HCl+Chondroitin Sulfate

Glucosamine and chondroitin are two naturally occurring compounds found primarily in an animal’s joint tissues. These supplements support joint health by stabilizing the normal structure of healthy cartilage. They also act as anti-inflammatories in a dog’s joints. 

Veterinarians have recommended glucosamine chondroitin oral supplements to owners of dogs with joint and mobility issues for decades. Now you can find dog food for joint pain that already contains glucosamine and chondroitin. 

Multiple studies on this popular nutraceutical combination have found that it’s generally safe for dogs. But do glucosamine and chondroitin actually work to treat or prevent pain from osteoarthritis? 

The scientific evidence to support the widespread recommendation of glucosamine and chondroitin to treat arthritis pain in dogs is not clear-cut. While some researchers found benefits, others did not. A review published in 2017 advises veterinarians that current evidence does not support their use as a joint supplement. (3)

The attitude I’ve observed amongst vets is that glucosamine/chondroitin won’t hurt dogs and has some chance of helping. I think vets may offer it because there aren’t many effective options for treating canine arthritis that don’t involve prescription, a lot of time or a lot of money.  And pet parents willingly accept the recommendation because they’re familiar with the supplement from advertising aimed at humans.  

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 supplements, usually derived from fish, are widely touted for their miraculous ability to heal all sorts of inflammatory conditions. 

Scientific researchers have shown omega-3 fatty acid supplements can help dogs with arthritis. (14)  One study also found dogs who took carprofen (Rimadyl) for arthritis pain required lower dosages when they also took appropriate amounts of omega-3 fatty acid supplements. (9)

The high doses of high omega-3 oils needed to treat arthritis in dogs can add a lot of calories to a dog’s diet, potentially causing the food to be unbalanced. Using a dog food that has omega-3’s already factored into the nutrition and calories is a good alternative to adding fish oil supplements. 

Avocado and Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU)

ASU Is made from the fruits and seeds of avocados and soybeans. This plant-based food supplement contains multiple compounds that can decrease the production of inflammatory substances in a dog’s arthritic joints.

A 2007 study found that dogs treated with ASU had suppression of the genes responsible for producing inflammatory substances in joints. (1) Other researchers have shown ASU can prevent structural changes in arthritic dog joints (4).

Green Lipped Mussel (GLM,Perna canaliculus)

New Zealand green-lipped mussels (GLM) are a type of shellfish that were traditionally used by native people as an anti-inflammatory. 

There is some evidence to support the use of GLM to treat pain from arthritis in dogs. One study found an improvement in dogs’ joint pain, swelling and range of movement after they ate a diet supplemented with GLM for 6 weeks. (5)

Some prescription dog foods for healthy joints contain therapeutic levels of GLM active compounds.

Learn about other natural anti-inflammatory supplements for dogs

Glucosamine Dog Food Facts

I learned an interesting fact while researching this article. Although glucosamine and chondroitin have been included in dog food for several decades, they are not present in therapeutic levels in any commercial dog food product. 

The reason for this has to do with FDA and individual state regulations. FDA does not recognize glucosamine and chondroitin as acceptable food additives–in fact, it could even be considered to be a food adulterant. 

Some states in the U.S. prohibit dog food manufacturers from making a “drug” or therapeutic claim for glucosamine on their label. The labels must also include a statement that these glucosamine and chondroitin are not essential nutrients (6). 

So national manufacturers of dog food have opted to keep the levels at subtherapeutic levels rather than make different recipes for each state. 

That’s also why glucosamine and chondroitin levels are quite low even in prescription dog food products. 

I’ve provided the amount of glucosamine/chondroitin in several of the products listed below. But the levels are far below the amount recommended for arthritis therapy. 

Even the dog food with the highest amount of glucosamine provides only about half the minimum recommended dosage. The chondroitin levels in most of the products listed is in the therapeutic range. 

