How to help prevent dog arthritis and joint pain

Dog Arthritis? Joint Pain? Help Your Dog With These Healing Treats

Besides injuries & old age, excess weight is the number one contributor to dog arthritis and joint pain.

That’s because it causes inflammation and stiffness in a dog’s joints by putting more strain on them. 

According to the APOP (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention), more than 50% of all dogs in the US are overweight.

52.7% in 2014, 54% in 2015, and 59% in 2022 – that’s a steady INCREASE.

That’s also every other dog.

E V E R Y  O T H E R   D O G.

Pretty scary, if you ask me. 

How To Minimize The Risk For Dog Arthritis & Joint Pain

How to prevent dog arthritis

Disclaimer: This blog post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated in 2023. It contains affiliate links I may earn compensation through at no additional cost to you. 

1. Keep Your Dog At A Healthy Weight

Daily exercise is key in keeping our pups at their ideal weight.

Need some ideas on how to work out your pooch?

Find some inspiration in my Dog Exercise, Training & Travel section! 

Please know that exercise for an arthritic dog should be low-impact to reduce stress on her joints.

That means that activities such as swimming & slow walks are a better option than agility & running.

2. Supplement Your Dog’s Healthy Diet With Glucosamine & Chondroitin 

Glucosamine & chondroitin are natural substances that are essential to joint health and keeping our pups mobile.

There are quite a few supplements on the market that contain glucosamine & chondroitin.

However, the vast majority of them were put together in a laboratory and not taken from Mother Earth.

Whenever I have the choice between a chemical substance with potential side effects and its naturally occurring, safe counterpart, I’ll opt for the latter.

Glucosamine & chondroitin both occur naturally in:

That’s why I supplemented Missy’s & Buzz’s raw diet with them. They were my first dogs, and I miss them dearly.

For a refreshing dog popsicle recipe with duck feet, click here.

My frozen doggie popsicles

Green Lipped Mussels (GLMs)

Green Lipped Mussels are green-hued and are only found on the coast of New Zealand.

They are one of the best, naturally occurring, sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, vitamins and minerals.

Air-Dried Green Lipped Mussels are great for dog arthritis

I first heard of Green Lipped Mussels when I fed Missy and Buzz Ziwipeak dog food, an air-dried food from New Zealand, that has GLMs on the ingredient list. 

dog food from Ziwipeak, Sojos, and Darwin's Natural Pet

Then I discovered single-ingredient green lipped mussels treats online, and I knew I had to get them for the pups.

Missy & Buzz loved them!

Missy and Buzz with their green lipped mussels treats for dogs

Only side effect: Allergic reaction can occur IF your dog is allergic to shellfish.

Update 2023: My new pup Wally can’t have shellfish, and unfortunately that also includes Green Lipped Mussels.

How Much GLMs Do I Feed My Dog?

You can feed about 1 GLM per 20 lbs of bodyweight.

If Green Lipped Mussels are sprinkled on the dog’s food in powder form, dog nutrition blogger Rodney Habib recommends 15mg of powdered extract per 1 pound of the dog’s body weight. 

a raw meal for my new raw fed dog Wally West
Raw dog food with 2 GLMs

Duck Feet & Chicken Feet

You probably guessed it by now – duck & chicken feet also contain glucosamine & chondroitin, as well as calcium.

That means that they support and improve joint health in dogs. 

Dehydrated duck feet & chicken feet definitely provide a nice crunch factor and have the potential to entertain for quite some time IF you have a moderate chewer.

Duck feet and chicken feet are about the same size and weigh around an ounce. That makes them a great chew for small to medium size dogs.

They also make a healthy snack for larger dogs provided they’re not gulpers.

Regardless of your dog’s size, I’d still always supervise when you give your pups a dog chew.

Note: Of course you can also use them raw to make homemade raw dog food, which is what I do.

Dog Arthritis? Joint Pain? Bottom Line

Prevention is the name of the game! I personally don’t believe in popping pills IF there’s a natural, non-chemical alternative – neither for my dogs, nor for myself. 

I had this wake-up call in late 2014/early 2015 when my pup Missy was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

While she may have been genetically predisposed to this sickness being a Boxer Mix, I am convinced that our lifestyle contributed to this chapter in her life. 

For the first 3.5 years of her life, she had been treated with a topical monthly pest-preventative (K9 Advantix), a monthly oral Heartworm preventative (Heartguard), received countless vaccination boosters, and ate highly processed dry & wet dog food.

PLUS not to mention the fact that her bedding & towels were washed weekly with laundry detergent that contained a crap load of chemicals, as well as dried with dryer sheets that also contained chemicals.

Talk about a toxic cocktail!

Once Missy had received her last round of chemotherapy in early 2015, I incorporated major changes to both pups’ lives in hopes of boosting their immune systems.

The biggest one was definitely the switch from kibble to raw dog food.

Both Missy & Buzz did great on it and had beautiful shiny coats and clean teeth. It’s truly amazing what a change in nutrition can do. 

While I ended up loosing Missy to another cancer diagnosis in April of 2018, I have no doubt that our healthier lifestyle choices bought me 3 more years with her.

R.I.P., my little girl.

Buzz continues to live with my ex-husband and recently turned 12 years old.

My Feist mix Wally just had his 6th birthday in August of 2023 and thrives on his raw diet. I had adopted him in 2019 when he was a little over 1 year old.

Back then, he was an itchy mess so I switched him from kibble to raw dog food. I keep him at a healthy weight too in order to prevent aching joints and dog arthritis.

My K9 Loves Missy, Buzz and Wally
Missy (upper left), Buzz (upper right) and Wally (bottom)

Now it’s your turn – how do you support your dog’s joint health to prevent dog arthritis? As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.


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6 responses to “Dog Arthritis? Joint Pain? Help Your Dog With These Healing Treats”

  1. 2 brown dawgs blog Avatar

    I bet the dogs like getting food better than a pill….lol.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      HA! They do – I hadn’t even thought about that fact 😉

  2. Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets Avatar
    Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets

    The one time Luke had a chicken foot I didn’t like how it splintered. What are the mussels like? Are they hard and crunchy? Our crew just can’t be trusted with long lasting treats or anything they can’t safely inhale. 🙂 I think I would definitely try the powder though. They’re all on joint supplements now but I’m all for trying more natural alternatives.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Hm, was the chicken foot cooked? Dehydrated duck & chicken feet aren’t cooked prior to being dehydrated, so they can’t really splinter. As far as I know, that can only happen to cooked bones. I would definitely always supervise any chewing time though, just to make sure that the treats in question are actually being chewed & not inhaled ?

      The mussels are hard & crunchy, yes!

      I’m still working on finding a good green-lipped mussel powder. There are quite a few out there containing a bunch of other additives which I’m
      not interested in. I want the pure goodness, lol! I will add the powder to my healthy dog resources section as soon as I find it!

  3. Aimee Jurenka Avatar
    Aimee Jurenka

    What a great information packed post! Thanks for putting this together.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks so much, Aimee – means a lot coming from a Darwin’s representative! ?

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