Best Dog Food For Joint Health
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If your dog no longer moves with the ease it once did, there may be a simple explanation. Just like humans, dogs are prone to joint issues.
Joint health problems in dogs can arise due to a range of factors. They’re often a natural result of the aging process. Some breeds are genetically predisposed to issues like hip dysplasia, while age-related wear and tear can lead to conditions such as osteoarthritis, particularly in older dogs. Excess weight places strain on joints, increasing vulnerability, and injuries from accidents or overexertion can contribute too.
Poor nutrition, genetic abnormalities, infections, autoimmune disorders, and hormonal changes can all impact joint health. Environmental conditions and insufficient exercise also play a role. That’s why regular check-ups, suitable exercise, and a balanced diet enriched with joint-supportive nutrients are all important.
- Best flavor: Pupper Fuel Dog Food
- Best for large dogs: Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food Healthy Mobility
- Best human-grade food: JustFoodForDogs Joint & Skin Support Recipe
- Best fresh food: Freshpet Vital Benefits Joint Health & Mobility Fresh Dog Food
- Best grain-free: Halo® Elevate Dog Grain Free Dog Food
How diet affects joint health in dogs
When it comes to supporting your dog's joint health, diet plays a pivotal role. The choices you make in selecting your dog’s food can impact its overall well-being and mobility.
Omega-3 fatty acids seem to be an important nutrient for joint health. One 2016 study1 published in the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes, and Essential Fatty Acids, focused on dogs with osteoarthritis, the most common cause of joint issues in dogs. The dogs either took fish oil (which is rich in omega-3s) or a placebo oil. The fish oil group had significantly lower levels of limb dysfunction and discomfort.
Similarly, in a 2023 study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, dogs with osteoarthritis took either omega-3 fatty acid supplements, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate (supplements commonly used to manage osteoarthritis), carprofen (an anti-inflammatory drug), or a placebo. The omega-3 and carprofen groups had significant improvements in peak vertical force, and indicator of joint health.
Given that excess weight can contribute to joint issues, lower-calorie dog foods may be a better option for promoting joint health for some dogs. Your vet can help you determine a healthy weight range for your dog and how to adjust its diet accordingly.
Keeping these factors in mind, we’ve put together a guide to the best dog foods for joint health.
How we chose
In addition to looking for dog foods specifically labeled for joint health, here’s what we considered when choosing the best options:
Quality protein sources High-quality protein sources can help support muscle mass and overall health. Strong muscles can help support joints and improve mobility. We prioritized dog foods with high-quality protein sources, like lean meats or fish.
Omega-3 fatty acid We opted for dog foods with ingredients that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salon, fish oil, and flaxseeds.
Cost We calculated the cost per pound of each dog food, including options at a range of price points.
Customer reviews We read through customer reviews, looking for input from pet owners of dogs with joint issues.
Best flavor: Pupper Fuel Dog Food
- Real chicken is the first ingredient
- Contains omega-3-rich ingredients
- Lack of customer reviews
Key Ingredients:Chickenchia seedsalmon oil
Cost per pound:$10.00
The first ingredient in Pupper Fuel Dog Food is real chicken, and it also contains fruits, vegetables, and omega-3-rich ingredients like salmon oil. The dog food is available in five-pound or 15-pound bags, and you can receive a 20% discount by signing up for an auto-fill subscription.
Best for large dogs: Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food Healthy Mobility
- Contains chicken and fish oil
- Made in the U.S.
- Formula is specifically for adult dogs from large breeds
Key Ingredients:fish oilflaxseedChicken meal
Cost per pound:$2.53
Hill’s Science Diet Dry Doog Food Healthy Mobility is designed for adult dogs from large breeds that need hip and joint support. It contains natural sources of omega-3s as well as minerals to promote bone health. The dog food is made with chicken meal and brown rice and comes in a long-lasting 30-pound bag.
Best human-grade food: JustFoodForDogs Joint & Skin Support Recipe
- Frozen option
- Contains fish oil
Key Ingredients:Porkcarrotsfish oil
Cost per pound:$11.81
If you want to avoid dry dog food but prefer the convenience of online shopping, you can go with this frozen food from JustFoodForDogs. It’s made with human-grade ingredients, including nutrient-rich plants like kale, carrots, and apples. You can purchase cases of 18-ounce pouches (which each feed a dog just under 30 pounds for one day) or 72-ounce pouches.
Best fresh food: Freshpet Vital Benefits Joint Health & Mobility Fresh Dog Food
- Fresh dog food
- Low-calorie option
- One size available
Cost per pound:$10.00
Freshpet Vital Benefits Joint Health & Mobility dog food contains ingredients that provide omega fatty acids to promote joint health. The fresh dog food contains recognizable, non-GMO ingredients, including chicken, salmon, green beans, and spinach. At 290 calories per cup, it’s a low-calorie option that may help with weight management, a key to maintaining joint health.
Best grain-free: Halo Elevate Dog Grain Free Dog Food
- Contains real meat
- Made in the U.S.
- Grain-free formula not suited for all dogs
Key Ingredients:Salmon mealsweet potatoespumpkin
Cost per pound:$8.00
If your dog need’s a grain-free option, you can go with this food from Halo Elevate. The dry dog food contains omega-3-rich flaxseed, and is available with chicken, red meat, or salmon as the protein source. The dog food is made in the U.S. and suitable for dogs that need to avoid wheat or soy.
|Product||Cost||Price per pound||Size||Autoship option|
|Pupper Dog Food||$50.00||$10.00||5 lbs||TRUE|
|JustFoodForDogs Joint & Skin Support Recipe||$93.03||$11.81||1.125 lbs||TRUE|
|Halo® Elevate Dog Grain Free Dog Food||$89.99||$8.00||20 lbs||TRUE|
|Freshpet Vital Benefits Joint Health & Mobility Fresh Dog Food||$59.96||$9.99||6 lbs||TRUE|
|Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food Healthy Mobility||$75.99||$2.53||30 lbs||TRUE|
Choosing the right dog food may help manage your dog’s joint health. By choosing a food formulated to support mobility, flexibility, and overall joint well-being, you can improve your dog’s daily life. These foods all include ingredients that are linked to joint health.