Just like humans, dogs’ bones and joints deteriorate as they grow older. Although German Shepherds are built tough, they’re also susceptible to injuries or other illnesses that could affect joint mobility.
These issues can affect all types of dogs. Large dogs like German Shepherds can be more prone to joint issues. If you’re thinking about starting your GSD on a joint supplement this article will list the best joint supplements for German Shepherds.
Why Do Dogs Need Joint Supplements?
Due to a variety of factors, including age, genetic disposition, weight, diet, lifestyle, and environment, dogs can develop joint issues that significantly affect their mobility. Especially among larger breeds, these are some of the most common conditions:
Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease that affects dogs because of the progressive and irreversible deterioration of the cartilage around their joints. Consequently, it leads to chronic joint inflammation, pain, and loss of mobility in the limbs.
2) Hip dysplasia
Although hip dysplasia typically becomes apparent with age, it is actually a condition that begins at puppyhood, which is the most critical time for skeletal development.
When properly developed, the hip’s ball and socket functions smoothly. If not, the hip’s ball and socket rub or grind each other. Over time, the joint deteriorates and causes pain, a reduction in their range of motion, or even crippling lameness.
3) Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)
Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) is a condition wherein cartilage separates from a bone in a joint. This can involve any joint in the body and often leads to pain, swelling, limping, and lameness.
Like hip dysplasia, this is a developmental disease that occurs commonly among fast-growing breeds. However, OCD is immediately apparent and so can be corrected with surgery right away to minimize the risk of joint degeneration over time.
4) Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease
Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease is a condition wherein the femur’s head deteriorates spontaneously or for a variety of possible reasons. That leads to degeneration of the hip joint and typically requires surgery.
Luckily, most dogs regain full use of their limbs with proper post-operative care. While Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease is most common among small dogs, it is not unheard of among large breeds.
What Are Joint Supplements For Dogs?
Many joint supplements are available for dogs. These are the ones most commonly used to support overall joint health and to avoid painful conditions brought about by age or diseases:
1) Glucosamine Hydrochloride
Glucosamine hydrochloride is the most popular joint supplement given to large dogs like German Shepherds. It is used to avoid or help treat inflammatory conditions like arthritis and hip dysplasia. It works by speeding up the body’s natural capacity to repair damaged cartilage.
2) Chondroitin Sulfate
Chondroitin sulfate is a chemical that naturally occurs in the joints. It is one of the most critical substances in the development of cartilage, oral supplementation and is said to slow down joint deterioration.
Like Glucosamine, the studies surrounding the efficacy of chondroitin sulfate remains questionable or inconclusive. However, veterinarians continue to recommend them due to what may be convincing anecdotal evidence as well as their own positive experiences with their patients.
3) Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASUs)
As the name implies, avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASUs) are natural extracts derived from avocados and soybeans. Supplements made of which are commonly used to support healthy joint function.
In 2009, BMC’s Arthritis Research & Therapy published a study concerning the efficacy of ASUs in preventing as well as treating canine osteoarthritis. The researchers from the University of Montreal Hospital Centre’s Osteoarthritis Research Unit found that these natural substances have undeniable protective effects.
4) Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids work by suppressing the body’s inflammatory response, effectively reducing swelling in the joints and minimizing pain. Numerous studies – including the one published by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2010 and the one published by BMC Veterinary Research in 2012 — have proven the efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil in preventing and treating canine arthritis, or at least alleviating its symptoms.
5) Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is commonly used not just for canines but for humans and other animals as well. It is derived from organic sulfur and used as a dietary supplement specifically because of its natural anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and pain-relieving properties. Thus, it is able to reduce swelling and pain as well as support overall health.
6) Green-Lipped Mussels (GLM)
Green-lipped mussels (GLM) are used as supplements because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. However, combined with the other compounds found in this shellfish, it is generally regarded as more potent in reducing joint pain and fighting inflammation.
Additionally, it contains naturally-occurring glycosaminoglycans, which provide further protective properties to the joints. These are typically given to dogs in powder form, as part of a treat, or combined with their main meals.
What Are The Best Joint Supplement for German Shepherds?
Because there are so many supplements available for canine joint health, it could be challenging to find the one that will benefit your dog the most. To help you out, here are some of the best supplements for large dogs, particularly aging German Shepherds.
Just keep in mind that it’s always best to discuss these options with your veterinarian before you give them to your dog as regular dietary supplements.
1) Nutramax Laboratories – Dasuquin with MSM
Dasuquin is a line of joint health supplements developed by Nutramax Laboratories. Their Dasuquin with MSM tablets are most popular, especially for large breeds because they have a variant specially formulated for dogs weighing over 60 pounds.
Veterinarians recommend it because its active ingredients include glucosamine hydrochloride, MSM, sodium chondroitin sulfate, and ASU powder.
2) Nutramax Laboratories – Cosequin DS Plus MSM
Cosequin is another line of joint health supplements developed by Nutrmax Laboratories. The main difference between the two is that Cosequin doesn’t contain any ASUs but otherwise has similar active ingredients, including glucosamine hydrochloride, sodium chondroitin sulfate, and MSM.
Additionally, it contains manganese ascorbate, which aids in nutrient absorption and keeping the bones healthy.
3) VetriSCIENCE Laboratories – Glycoflex Stage 3
Glycoflex is a popular brand of joint supplements developed by VetriSCIENCE Laboratories. Veterinarians prescribe the Glycoflex Stage 3 Chewable Tablets to senior dogs or those who already need serious joint support.
Among its main ingredients are glucosamine hydrochloride, MSM, and green-lipped mussel. There’s also the Glycoflex Plus, which is more appropriate for preventive or maintenance supplementation among senior, competitive, or working dogs like German Shepherds.
4) Doggie Dailies – Advanced Hip & Joint Supplement for Dogs
The Advanced Hip & Joint Supplement for Dogs by Doggie Dailies are treat-like chewables for optimum joint health and prevent issues altogether. It is also meant to reduce pain and increase mobility in elderly dogs and others who already have joint conditions.
Each chew contains glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin, as well as other beneficial ingredients that support healthy aging. That includes yucca schidigera, coQ10, and hyaluronic acid.
5) Zesty Paws – Advanced Mobility Bites
The Advanced Mobility Bites by Zesty Paws is a chewable supplement made specifically for hip and joint care. It is a variant of the brand’s more popular Mobility Bites made for senior dogs and those in need of more advanced care. Its active ingredients include glucosamine hydrochloride, MSM, curcumin (a product derived from turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties), green-lipped mussels, and chondroitin sulfate.
What sets it apart is its combination with other anti-aging and antioxidant ingredients, including vitamins C and E, pepper, hyaluronic acid, and hemp extract.
At what age do German Shepherds need joint supplements?
The best advice should come from your trusted veterinarian. However, the general consensus is that if you have a large dog or a breed that’s predisposed to joint issues, it might be best to give them dietary supplements to support their joint health as soon as they stop growing – around the time they turn one.
Before then, be wary of how much they weigh as being overweight can have adverse effects on the proper development of the joints. Also, make sure you give them a high-quality diet to nourish them with the right nutrients needed not just for joint health but strong bones and muscles as well.
Prevention is key to canine joint health. If you have a German Shepherd, it’s doubly important for you to take care of your dog’s joints because of their size as well as their genetic disposition.
Giving them some of the best joint supplements for large dogs early enough will help them avoid these common conditions and age comfortably.