Many dogs can suffer from joint issues, especially if they’re large, grow too fast, or age. So focusing on joint health with proper nutrition and exercise is essential to prevent these problems as much as possible.
But when it comes to feeding, what’s the best food for joint health?
Our top choice is Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Dry Dog Food.
It’s high in protein and healthy fats and contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint and ligament support. It’s excellent for all breeds.
But if your dog has specific needs, like allergies or if they’re a fussy eater, we have food options for them too. Here are our best dog foods for joint health.
Our Best Dog Food for Joint Health
- Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Dry Dog Food (Best Overall)
- Stella & Chewy’s Wild Red Grain-Free Red Meat Recipe Dry Dog Food (Best Grain-Free)
- Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Senior Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best for Seniors)
- ORIJEN Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best for Small Breeds)
- Solid Gold Wolf King Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food (Best for Large Breeds)
- Dogswell Happy Hips Grain-Free Canned Dog Food (Best Wet Food)
- VICTOR Realtree MAX-5 PRO Dry Dog Food (Best Budget Food)
- Canisource Grand Cru Red Meat Dehydrated Dog Food (Best Premium Food)
- Merrick Backcountry Freeze-Dried Raw Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best for Sensitive Stomach)
- Ollie Beef Recipe Dog Food (Best Fresh Food)
10 Best Dog Food for Joint Health Reviewed
The following formulas follow AAFCO’s nutrient profile guidelines. Before switching your dog to any new dog food, consult with your veterinarian.
- First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal
- Guaranteed Analysis: 24% Crude Protein, 14% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 377 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: High-protein dry dog food with omega-3 fatty acids for joint health
Dogs need to maintain healthy joints to stay active, pain-free, and protect their bones and muscles. If you’re looking for a way to prevent joint issues later in life, one of the best things you can do is choose the proper food.
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is a perfect choice. This formula starts with real meat, includes whole grains, and adds their “LifeSource Bits” that are rich in antioxidants.
Their Chicken & Brown Rice recipe starts with high-quality protein like deboned chicken and chicken meal. These offer glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. They support limber joints and healthy cartilage to protect lean muscle mass.
Flaxseeds and chicken fat add healthy fats and omegas for supple joints and healthy skin. And, l-carnitine and l-lysine offer continued joint support and aid in lean muscle mass.
Blue Buffalo also supplements calcium and phosphorus, essential joint and bone health components. They follow the vet-advised 3:1 ratio, so you don’t have to worry about under or over-nutrition.
This formula is free of corn, wheat, soy, corn gluten meal, and poultry by-product meal.
Dog parents say their dogs gobble up this food. And, they love the boost of antioxidants and probiotics for well-being.
- First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Pork Meal, Sweet Potato, Potato, Pork Fat
- Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 19% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 400 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: High-fat and grain-free dry dog food suitable for pups and dogs with grain allergies
Many pet parents choose a grain-free diet to help their dogs with allergies or intolerances. If this is the case for you and your dog, try Stella & Chewy’s Wild Red Grain-Free Red Meat Recipe.
This protein-packed food starts with USDA beef, pork meal, lamb, and lamb meal. It also follows the “whole prey” approach — including the muscle meats, organs, and cartilage of animal proteins.
These offer a plethora of vitamins — including calcium and phosphorus, iron, and B vitamins. These aid in energy, bone, and joint support.
Pork fat, sunflower oil, and salmon oil provide a healthy source of vitamin E and essential fatty acids for joint and coat health.
And salmon oil also offers DHA and ARA, which are critical for growing pups joints and cognitive function. Just be aware to not overfeed your dog, since the high-fat content can cause weight gain
This formula is free of artificial ingredients, fillers, preservatives, and peas. And, it’s suitable for both puppies and adult dogs, so it’s a great option if you need grain-free food.
Parents with picky dogs note that they finally seem motivated to eat. And they love the quality of ingredients.
- First 5 Ingredients: Organic Chicken, Organic Chicken Meal, Organic Sweet Potatoes, Organic Potatoes, Organic Peas
- Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 13% Crude Fat, 3.5% Crude Fiber, 11% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 377 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: High-protein and organic dry dog food to support joint health in seniors
Senior dogs need as much support as possible with their muscles, bones, and joints. So a senior food formula that can help all three is essential. Enter in Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Senior dry dog food.
