Best Dog Food for Arthritis: Caring for Joints

Is your furry friend not quite as spry as he once was? Is having difficulty getting upstairs, or even just out of his bed? He might be suffering from the early stages of arthritis or another degenerative joint disease.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just older dogs that suffer. That’s why it’s a good idea to consider your options for the best dog food for joint health. I set out to do just that in this review with help from my dogs, Pickle, Peanut, and Archie.

Along the way, I also stumbled across what I feel is the best dog food for hip dysplasia and joint problems. Are you ready to hear more? Let’s get started then.

My Top Pick

Usually, it’s hard to single out one particular product as a clear winner. In this case, though, it wasn’t. The Orijen Senior’s Food is the best dog food for hips and joints hand’s down. I’d rate it as the best dog food for arthritis as well.

Bottom line: It’s an excellent product.

 

The Best Dog Food for Joints Reviewed

Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic + Mobility Weight and Joint Care

Hills has established a sterling reputation over the years. They have a range of specialist products for all doggy needs. This food is designed to assist in improving mobility. It’s also good if you have a dog who needs to go on a diet (I’m talking to you, Pickle).

This rates as the best dog food for joint problems as a result of being overweight.

Key Features

  • Designed by veterinarians
  • Formulation based on clinical nutrition
  • Your dog will lose up to 13 percent of their body weight within two months
  • Mobility improvements will be seen in three weeks
  • Contains high protein
  • Lots of fiber obtained from fruit and veggies
  • High levels of essential fatty acids

 

What I Like About This Product

Hills is a reputable company with high-quality products. This is a simple way for your dog to lose weight, which is helpful for mobility and arthritis issues. The fatty acids in the product will help to lubricate the joints, too.

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

Peanut wasn’t having any of this. The other two were fine, but he wouldn’t eat it. If your dog is a fussy eater, try a small bag first.

 

Pros

  • Excellent for losing weight – maybe Hill’s should make something for humans too
  • Calorie controlled
  • High protein
  • L-carnitine helps support the growth of lean muscle mass
  • Has Omega-3 to help reduce inflammation and support the cartilage

 

Cons

  • Not for fussy eaters
  • Pricey

 

I’d consider this option for my older boy, Archie. To be honest, Pickle would benefit as well. She could stand to lose a few pounds. It’s a well-balanced product overall and will be well-received by most dogs. Pickle didn’t seem to notice it was “diet” food.

If you have a senior dog that has mobility issues, this is a good option. It contains more than enough protein for energy. Your dog should feel full all day on it. The added omega-3 is a huge bonus, particularly for arthritic dogs.

 

Overall Rating

4 ½ out of 5 A doggie lifestyle change that will leave them fitter and friskier.

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Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets JM Joint Mobility – Best Budget Option

Purina has made this very rich in omega-3, EPA, and glucosamine. This is a good option for a senior dog who is battling arthritis. It offers balanced nutrition that will also suit a younger dog with mobility issues.

 

Key Features

  • High protein
  • Naturally sourced glucosamine
  • High in omega-3 and EPA
  • Calorie controlled to help reduce fat
  • Antioxidant-rich
  • Made in the US

 

What I Like About This Product

This comes in at an affordable price point for most people. It offers a more mid-range price level. The high levels of omega-3 assist dogs with high levels of inflammation. They also promote joint health.

The glucosamine delivers all your dog needs to keep their cartilage healthy and strong. The formula is easy to digest and didn’t upset Pickle’s stomach.

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

It does have a nice protein content of 30 percent. If you look at the list of ingredients, that comes from trout or salmon. The glucosamine, however, comes from chicken by-product meal. The first ingredient is rice, and it also contains cornmeal.

 

Pros

  • Good protein content
  • Contains naturally sourced glucosamine
  • High in fatty acids to assist with joint health
  • Calorie controlled to assist with weight control
  • Affordable pricing
  • A good proportion of fiber
  • Easy to digest

 

Cons

  • Does contain rice as the primary ingredient
  • Has cornmeal in it

 

There’s been quite a backlash against corn products in dog food over the last few years. It’s perfectly understandable – grains don’t suit all dogs. This food does have some corn in it, but it’s not in huge quantities.

Can you find better food? Most definitely, but not unless you’re willing to pay quite a bit more. Overall, the tasters agree that this food gets a second look.

If you’re on a budget and need some good nutrition for your dog, this is an excellent place to start. The rice content in the food is not ideal, but it’s better than some of the other fillers we’ve found in less expensive food.