Instead, dog food targeted at joint health concentrates on providing therapeutic levels of omega-3 fats. A therapeutic level of omega-3’s in dog food is somewhere around 300 mg of omega-3’s per 100 Kcal. 

No commercial dog food contains a therapeutic level of glucosamine and chondroitin. Bottom line: if you want your dog to benefit from the anti-inflammatory properties of these nutrients, use a glucosamine supplement with chondroitin.

Food Evaluation Criteria

I gathered information on the top 5 prescription joint health dry dog food products. 

The main characteristics I look for in dog food for joint health are:

  1. High levels of omega 3 fats
  2. Calorie controlled, high protein to help dogs attain a healthy weight
  3. Made by a reliable manufacturer 

Below, I list the most pertinent information, including the amount of omega 3 fats, protein %, fiber % and calorie content. Percent per 100 kCal, ME (metabolizable energy) and “as fed” are all more accurate ways of looking at nutrients compared to how they’re listed on a guaranteed analysis label. Not all products provided detailed information so the non-prescription foods use less precise criteria for comparison.

Each of these products stands out for different reasons. I gave preference to food that had significant omega 3 fats as that is the main nutritional intervention that is scientifically proven to help dogs with pain from arthritis and joint disease. Some also have a reduced calorie content to help the many overweight dogs slim down. 

The prescription joint health dog foods listed here are all more expensive than non-prescription food, but some are more affordable than others in this category. It will cost in the range of $20 to $52 per month to feed a 35-pound dog food for arthritis. 

Dollar signs are used to indicate the price range with more dollar signs meaning the product is more costly.

Best Dog Food for Arthritis and Joint Health: Prescription

Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d Joint Care

Pros: 

  • High level of omega 3 fats
  • Clinically proven to reduce a dog’s required NSAID dosage by 25% (9)
  • Contains glucosamine, chondroitin, carnitine and antioxidants
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight
  • Relatively low cost for prescription food

Cons

  • For adult and seniors dogs only, not for puppies, pregnant or nursing dogs
  • Requires prescription from a veterinarian
  • Costs more than non-prescription food
  • Have to buy it from vet or specialty food seller
Omega-3’s821 mgper 100 kCal ME
EPA 107.3 mgper 100 kCal ME
Glucosamine 21 mgper 100 kCal ME
Chondroitin 19 mgper 100 kCal ME
Protein17.7% as Fed
Crude Fiber7.7%as Fed
Calories 384 kCalper Cup
Life StageAdult Dogs 
Price$0.0021 ($31.50/mo.) $$per kCal

Ingredients

Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Flaxseed, Soybean Mill Run, Brewers Rice, Soybean Meal, Pork Fat, Powdered Cellulose, Chicken Liver Flavor, Fish Oil, Lactic Acid, Potassium Chloride, L-Lysine, Calcium Carbonate, Iodized Salt, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), L-Threonine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, L-Tryptophan, L-Carnitine, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Chondroitin Sulfate, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene


Hill’s™ Prescription Diet™ Metabolic+Mobility Dog Food

Pros: 

  • HIGHEST OMEGA 3 FAT LEVEL 
  • Clinically proven to reduce a dog’s required NSAID dosage by 25%
  • Clinically proven to reduce body weight (8)
  • Contains glucosamine, chondroitin, carnitine and antioxidants
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight with soluble and insoluble fiber
  • Lowest calories per cup of the prescription foods listed here-good for overweight dogs

Cons

  • For adult and seniors dogs only, not for puppies, pregnant or nursing dogs
  • Requires prescription from a veterinarian
  • COSTLY: most expensive food in this group per calorie 
  • Have to buy it from vet or specialty food seller
Omega-3’s1018 mgper 100 kCal ME
Glucosamine 21 mgper 100 kCal ME
Chondroitin 100 Kcal ME19 mgper 100 kCal ME
Protein25.8% as Fed
Crude Fiber13.7% as Fed
Calories 291 kCalper Cup
Life StageAdult Dogs 
Price $0.0034 ($51/mo.) $$$per kCal

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


Purina® Pro Plan® Veterinary Diets JM Joint Mobility®

Pros: 

  • High level of omega 3 fats
  • High protein level to support maintenance of lean muscle mass & weight management
  • Contains glucosamine
  • OK for puppies and adult dogs!
  • Can be used for weight loss or weight maintenance
  • Trout and salmon meals high on ingredient list (natural sources of omega-3 fats)
  • BEST RX FOOD VALUE: lowest price per calorie of all the prescription foods reviewed here.