This recipe is USDA-certified organic and made in an organically certified US kitchen. And it’s also supplemented with taurine and probiotics, which are helpful for both heart health and digestive support.
It starts with organic free-range chicken and organic chicken meal. These ingredients don’t have added growth hormones or antibiotics. And they contain glucosamine and chondroitin to help support your aging dog’s hip and joint health.
For healthy fats, organic sunflower oil and organic chicken liver provide lots of flavor. They entice even the pickiest eater, but they also have omega fatty acids. These aid in joint, knee, and hip support to keep your old friend moving like they did when they were younger.
This formula doesn’t include artificial preservatives, flavors, colors, or GMOs. And for sensitive dogs, it’s free of corn, wheat, soy, chickpeas, and lentils.
Dog owners with senior friends appreciate the transparency of the ingredients and brand. But, many mention that the kibble is small, so it may not be suitable for large breeds who can gulp down food.
- First 5 Ingredients: Turkey, Chicken, Turkey Giblets (Liver, Heart, Gizzard), Quail, Whole Blue Whiting
- Guaranteed Analysis: 38% Crude Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 473 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: High-protein and high-fat dog food with whole-prey ingredients for small breeds
Did you know that small breeds can suffer from joint issues like their larger counterparts? Don’t let the cute little legs fool you.
Small breeds are just as likely to have the same joint problems as large breed dogs. So they need plenty of lean muscle mass and healthy bones and joints to keep them moving around.
Orijen’s Small Breed Grain-Free formula is the perfect solution to managing your dog’s joint health. It’s high in protein and includes plenty of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for full-body protection.
This formula starts with raw free-run turkey, chicken, quail, and whole mackerel. Like Stella & Chewy’s, Orijen uses a “whole-prey” food approach. In this case, they use their animal proteins’ livers, hearts, gizzards, and bones. These provide natural taurine, glucosamine, and iron for heart, joint, and energy support.
This recipe also contains pollock oil and turmeric, along with the animal proteins. The fish oil packs essential fatty acids for agile and robust joints. And turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that may cause pain in the joints and digestive system.
Orijen doesn’t contain corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Small breed owners say they’ve seen a massive change in their dogs’ energy levels and coat health after switching to this food.
- First 5 Ingredients: Bison, Ocean Fish Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Pearled Barley
- Guaranteed Analysis: 22% Crude Protein, 9% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 340 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: Lower-calorie dry dog food with omega fatty acids for large breeds
Large breed dogs are prone to joint problems like hip dysplasia and arthritis. This is due to their large stature and their genetics, weight, and activity level.
So it’s important not to overfeed them but still offer plenty of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that keep their joints strong and healthy.
If you need a new large breed dog food to help, try Solid Gold Wolf King Bison Formula. It’s made for large breeds and meets their nutritional needs while keeping them at a healthy weight.
It starts with deboned bison meat — a novel protein that’s great for dogs with food allergies. Next on the list is a high-quality ocean fish meal, which provides amino acids and iron to support heart health and lean muscle mass.
Salmon oil offers protection against gut and joint inflammation. And, this fish oil provides DHA for optimal cognitive function.
This formula is also packed with superfoods like pumpkins, cranberries, and blueberries. These are full of antioxidants to boost your dog’s immune system. And they have anti-inflammatory properties as well, which is excellent for your dog’s joints.
Pet owners love the calcium and phosphorus ratio in this food that aids in joint and bone health. But they do admit that their pickier dogs seem to like it better when it has a bit of wet food or broth added.
- First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Salmon, Dried Egg Product
- Guaranteed Analysis: (wet matter basis) 8% Crude Protein, 4% Crude Fat, 1% Crude Fiber, 82% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 309 kcal/can
- Key Feature: High-protein and high-fat wet dog food with glucosamine to support joint health
Wet food doesn’t have to be just a food topper or a way for your dog to get more flavor. Wet food can be a wholesome and nutritious meal all on its own.
