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10 Best Dog Foods for Hip & Joint Health (Arthritic Dogs)

When you look into your dog’s adorable face, you probably see him as the young, energetic dog you brought home from the shelter or as the cute and cuddly puppy you brought home. You will always see the best in your dog but, unfortunately, time is not always kind.

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Just like you, your dog cannot escape the effects of time and age can wreak havoc on your dog’s body. Most dogs develop some degree of bone or joint degeneration as they get older, simply from everyday wear and tear. For some dogs, however, bone and joint problems go much deeper and may require pharmaceutical or even surgical treatment.

In this article, we’ll explore the subject of hip and joint health for dogs in greater depth. We’ll cover the most common hip and joint problems seen in dogs as well as their treatment options. You’ll also learn what to look for in a dog food for hip and joint health and see our top picks for the best dog food for joints and bones.

The Most Common Hip & Joint Problems in Dogs

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It is completely normal for your dog to slow down with age, but if your dog’s movement changes suddenly or significantly, it might be a sign of a problem. Dogs can develop bone and joint problems at any stage of life, regardless of breed. Some breeds are more prone to these issues, of course, but it can happen to just about any dog at any time.

Bone and joint issues can affect any of the bones and joints in your dog’s body, but the hips seem to take the biggest beating. After hip problems, the joints in the shoulders, knees, and elbows are the most frequently affected. Some dogs also develop joint problems in the spine.

The first step in diagnosing your dog’s bone and joint problems is to identify the symptoms and report them to your veterinarian. Here are some of the most common symptoms of joint pain in dogs:

  • Limping or lameness
  • Favoring on leg over the others
  • Hopping while running
  • Holding one leg off the ground
  • Moving stiffy or slowly
  • Having difficulty laying down or getting up
  • Unwilling to walk or jump
  • Excessively licking the joint area
  • Noticeable swelling
  • Whining or whimpering
  • Changes in behavior such as aggression

You know your dog well, so any of these changes should be immediately recognizable. Even if you don’t know what’s causing your dog’s symptoms, you know him well enough to notice a change. Always report changes in movement and behavior to your veterinarian because it if is a bone or joint problem, prompt treatment gives your dog the best chance for recovery.

The most common bone and joint problems in dogs include the following:

  • Hip Dysplasia – This condition is characterized by a malformation in the hip socket. Because the bone doesn’t fit properly into the joint, it can slip out of place and cause pain and inflammation. Changes in behavior, limping, and whimpering are common signs of hip dysplasia in dogs.
  • Osteoarthritis – Typically seen in older dogs, osteoarthritis is caused by natural degeneration of the joints due to normal wear and tear. The most commonly affected joints are elbows, shoulders, knees, back, and hips.
  • Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD) – Though this condition most commonly affects the shoulder joint, it can affect the hips as well. It is caused when the smooth cartilage on the surface of a joint develops abnormally, creating a separation from the underlying bone that causes issues.
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease – This condition has no known cause but it is characterized by disintegration of the hip along with bone and joint inflammation. It also involves spontaneous degeneration of the head of the femur.
  • Panosteitis – A common condition, panosteitis is the result of inflammation on the surface of the dog’s long bones. It is sometimes referred to as growing pains.
  • Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD) – Also caused by rapid growth, hypertrophic osteodystrophy is a self-limiting problem that often resolves itself though, in rare cases, it can cause permanent damage and deformation.

On top of providing your veterinarian with information about your dog’s symptoms, you should be prepared for additional testing. In most cases, your vet will want an x-ray to check out the condition of your dog’s bones and joints. Depending where the symptoms are localized, he may x-ray one or both hips or take scans of his entire body. Once your vet has all the information, he can make a diagnosis.

Treatment Options for Hip & Joint Issues

Though bone and joint problems can affect any dog at any age, some breeds are more highly prone. Large-breed dogs have a higher risk for these issues, as do dogs who have a high BMI. Bone and joint problems are even more likely to occur in large and giant breeds who grow too rapidly as puppies and those who exercise too vigorously at a young age.