Cons

  • Higher calories per cup not ideal for overweight dogs
  • Lower quantity of omega-3 than other prescription food
  • Requires prescription from a veterinarian
  • Costs more than non-prescription food
  • Have to buy it from vet or specialty food seller
Omega-3’s250 mgper 100 kCal ME
EPA+DHA220 mgper 100 kCal ME
Glucosamine27.87 mgper 100 kCal ME
Protein32% as Fed
Crude Fiber1.85% (8.29% total fiber)as Fed
Calories401 kCalper Cup
Life StageAdult Dogs 
Price $0.0020 ($30/mo.) $$per kCal

Ingredients

Brewers Rice, Trout, Salmon Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Poultry By-Product Meal (Source Of Glucosamine), Dried Egg Product, Oat Fiber, Animal Digest, Animal Fat Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols, Fish Oil, Chicken, Potassium Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Salt, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source Of Vitamin C), Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Niacin, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Sulfate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Biotin, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source Of Vitamin K Activity), Sodium Selenite. A-2628.


BLUE™ Natural Veterinary Diet™ Dry Dog Food W+M Weight Management + Mobility Support 

Pros: 

  • High level of omega 3 fats
  • High protein level to support maintenance of lean muscle mass & weight management
  • Contains glucosamine and omega 3 fats from natural sources (shrimp meal & salmon meal)
  • Grain-free–good for owners who prefer this option
  • Moderate/low calories per cup
  • High fiber to help level dogs feel fuller

Cons

  • High fiber level may cause excessive gas or loose stools for some dogs
  • Contains pulses and no grains–may not be ideal for heart health in some dogs
  • Requires prescription from a veterinarian
  • Costs more than non-prescription food
  • Have to buy it from vet or specialty food seller
Omega-3’s/100 kCal ME740 mgper 100 kCal ME
EPA+DHA/100 Kcal ME340 mgper 100 kCal ME
Glucosamine/100 kcal ME56 mgper 100 kCal ME
Chondroitin/100 kcal ME31 mgper 100 kCal ME
Protein31% as Fed
Crude Fiber12.5% (18.43% total fiber)as Fed
Calories per cup325 kCalper Cup
Life StageAdult Dogs 
Price $0.0026 ($39/mo) $$$per kCal

Ingredients

Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Powdered Cellulose, Peas, Tapioca Starch, Natural Flavor, Pea Starch, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acid), 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.


Best Dog Food for Arthritis and Joint Health: Non-Prescription

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Large Breed Chicken Meal, Brown Rice & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food

Pros: 

  • High level of omega 3 fats
  • Moderate calorie content
  • Available in a small dog version with the same nutrient profile
  • BEST VALUE OVERALL: lowest cost of all products listed here

Cons

  • Less costly than prescription food
  • Lower protein and fiber level than prescription food made for weight maintenance
  • Not suitable for puppies, pregnant or nursing dogs
Omega-3’s/100 kCal ME329 mgper 100 kCal ME
Glucosamine/100 kcal ME16 mgper 100 kCal ME
Chondroitin/100 kcal ME26.94 mgper 100 kCal ME
Protein20.6 % as Fed
Crude Fiber2.2% as Fed
Calories per cup359 kCalper Cup
Life StageAdult Dogs 
Price $0.0013 ($19.82 /mo) $per kCal

Ingredients

Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Sorghum, Brown Rice, Whole Grain Wheat, Cracked Pearled Barley, Soybean Meal, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Fat, Chicken Liver Flavor, Soybean Oil, Corn Gluten Meal, Fish Oil, Flaxseed, Lactic Acid, Pork Liver Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Iodized Salt, Calcium Carbonate, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, L-Lysine, Oat Fiber, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, L-Carnitine, Beta-Carotene, Apples, Broccoli, Carrots, Cranberries, Green Peas.