In fact, Happy Hips Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew is a high-protein and high-fat wet dog food made for pups that need a boost to their joint health.
This formula starts with chunks of free-run and cage-free chicken, shrimp meal, and chicken liver. These provide glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to help maintain hip and joint health. And the chicken liver is full of iron and choline for heart and brain function.
Salmon, canola oil, and flaxseed oil are all full of omega-3 fatty acids. This provides DHA for cognitive function and ALA to reduce inflammation and the risk of blood clots.
And the nutrition doesn’t stop there. The food also has spinach, cranberries, and blueberries for an antioxidant boost. These little chunks are tasty and good for your pup — including vitamins like vitamin C for immune health.
This recipe doesn’t include grains, corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Dog moms and dads love seeing the real food chunks in their pups’ wet food. But they do warn that the food makes for messy feeding.
- First 5 Ingredients: Beef Meal, Grain Sorghum, Chicken Fat, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Menhaden Fish Meal
- Guaranteed Analysis: 30% Crude Protein, 20% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 9% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 403 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: Budget-friendly dry dog food with inulin and glucosamine for healthy digestion and joints
When you’re trying to feed your dog a specific diet to aid in maintaining their bodies, the cost can add up. And let’s be honest, high-protein foods with high-quality fats can run upwards of an arm and a leg. But they don’t have to!
VICTOR Realtree MAX-5 PRO Dry Dog Food fits the bill for a budget-friendly and healthy joints formula.
Beef meal, menhaden fish meal, and duck meal provide glucosamine and chondroitin. These support healthy cartilage and reduce inflammation in the hips and joints. And they also pack an ideal ratio of 30% Crude Protein for lean muscle mass.
And if that wasn’t enough, the food also has a 20% Crude Fat ratio due to added chicken fat and flaxseed meal. These also provide both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to protect against heart disease and joint inflammation.
While this recipe isn’t grain-free, it is gluten-free. So this is great if your dog has specific allergies to wheat products. And, if you have a dog with a sensitive tummy, no worries — the recipe includes live probiotics for easier digestion.
Canine owners hate the smell of this food and think the kibble is too large for smaller dogs. But, those with large dogs note that their pups have so much energy and bounce since they switched.
- First 5 Ingredients: Pork, Beef, White Rice, Whole Barley, Rolled Oats
- Guaranteed Analysis: 27% Crude Protein, 16% Crude Fat, 3% Crude Fiber, 8% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 480 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: High-protein and high-fat premium dehydrated dog food with human-grade ingredients
If you’re on the opposite of the budget spectrum and willing to spend to protect your dog’s joints and ligaments, you’re in luck. You can’t go wrong with Canisource Grand Cru Red Meat dehydrated dog food.
It starts with USDA pork and beef chunks. Both provide plenty of protein for lean muscle mass and healthy cartilage. But they also contain glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which can repair joints broken down cartilage.
While beef adds plenty of healthy fats, this recipe also has ground flaxseeds and vitamin E oil. These add a boost of omega-3 fatty acids and DHA and EPA for brain function.
To boost the immune system, it includes apples, elderberry extract, and beet extract. These provide antioxidants, vitamin A, and vitamin C. These also aid in eye health and collagen production.
This formula is free of by-products, artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors.
Pet owners admit that while the upfront cost seems steep, the food lasts a long time and has made a massive difference in their dogs’ health, so it’s worth it.
- First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Beef, Lamb Meal, Salmon Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes
- Guaranteed Analysis: 38% Crude Protein, 17.5% Crude Fat, 3.5% Crude Fiber, 11% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 392 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: Grain-free dog food with raw bites and omega-3 fatty acids for joint health
Got a dog with a sensitive tummy? That doesn’t mean their joint health has to suffer!
While chicken provides glucosamine and chondroitin, so do beef and lamb. And Merrick Backcountry Freeze-Dried Raw Grain-Free dog food offers both of those in their formula.
This high-protein and high-fat diet starts with real deboned beef, lamb meal, salmon meal, and rabbit. These provide natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to strengthen joints and muscles. And they are also packed with B vitamins and iron for energy production.