Here are some of the breeds most highly prone to bone and joint issues: 

Talking to your veterinarian at the first sign of bone or joint pain is important. Your vet will be able to perform the necessary tests to diagnose your dog’s specific issue at which point you can start discussing treatment options for dog hip pain relief.

When it comes to treating a dog for bone and joint issues, there are several options. In some cases, pain management is all that is needed, and it can help improve the dog’s mobility and quality of life. Some dogs may need a little extra help from corticosteroids to reduce inflammation in addition to relieving pain. For other dogs, more in-depth treatment is needed. Supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin can be beneficial and there are injections your vet can administer to help lubricate the joints. Some pets even find that Chinese acupuncture helps.

While your dog is recovering from bone and joint problems, it is important that he be careful. Make sure your dog doesn’t overdo it with exercise and give him ample time to warm up and cool down with any form of exercise. Water therapy is particularly good for dogs with bone and joint issues because it is low-impact but helps your dog maintain the mobility of his joints. Even treatments like warm compresses and massage can provide soothing relief and reduce inflammation following exercise. 

What to Look for in a Good Dog Food for Hip & Joint Health

If you want to know how to help a dog with hip dysplasia or other bone and joint issues, your veterinarian is the best resource. Your veterinarian will be able to take your dog’s symptoms and perform necessary tests to identify the cause of his pain. You should never assume that you know what is going on with your dog when it comes to complex issues like joint pain. You also don’t want to delay treatment because if you don’t act promptly, the underlying issue could get worse.

On top of following your veterinarian’s advice in treating hip dysplasia in dogs or other musculoskeletal issues, you may want to switch your dog to a better dog food with glucosamine and chondroitin. These are powerful joint-supporting nutrients than can be found in natural sources like chicken meal. The best dog food for joints and bones will still provide for your dog’s basic nutritional needs but will be formulated with key benefits for bones and joints.

Here are some things to look for in the best dog food for joints and bones: 

  • High-quality animal protein. Protein should be the foundation of any dog’s diet and should come from high-quality animal sources. Look for ingredients that include bone (like chicken meal) because it also contains cartilage as a natural source of glucosamine.
  • No low-quality grains or fillers. Low-quality grains and fillers like corn, wheat, and soy can make joint inflammation worse and they provide very limited nutritional benefit.
  • Rich in omega fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids do more than just support your dog’s skin and coat, they also help him maintain healthy joints and connective tissues.
  • Joint-supporting supplements. Any dog food made for joint support will include glucosamine and chondroitin supplements but look for natural sources as well like green lipped mussels.
  • Senior formula. If you’re really not sure where to look for a dog food to support your dog’s bone and joint health, consider a senior dog food formula. These are specially formulated to support the health of your aging dog, often with a focus on joint health.

Now that you have a better understanding of your dog’s bone and joint health, you’re ready to start shopping for a new dog food with glucosamine and chondroitin as well as other joint-supporting benefits. If you’re not sure where to start, try one of our top recommended dog foods below.

The 9 Best Dog Foods for Hip & Joint Health (Arthritis)

The best dog food for joints and bones will feature a premium source of animal protein as the first ingredient, providing a bare minimum of 18% crude protein but ideally somewhere between 22% and 25%. Your dog’s food should also contain digestible carbohydrates like whole grains with no fillers or artificial additives. You should also look for joint-supporting supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin.

Here’s our top pick for the best dog food for hips and joints:

Ollies Fresh Food Delivery Service

Overall Best Dog Food for Hip & Joint Health: Whether your dog is getting up in years or simply struggling with some bone and joint issues, it pays to feed him the highest quality dog food you can afford. Many pet nutrition experts agree that fresh pet food is best and Ollie has your back! Ollies is a fresh pet food delivery service that customizes one of their four recipes to your dog’s individual needs for protein, fat, and calories. Every recipe is made with premium-quality ingredients to maximize bioavailability and to ensure the quality of every bite. Talk to someone at Ollie’s about your dog’s bone and joint issues and they will be happy to customize your dog’s meal according to his needs. Simply sign up on the website and choose your delivery plan then have fresh, premium-quality dog food delivered right to your door as often as you like.

