You want to help your dog feel better and not be in so much pain, but you aren’t wild about giving them prescription medication for the rest of their life. Or maybe you’re looking for something extra to supplement a medication recommended by the vet. Either way, you’ll be happy to know that there are many different supplements that have been shown to improve pain and joint function in dogs with arthritis. According to PetMD:
“By their nature, nutritional supplements (also called nutraceuticals) are substances that are consumed orally as an addition to a normal diet. These substances are much safer than traditional ‘drugs’ in that they can be considered a form of food. Side effects are almost unheard of as long as they are used in reasonable amounts. Stomach upset is possible, particularly at higher doses, but generally resolves as a dog’s digestive system adjusts.”
With that in mind, here are 10 of the most highly-recommended herbal supplements to heal and nurture your dog’s joints.
#1 – Cayenne
The active ingredient in Cayenne, capsaicin, increases circulation when applied topically. It also acts as a nerve block, which helps to reduce the amount of pain your dog experiences. Adding cayenne to blends of other herbs acts as a catalyst, which means that it increases the effectiveness of the other herbs. It can also be added to food or given as a capsule.
It’s important to note that some dogs are sensitive to plants in the nightshade family. If you know your dog is sensitive to these plants, you should avoid giving them cayenne. If cayenne seems to make your dog’s arthritis worse instead of better, you should avoid giving them any plant from the nightshade family. These include tomato, potato, eggplant, peppers, and ashwagandha.
#2 – Bromelain
According to Whole Dog Journal:
“Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples, has strong anti-inflammatory properties. It works best if given separately from meals (at least one hour before or two hours after). Its effectiveness may be increased when it is combined with quercetin, a flavonoid. There are many combination products available, or you can give each separately.”
Multiple studies have shown bromelain to be at least as effective as traditional anti-inflammatory drugs when it comes to easing the pain of arthritis, with potentially fewer side effects.
#3 – SAM-e
SAM-e (s-adenosylmethionine) is a supplement that is known to support the liver, and it may also reduce pain, stiffness, and inflammation related to arthritis. It has the most effect when combined with a B-complex vitamin and given apart from meals. While SAM-e is marketed as a supplement in the United States, it has been used as a prescription drug for humans in Italy since 1979, in Spain since 1985, and in Germany since 1989, so there’s strong research indicating that SAM-e is safe and effective. SAM-e is available as an over the counter supplement in the USA.
#4 – Hyaluronic acid (HA)
According to Natural Dog Health Remedies:
“HA is a normal constituent of joint fluid that makes the fluid thick and provides joint lubrication. HA has been found to be able to reduce swelling at the site by decreasing white blood cell migration and infiltration into the affected tissue. It also has the ability to reduce pain and inflammation. Many vets now recommend supplementing arthritic dogs with HA as part of the treatment for osteoarthritis.”
HA used to require an injection into the joint under sedation, but there are now oral forms available.
#5 – Ginger
Not just for the kitchen, ginger is an anti-inflammatory that is also good for digestion and circulation. It also combines well with other herbs to make them more effective.
#6 – Cranberries
Cranberries are chock full of antioxidants, which help remove toxic free radicals from the body, and they also contain vitamin E, lutein, vitamin C, beta-carotene, flavonoids, and lycopene. Free radicals cause cell damage, so antioxidants have anti-aging properties.
#7 – Yucca
Yucca contains chemicals that reduce pain, joint swelling, and stiffness. It shouldn’t be given in high doses, and even at low doses, it’s best to skip two days a week and a full week every month or two, as yucca can cause stomach irritation and vomiting at high doses.
#8 – MSM
MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) provides sulfur compounds that may inhibit pain. Sulfur is critical in the forming of blood proteins, amino acids, connective tissue, and healthy skin. MSM is an antioxidant, cell rejuvenator, and joint healer. It’s frequently used in conjunction with glucosamine and chondroitin.
#9 – Turmeric
Turmeric contains more than two dozen compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. One of the main components of turmeric, curcumin, has been shown to reduce arthritis symptoms as well as ibuprofen. Combining turmeric with bromelain makes each even more effective.
#10 – Glucosamine and Chondroitin
According to PetMD:
“Today, the most commonly used nutraceuticals in pet health care are glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. With traditional drugs, dogs typically demonstrate improved comfort almost immediately. Conversely, nutraceuticals may take several weeks to months of administration before noticeable improvement in mobility and attitude are apparent.”
Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements actually help protect the joint by rebuilding cartilage and restoring the fluid in the joints. Even though it takes time to see results, your dogs joints will be grateful for the added help.
If supplementation makes sense for your dog, we’d encourage you to explore the Project Paws line of joint supplements that includes many of these nutrients, including turmeric, glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional.