Joint supplements for dogs, cats, horses and other animals provide nutrients meant to enhance joint health while helping reduce the risk of joint diseases such as arthritis and osteoarthritis. Most over the counter joint supplements for pets contain one of two ingredients: glucosamine or chondroitin.

Pros & Cons of Over the Counter Joint Supplements

Glucosamine Benefits in OTC Joint Supplements

A sugar protein promoting joint cartilage growth, glucosamine also offers anti-inflammatory, analgesic properties for relieving joint pain and joint stiffness in dogs, cats, and other pets. Glucosamine may also improve digestive health and support joint functioning in animals that do not suffer bowel or joint diseases. Over the counter glucosamine joint supplements are available as chewable tablets for dogs or regular tablets for cats and other animals that may not want to chew tablets.

Chondroitin Benefits in OTC Joint Supplements

Occurring naturally in animal and human connective tissues, chondroitin provides extra lubrication for joints affected by osteoarthritis and cartilage deterioration. In addition to alleviating inflammation and pain, chondroitin supplements may help improve range of motion and joint swelling. Some OTC joint supplements contain both glucosamine and chondroitin for extra relief.

OTC Joint Supplements Do Not Need a Prescription

Another advantage to over the counter joint supplements for animals is that pet owners do not need to visit a veterinarian to get a prescription for a joint medication. Supplements are available through online pet and livestock stores or can be purchased at some large-chain pet stores.

Disadvantages to OTC Joint Supplements

Pet owners who give their dogs, cats or horses OTC joint supplements because they think their pet is suffering a joint disorder may be giving their pet a supplement that does nothing to relieve pain or enhance joint health. Not all joint problems are due to arthritis or osteoarthritis. An animal’s joints may become dislocated or suffer from tumor or abnormal bone growths that cause pain and joint stiffness. Surgery may be needed to restore joint health.

Side Effects/Allergic Reactions

In some cases, an animal may be allergic to OTC joint supplements and experience side effects ranging from diarrhea and vomiting to difficulty breathing, respiratory distress, and shock. Taking a pet to the veterinarian for diagnosis of joint issues and receiving prescription medication meant to treat arthritis/osteoarthritis avoids the possibility of an animal suffering an allergic reaction and other side effects to OTC joint supplements.

Unknown Ingredients in OTC Supplements

While most OTC pet joint supplements contain mostly chondroitin and/or glucosamine, some may contain other ingredients not listed on the label. Both human and animal joint supplements coming from overseas countries are not regulated by their country and could cause adverse side effects in pets.