  • Pros: Premium-quality ingredients in every recipe, customized to your dog’s individual needs, delivered automatically on your schedule, prepared fresh from high-quality ingredients
  • Cons: Significantly more expensive than average kibble

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Food

Most Popular Dog Food for Hip & Joint Health: There are so many dog food brands out there that it can be tough to make a choice. When you’re not sure what to do, you can always go with a popular and well-trusted brand like Taste of the Wild. This brand uses premium-quality proteins and other high-quality ingredients in their formulas, and they pay a great deal of attention to the quality and safety of their products. We like this Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Formula for your dog’s bone and joint health. With real buffalo as the first ingredient, this formula provides plenty of premium animal protein. It is supplemented with lamb meal, chicken meal, and several roasted meats to add even more protein and real meat flavor. This recipe contains nutritious sources of fat like chicken fat and ocean fish meal, providing a balance of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. It also contains digestible grain-free carbohydrates with probiotics to ensure healthy and regular digestion. Overall, it provides 32% protein and 18% fat at 370 calories per cup.

  • Pros: Rich in premium animal proteins, digestible complex carbohydrates (like sweet potato), rich blend of omega fatty acids, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, prebiotics and probiotics
  • Cons: Could be a little higher in fat (18%), not all dogs require a grain-free recipe

American Journey Chicken & Brown Rice Protein First Recipe Dry Food

Most Affordable Dog Food for Hip & Joint Health: You want to give your dog a high-quality diet, but you don’t necessarily want to spend a fortune on it. Fortunately, there are several affordable dog food brands out there and Chewy has its own – American Journey. On top of being designed for affordability, the American Journey brand is very high in quality. We recommend this American Journey Chicken & Brown Rice Protein First Formula for your dog’s bone and joint health for many reasons. This recipe starts off strong with fresh chicken and chicken meal as the top two ingredients. These ingredients support your dog’s need for premium protein and also act as natural sources for joint-supporting glucosamine and chondroitin. This recipe contains digestible whole grains like brown rice and barley which also provide plenty of fiber for healthy digestion. You’ll find rich sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids such as chicken fat and fish oil as well to support your dog’s healthy skin and coat. Overall, this recipe provides 25% protein and 15% fat with 365 calories per cup.

  • Pros: Highly affordable recipe, real chicken main ingredient, digestible whole grain carbohydrates, rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein)

Blue Buffalo Basics LID Grain-Free Turkey & Potato Formula

Best Dog Food for Hip & Joint Health and Sensitive Stomach: If your dog has food allergies or a sensitive stomach, you might need to think twice about his diet. One of the best things you can do is switch to a limited ingredient diet (LID) because it contains fewer ingredients that have the potential to trigger a reaction. You would also do well to choose a formula that contains a single source of novel protein – one your dog hasn’t had before. One such recipe we recommend is this Blue Buffalo Basics LID Grain-Free Turkey & Potato Formula. This recipe features fresh turkey as the first ingredient and a novel source of animal protein. It also contains turkey meal which, in addition to being a concentrated source of protein, is also a natural source of glucosamine. This recipe is grain-free to reduce the risk for triggering food allergies and is highly digestible with the use of prebiotic fibers and probiotic supplements. It also contains plenty of healthy fats, providing a blend of omega-3s and omega-6s to support skin and coat health. Overall, this recipe provides 20% protein and 12% fat at 352 calories per cup.

  • Pros: Limited number of ingredients, single source of novel animal protein, natural sources of glucosamine, highly digestible, rich in omega fatty acids, probiotic supplements
  • Cons: Could be higher in protein, may be too high in starch for some dogs

6 More Top-Rated Dog Foods for Hip & Joint Health

If the dog foods reviewed above don’t seem like the right fit, don’t worry – there are many other options out there. Here are several more high-quality dog foods that can help maximize the results of your dog hip pain relief plan. Check them out!

