I strive to provide helpful information, including smart and fun methods for solving everyday problems.
Joint Pain Relief for Dogs
Like so many other families, we own a Labrador Retriever. Our Charlie is sweet, smart, goofy, ridiculous, destructive, obsessive, and super lovable. Although he digs up the flower bed for entertainment and eats freshly thrown newspapers for breakfast (on those mornings when he has escaped the backyard fence), we still love him and always will. When he began limping at about nine months of age, we were concerned, as labs are known to be susceptible to joint problems. We were also incredibly squeezed for funds that month.
I googled his symptoms, and while I'm not a vet, I got the impression from my research that he might have something called shoulder osteochondrosis, or shoulder OCD. It looked as though it was time for hundreds of dollars worth of x-rays and possibly thousands of dollars worth of surgery. Based on my internet research and personal experience with Charlie, I found these natural remedies.
Remember, I am not a vet, so be sure to consult with yours before deciding on serious dietary or lifestyle changes for your dog.
4 Ways to Relieve Joint Pain in Dogs
- Fish Oil
- Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and Hyaluronic Acid
- Balanced Diet
- Soft Places to Walk and Rest
1. Fish Oil for Dogs
Based on my internet research, I began giving Charlie a fish oil supplement every day. Many dogs' diets are lacking in omega-3 fatty acids, and a fish oil supplement can help remedy that. Even if you feed your dog a commercial dog food that is enriched with omega-3 fatty acids, as many are these days, chances are your dog still needs a supplement, as most dog food manufacturers aren't adding enough omega-3s to their dog foods.
The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reported a study that found that arthritic dogs were able to rise more easily from a resting position after being given fish oil supplements for six weeks and had an improved ability to walk after 12 weeks. I simply put one capsule in his wet food every day, and he gobbles up the entire portion without even noticing the capsule. I give him the same supplements we take ourselves; there is no need to purchase special fish oil supplements for dogs.
2. Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and Hyaluronic Acid for Dogs
Like fish oil, glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid are supplements intended for human consumption. However, they will not harm your dog and may even help your furry friend. These substances have helped plenty of people and pets alike with joint problems. While you might think that three more supplements sounds like a lot, these three are often combined into one supplement.
Our Charlie weighs about 80 pounds, so I give him one pill each day; for the brand I buy, that's half the recommended human dosage. Unlike the fish oil capsules, he does seem to mind these. To get him to take it, I crush it and sprinkle it over his wet food. My lime squeezer (normally reserved for making margaritas!) works well for crushing the tablets.
3. Balanced Diet
A balanced diet is important for general health and the proper functioning of your dog's body. While grain-free diets are sometimes peddled by the dog-food industry, they will not necessarily improve your dog's health or joint pain. In fact, many "grain-free" diets still include quite a bit of starch from other sources. Well-balanced dog diets include numerous types of foods (including grains).
However, it is possible that gluten consumption can contribute to inflammation and exacerbate joint pain in dogs. It is vital, therefore, that you speak with your veterinarian before creating a special diet for your dog.
The Benefits of Losing Weight
Since I'm on the subject of dog food, I'll throw in the matter of a dog's weight. Charlie is young and very active, and at this point in his life, he is not overweight. However, if your dog is overweight, help him or her slim down, as being overweight can cause or exacerbate joint pain.
4. Soft Places to Walk and Rest
Unfortunately for the dogs who live with us, we have concrete floors. While concrete flooring's good looks and easy upkeep are great for me as a parent and a dog owner, and great for my kids (indoor roller skating, anyone?), they are not so great for the dogs. I'm sad to say that my poor puppies' joints take a pounding on these floors, not to mention all the slipping and sliding the dogs do when they attempt to run.
To remedy this, I have made sure that our dogs have a large, thick, soft, memory foam bed to lie on when they're inside. In fact, we have one in the living room and one in the office, as those are the two rooms where the dogs spend the most time. In all rooms of the house, I have placed large area rugs with thick pads underneath. Of course, the humans of our home enjoy and benefit from the rugs as much as the dogs do.