ORIJEN Six Fish 

Pros: 

  • High level of omega 3 fats from natural sources (fish)
  • High protein level for lean mass preservation and weight maintenance
  • Grain-free for owners who prefer this option
  • Added probiotic supplement may improve digestive health
  • OK for puppies, adults and all life stages (except not large breed puppies)!

Cons

  • As costly as prescription food
  • Contains pulses and no grains–may not be ideal for heart health in some dogs
  • High in fat might cause digestive issues for sensitive dogs
  • High in calories-not ideal for overweight dogs
  • Manufacturer may not meet WSAVA recommendations
Omega-3’s410 mgper 100 kCal ME
Glucosamine300 mg (minimum)per kg
Chondroitin/100 kcal ME26.94 mgper 100 kCal ME
Protein~35 % ME
Crude Fiber4% Dry Matter
Calories per cup468 kCalper Cup
Life StageAll Life Stages (except not large breed puppies) 
Price $0.0026 ($39 /mo) $$$per kCal

Ingredients

Whole Mackerel, Whole Herring, Monkfish, Acadian Redfish, Flounder, Whole Hake, Mackerel Meal, Herring Meal, Blue Whiting Meal, Pollock Meal, Whole Red Lentils, Whole Pinto Beans, Safflower Oil, Whole Peas, Whole Green Lentils, Whole Navy Beans, Sunflower Oil, Lentil Fiber, Natural Fish Flavor, Whole Chickpeas, Pea Starch, Herring Oil, Vitamin E Supplement, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Whole Pumpkin, Whole Butternut Squash, Collard Greens, Whole Apples, Whole Pears, Dried Kelp, Zinc Proteinate, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Dried Chicory Root, Turmeric, Sarsaparilla Root, Althea Root, Rosehips, Juniper Berries, Citric Acid (Preservative), Rosemary Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product.


BLUE True Solutions™ Jolly Joints Mobility Support Formula

Jolly Joints - dog food for arthritis, joint pain, hip dysplasia
Jolly Joints food is available in most grocery stores

Pros: 

  • Fish oil added to increase omega 3 level 
  • Natural source of glucosamine/chondroitin (shrimp meal)
  • Added probiotic supplement may improve digestive health
  • High protein level for lean mass preservation and weight maintenance
  • No corn or wheat-good if owner prefers this option
  • Lower cost than prescription food
  • Available without prescription in grocery stores

Cons

  • Actual amount of omega 3 in this food is unclear but it appears to be much lower than other foods listed in this article
  • Higher in calories-not ideal for overweight dogs
  • Adult dogs only
Omega-3’s1.5% (minimum)Dry Matter
Glucosamine700 mg (minimum)per kg
Chondroitin/100 kcal ME550 mg (minimum)per kg
Protein~36 % ME
Crude Fiber7% Dry Matter
Calories per cup395 kCalper Cup
Life StageAdult Dogs
Price $0.0018 ($27/mo) $per kCal

Ingredients

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Brown Rice, Barley, Natural Flavor, Dried Tomato Pomace, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Potatoes, Canola Oil (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Fish Oil (source of EPA-Eicosapentaenoic Acid), Peas, Shrimp Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Pea Protein, Dried Egg Product, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potassium Chloride, Dried Chicory Root, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, DL-Methionine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), L-Tryptophan, Garlic, L-Carnitine, L-Threonine, 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-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.

Do Some Foods Make a Dog’s Joint Pain Worse?

