Dog Joint Supplements: Separating Fact From Fiction

Dec 11, 2023

In a world where the traditional joint supplements for dogs haven’t changed in many years, dog parents often turn to the old standards of glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM combinations when it comes to joint health options for their best friends. But, at Bernie’s Best, we’re always looking for the best, so we look at the newest and most current science and don’t shy away from innovation. So, let’s separate fact from fiction when it comes to the joint supplements for dogs that are on the market today.

The Old Guard: Glucosamine and Chondroitin For Dogs

Glucosamine and chondroitin have been staples in veterinary supplements since the 1970s when they were first used as treatments for animals. Initially administered through injections, these compounds have evolved into oral forms, making them less invasive and easier to administer​​. And while there’s been lots of circumstantial evidence that leads us to believe that this duo is helpful for dogs with joint pain, only a few published studies support it as the go-to for mobility and joint health in dogs. Glucosamine, for instance, may be a building block of cartilage, but not all dogs can synthesize it effectively, particularly those with joint conditions like osteoarthritis​. In fact, according to well-known VCA Animal hospitals, “Limited studies in animals have been performed to evaluate the effectiveness of glucosamine/chondroitin for osteoarthritis, and of the studies that do exist, the quality is lacking.”

MSM For Dogs: What’s The Buzz About?

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), another common supplement ingredient that’s super popular for dog joint health and mobility, is a natural sulfur compound known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is used alongside glucosamine and chondroitin to treat joint conditions. It’s known to reduce pain and inflammation from conditions like arthritis and hip dysplasia and is often included in joint health supplements for this reason​​.

While MSM offers benefits such as pain relief, increased mobility, and improved quality of life for dogs with joint issues, it does have its limitations. It’s not a cure-all and, like glucosamine and chondroitin, may not work for all dogs. It’s also worth noting that MSM should be used cautiously, as there may be risks if a dog is pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medication that could interact with MSM. While there’s a lot of anecdotal and circumstantial reasons to believe it may effectively offer joint support to dogs, it’s only labeled as GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) by the FDA. There’s simply a lack of extensive, independent research on MSM, and conclusive evidence of its effectiveness isn’t as robust as one might find for FDA-regulated medications​​.

The Facts (Or Fiction) of Traditional Joint Supplements

So glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM have long been the standard bearers for canine joint health, but the science supporting their efficacy is not as strong or powerful as once believed. Glucosamine hydrochloride, although a building block of cartilage, requires a high loading dose and time to build up to therapeutic levels, while chondroitin sulfate’s large molecular size poses absorption challenges. Furthermore, these supplements may not reach the parts of the joint where they are most needed, and their onset of action can be slow​​. The dosages required for clinical efficacy are outrageously high (and expensive) and come with the possibility of even more side effects. Some studies suggest benefits, while others show little effect. Glucosamine sulfate may reduce pain, but glucosamine hydrochloride often does not​​.

Advanced Joint Health: Understanding the Basics

two golden retrievers run happily in a meadowJoint issues in dogs can significantly affect their quality of life. Traditional supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin are common, but they may not benefit all dogs and are not cure-alls​​. However, not all forms of glucosamine are equally effective, and its ability to provide comfort is moderate at best​​.

So why are they so heavily recommended and stand as the go-to in the dog joint supplement world? Mostly because there is a lot of circumstantial and anecdotal information that supports it as GRAS and somewhat effective. We’re not disagreeing with that. Additionally, it’s pretty easy and convenient for dog parents to get, which is the double-edged sword we worry about. Not all supplements are created equally. Since it takes such a high dosage for maximum efficacy anyway, many pet parents are just wasting their money and possibly buying lower-quality supplements because they’re less expensive. That said, higher-priced joint supplements may simply rely on their brand name, and people tend to do what’s always been done.

This is easy to do when well-known names and brands have lots of marketing money that goes into promoting their supplementation. As pet parents ourselves, we found that more money was often spent on marketing current products instead of doing the deep dives into what was most natural and effective for dogs today.

Science Speaks: What Makes Mobility Marvelous?

Scientifically supported ingredients that are more aligned with current veterinary recommendations for maintaining and improving joint function are what we wanted to develop when we created mobility and joint supplements. Every product we design comes from the need to give the best to our own dogs, Bernie and Lady. Both are large breed dogs, and we wanted to have their mobility be the best it could be.

So we partnered with experts to find what works for dogs to have the best mobility and came up with clean, natural ingredients that really work.

Natural Joint Relief

Instead of synthetic additives, Bernie’s Healthy Hips and Bernie’s Marvelous Mobility use natural compounds for joint relief, which are effective and minimize the risk of side effects observed with traditional supplements​​.

Nutraceuticals are food-based compounds intended to improve health and well-being. These naturally sourced ingredients are backed by scientific research, ensuring their safety and efficacy for canine joint health. This includes ingredients and antioxidants from natural sources that support the immune system and organ health, offering energy boosts and aiding in cartilage maintenance​​. In essence, we want mobility to be strong from the inside out, and we chose science-based ingredients that work!

