Check out my detailed guide about the best dog foods for arthritis to find out which is the best in 2021.
You will probably be worried, too, if you find out that your dog has arthritis. Fortunately, based on the experience of experts, proper nutrition can help a lot in dealing with the problem.
After reviewing dozens of dog foods, I’ve put together a list for you with the best products. Of these, my favorite is the CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe.
This formula is rich in glucosamine, chondroitin, omega-3, vitamins, and minerals. These ingredients are known to help a lot in arthritis.
You should also check the other products because I chose them based on different criteria (runner up, affordable, best for large breeds, small breeds, etc.).
What are the best dog foods For Arthritis?
- CANIDAE PURE Limited Ingredient Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe – Overall best
- Merrick Grain-Free Duck + Sweet Potato Recipe – Runner up
- Dogswell Happy Hips Chicken & Oats Recipe – Budget option
- ORIJEN Six Fish Grain-Free Dry Dog Food – Premium option
- American Journey Large Breed Adult Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe – Best for large breeds
- Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain-Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato recipe – Best for small breeds
- Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care + Mobility Care – Best prescription option
- Dogswell Happy Hips Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew – Best wet option
- ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food – Best for puppies
- American Journey Senior Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe – Best for seniors
Reviews of the best dog foods for arthritis
Dogs with arthritis have individual needs. In the list I have compiled, you will find products that meet these needs. In addition, these dog foods meet AAFCO’s nutritional requirements for dogs.
I divided the list members into separate categories (overall best, best budget, best for puppies, seniors, etc.). This way, you are sure to find the right one for your pup.
Canidae products are deservedly popular. All of the manufacturer’s recipes use only natural ingredients to meet the nutritional needs of dogs. The dry dog food currently reviewed is clearly the best if you look for the right diet for your dog with a joint problem.
Salmon, Salmon Meal, and Menhaden Fish Meal are protein sources impressively high in glucosamine and chondroitin. One kilogram of Canidae dog food contains 1200 mg of glucosamine and 1500 mg of chondroitin. This is a great starting point for treating arthritis of your pooch.
In addition, fish and Canola Oil contain a lot of Omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are known to have anti-inflammatory effects.
But the benefits of Canidae Pure dog food don’t end there. The recipe is grain-free and has limited ingredients. This can be especially helpful for dogs with allergic and sensitive stomachs. In the case of arthritis, unhealthy foods, including allergens, should be avoided.
The manufacturer also added vitamins and minerals to this product. Vitamin C is a useful anti-inflammatory and also helps in cell regeneration. Vitamin D plays a key role in incorporating calcium (there is also added calcium among the ingredients).
But other vitamins, minerals, and prebiotics also help keep your dog’s immune system and overall health in order. Highly recommended product!
Customers are generally pleased with this recipe. It improves skin, coat, and joint conditions and even tastes great. Some people complain about it because of the cost. However, I think that for a product of such impeccable quality, it is a reasonable price.
Pet Worshiper rating: 9.8
This Merrick recipe is similarly suitable for treating joint problems. It contains slightly less chondroitin (1200mg/kg) and omega-3 (0.8%), but still, it’s a great option.
It contains poultry meats as sources of protein, such as duck, chicken, or turkey. Not only are they well digestible, but dogs love it outright.
Carbohydrate sources are gluten and grain-free, which is good news for sensitive dogs.
The protein content of the product is impressive (34%). However, you should be aware that the ingredients include vegetable proteins (Potato and Pea Protein). Fortunately, they are only ranked 9th and 11th in the order of ingredients, which means that much of the product’s protein content is from an animal source.
What is positive about this recipe, however, is that it contains real fresh fruits and vegetables. Their vitamin and antioxidant content contribute to the health of the immune system. Incidentally, vitamins and minerals are also present in an added form in this dry dog food.
Online reviews are very positive about this product. According to customers, the health of dogs is improved from this good quality recipe. Although there are some complaints about the price, and very picky canines don’t like this taste.