 

Overall Rating

3 ½ out of 5 Great nutrition at a price that won’t break the bank.

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Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Canine Mobility Support Large Breed Dry Food

To be able to place an order, you need a vet’s prescription. That’s a bit of a schlep, but in this case, it’s worthwhile.

This food is formulated for dogs who have, or who are at risk of developing joint disease. This is not only for senior dogs; it also works well for dogs who’ve had some sort of injury.

The formula is well-balanced and should keep your dog feeling full and satisfied. It is nutrient-dense and rich in fatty acids. All the ingredients are aimed at staving off inflammation and promoting good joint health.

 

Key Features

  • Suitable for dogs with digestive issues
  • Balanced nutrition helps keep dogs in peak shape
  • Has high protein levels
  • Contains mussel extract to help improve joint health
  • Is good for preventative maintenance
  • Antioxidant-rich
  • Immune boosting
  • Contains extra chondroitin and glucosamine
  • The phosphorous in this product is managed to promote renal health

 

What I Like About This Product

The higher levels of chondroitin and glucosamine will assist with strengthening the cartilage in your dog’s joints. The formulation is aimed at not only treating symptoms but preventing further degeneration. It has a nutritionally balanced profile.

Dogs with sensitive tummies should do okay with this formulation. It’s a better formulation for dogs who have renal issues. That said, remember to speak to your vet for advice first before you decide to switch.

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

You have to have a vet’s script to get it. I can live with this, but it’s a bit of a pain.

 

Pros

  • Good for sensitive tummies
  • Nutrient dense
  • High levels of protein
  • Rich in Omega-3
  • Chondroitin
  • Glucosamine
  • Dogs love the flavor
  • Reputable company

 

Cons

  • Pricey
  • You have to have a script from the vet

 

Overall, Royal Canin is one of the most well-recognized and well-respected pet food brands. In a way, having to get a script from the vet might be a good thing. It’ll ensure you’re treating the right thing.

 

Overall Rating

4 ½ out of 5 Get proactive about your dog’s joint health

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Orijen Senior Dog – Best Overall Product

This is formulated with an older, larger dog in mind. It contains 38 percent protein and so is very nutrient dense. Only 15 percent of the calories come from fat, so it’s good for weight maintenance as well.

I’ve chosen this as the top contender because you could also feed it to a younger dog. I wouldn’t go so far as swapping it out for puppy food, but it packs a good nutritional punch.

 

Key Features

  • High in protein at 38 percent
  • The protein is obtained from free-range turkey, chicken, and wild fish
  • Eggs make up the remainder of the protein
  • This product is 85 percent meat and 15 percent fruit and veggies
  • There are no grains, tapioca, or plant protein fillers
  • Balanced nutrition
  • Made in the US

 

What I Like About This Product

Its nutrient-dense formula will allow even pickier eaters to get their full range of nutrients. I’ve noticed that Archie doesn’t eat quite as much as he used to. It’s not a serious concern, because he’s not the most active dog.

If you have a more active senior or a large breed dog, this food is ideal. I haven’t seen any other food quite like it, and I’ve been testing dog food for a while now.

It’s nice that it doesn’t have a lot of unnecessary fillers. What did the taste testers say? “Please, mom, we want some more!”

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

Eggs can be problematic for some dogs. I also worry about how this food will go over with picky eaters. On paper, it all looks great. If my dogs are anything to go by, it tastes good too.

To be on the safe side, start with a smaller bag. I’d also wean the dog off their old food slowly. Do this by incorporating about 25 percent of the new food. Then increase the proportions until they’ve switched completely.

 

Pros

  • Dogs like the taste
  • Highly nutritious
  • High-quality
  • No grains or nasty fillers

 

Cons

  • Chunks too big for smaller seniors
  • Pricey

 

Overall, you’re not likely to get much better than this. This food would make it into my dog food rotation. It’s as close to five stars as I’ll ever get. I did mark it down because of the price, though.

 

Overall Rating

4 ¾ out of five The best nutrition on both sides of the Mississippi.

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Dogswell Happy Hips for Hip & Joint Wellness

This is the one wet food that I’ve included here. I think if I hadn’t my panel might have gone on strike. This is a product designed for improving joint health. It contains chelated minerals to aid absorption and has a nice range of nutrients.

 

Key Features

  • No grain
  • Free-range chicken is the top ingredient
  • Has chondroitin and glucosamine for better joint health
  • Contains sweet potato for its fiber and slow-release carbs
  • Antioxidant-rich

 

What I Like About This Product

I like that the chicken used isn’t raised in cages – my dogs think all chickens should be out and about—and so be fair game. That said, they won’t need to go chasing down any birds if this is on the menu.