This recipe also includes raw beef liver and pork fat for a tasty treat and flavor. These provide omega fatty acids and taurine, which promote healthy skin and a shiny coat and aid in heart health. Plus, they’re great for active dogs who need extra joint support.
As with the other formulas on this list, Merrick also adds natural antioxidant packing ingredients to their food. With their Great Plains recipe, they add apples, sweet potatoes, and blueberries. These also provide healthy fiber and prebiotics for digestive health.
Pet parents love that the ingredients are GMO-free and that the proteins are USDA-inspected. They say this is an excellent chicken-free recipe for dogs with sensitive tummies.
- First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Peas, Sweet Potato, Potato, Carrot
- Guaranteed Analysis: 9% Crude Protein, 7% Crude Fat, 2% Crude Fiber, 70% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 192.50 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: Human-grade dog food with meat organs and vitamin E for solid joints
Got a picky pup that needs joint support? Want to switch to human-grade dog food? Need the convenience of food delivered right to your door? Try Ollie and meet all of those needs.
This high-quality dog food comes customized to your dog’s needs. It also has a portioning scoop, so you know how much to feed them, and ships right to your door
To get started, take Ollie’s online quiz. You’ll add in your dog’s weight, height, allergies (if any), and activity level. This quiz takes less than 5-minutes but is thorough, so your dog has their nutritional requirements met.
After you finish, Ollie calculates your pup’s perfect and balanced diet. Then you can choose between four dog food recipes — including beef, lamb, chicken, and turkey. The beef recipe has deboned beef, beef liver, and beef kidney for a protein and fat-packed formula.
You can also choose all four recipes, especially if you want to find the right one for your pup. Then, the food is delivered to your door fresh every two to four weeks.
Dog owners note that the ingredients are all high-quality, and their dog’s enjoy the taste and chunks.
How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Your Dog’s Joint Health
Looking to help your dog with their joint health? Here’s what to look for in dog food.
Joint Problems In Dogs
There are different types of joint problems that can affect dogs throughout their life.
One of the most common is joint dysplasia, which usually affects the hips and elbows. This degenerative disease causes abnormal development and growth of a dog’s hip or elbow joint.
While you may be able to prevent it, it is expected, and you can manage it with your dog if it happens.
The next joint condition that’s relatively common is arthritis. This normally affects senior dogs or highly active dogs and working types.
Osteoarthritis is a chronic joint disease that causes the joints to lose cartilage. This is often a painful process, so it’s crucial to catch it early — if not, it can affect the life of your dog.
Last but not least, another frequent disorder is Osteochondrosis. This happens when the cartilage and bone formation grow too quickly in medium and large breeds.
The joints then crack and separate from the bone, which can cause lameness and arthritis. It’s only fixed via surgery and anti-inflammatory drugs. You shouldn’t overfeed and offer too much nutrition too fast to your pup to prevent it.
Breeds & Joint Problems
While any dog can experience joint and mobility issues in their life, some breeds are prone to them.
Large breeds specifically have a high chance of joint issues due to their large stature and if they grow too fast. And, breeds like Rottweilers and Great Danes tend to have hip problems due to breeding.
But, some small breeds are likely to have joint issues, too, especially when they have bowing legs or are naturally bigger.
Symptoms of Joint Pain in Dogs
While joint problems can be caused via trauma, thus causing pain right away, other issues start slow and build up over time. So it’s essential to check on your dog and see if you notice any of the following potential symptoms;
- Loss of appetite
- Slipping while moving about
- Difficulty getting up
- Reluctance to move around or play
- Weight gain from less movement
- Pain when petted or touched
- Difficulty urinating or defecating
- Loss of muscle mass over the limbs and spine
If your dog is experiencing one of these symptoms, or multiple symptoms, it’s vital to take them to the vet to rule out potential joint problems.
Weight Issues and Joint Problems
If your dog is overweight, they are more likely to have joint problems. The excess weight puts additional stress on the joints, causing them to weaken.
And excessive weight gain can cause inflammation, so the joints swell — this can cause immobility and pain.