Pet Worshiper rating: 9.7
Owning a dog has costs. Since food is the most common thing you buy for your pooch, you may want to consider cheaper alternatives sometimes. This is especially true if you have multiple dogs in your household.
The DOGSWELL Happy Hips recipe is an affordable option if you are looking for dog food for a joint problem.
The manufacturer added glucosamine and chondroitin to the ingredients. Thus, the recipe contains a total of 600 and 300 mg of these compounds per kilogram. It’s not so much, but I don’t consider it a bad choice in terms of value for money.
The exact amount of omega-3 fatty acids is not clear from the description and label. However, the good sign is that there is flaxseed among the ingredients, which contains many useful fatty acids.
We also find other healthy ingredients. Examples are calcium or vitamin D, which have an excellent effect on bone and joint health.
Carbohydrate sources include grains. This is good if you know, as some dogs may be allergic to them. Talk to your veterinarian about this.
Customer feedback is generally positive about this product. Many dogs have improved their health when it comes to joint problems. Really picky dogs don’t like the taste. However, if you have the pickiest pooch, you might want to buy the best tasting dog food for him.
Pet Worshiper rating: 9.5
When it comes to pet food, the Orijen brand is a real premium solution. If you are looking for a suitable diet for your dog with arthritis, be sure to consider Orijen Six Fish. (The product is a biologically appropriate diet.)
It contains whole animal ingredients as a protein source, legumes, fresh fruits, and vegetables as a source of carbohydrates. It has a very high protein content (38%) and is well bioavailable.
The recipe does not contain a lot of glucosamine and chondroitin (300mg), but the fat content of omega-3 is considerable (1.8%). This will help relieve inflammation in your dog’s joints. And many vegetables, fruits, and prebiotics support overall health.
The online reviews of the product are very positive. Some people complain about the high price, but the quality and positive impact on dog health is acknowledged by most customers.
Pet Worshiper rating: 9.7
Best for large breeds:
Large breeds are particularly prone to arthritis, so proper nutrition is key to them. If you are looking for a suitable recipe for your big dog, this product from American Journey dog food is an ideal choice.
It contains protein sources such as Deboned Salmon and Turkey Meal. This gives the glucosamine and chondroitin contents 500 and 600 mg.
In addition, Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3. These ingredients are essential in the treatment of joint diseases. Canola Oil and Flaxseed add additional omega-3s to the recipe, thanks to the 1% content.
Ingredients include added fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. They help not only in arthritis but also in maintaining overall health.
I still really like this food because it is quite affordable compared to the other members of my list.
Customers are also satisfied with the recipe. According to several reports, this diet is good for various health complaints.
Pet Worshiper rating: 9.7
Best for small breeds:
Large breeds are much more prone to arthritis than small ones. However, in some small dogs, this condition can occur in the same way. So it doesn’t hurt to know a suitable recipe for such a situation as well.
Small breed formulas usually differ in kibble size from traditional formulas. Merrick Merrick Lil’ Plates is just that. But let’s see the ingredients!
The 1200 mg glucosamine and chondroitin content are provided by sources such as Chicken Meal and Turkey Meal.
In addition, omega fatty acid sources are also among the ingredients. Thus, the joints of your small breed dog will receive adequate nutrient supply and inflammation reduction.
Carbohydrate sources are grain-free, which is beneficial for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
However, we find some vegetable protein among the ingredients, which is a small negative for me. But added fruits, vegetables, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics abound to compensate for this. Your little pooch’s immune system will be maximally supported.
According to online reviews, this recipe is delicious and effective in treating various health conditions.
Pet Worshiper rating: 9.6
Best prescription diet option
Hill’s Prescription Diet Kidney Care + Mobility Care is designed to support both kidney function and joint mobility in dogs. A prescription diet is not necessary for dogs with joint problems, but you should consider it in case of a severe condition.
