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Best Dog Food For Arthritis And Joint Health 

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Last Updated: May 1, 2024 | 10 min read | Leave a Comment

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Many dog breeds are at risk for developing arthritis and other joint problems during their lifetime. Most at risk are large-sized dog breeds, but some small breeds are also affected by degenerative joint diseases. If you’re worried about your pup’s joint health and are wondering if your pup’s dog food can help, yes, it certainly can!

I’ve researched hundreds of dog food brands and formulas (and tested many over the years with my own pup). So, I have some carefully selected recommendations for the best dog food you can give your pup to address current and potential joint health. However, sometimes dog food alone won’t give your pup what he needs, so I also give you advice on how to supplement your pup’s diet to further boost his joint health.

All Life StagesAdultsSeniorsPrescription
The Farmer's Dog packagesOrijen Original Grain FreeOpen Farm Senior Grain Free Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Advanced Mobility Support
The Farmer’s DogOrijenOpen FarmRoyal Canin
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Note: All of the dog foods we’ve included in our reviews meet or exceed Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutritional guidelines, are made in the U.S., and contain no by-products, preservatives, or artificial ingredients (except for the prescription food).

Diet Considerations For Joint Health

An old golden retriever dog with joint issues laying on the floor next to bowl of dog food looking up.

There’s no one-size-fits-all diet for joint health and arthritis. According to Canine Arthritis Resources and Education (CARE), the most important things to keep in mind are: don’t overfeed your pup and choose a diet that’s nutritionally complete and balanced. However, some other dietary factors certainly come into play.

  • One of the biggest risk factors that contributes to and exacerbates joint problems in dogs is excessive weight. If your pup is overweight, you may want to talk to your vet about a weight loss plan. This could include putting him on a special dog food for weight loss, a regular exercise routine, and more.
  • Choose a high-quality, all-natural dog food. Avoid food with fillers, artificial ingredients, and preservatives, as many of these can contribute to weight gain.
  • Look for dog food that’s fortified with joint-friendly ingredients, such as omega-3 fatty acids (found in real fish, fish oil, flaxseed, and chia seeds), taurine, glucosamine, chondroitin, and green-lipped mussels. These ingredients help support healthy joints and manage inflammation.
  • In addition to these ingredients, other anti-inflammatory foods to look out for include green leafy veggies, such as broccoli, spinach, and kale, and other antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
  • For large breeds, which are at a higher risk of arthritis and other joint issues, it’s particularly important to feed them puppy food specifically formulated for large breeds. Research has shown that too much calcium can make larger dogs grow faster than their bones can keep up with, which results in abnormal skeletal development and orthopedic problems.
  • Several of the dog foods we often recommend are grain-free. While the FDA has not found a significant link between grain-free dog food and cardio health, it is wise to talk with your vet before switching your dog’s diet. You might also consider using a fresh, grain-free food as a topper on grain-inclusive kibble to add more nutrients.

Best Dog Food For Joint Health (All Life Stages)

Many pet experts, including CARE, believe that gently cooked, fresh dog food formulated by pet nutritionists is the ideal diet for dogs with or without joint problems. Here are our two favorite fresh dog food brands that meet and exceed a complete and balanced diet.

The Farmer’s Dog Review

Dog with a box of The Farmer's Dog.

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The Farmer’s Dog offers fresh, human-grade meals using all-natural limited ingredients. All four recipes (beef, chicken, pork, and turkey) are rich in omega fatty acids from salmon oil and are also fortified with taurine. The chicken recipe also includes chia seeds for an even greater omega boost. Recipes feature high-quality animal protein, superfood vegetables, and fiber-rich foods.

The Farmer’s Dog gently cooks these whole-food ingredients to preserve nutrients and freshness. They also personalize your dog’s meals for his age, weight, activity level, and other factors. Another plus, they pre-portion meals for convenient feeding. The potential downsides? All recipes are grain-free. Also, the Farmer’s Dog requires a subscription, but you can change recipes or cancel at any time.

Price

Our readers have access to 50% off your first box. No code is needed; just use this link and the discount will be applied!

In-Depth The Farmer’s Dog Review

Be sure to read our full review of The Farmer’s Dog for details on formulas, ingredients, and much more.

Ollie Review

Ollie fresh dog five food flavors stacked.

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If you’re looking for grain-inclusive fresh dog chow, Ollie is an excellent choice. Ollie is similar to The Farmer’s Dog in that it uses only human-grade, whole-food ingredients carefully chosen by animal nutritionists for optimal health. Ollie also personalizes your pup’s food based on his profile so it’s suitable for all life stages.

All five fresh recipes (beef, chicken, lamb, pork, and turkey) are fortified with salmon oil and taurine for joint health. They feature premium meats, antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits, and easy-to-digest grains (the beef recipe is grain-free). Ollie also carries two high-quality dry formulas you can mix with fresh food to save a bit of money.

