An introduction to Dog Food Supplements for the...

Treatment of Arthritis, Hip & Elbow Dysplasia and all other Joint Pain

Active Ingredients:




Vitamin C





Vitamin B Complex

Vitamin E


Active Ingredients by Brand

A short history of dog food supplements


The first commercial dog food was invented by James Spratt in around 1860. The ‘Patented Meat Fibrine Dog Cake’ was essentially a dog biscuit given as a supplement to a dogs normal diet (likely to have been scraps, raw meat, bones and available vegetables and fruit). Spratt’s continued to refine its recipe and develop more complete dog food for a dog’s different life stages as well as branching out into many more dog related products. It was eventually acquired by General Mills in 1950.


The overwhelming success of a prepared food for dogs led to many more manufacturers creating prepared dog foods which have been refined over time to provide optimum nutrition and convenience for the owner.


Industrial and process development enabled new forms of packaging and distribution to service the market including tinned dog food which could be shipped all over the world. The availability of ingredients increased significantly after World War II and the range of foods and number of manufacturers significantly increased.


As scientific developments were realised in human food, so too were advancements made in dog food and complementary dog food products (supplements). The popularity and range of dog food supplements has hugely diversified over the last 20 years through the sharing of information and as clinical trials revealed many ingredients used to treat human ailments could also provide significant benefits for our canine friends. The range of supplements include specific ingredients and formulas targeted to treat many of the known underlying health issues in dogs.


There are variations in the type of supplements available including:


‘Pharmaceutical’ grade supplements can only be dispensed with a prescription from a vet (frequently patented products which generally include powerful concentrates of ingredients) and should only be given to a pet if prescribed by their Veterinarian.


‘Neutraceutical’ supplements are available over-the-counter (and on the internet). These are likely to contain ‘active ingredients’ which have various effects on a dog’s health and a formula is normally targeted to assist with a specific illness (ingredients are likely to include natural compounds which cannot be patented by pharmaceutical companies).


‘Herbal’ remedies which contain natural plant and flora extracts which may have a history of certain health benefits.


What is a dog food supplement?


A dog food supplement is an additional food which is given complementary to a dog’s existing diet. Supplements are given to pets generally for health reasons in the same way that we take supplements for various health concerns or to keep a healthy and balanced immune system to stave off illness. They differ from ‘treats’ in that they are formulated to comprise vitamins, minerals and other ingredients designed to enhance the overall well-being of a dog and sometimes to target specific illnesses or complaints.


There are many brands of supplements available that promote different aspects of health and they can come in many different forms including tablets, pellets, concentrate powder and liquids (solutions). Probably the most well-known ailment is arthritis since this is common to humans as we age and is also common to our dogs. Other common ailments supplements are given for include allergies, digestive problems, skin problems, coat problems, weight problems and dental problems.


Why are dog food supplements necessary?


The diet for domesticated dogs has changed dramatically from their descendants the grey wolf and whilst modern day manufacturers strive to create a healthy balanced diet for pets many veterinarians have recognised that some of these dog foods can be lacking in essential nutrients and complimentary food may be recommended to supplement the diet. This can be for simple maintenance purposes or it could be to treat a specific ailment.


The inter-breeding of domestic dogs has also left a legacy of known disorders amongst breeds many of which can be treated by feeding a supplement to your dog. The most common of these problems is osteoarthritis commonly referred to as hip or elbow dysplasia. Skeletal problems of this nature are common in older dogs, however can be seen to affect a large proportion of the domestic dog population.


What’s in a dog food supplement?


The active ingredients used in many of the supplements promoting healthy joints, bones, skin, coat and immune system are as follows:



Glucosamine is a naturally occurring amino sugar that forms part of the structure of tendons, ligaments and cartilage and helps to prevent the degeneration of joints and bones


Chondroitin Sulphate:

Chondroitin sulphate is a naturally occurring glycosaminoglycan and is part of the structure of cartilage responsible for resistance to compression.


Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM):

MSM is an organic compound that contains sulphur and is part of the amino acid chain. It works by preventing pressure build up in cells and allowing them to take in the right amount of nutrients.


Vitamin C:

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin essential in maintaining a healthy immune system and in connecting tissues throughout the body.



Collagen is one of the proteins found in bone, cartilage and connective tissue and acts as a glue to attach tendons, ligaments, cartilage and bones.



Glutamine is required for a number of metabolic functions throughout the body and is particularly supportive of the gut and immune system.



Curcumin is a powerful natural anti-oxidant with anti-inflammatory benefits.



Manganese is necessary for a healthy immune system and for maintaining healthy joints.


Vitamin B Complex:

Vitamin B Complex is a balanced form of water-soluble vitamins that affect many parts of the dog’s metabolism.


Vitamin E:

Vitamin E reduces fat oxidation and prevents free radicals from damaging healthy cells.


These active ingredients are frequently combined in supplement formulas to provide powerful supplements to give to a dog to increase their overall well-being. Our Brand Active Ingredients chart identifies which of the major brands include the active ingredients listed above.


Of course there are many more ingredients used in the dog food supplement brands identified (too many to make an overall comparison) and individual research is recommended to choose the most appropriate supplement for your dog.