The exact glucosamine and chondroitin contents are not known from the packaging. On the other hand, the good news is that Glucosamine Hydrochloride and Chondroitin Sulfate are among the ingredients.
What’s really impressive about this recipe, however, is the omega-3 content. 3.81% is ample enough to reduce inflammation and lubricate joints.
Of course, there are also many valuable vitamins and minerals in this product that will help a lot in the treatment. As this product is a prescription, you should consult your veterinarian before purchasing.
Pet Worshiper rating: 9.6
Best wet dog food for arthritis:
If your dog is picky or struggling with dental problems, it may be a good idea to try wet foods. However, it is usually difficult to find a canned dog food containing glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3.
Fortunately, Dogswell Happy Hips Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew is a great source for these ingredients. The manufacturer added glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate to the recipe. This provides 380 and 220 mg per can of these compounds.
The exact omega-3 content is not indicated on the label. However, it is reassuring that the ingredients include Canola Oil and Flaxseed Oil. These are excellent sources of omega-3.
And the added vitamins, minerals, fruits, and vegetables support the immune system and overall health. Based on the above, you can see that this is a great alternative to canine arthritis if you are looking for wet food.
Pet Worshiper rating: 9.7
Best for puppies:
Arthritis is rare in puppies. However, sometimes situations (injury or genetic predisposition) where your puppy may need a joint support diet. The Orijen puppy formula is a perfect choice.
As it is also a biologically appropriate diet, it contains plenty of animal resources. It is good for the growth of young dogs and also provides several healthy nutrients.
The glucosamine and chondroitin content in the recipe is 600-600 mg. It’s not that much, but you don’t even need it in this early life stage.
The omega-3 content of the product is 0.8%, which supports the health of the brain, skin, and coat and has a positive effect on the joints.
The recipe does not contain added vitamins and minerals, but thanks to the internal organs, fruits, and vegetables, you don’t even have to worry about it. Your puppy’s immune system and joints will be perfectly supported.
Pet Worshiper rating: 9.7
Best for seniors:
You need to pay special attention to the joints of elderly dogs. These animals are very prone to arthritis. Moreover, the metabolism of seniors is slower, so there is a risk of obesity. Not only is this aesthetically bad, but it also has health risks and puts extra strain on the joints.
For this reason, the best recipe for your old dog is a weight management formula that includes glucosamine, chondroitin, omega-3, vitamins, and minerals. The American Journey Senior Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe meets these requirements to the maximum.
Turkey Meal and Chicken Meal provide joint support glucosamine and chondroitin, and Deboned Salmon and Flaxseed are excellent sources of omega fatty acids.
The ingredients include plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables. It provides a variety of vitamins that play an important role in the treatment of arthritis.
The guaranteed analysis shows that the product is excellent for weight management. The caloric content is 329 kcal/cup, which is considered absolutely moderated.
The recipe has fiber sources like grain-free Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Chickpeas, Beet Pulp, Powdered Cellulose, or Pumpkin. This gives an impressive 7% fiber content.
In addition to the sources of omega-3 mentioned above, there are other sources of fat (Chicken Fat and Coconut Oil). This may seem like a lot, but the total fat content of the product is only 10%. You can see from the numbers above that if you choose this recipe, you don’t have to worry about your senior dog is obese.
Basically, customers love this product. Very picky dogs don’t like it. In this case, try mixing with wet food, for example.
Pet Worshiper rating: 9.6
What is Canine Arthritis?
Arthritis also occurs in humans, but it is one of the most common health conditions in dogs. (Experience has shown that it develops in every fifth dog.)
This name refers to stiff and inflamed joints. The most common type is Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease. It is a disease in which the condition of the cartilage continues to deteriorate.
As a result, the padding between the bones disappears, and they can rub against each other. This can cause stiffness and a drastic decrease in range of motion.
No wonder, then, that arthritis can also cause severe chronic pain that can make your dog’s life difficult. It can affect basically any joint, but it most commonly occurs on the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, and knee.