All three dogs seemed to love the flavor, and the nutrient profile is fantastic too. The taste panel was licking their chops big time afterward.

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

I didn’t like the smell. Since I’m not about to use this as an air freshener, that’s not a big deal. I do wonder if fussy eaters would take to it.

 

Pros

  • High-quality ingredients
  • No grains used
  • Easy to digest

 

Cons

  • The smell is not great
  • Might be a problem for fussy eaters

 

Overall, this is a product worth giving a whirl. I’ll be repurchasing it—Pickle said so.

Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Dinnertime for doggies just got delicious

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About the Arthritis in Dogs

It’s hard to admit that our beloved friends are starting to get older. Just like with us, though, that greying muzzle means that they’re more at risk of developing degenerative joint diseases.

While we associate arthritis in particular with aging, it can affect any dog of any age. It could be brought on by an injury, trauma, or as a result of being too overweight. Large breeds are also more prone to it.

Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to ease the symptoms. In this section, we’ll investigate that in more detail.

Signs to Watch Out For

Signs that indicate arthritis or joint disease include:

  • Limping
  • Stiffness
  • Favoring one leg over another
  • Difficult jumping up or down
  • Decreased activity
  • Difficulty bending joints
  • Pain

 

Here, in particular, you want to watch out for issues when the dog is waking up. Once they get moving, the problem can ease up, but when they’re getting up after a nap or lying down, they’ll have issues.

 

There is More than Just Arthritis

Several different issues can cause issues for your dog. Others include:

  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Hip dysplasia (Something you need to watch for especially in larger breeds)
  • Osteo diseases
  • Cancer
  • Congenital issues
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Trauma and injury

 

If you suspect that your dog may have an issue, take them to the vet. The vet will be able to give you a firm diagnosis. Also, the vet will assess the overall health of your dog and suggest positive lifestyle and dietary changes.

 

Losing Weight is a Good First Step

It doesn’t matter if you have a large breed or smaller one, they need to be a healthy weight. Any extra ounce of weight is just going to mean more pain for the dog over the long-term. Even if they don’t have an issue now, obesity increases the risks of developing joint issues.

If you have a larger breed dog, you have to take extra steps to ensure that he’s healthy. Start him off on the right food as a pup and watch the number of treats he gets. Those puppy dog eyes are hard to resist, but it’s for his own good.

 

Ingredients to Look Out For

Before trying to pump your dog full of supplements, try to make sure his diet is right. If he’s more prone to developing these issues, a healthy diet is your best bet. You want to keep him away from highly processed and inflammatory foods.

Steer towards the more natural products and be scrupulous about checking the ingredients. Grains and sugar can cause significant problems when it comes to inflammation. Think they don’t put sugar in dog food? Think again – check the ingredients for some of the cheap brands.

Here are some ingredients to look out for to reduce inflammation and support the joints:

  • Chondroitin
  • Glucosamine
  • Green-lipped mussels or Perna mussels
  • S-Adenosyl-L-methionine
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Duralactin
  • Methyl-sulfonyl-methane (MSM)
  • Vitamin C
  • Creatine
  • General antioxidants
  • EPA

 

If your dog will take raw food, another option is to get them uncooked chicken necks and chicken feet in particular. These are naturally rich in glucosamine. There’s only one proviso, though – they must be fed to the dog raw.

What I do is to buy in bulk. I then separate it into portions and freeze the food. It must be solidly frozen for at least three weeks to kill off any parasites. These make a handy and tasty snack for your dog—and they’re quite affordable too.

 

Final Thoughts

That’s another roundup done and dusted. The taste panel is happy to retire for the evening, knowing that they’ve done a good job. Of all the foods, the Orejin Senior’s formula is the clear winner.

It takes the top honors as best dog food for arthritis and best dog food for joints and bones.

It might not be the best option for your wallet, but it is best for your dog. If the budget doesn’t stretch that far, the Purina is a good budget bet.

Overall, you want to do your best for your furry friend. These foods contain wholesome ingredients that can contribute to good health. Any product on this list will help to improve your dog’s mobility and strength.

Do check out our picks for English Bulldogs and Pomeranians.

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Gail Ramirez

Gail Ramirez

Gail is an aspiring blogger, pet lover and Greys Anatomy, addict. Gail shares her experience on Pet Fashion Week as she studies to become a qualified vet.

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