Are the Ingredients in Joint Supplements Effective for Your Dog?

Crowley has mild arthritis in his right front carpal joints (as diagnosed by his current vet). He’s only four, but as a retired racer his racing career did cause some damage as his other scars show. I want to keep him moving with me for years to come, so I put him on a joint supplement for pets in his first meal with me. Crowley has been on the same supplement ever since, but I wondered if the common joint supplement ingredients helped. 

I put Mr. Crowley on a joint supplement when I first adopted him to keep him moving for a long time.

Recent studies have thrown a mixed bag of results on the efficacy of different ingredients for joint support, but it seems conclusive that it can help with osteoarthritic dogs like Crowley. Maintaining the cartilage and synovial fluid in osteoarthritic joints by using joint supplements may reduce pain levels and improve mobility. Osteoarthritis has no cure and symptom management is key to keeping your pet pain-free and happy. 

Here are three ingredients that have been found beneficial for dogs – glucosamine, chondroitin, and creatine.


An essential amino sugar, glucosamine, is the base for many compounds that compose cartilage (such as chondroitin sulphate). Glucosamine provides both stimulatory and anti-inflammatory effects on dogs, but the method by which it does this is still up for future research. It does increase collagen and cartilage production, as past studies have confirmed in human trials. 

As your Working dogs are often harder on their body and may benefit from the anti-inflammatories of creatine. Image by JamesDeMers from Pixabay

Current research has shown that glucosamine, unfortunately, is metabolized by bacteria in the intestinal tract. It often isn’t available in high enough quantity for your dog to be useful. Studies have shown glucosamine sulphate is the best form of glucosamine in terms of bioavailability (25-40%) after digestion. The metabolites after glucosamine digestion may be of benefit, however, to managing osteoarthritis anyways by stimulating anti-inflammatory responses. Giving your dog the purest and most accessible form of glucosamine is essential for the supplement to affect their cartilage and inflammation. 

Chondroitin Sulphate

The shell in crustaceans is an excellent source of chondroitin. Image by Martin Winkler from Pixabay

Specific enzymes in synovial fluid within joints accelerates cartilage degradation that is associated with osteoarthritis. The damage done by these enzymes increases the amount of inflammation and pain experienced. Chondroitin Sulfate acts as an inhibitor to these enzymes and, in turn, increases the body’s anti-inflammatory response. Supplementation alone has shown positive results in rabbits with osteoarthritis by increasing cartilage (around knee joints) and the body’s anti-inflammatory response. Common sources of chondroitin are in crustaceans (crabs, lobsters).


As your dog gets older, protecting their joints is essential to keeping them mobile and healthy. Image by Steve Crowhurst from Pixabay

The nitrogen-based molecule creatine is stored in skeletal muscle for future energy production. The molecule supports the high-production of ATP during high-intensity exercises (sprinting or weight lifting). Often associated with bodybuilders, this supplement has also gained recognition in reducing inflammation surrounding painful joints. A study from 2019 highlighted the different mechanisms on pro-inflammatory and inhibitory pathways that creatine effects in dogs with osteoarthritis. The supplementation of creatine showed a positive anti-inflammatory response and reduced pain levels, making creatine a possible supplement for dogs with arthritis. 

The Right Supplement

As always, start with a discussion with your current vet on options for your dog. While there are very few adverse affects recorded with most joint supplements, it’s always best to be safe for your dog.

That being said, obtaining the purest ingredients that have maximum bioavailability is key for high-quality supplements. TRI-ACTA is a joint supplement for pets that contains pure ingredients within a small dosage. It contains glucosamine (HCL, sulphate), chondroitin sulphate, and MSM in a fine powder. After having Mr. Crowley on the supplement for 6 months I can see a more supple gait, and I also feel his joints are moving better during stretches after a 45min walk.

If you’re not convinced, try a joint supplement for yourself. You may see similar benefits!

  1. AlRaddadi, E. A., Winter, T., Aukema, H. M., & Miller, D. W. (2019). Effects of various dietary supplements on inflammatory processes in primary canine chondrocytes as a model of osteoarthritis. Canadian Journal of veterinary research = Revue Canadienne de recherche veterinaire, 83(3), 206–217.
  2. Braun, L., and Cohen, M. (2010) Herbs and Natural Supplements Inkling: An Evidence-Based Guide, Elsevier Health Sciences: USA. ISBN: 97807295791000729579107
  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. Ma, N., Wang, T., Bie, L., Zhao, Y., Zhao, L., Zhang, S., Gao, L., & Xiao, J. (2018). Comparison of the effects of exercise with chondroitin sulfate on knee osteoarthritis in rabbits. Journal of orthopaedic surgery and research, 13(1), 16.
  5. Messonnier, S. (2014). Nutritional Supplements for the Veterinary Practice: A Pocket Guide, American Animal Hosp Assoc: USA. ISBN: 97815832617501583261753
  6. Shmagel, A., Demmer, R., Knights, D., Butler, M., Langsetmo, L., Lane, N. E., & Ensrud, K. (2019). The Effects of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate on Gut Microbial Composition: A Systematic Review of Evidence from Animal and Human Studies. Nutrients, 11(2), 294.

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