It is important that if your dog has a chance of arthritis, contact your veterinarian immediately.
What causes arthritis in dogs?
There are some reasons for this condition, and you may want to find out the exact cause. This will help you find a more effective treatment for your pup.
- Hereditary: In many cases, arthritis is inherited in dogs. It is not recommended to breed such dogs, as their puppies are also more likely to develop the condition.
- Age: It is important to know that basically arthritis can develop in dogs at all life stages. However, over time, the chances increase steadily.
- Nutrition: Certain nutrients can promote the proper development of joints and cartilage. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Poor nutrition has a negative effect on the joints of dogs, which can even result in arthritis.
- Size: Large and giant breeds are more prone to this condition than small dogs.
- Excessive load: Too much and too intense exercise can strain the joints. This can cause wear and tear, which is conducive to the development of arthritis.
- Injuries: Various injuries (such as fractures or sprains) can also cause damage to the joints.
- Obesity: Being overweight can put an extra strain on your dog’s joints that they can’t handle. This can lead to cartilage wear over time and later arthritis. Large dogs are particularly prone to joint problems. Monitor the weight of your pooch. If you are overweight, you need to choose weight management and low-fat formulas. You can also incorporate some extra exercise into your dog’s life. You should know exactly what your dog’s ideal weight is. Consult your veterinarian.
What are the signs of arthritis in dogs?
There are no external signs of arthritis, and your dog cannot express this condition either. But don’t worry, there are other signs you can pay attention to. These are the following:
- Lameness, stiffness
- Licking the location of joints
- Slower motion
- Less tendency to exercise
- More pronounced use of one limb over the other
- Your dog is grumpy
- The above signs get worse due to cold weather
How can you help your dog with arthritis?
The central theme of my article is the nutritional needs of dogs with arthritis. However, I have other tips to make your pooch’s life easier when it comes to this painful and uncomfortable condition.
- Get a dog stroller: These accessories help dogs who have difficulty walking due to arthritis. This way, you can get the most out of your dog, in addition to spending some time together in a park.
- Dog ramp: Ramps can help make it easier for your dog to reach certain points. An example is the dog pool ramp, which allows your hard-moving dog to swim in the summer heat.
- Elevated bowls: These bowls provide a more comfortable posture for dogs while eating or drinking. This is beneficial for sore joints.
- Orthopedic dog beds: For dogs with joint problems, sleeping on the floor or on other hard surfaces can be an additional pain. Orthopedic dog beds are made with memory foam filling, so they can be a solution.
- Heated dog beds: The condition of dogs with arthritis can worsen as a result of the cold weather. Therefore, you should get a heated bed for the winter.
- Support harness: A lifting harness can be helpful if your dog is unable to climb stairs or other higher points.
How should you treat arthritis in dogs
The first step should definitely be to consult a veterinarian. Arthritis can be treated in dogs in the following ways:
- Painkillers (e.g. Previcox or Tramadol)
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Steroids (e.g. Prednisone)
- Joint supplements (e.g. glucosamine and chondroitin)
- Dog food with glucosamin and chondroitin
What are the most important joint supplements for arthritis?
There are many types of arthritis, not to mention other joint problems (e.g., hip dysplasia). Proper nutrition is essential for your dog, but it will only be really effective with the treatments mentioned above and various supplements. And what are these supplements? Let’s see:
- MSM (Methyl-sulfonyl-methane)
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin
What ingredients you shoud look for in dog food for arthritis?
In the case of arthritis, you need to find ingredients that promote joint regeneration and reduce inflammation. These are the following:
High-quality lean animal protein
Lean meat does not directly reduce inflammation, but it does not worsen the condition, unlike fatty meats. A lot of saturated fatty acids can increase inflammation in the body. So you need to go for lean meat. The best sources of lean protein are chicken, turkey, and fish.
Omega 3-Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have a good effect on the coat, skin, and brain of dogs. But they also have anti-inflammatory properties, which are beneficial for joint problems. The best sources of omega-3 are fish, green-lipped mussels, or flaxseed.