Avoderm Joint Health Chicken Meal Formula Dry Food

If you’re looking for a recipe that is uniquely formulated for joint health, try this Avoderm Joint Health Chicken Meal Formula Dry Food. This recipe features chicken meal as the first ingredient which, in addition to being a concentrated source of animal protein, is also a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin. This recipe also contains chicken cartilage to boost the level of joint-supporting nutrients for maximum benefit. This formula is grain-free, featuring digestible carbohydrates like peas, pea flour, and garbanzo beans. It also contains plenty of healthy fats from chicken fat, avocado, and flaxseed – this combination delivers a rich blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Overall, this recipe provides 30% crude protein and 12% fat with 368 calories per cup.

  • Pros: Natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin, rich in premium animal protein, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, prebiotics and probiotics for digestion
  • Cons: Not all dogs require a grain-free diet

Dogswell Happy Hips Chicken & Oats Recipe Dry Food

Another excellent option in dog food formulated specifically for joint health is this Dogswell Happy Hips Chicken & Oats Recipe Dry Food. This recipe is made with cage-free chicken free from added growth hormones and steroids, helping them maintain natural muscle development and muscle tone. This formula contains several natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin, plus it contains antioxidants like Vitamins A and E for a healthy immune ssyte. You’ll be glad to see fresh fruits and vegetables like carrots, apples, and sweet potatoes which provide natural sources for key nutrients. To ensure complete and balanced nutrition, however, this recipe also contains vitamins supplements and chelated minerals. Overall, it contains 24% protein and 12% fat at 360 calories per cup.

  • Pros: Real cage-free chicken first ingredient, natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin, digestible whole-grain carbohydrates, rich in healthy fats, fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Cons: Somewhat more expensive than average

Wellness Complete Health Senior Deboned Chicken & Barley Recipe

If your dog’s joint problems are related to his age, this Wellness Complete Health Senior Deboned Chicken & Barley Recipe could be the right dog food for him. This recipe is formulated to support numerous aspects of your dog’s health including his bones and joints, his digestive health, his skin and coat health, and his immunity. It features fresh deboned chicken as the main ingredient with chicken meal as a concentrated source of supplemental protein and glucosamine. This formula contains digestible whole grains like oatmeal, barley, and brown rice which work with supplemental fibers to ensure regular digestion. It is rich in healthy fats from chicken fat and flaxseed, providing the optimal balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. This recipe is loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables which provide natural sources for key nutrients but is still supplemented with vitamins and chelated minerals to ensure complete and balanced digestion. Overall, this formula provides 22% protein and 10% fat with 416 calories per cup.

  • Pros: Deboned chicken first ingredient, highly digestible whole-grain carbohydrates, rich in healthy fats, fresh fruits and vegetables, nutritionally complete and balanced, probiotics
  • Cons: May be too high in calories for some dogs, not a grain-free recipe (some dogs are sensitive)

Victor Performance Formula Dry Food

Whether your dog is highly active or just needs a little extra protein, this Victor Performance Formula Dry Food is a great option. It features 81% meat protein from premium-quality ingredients like beef, chicken, and pork. With chicken meal as a main ingredient, this recipe contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to support your dog’s bones and joints. This recipe is nutrient-dense, featuring digestible whole grains like sorghum and millet with supplemental fiber from dried vegetables. This recipe contains supplemental glucosamine and chondroitin as well and is supplemented with vitamins and chelated minerals to ensure complete and balanced nutrition. You’ll also be that to know that it contains probiotic supplements to ensure regular digestion. Overall, this recipe provides 26% crude protein and 18% fat with 399 calories per cup.

  • Pros: Rich in protein and healthy fats, digestible whole-grain carbohydrates, rich blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption, probiotics for digestion
  • Cons: May be too high in fat for some dogs, some dogs are sensitive to beef

Now Fresh Grain-Free Large Breed Adult Recipe Dry Food

Many large breed dogs suffer from joint issues and this Now Fresh Grain-Free Large Breed Adult Recipe Dry Food is a great recipe to support that. It features deboned turkey as the primary ingredient with deboned salmon and duck as supplemental sources of premium animal protein. This formula contains a rich blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat support, plus it is supplemented with prebiotic fiber and probiotics for healthy digestion. You’ll see plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in this recipe as natural sources for key nutrients. It is also supplemented with vitamins and chelated minerals to ensure balanced nutrition with optimal nutrient absorption. Overall, this recipe provides 27% protein and 13% fat with 363 calories per cup.