Surprisingly, weight loss can also signify joint problems, especially as your dog ages. When they’re in pain, their less likely to move around and eat or overeat for fear that they’ll be in pain.
So if your dog is experiencing either of these issues, you want to take them to the veterinarian.
How to Treat Joint Problems in Dogs?
The first thing to note is that the best way to keep your dog from feeling pain is to avoid joint problems as much as possible.
Of course, that’s not always possible, so let’s talk about treating joint pain and issues.
If your dog has just started having joint problems, there are some non-surgical treatments to try (unless they need it).
The first would be keeping them at a healthy weight and helping them lose pounds if they need it. Next, you can work with them and do gentle exercises that strengthen their joints — like swimming or short and frequent walks.
The next thing you can try is food and joint support supplements that support their joint health. Ingredients like fish oil help decrease inflammation. And joint supplements like chondroitin and glucosamine help regenerate joints and cartilage.
Last but not least, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can offer relief from joint pain and inflammation if diet and exercise aren’t enough. Be sure to discuss with your vet if this is a viable option for your dog.
When needed, surgery may be the best option for your dog. Surgical treatment includes injections, joint and tissue replacement, and even a “joint cleaning” where inflammation is removed.
This is usually required if your dog’s pain is chronic or causes less quality of life.
What To Look For in Dog Food For Joint Health
Want to support your dog’s joints with their dog food? Here’s what to look for.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
Glucosamine and chondroitin are essential nutrients for dogs, especially if they are prone to joint problems. These amino acids are built in the body but can come from sources like animal bones, shellfish, and are supplemented.
Glucosamine and chondroitin work to rebuild cartilage and help keep the joints from breaking down. Every dog food should have a source of glucosamine and chondroitin.
Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio
Most dog food formulas already measure vitamins and minerals in appropriate amounts. However, the calcium to phosphorus ratio is important when trying to protect your dog’s joints. A 3:1 ratio (calcium:phosphorus) is recommended.
Omega Fatty Acids
Fats are a crucial part of your dog’s diet. They provide energy, reduce inflammation, and keep joints and cartilage supple. And omega fatty acids also offer DHA and ARA for brain and eye development.
Fats like fish oil, coconut oil, and meat fats (like chicken, lamb, and beef) contain many omega fatty acids for healthy joints.
Did you know that protein helps your dog keep strong muscles, bones, and joints? And adequate protein can keep your dog active and free of health issues like lameness, arthritis, and vitamin deficiencies.
To keep healthy joints, focus on a higher-protein dog food. You’ll want food with at least 22% Crude Protein.
Natural animal protein sources are always best, like beef, chicken, lamb, and fish.
Antioxidants help delay or prevent cell damage. This, in turn, can also boost the immune system. But did you know it also helps keep inflammation at bay?
By making your dog’s immunity stronger, their body is better equipped to fight off swelling and sensitivity.
Most commercial dog foods offer natural antioxidants via ingredients like berries, cranberries, pumpkin, and leafy greens like spinach and kale.
The best way to take care of your dog’s joints is to feed them the proper dog food, make sure they grow slow and steady, and get them moderate exercise to keep their joints and muscles strong.
For food, you can’t go wrong with Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Dry Dog Food.
It’s got everything a dog with healthy joints will need, and it tastes good too.
Of course, for dogs with specific needs like small breeds or dogs with sensitive tummies, this list has an excellent dog food option for them too.
Want more information about healthy dog foods that help your pup’s joints? Here are a couple of frequently asked questions and their answers.
What dog food is good for joints?
Any dog food that contains the ingredients listed above can be good for joints. However, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 dog foods that we think are the best for healthy joints and cartilage. And, of course, you can always discuss the food they recommend with your vet.
What is naturally good for dogs’ joints?
The most natural thing you can do for your dog’s joints is let them grow steadily and maintain them. This includes moderate exercise and keeping your dog at a healthy weight.
But, if you want to take it a step further, feeding them a healthy diet filled with wholesome ingredients and beneficial nutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate can mean the difference between a healthy pup and one who needs supplements — or even surgery.
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