Price

Our readers can get 50% off their first order. Use this link to take advantage of this offer (no discount code needed).

In-Depth Ollie Review

Check out our full review of Ollie for more details about all of their fresh and baked formulas and three subscription plans.

Best Adult Dog Food For Arthritis And Joint Health 

Fresh dog food is expensive, so we want to give you some more options that may be a better fit for your budget. These are all adult dog food formulas.

Orijen Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Review

Orijen Original Grain Free

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Orijen’s philosophy is that our canines should eat food as nature intended. With this in mind, Orijen’s formulas include up to 85% animal ingredients. Chicken, turkey, and salmon start off this grain-free recipe, which also features organ meats, eggs, chickpeas, and lentils. Such superfoods as collard greens, pumpkin, kelp, cranberries, and butternut squash provide your pup with plenty of natural anti-inflammatory antioxidants for joint health.

This high-protein formula is packed with omega fatty acids (including DHA and EPA), glucosamine, and chondroitin to help maintain healthy joints. It’s also fortified with prebiotics and probiotics for gut and immune health. If you’re not a fan of grain-free chow, Orijen’s recipes are also available in grain-inclusive formulas.

Price

Spot & Tango Unkibble Cod & Salmon Review

Spot and tango unkibble Cod.

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Not a fan of kibble or don’t have enough fridge or freezer room for fresh meals? Spot & Tango’s Unkibble could be your ideal solution. This shelf-stable, human-grade dog food is made from premium whole-food ingredients that are dehydrated under low temperatures to preserve nutrients. For joint health, we recommend the grain-free Cod and Salmon recipe, which is packed with such joint-friendly superfoods as real fish, flaxseed, sweet potatoes, carrots, kelp, spinach, strawberries, and more.

Spot & Tango also offers two other Unkibble formulas as well as fresh-frozen dog food. All recipes were developed by a certified vet nutritionist. Most customers rave about Unkibble, saying it has helped improve their dogs’ mobility, energy levels, skin and coat health, digestive issues, and more.

Price

  •  Unkibble plans start at $1/day
  • Fresh plans start at $2/day
  • Free shipping
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Our readers can save 50% off the following pricing for your first 2-weeks (plus free shipping) with the code CANINEJOURNAL50 this link.

In-Depth Spot & Tango Review

Learn more about what this premium brand offers in our full review of Spot & Tango.

Blue Buffalo True Solutions Jolly Joints Mobility Support Review

Blue Buffalo True Solutions Jolly Joints Mobility Support

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Popular dog food brand Blue Buffalo offers this special formula designed specifically for joint health. It’s rich in glucosamine, chondroitin, taurine, and omegas from fish oil to help support healthy hips and joints. This recipe features chicken as the first ingredient, followed by easy-to-digest grains and nutrient-dense fruits and veggies, including sweet potatoes, carrots, blueberries, cranberries, and kelp.

It also includes prebiotics and probiotics for gut and immune health. Finally, this formula is fortified with Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits, a special blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are cold-pressed to preserve their potency.

Price

  • Starting at (4-lb bag)

JustFoodForDogs Joint and Skin Support Review

JustFoodForDogs Joint and Skin Support.

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JustFoodForDogs (JFFD) crafts all of its human-grade dog food recipes based on scientific research, using carefully selected ingredients to address a host of health issues. This recipe, specifically formulated for joint and skin support, features vitamin and mineral-rich pork loin as the first ingredient. Other ingredients, like quinoa, kale, carrots, and Fuji apples, are loaded with amino acids, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory nutrients to help ease joint pain and improve your pup’s mobility.

Premium Icelandic fish oil provides omega-3 fatty acids in highly biologically available forms of EPA and DHA, and additional essential vitamins and minerals round out this super-healthy wet dog food. Although it’s pricey, this food is shelf-stable for two years, making it an excellent alternative to fresh food. However, if you have fridge and freezer space, JFFD also offers this recipe in a fresh formula.

Price

Looking for a JustFoodForDogs promo code? Click here for the best deal we could find.

In-Depth JustFoodForDogs Review

Our full review of JustFoodForDogs gives you more details about all of their recipes’ ingredients, food safety practices, and more.

Best Senior Dog Food For Arthritis And Joint Health 

Many dogs don’t show signs of arthritis until their senior years. Various breeds hit their senior years at different ages based on their overall lifespan. In many cases, you should look for a senior dog good at around seven years of age. These formulas have ingredients that can help your pup if he’s showing signs of limited mobility.

Open Farm Senior Grain-Free Review

Open Farm Senior Grain Free

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Open Farm is one of our top-choice brands due to its superior ethical and sustainable practices (on top of quality food ingredients and strict food safety practices). This grain-free senior formula includes turkey and chicken as the first two ingredients. Both are excellent sources of glucosamine and chondroitin. It’s also fortified with New Zealand green-lipped mussels, which have been shown in research to reduce pain and improve mobility in arthritic dogs. It also contains joint-friendly taurine, turmeric, and omega fatty acids from salmon oil and flaxseed.

