Whiskey just turned 8 and the reality of an older dog is hitting hard. Although we are still doing all the long distance multi-day hiking, the trail runs, and offleash walks at least twice a day, Whiskey’s slowing down and I know she’s getting achy just like me. Sometimes we hike over 12 hours a day, half on scree and boulder fields, scrambling 2000m+ (7000 ft) vertically up and down mountains. The longest hike we did last year was 8 days in a row and Whiskey did every single one of the extra side-trips and peaks.
Just last year I started researching what supplements might be good for joints as a preventative to keep Whiskey oiled and feeling good over long days. Although I have very little knowledge compared to vets or specialists, I’d like to share what we’re using since so many ask. Keep in mind, Whiskey has no current issues and everything is used as a preventative. I also feed my dogs raw at home (other things while we travel), and take a balanced approach to their health (between traditional and holistic). I also do not make money off any links (feel free to buy me a coffee or shop in my store if you want to support me)
Omega-3s Fish Oil– There’s a huge list of studied benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids for humans and the same holds true for puppies and dogs. It can be used as treatment for arthritis and kidney disease in older dogs and is great for skin, coat, nervous system and joints. I use squid oil to avoid mercury.
Glucosamine– One of the most used ingredients for join supplements. Similar to humans, glucosamine helps keep our cartilage healthy but as we age, the body makes less which can lead to joint breakdown and inflammation. Daily supplements usually made of shellfish can relieve pain and help inflammation.
Chondroitin Sulfate-Chondroitin helps mobility and flexibility and prevents the break down of cartilage. It works well combined with Glucosamine to help joints, and even stimulate repair mechanisms.
MSM– is a natural chemical in dogs and humans (and other living things) and is used to treat arthritis. Like Glucosamine and Chondroitin, it can be used to support connective tissue and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Turmeric– The active ingredient in Turmeric is curcumin that has been studied to be an effective anti inflammatory without the side effects of traditional drugs. I use Turmeric after we’ve had a big day, and tend to carry it on hiking road-trips.
CBD– CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system to block pain signals and reduce joint inflammation. I’ve only used this as a treatment, not preventative but I thought to put this on the list. Make sure any CBD oil you buy is specifically for dogs so there is no trace of THC in it. Not all CBD products are made the same, and my own vet suggests that good quality oil is the most effective way to go.
Egg shell membrane– My physiotherapist suggested I take NEM (Natural Eggshell Membrane) for my own knee issues so naturally, I looked into it for Whiskey. Since we eat eggs all the time, I just feed the membrane to her since it’s a “free” supplement. Egg shell membrane contains proteins such as collagen, but also chondroitin sulfate, and glucosamine so it’s basically an amazing addition to everything else I’m feeding. The easiest way to break the membrane from the egg (if your dog doesn’t eat eggshells) is to crack a bit of the shell at the top, and then use that crack to peel the membrane off.
Products we use/have used
Some people start their dogs on joint supplements after 3 years old, some only when they see problems like stiff joints or limping after a big day. How much, how soon, you use these depend on your dog, your breed, financial ability and comfort. The availability of specific brands will depend on where you live and the quality of the brand is quite important so dig in a little and ask vets if they do NOT recommend a brand, or sport dog trainers that have tried several local options and can compare. Lastly keep in mind food allergies (specifically shellfish and beef) when choosing supplements.
Nutramax Cosequin- It’s affordable (I buy this at Costco) and includes all the basics (glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, MSM). Whiskey gets this daily
Green-Lipped Mussels– These mussels are from New Zealand and are super tasty with fries, but also are join supplements with omega-3s, chondroitin and glycosaminoglycans. I buy a powder form and add it with Whiskey’s regular supplements on top of her raw food in the mornings.
FeelGood Omega-3 – I trust this brand of supplements (I use others for both Whiskey and Bourbon) to have carefully researched ingredients for my dogs. I used to use salmon oil but then realized it wasn’t sustainable and higher levels of mercury. Calamari populations are increasing vs krill and fish. Both dogs get this daily!
CBD– I honestly cannot remember the brand we used but it was recommended by my vet. There seems to be quite a difference in quality of the oils so definitely do your research and not just go with the cheapest one.
Recovery– I’ve used this when Whiskey’s had a limp and it’s been recommended by most active senior dog owners I’ve met. I would use this as a treatment, not preventative. It includes MSM and glucosamine hydrochloride as the top ingredients.
Pup Snax™ Daily Immune Plus Probiotic – I recently discovered this from Puppington and it works well as a daily chew for everything. It has Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil, Turmeric, and then a probiotic blend on top.