Read More From Pethelpful
The Results: Charlie Stopped Limping
I am happy to report that within a few weeks of beginning Charlie's supplement regimen, he stopped limping. He is three years old at the time I'm writing this, and the limping has not returned.
However, once he stopped limping, I did not stop giving him the supplements. I give them to him every day and will continue to do so for the rest of his life. I buy the large bottles from the warehouse store, and the cost is very manageable. He loves his beds and the rugs and spends lots of time on them, which I'm sure is helpful, too.
Remember: This Is My Experience, Not Veterinary Advice
Like I stated earlier, I'm no veterinarian. Maybe it's sheer luck that he stopped limping. Maybe he simply strained a muscle or two and his limping had nothing to do with his joints. I don't know, because I'm not a vet, and since he stopped limping, there was no need to pursue further treatment. But I am happy to say that today he is healthy, happy, active, and strong. Too bad he still eats the newspaper.
- How to Read a Dog Food Label | American Kennel Club
Your best tool for deciding what to feed your dog is right on the can or bag. But first, you need to know how to read a dog food label.
- What kind of bed should I get for my dog with arthritis? | Canine Arthritis Resources and Education
Further Reading About Joint and Hip Pain in Canines
- Home Remedies and Alternative Treatments for Dog Arthritis
Learn about NSAID alternatives for dogs suffering from arthritis.
- The 5 Best Natural Remedies for Canine Joint Pain and Arthritis
These five supplements provide the fastest and most noticeable relief for dogs with joint pain and arthritis. Naturally rich in glucosamine, they help repair and prevent further joint damage in senior dogs.
- How to Tell If Your Dog Has Hip Dysplasia
Is your dog suddenly refusing to jump on the couch or hop in the car? Is she having trouble walking upstairs or suddenly just napping a lot? These could be signs of hip dysplasia. Learn more about the condition and treatment options here.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Stefanie on May 20, 2018:
What dosage were the fishoil pills? Thanks
Alsn on May 02, 2016:
Hi Maya - thanks for sharing your experience. I hadn't heard of using a hip brace before to treat the pain and stiffness.. I'm going to check out the Ortocanis hip brace you mentioned and ask my vet about it to see if it's something that could work for us. Thanks for the tip!
Maya from Connecticut, USA on April 15, 2016:
My 11 year old dog was diagnosed with hip dysplasia about 6 months ago. She is especially stiff in the mornings and after going on longer walks (more than an hour more or less, depending on the season). Luckily we have a great vet who has been helping us to treat her naturally. We've been giving her a natural anti-inflammatory with Devil's Claw that doesn't have any nasty side effects.
Our vet also recommended that we buy an Ortocanis hip brace. It helps to increase circulation in the area and stability, reducing her pain. We noticed an improvement in her gait when we started to use it.
For now it seems like we have the disease under control for the time being... hopefully our dog will stay happy and active for years to come!
Bailey on May 27, 2014:
JubePlaysGames from Canada on March 07, 2012:
No problem! It's worked so well for my dogs and my friend's dog. Whereas aspirin and vet prescriptions have always caused "smelly" side effects. :/ Hope it helps!
SmartAndFun (author) from Texas on March 07, 2012:
Thanks so much, Jube, for letting me know about Traumeel. I had never heard of it, so I did a bit of quick research and it appears to be a blend of 12 different herbs. I'm glad to hear it works and will keep it in mind if my dogs have any more problems. Apparently it relieves pain in general, so it could help not just dogs with joint pain, but also dogs with cuts, bites and other injuries. Thank you!
JubePlaysGames from Canada on March 07, 2012:
In my experience, raw feeding can do wonders for dogs with arthritis, joint pain, blown ACLs and hip dysplasia.
Also, I've found that Liquid Traumeel is a great pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. I don't really buy into holistics and homeopathy, but in this case I've seen the stuff work wonders, and it's available cheaply from pharmacies and grocery stores. No side effects. Do double the recommended human dose on the bottle (ie. 20 drops instead of 10).