We love that this recipe includes such superfoods as sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, cranberries, and raspberries. All of Open Farm’s pet food recipes are formulated by a team of animal nutrition experts. While their dog food is pricey, we think their many formulas are among your best choices for commercial kibble.

Price

You can save 5% by signing up for auto-shipping.

In-Depth Open Farm Review

Check out our full review of Open Farm to learn more about this premium brand and other formulas you may want to consider.

Wellness Complete Health Senior Review

Wellness Complete Health Senior

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If you prefer grain-inclusive dog chow, this Wellness Complete Health Senior formula could be a fantastic option for your arthritic older pup. It features chicken, easily digestible grains, such as oatmeal and barley, and antioxidant-rich carrots, spinach, blueberries, and sweet potatoes.

This formula is fortified with plenty of omega fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, and taurine to help relieve joint inflammation and improve mobility. To top off all of these joint-friendly ingredients, it’s also fortified with prebiotics and probiotics. These help support gut and immune health, two major needs for senior pups.

Price

Nulo Freestyle Senior Grain-Free Trout & Sweet Potato Review

nulo senior dog food

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This premium grain-free kibble features deboned trout, turkey meal, and salmon meal as the first three ingredients — all are excellent for joint health. Sweet potatoes, carrots, blueberries, and apples offer powerful antioxidants to help with inflamed joints. It’s also fortified with high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin.

This formula is also a fantastic option for weight control at 396 calories per cup. Also beneficial for older, less active dogs is the addition of L-carnitine, an amino acid derivative that helps the body better metabolize fats.

Price

Best Prescription Dog Food For Joint Problems

For advanced or severe cases of arthritis, your vet may recommend a prescription dog food.

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Advanced Mobility Support Review

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Advanced Mobility Support

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Royal Canin’s Advanced Mobility Support is a popular choice for many vets. Scientifically designed by pet nutritionists, this formula supports joint cartilage health with carefully selected nutrients, including collagen. It provides a blend of antioxidants supplemented with long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Lower calories also help with weight maintenance. Many pup parents call this food a game-changer for improving their dogs’ mobility. It does require approval from your vet.

Price

  • Starting at $48.99 (8.8-lb bag)

Should I Consider Supplements?

In addition to feeding your pup healthy, high-quality dog food, you may want to consider adding a daily joint supplement to your furry friend’s diet. The best dog joint supplements and arthritis supplements for dogs may help reduce the symptoms and severity of joint problems. As with all supplements, you should first get your vet’s approval.

What Breeds Are At A Higher Risk For Arthritis & Other Joint Issues?

Experts estimate that arthritis affects 80% of dogs over the age of eight years old and up to 35% of dogs of all ages. While any breed can develop arthritis, particularly those who are chronically overweight, some breeds are more prone to arthritis due to genetics. Some of these popular breeds include:

  1. Boxers
  2. Bulldogs
  3. Daschunds 
  4. German Shepherds
  5. Golden Retrievers
  6. Great Danes
  7. Labrador Retrievers
  8. Pugs
  9. Rottweilers
  10. Saint Bernards

How Can Pet Insurance Help?

Arthritis is a chronic, degenerative disease that may require expensive veterinary treatment for years. If your pup is at a higher risk for developing arthritis, you may want to consider signing up for pet insurance before symptoms appear (otherwise, it’s considered a pre-existing condition and won’t be covered). Pet insurance is one of the best things you can do for your dog — not only for the health of your pup but to save you from financial trouble should any illnesses, accidents, or pet emergencies arise.

Our Methodology

We analyze hundreds of dog food brands and individual formulas to provide our recommendations for the best nutrition. Each of the following elements helps us determine the best dog food for any dietary need. Our in-depth research includes:

  • Scrutinizing all ingredients included in every formula
  • Having firsthand experience with our dogs for many of the foods we recommend
  • Assessing the guaranteed analysis for every formula, including protein, fat, fiber, and caloric content
  • Investigating the latest scientific studies on dogs’ nutritional needs and benefits of ingredients
  • Researching the specific dietary needs for breed sizes and health conditions
  • Reading hundreds of customer reviews
  • Staying informed on every dog food recall
  • Diving into every pet food brand’s history and reputation
  • Keeping on top of pet food trends

Unlike many other review sites, we give unbiased reviews based on countless hours of research. Our goal is to provide our readers with the healthiest options for their pups.

Why Trust Canine Journal?

Sally has researched and reviewed hundreds of different dog food brands and specific formulas. She’s an expert at analyzing dog food ingredients based on current nutritional guidelines and scientific studies for the healthiest food for our pups. She’s part of a team of dog specialists at Canine Journal who have over a decade of experience in researching, testing, and writing about everything you need to know to keep your pup healthy and happy.

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The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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