Diet & Supplements

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Beware products claiming health benefits for arthritis sufferers, many lack proof of efficacy!

Diet and Nutrition

Dog foods designed to aid mobility are now mainstream. However, there is little regulation of what the diet should have in it, or the effectiveness of the additional ingredients. Claims such as “improved joint health”, “added joint support”, “improved mobility support” are not regulated and can be made without the manufacturer having to prove them.

It is globally agreed that the most important factor that may influence choice of diet for an arthritic dog is reaching and maintaining optimal body weight. Being overweight (110% of their recommended body weight) or obese (120% of their recommended bodyweight) has significant impact on pain control and progression of arthritis. Ensuring the diet chosen enables controlled weight loss if needed, or maintained weight if already at the appropriate weight is a priority.

Mobility diets tend to support optimal weight management in their formulation in addition to including ingredients similar to those found in tablet, capsule, powder and liquid supplements or nutraceuticals. Through inclusion in the dog’s diet, a greater intake of these supplements per meal is potentially achievable, as well as being balanced, potentially more affordable and convenient for the owner.

Omega 3 fatty acids from marine-based sources are a common addition to a diet. Increasing a dog’s daily quotient via diet ensures enough is consumed to have clinical benefit, it is balanced with other key nutrients, and potential adverse effects of the increased concentration, such as weight gain and diarrhoea can be countered.

Hills have performed respected controlled clinical trials on their mobility diet JD, which are referred to in many other companies’ diet formulations. The results suggested their increased omega 3 to omega 6 ratio not only reduced the clinical signs of arthritis, scored by vets, it also reduced the dose of anti-inflammatory needed by the dogs.

Like with any intervention, nothing comes with a promise and suggested benefits need to be monitored and double checked over time. Dietary interventions will not result in “overnight” improvements, but are likely to take months which can be hard to monitor. Through using validated objective monitoring tools, client-specific outcome measures or the chronic pain indicator chart, a long term assessment of benefit can be made. An owner would expect to see a slow improvement in clinical signs, over months not days, as well as less acute flares.

Similar principles to the ACCLAIM strategy need to be applied to choosing a mobility diet.

Supplements & Nutraceuticals

The supplement/nutraceutical industry has boomed in recent years.

However, it is a lucrative market. It is a perfect business model; it is unregulated, there are few barriers to wild marketing, the products are appealing to concerned owners, they can be purchased without veterinary assessment, and it is hard to decipher whether they are offering benefit, but they may be affordable to continue giving on the off-chance they may offer some benefit. (Harsh but true!)

This topic is vast and is a very difficult area to offer advice on due to:

  • The large numbers of products claiming health benefits for arthritis sufferers
  • Wide variations in product form, and therefore absorption, activity and effect
  • Believed wide variations in actual content compared with label claims
  • Numerous combination products offering more and more benefits
  • Subjective owner-driven input clouding actual evidence of improvements
  • A simple lack of carefully controlled trials of significant size to assess statistical evidence of efficacy


At CAM we feel this is an interesting area that will continue to grow, and fully support people who want to explore their use – but we feel it is important to give you the tools to make educated decisions as to whether benefit outweighs cost.

We have compiled a list of well known and easily available supplement components along with a brief description of documented evidence of effect in clinical trials.

Please remind yourself regarding the importance of objective monitoring to ensure you gain benefits for your bucks. Remember the response will be slow and it may take months to see benefit. This may be demonstrated in less reliance on medications, fewer acute flares, or consistently improved clinical signs.

This list is not a definitive guide, nor does it represent any form of endorsement of recommendation of any specific supplement (type or brand).

This information is an overview of summaries made by Fox S M (2017) Mulitmodal Management of Canine Osteoarthritis; Hielm-Björkman A Ass Prof (small animal surgery) at the Univeristy of Helsinki at ESVOT 2016; and Vanderweerd J M et al (2012) Systematic Review of Efficacy of Nutraceuticals to Alleviate Clinical Signs of Osteoarthritis. J Vet Intern Med 2012. Barbeau-Grégoire M, Otis C, Cournoyer A, Moreau M, Lussier B, Troncy E. A 2022 Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Enriched Therapeutic Diets and Nutraceuticals in Canine and Feline Osteoarthritis. Int J Mol Sci. 2022;23(18). doi:10.3390/ijms231810384

We intend to provide more detailed information on supplements in our Member’s Zone.


You can purchase CAM’s ‘The Influence of Diet and Supplements on Your Dog’s Arthritis‘ booklet from the CAM online Shop in print format.

Or why not join our CAM MEMBER ZONE where you will gain access to all our CAM booklets in digital format as well as a wealth of information, videos, downloads, forum and much more...