Holistic pet health aficionados recommend feeding your dog the least processed, most natural food available.

It seems intuitive that foods closer to their whole form would be better for humans and their canine companions. But the truth is that we don’t have hard scientific evidence to support these notions. 

Most of the dog owners I meet want to feed some sort of commercial dry dog food. It’s the most cost-effective and most convenient option. There have been so many technological advances in modern dog food, even when it’s highly processed it helps dogs in ways we don’t fully appreciate.

So the natural health group would have you avoid all processed dog food. But if your dog has arthritis, they also want you to avoid another bunch of foods that supposedly cause inflammation. Here’s a look at the foods you’re supposed to avoid feeding a dog with arthritis…

Grains/Gluten 

Whether it’s gluten from wheat, whole grain or processed grain, there is no scientific basis for excluding it from a normal dog’s diet. In fact, a few years ago, dogs started developing unexpected heart problems that were linked to eating certain grain-free dog food products. (7)

The only dogs we know shouldn’t eat gluten are some Irish Setters with an inherited gluten sensitivity. Other dogs may not digest grains well, but they often have other digestive problems–not just with grains. 

Although grain and gluten have been demonized in popular media, there is a lack of good data to support cutting them out of all of our dogs’ diets whether they have arthritis or not. Grain provides energy, protein, vitamins and minerals at an attractive price. It’s also not as hard on our environment as animal-based food products. 

Eggs

Eggs occasionally cause food allergies in dogs. But saying that they are generally inflammatory to all dogs has no scientific basis. Most dogs enjoy eating eggs and benefit greatly from the high-quality, easily digestible protein they provide.

Dairy

Dairy is also demonized by some holistic nutrition advocates. Luckily, most dogs don’t eat much dairy. 

It’s not unusual for a dog to have some GI upset (usually diarrhea) after eating a large amount of dairy. But there is no evidence that it increases a dog’s arthritis-related pain.

Potatoes/Nightshades

Potatoes are a member of the nightshade family of plants. There are widespread rumors that nightshade foods like potatoes and tomatoes are inflammatory and should not be eaten by people (or dogs) with arthritis.

The recommendation for arthritic humans to avoid nightshade foods Is based on anecdotal evidence. (2) There is also no clinical reason dogs with osteoarthritis should necessarily avoid potatoes. 

Potatoes and tomatoes are packed with beneficial nutrients, are environmentally friendly and dogs think they’re delicious. 

Pulses (Lentils, Peas and Beans)

Pulses are also called legumes. We know them mostly as beans and lentils. Some people believe that certain nutrients in pulses act as anti-nutrients and shouldn’t be consumed by humans (or dogs).

A lot of boutique and “holistic” dog foods use pulses instead of grains as a source of calories.  There is no proof that pulses contribute to a dog’s pain or that avoiding them would bring pain relief.

I would be very cautious about feeding food with a lot of legumes in place of grain because of the whole heart disease fiasco I mentioned earlier. Until we figure out exactly what went wrong there, feeding a traditional meat and grain mixture as the main part of your dog’s diet is the safest plan. 

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Omega-6 fats come from plant-based oils like corn oil and canola oil. Many humans eat a diet containing a lot of omega-6’s and not very much omega-3’s to balance them out. An imbalance of omega 3 and 6 fats can add to body inflammation.

The good news is that most dogs don’t get a lot of omega-6 fats while eating a typical commercial diet. Still, using dog food that has a good anti-inflammatory ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats is a great idea for dogs with arthritis. And you certainly shouldn’t add extra vegetable oil to your dog’s food to mess up the ratio of omega fats. 

Summary

It’s worthwhile to feed a special dog food for joint pain. Scientific research supports the use of omega-3 fatty acids at therapeutic levels for dogs with joint disease. We have mixed evidence for other joint supplements including glucosamine and chondroitin although these are not present in dog food in therapeutic quantities. 