  • Pros: Fresh turkey first ingredient, rich in omega fatty acids, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, prebiotics and probiotics for digestion, joint-supporting glucosamine
  • Cons: Very expensive compared to average, not intended for small breeds

Simply Nourish Limited Ingredient Diet Sweet Potato & Salmon Senior Recipe

If your dog is getting up in years and is developing a sensitive stomach, you might consider switching to a limited ingredient diet. This Simply Nourish Limited Ingredient Diet Sweet Potato & Salmon Senior Recipe is the perfect choice because not only is it limited in the number of ingredients, but it is formulated for senior dogs. This recipe features real, deboned salmon as the first ingredient to support your dog’s lean muscle mass as well as a healthy heart. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well which help to support skin and coat health. This formula contains non-GMO canola oil to provide a balance of omega-6 fatty acids and there is a superfood blend of real fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients. Overall, it contains 24% protein and 9% fat with 365 calories per cup.

  • Pros: Formulated for senior dogs, deboned salmon first ingredient, highly digestible, limited number of main ingredients, rich in omega fatty acids, supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Cons: Somewhat expensive compared to average

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What age does hip dysplasia start in dogs?Hip dysplasia is one of the most common joint issues in dogs and it is most common in large and giant breeds. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent hip dysplasia because it is almost always an inherited condition. In some puppies, it can develop as early as 5 months and worsen over time, or it may not manifest until the dog becomes a senior. In most cases, however, it starts to develop in the dog’s middle years with noticeable symptoms.
  2. What can be done for a dog with hip dysplasia? – Though there is no way to prevent hip dysplasia in dogs, there are a few options for treatment. In mild cases, medications can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. In more severe cases, there are surgical options to repair or replace the hip. For most dogs, however, the ideal treatment is a combination of healthy diet, joint supplements, anti-inflammatory medications, and moderate exercise.
  3. Can hip and joint dog supplements help? – There is a great deal of debate regarding the subject of supplements for dogs, but mostly when it comes to things like multivitamins. Most dogs don’t require multivitamins if they are fed a complete and balanced diet, but supplements can still be beneficial for treating specific issues like joint pain. Hip and joint dog supplements typically include ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin. We recommend Nutramax Cosequin Maximum Strength (DS) Plus MSM Chewable Tablets. They are formulated to support joint health and mobility while supporting cartilage production and preventing cartilage breakdown. They are safe, effective, and bioavailable and come in easy-to-administer chews.
  4. What are the symptoms of arthritis in dogs? – Arthritis is one of the most common issues affecting middle-aged and older pets, though it can also affect younger pets under the right circumstances. Arthritis is the term used to describe abnormal changes in a joint and it can result from joint destruction caused by an infection, congenital defects, or stress and/or trauma to the joints. It can also be secondary to another condition like hip dysplasia in dogs. Symptoms of arthritis in dogs include limping, difficulty moving, spinal issues, tiredness, irritability, muscle atrophy, and licking or chewing the area.
  5. Should you walk a dog with arthritis? – If your dog already has arthritis, the chances are good that he has a harder time getting around than he used to. Most dogs are stoic when it comes to showing pain, however, so it is your job to know what your dog needs and to prevent him from hurting himself further. Talk to your veterinarian about how much exercise is safe for your dog and always take the time to warm up before exercise and to cool down afterward. Never push your dog past his limits and know that less might be more in some cases.

You can’t protect your dog from the passage of time and joint problems are more of an eventuality than a possibility. When your dog starts to slow down, it is on you to talk to your veterinarian to diagnose the issue and to find the proper form of treatment. In addition to treating your dog’s underlying condition, you may also want to switch to a dog food with glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support.

Take what you’ve learned here to start shopping around or simply choose one of our top picks above. Best of luck to you and your dog!

1 thought on “10 Best Dog Foods for Hip & Joint Health (Arthritic Dogs)”

  1. Really surprised that Victor Performance did not make your list. It is so much better then Science diet and other dog foods with Grains in it. Also has a large dose of Chondroitin and glucosamine . It all comes down to doing your research and reading labels

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