Glucosamine and chondroitin
Glucosamine is a component of cartilage, so it plays a vital role in joint health. The same is true for chondroitin, and it even has an anti-inflammatory effect. Therefore, the best dog food for arthritis should contain these compounds. Suitable sources are, for example, meat meals, as they also contain cartilaginous parts of the animals.
Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
Everyone knows that vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants have extremely positive effects on overall health. But let’s see what we can do with these micronutrients for our dogs’ joints:
Calcium makes bones healthy and can prevent the development of arthritis and joint damage. Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium. Vitamin C is anti-inflammatory but is also largely responsible for tissue regeneration. Antioxidants also help treat inflammation and fight free radicals.
So these ingredients are essential if you’re looking for a recipe for your dog struggling with joint problems. Vegetables and fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but many manufacturers also put these nutrients into their products as supplements.
What ingredients you should avoid?
If you want to be really careful, you have to accept that you need to avoid ingredients when choosing dog food. This is how you can provide proper nutrition for your dog with arthritis.
These are the ingredients that cause inflammation.
Examples include sugar, other simple carbohydrates, corn oil, fatty protein sources, and artificial additives (preservatives, flavor enhancers, colorants).
It is vital to avoid ingredients that your dog is allergic to. Examples are chicken, beef, grains, or dairy products. (Dairy products can cause not only allergies but also intolerance symptoms in dogs).
Omega-6 fatty acids are not harmful, but if they are too high in relation to Omega-3, they can cause inflammation.
Avoid over-processed ingredients. Strive for the most natural sources of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. This can do a lot for your dog’s health.
Are there breeds that are prone to arthritis?
Experience has shown that all dog breeds can develop joint problems such as arthritis or hip dysplasia. However, large and giant breeds are much more prone to these conditions. Examples are:
- Labrador Retriever
- Golden Retriever
- English Bulldogs
- Great Danes
- German Shepherds
- Saint Bernards
- American Staffordshire Terriers
- Old English Sheepdogs
Interestingly, small breeds such as the Pug and the French Bulldog are also prone to arthritis.
Frequently asked questions
This is a tough and serious topic, and you will definitely have questions left. Let’s see the most common ones:
Are dogs with arthritis allowed to walk?
Yes. Average walks can help a lot in the condition of dogs with arthritis and other joint problems. In addition, exercise helps prevent cramps and sprains. However, be very careful that the walk together is not too strenuous for your dog’s joints.
Is wet or dry dog food better for arthritic dogs?
It is primarily your dog’s taste and your circumstances that determine whether you buy wet or dry food for your joint problem dog. Wet foods are usually more expensive but more desirable for canines. Manufacturers often add more useful nutrients to dry kibble. I suggest you try dry food first.
Do I have to give my dog with arthritis a prescription diet?
There are serious situations where your dog needs a prescription product. Of course, this should always be decided by your veterinarian. With an accurate diagnosis, you need to determine the severity of your dog’s arthritis and find the right treatment accordingly.
Is arthritis painful for dogs?
Animals often cannot express themselves in the way we humans do. Still, you can be sure that they are also in pain. Arthritis is a harrowing condition for dogs. This is one reason you need to find the right treatment with your vet as soon as possible.
Does my arthritic dog need grain-free food?
Is arthritis a threat to my dog’s life?
Arthritis greatly impairs your dog’s quality of life. However, it can also be indirectly dangerous to his life. Because of the condition, there is a sedentary lifestyle and the possibility of obesity. And this is notoriously associated with additional risks. Don’t let your pup gain excess weight.
My final choice
Arthritis is a serious health risk in dogs. You need to care about this condition and find the right treatment with the help of your veterinarian. You have seen from my article that the right diet can help your dog’s joints.
The dog foods on my list may be suitable for solving the problem. The overall best product is CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe.
However, if you want to choose based on different individual considerations, you may want to consider other products as well.