Advanced Joint Health with Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), mainly from sources like fish or krill oil, are acclaimed for their anti-inflammatory properties and their ability to promote healthy joint lubrication. Unlike traditional joint supplements, they effectively reduce inflammation and pain while supporting overall organ health​​​​. Omegas are becoming must-haves for total body wellness more and more. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly studied and known for providing significant health benefits in both humans and dogs. These benefits include aiding in cardiovascular health, neurologic development, and of course, reducing the inflammatory response, which can be crucial for dogs with conditions like arthritis​​.

Cutting-Edge Nutrition from Green-Lipped Mussels

Green-lipped mussels are not just another source of omega-3s; they offer a unique set of fatty acids and have been shown to improve functioning and pain behavior in dogs with clinical osteoarthritis​​. Green Lipped Mussels (GLM) are recognized for their potential to improve joint health in dogs. They are considered a superfood for joints, aiding in reducing stiffness, enhancing mobility, and managing inflammation. Green-lipped mussels contain nutrients such as glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), which are key components of cartilage and joint fluid, and can help maintain supple, healthy dog joints. Additionally, the Omega-3 fatty acids in GLM help manage inflammation and promote joint mobility​​.

A study involving 31 mixed-breed dogs with varying degrees of arthritis showed that after six weeks, dogs fed with GLM powder significantly reduced joint pain and swelling, suggesting GLM’s effectiveness in alleviating arthritis symptoms in dogs​​.

Holistic Veterinary Science with Boswellia Serrata

Boswellia serrata is a natural tree extract that has shown promising results in reducing the severity and signs of osteoarthritis in dogs. It even rivals the effects of some NSAIDs without the pharmaceutical side effects​​. Boswellia serrata is commonly known as Indian frankincense, and it’s also been studied for its potential benefits in canine joint and spinal health. A clinical trial involving 29 dogs with chronic joint and spinal disease showed that a Boswellia resin extract significantly reduced symptoms such as intermittent lameness, local pain, and stiff gait after six weeks of treatment. The study demonstrated the herb’s anti-inflammatory properties could provide symptomatic support in canine osteoarthritic disease​​.

Undenatured Collagen: Joint Health Benefits For Mobility

Undenatured type-II collagen has also been studied for its potential to manage degenerative joint disease (DJD). Studies show that dogs given undenatured type-II collagen may have improved joint health benefits, which can also improve their mobility and mental health.

Turmeric Extract’s Magic for Your Furry Friend’s Joints

Did you know that turmeric, the bright yellow spice, is not just for cooking? It’s like a health booster for your furry buddy, especially if they have achy joints. Scientists found that when dogs with joint pain ate food with turmeric, they felt much better. Turmeric helped ease their pain and made them move more easily. That’s actually how turmeric became such a popular ingredient for study–the health benefits of those with diets rich in turmeric set off exciting investigations!

In another study, dogs with joint pain were given a unique mix of turmeric and another healthy ingredient. This mix helped the dogs stay comfortable, even when they took less of their usual pain medicine. It’s like turmeric gave them a little extra help to keep playing and jumping happily. Curcumin is the active compound found in turmeric, and we source and use the best for joint health and anti-inflammatory results.

Advanced Joint Health In Delicious Chews

Modern science has shifted the paradigm in canine joint health from traditional elements like glucosamine and chondroitin to innovative compounds like the ones we use in our mobility products. Advanced joint health in dogs now focuses on inflammation reduction, cartilage regeneration, and enhanced joint fluidity, using novel and natural ingredients that offer more comprehensive benefits.

The ingredients in Bernie’s Healthy Hips and Marvelous Mobility are selected based on rigorous scientific research. We go beyond anecdotal evidence, offering proven benefits that support joint health and overall well-being.

The bioavailability of the ingredients in Bernie’s Healthy Hips ensures superior absorption, so your dog’s body can use them more effectively, leading to better outcomes for joint health. And, active dogs benefit significantly from a supplement that supports their active (or hope-to-be active) lifestyle. Bernie’s Healthy Hips and Marvelous Mobility are optimized to provide joint support that keeps up with their activity levels, and we do not use old science as the basis for compilation.

While glucosamine has been a standard in joint care, we wanted to look beyond and offer a more dynamic and effective approach to maintaining joint health with a broader spectrum of benefits.

The plant-based ingredients we use in our mobility products offer a cleaner and often more sustainable option for joint support, with evidence suggesting they are just as effective, if not more so, than their animal-derived counterparts.

Bernie’s Best: Next-Generation Supplements You Can Trust3 Family dogs walk along a trail with their humans

At the core, we are dog people. We love them and want them to live as happily and long as possible. That’s why we look to next-generation ingredients and supplement products–we set the new standard for what dog owners can expect when it comes to supporting their pet’s joint health because we set for our furry family members first. 


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