Look for dog food with high levels of omega-3 fats. Prescription joint and mobility dog food has higher levels of omega-3 fats than over-the-counter/non-prescription products. 

Related Posts

The content provided on NaturalPetsHQ.com is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Our content is not intended to take the place of professional veterinary advice and should not be relied upon to guide or influence the medical treatment of any animal. For more information please see our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use page.

References

  1. Au, R. Y., Al-Talib, T. K., Au, A. Y., Phan, P. V., & Frondoza, C. G. (2007). Avocado soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) suppress TNF-α, IL-1β, COX-2, iNOS gene expression, and prostaglandin E2 and nitric oxide production in articular chondrocytes and monocyte/macrophages. Osteoarthritis and cartilage, 15(11), 1249-1255.
  2. Best vegetables for arthritis. Best Vegetables for Arthritis | Arthritis Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2021, from https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/nutrition/healthy-eating/best-vegetables-for-arthritis. 
  3. Bhathal, A., Spryszak, M., Louizos, C., & Frankel, G. (2017). Glucosamine and chondroitin use in canines for osteoarthritis: A review. Open veterinary journal, 7(1), 36-49.
  4. Boileau, C., Martel-Pelletier, J., Caron, J., Msika, P., Guillou, G. B., Baudouin, C., & Pelletier, J. P. (2009). Protective effects of total fraction of avocado/soybean unsaponifiables on the structural changes in experimental dog osteoarthritis: inhibition of nitric oxide synthase and matrix metalloproteinase-13. Arthritis research & therapy, 11(2), 1-9.
  5. Bui, L. M., & Bierer, T. L. (2003). Influence of green lipped mussels (Perna canaliculus) in alleviating signs of arthritis in dogs. Veterinary Therapeutics, 4(4), 397-407.
  6. Dzanis, David A. (2012, December 9). How do you solve a problem like glucosamine in petfood? PetfoodIndustry.com. Retrieved September 15, 2021, from https://www.petfoodindustry.com/articles/2672-how-do-you-solve-a-problem-like-glucosamine-in-petfood. 
  7. Freeman, L. M., Stern, J. A., Fries, R., Adin, D. B., & Rush, J. E. (2018). Diet-associated dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs: what do we know?. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 253(11), 1390-1394.
  8. Floerchinger AM, Jackson MI, Jewell DE et al. Effect of feeding a weight loss food beyond a caloric restriction period on body composition and resistance to weight gain in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2015;247:375–384.
  9. Fritsch, D. A., Allen, T. A., Dodd, C. E., Jewell, D. E., Sixby, K. A., Leventhal, P. S., … & Hahn, K. A. (2010). A multicenter study of the effect of dietary supplementation with fish oil omega-3 fatty acids on carprofen dosage in dogs with osteoarthritis. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 236(5), 535-539.
  10. Johnston, S. A. (1997). Osteoarthritis: joint anatomy, physiology, and pathobiology. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 27(4), 699-723.
  11. Kealy, R. D., Lawler, D. F., Ballam, J. M., Lust, G., Smith, G. K., Biery, D. N., & Olsson, S. E. (1997). Five-year longitudinal study on limited food consumption and development of osteoarthritis in coxofemoral joints of dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 210(2), 222-225.
  12. Koh, R. Nutraceuticals in Arthritis: What Do We Know? World Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress Proceedings, 2018.
  13. Moreau, M., Troncy, E., Del Castillo, J. R. E., Bedard, C., Gauvin, D., & Lussier, B. (2013). Effects of feeding a high omega-3 fatty acids diet in dogs with naturally occurring osteoarthritis. Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition, 97(5), 830-837.
  14. Roush, J. K., Cross, A. R., Renberg, W. C., Dodd, C. E., Sixby, K. A., Fritsch, D. A., … & Hahn, K. A. (2010). Evaluation of the effects of dietary supplementation with fish oil omega-3 fatty acids on weight bearing in dogs with osteoarthritis. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 236(1), 67-73