Are all dog joint supplements created equal?

Author: James St.Clair, DVM (Director of Veterinary Medicine, TopDog Health & Rehabilitation)

The answer to this question is cut and dry. Absolutely not!! In fact, not even close.

My goal for you is to gain an understanding of the 4 Essential Criteria for a safe supplement that will help make you an informed consumer and empowered to make the right decisions for your dog.

Here are four important areas for you to gain a basic understanding of when it comes to choosing the right product and manufacturer.

  1. Quality of Ingredients
  2. Source of Ingredients
    • Foreign Ingredients & their safety profile
    • Explain adulterated ingredients
  3. Guaranteed Analysis: Does it contain what it says it does?
  4. The Manufacturing Process

Quality of Ingredients

Everyday at TopDog rehabilitation my staff hears me explaining to clients that “Not all glucosamines are created equal”. The only reason I use Glucosamine as an example is because people “know” Glucosamine. The reality is that this same concept applies to all ingredients.

The problem is…how do you, the consumer, then know not only which finished product to use but also how do you know if the ingredients in a product are high quality ingredients.

The reality is this can be very difficult.  Unfortunately, you don’t have the time to request the Certificates of Analysis for each ingredient included in a product you are interested in, let alone understand the information on the certificate.

So what do you do? You go to the experts, someone you trust who understands all of this.

As with anything in life there are people who devote and spend their lives “knowing” everything there is to know about a certain topic. When I need expert plumbing advice I don’t call an auto mechanic. The same is true when it comes to choosing the right joint supplement for your dog.

A Simple Truth: There is a massive diversity when it comes to dosing, quality and efficacy of dog joint supplements on the market. Therefore don’t trust anyone, trust an EXPERT.

Source of Ingredients

In many cases with the global economy in which we live in today I personally put more emphasis on the source and origin of the ingredients than just quality alone.

That said, in no way am I saying that all ingredients that come from China are bad or poor ingredients. In many cases they are not. Yet my biggest concern comes down to regulations.

Concept of Adulterated Ingredients: At a recent meeting of the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) there was an entire lecture detailing this very real problem of adulterated ingredients. Let me explain.

Adulterated by definition means: To render (something) poorer in quality by adding another substance, typically an inferior one.

What this means is that there are companies whose practices are to lie and cheat. Theses companies’ work very hard at trying to “fool” the testing process to believe that their ingredients are something they are not.

The number one ingredient to date, which is adulterated, is CHONDROTIN SULFATE, a common ingredient used in joint health supplements.

At the NASC meeting they highlighted several companies (in these examples all of the companies were Chinese companies) who were selling raw material ingredients, which they claimed to be pure chondroitin sulfate but in reality they were not chondroitin at all.

Yet these companies were able to “fool” the chemistry machines.

This is a very real and scary problem that exists, in the open marketplace; therefore the only way to protect yourself and your pet is to use products from a company that you absolutely know are not using such ingredients.

Guaranteed Analysis

How do you know that what the labels says is in each tablet is actually truly in it. The only way to know for sure is through independent third party testing. Unfortunately most companies don’t do this. Therefore you have to either trust the companies are truthful or find companies whose products are independently regulated by organizations such as the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC).

The Manufacturing Process

The last part of the equation in identifying companies that are ethical and producing quality products is to look at there manufacturing practices and certifications. Unlike the human/animal pharmaceutical market, which is closely monitored by the FDA, the animal nutraceutical supplement market is only partially regulated by the FDA. The FDA itself relies heavily on independent monitoring organizations such as the NASC.

That said it is best to support and use products, which are manufactured in a FDA, approved facility and even more important a facility that is NSF certified.

Conclusion:

As you already know there are tons of products on the market, which according to these criteria would be classified as “buyer beware”.  It is best to use and support companies, which operate under ethical standards and practices. Talk with your veterinarian about the best options and companies to trust for your dog.

All TopDog Health products are made in the USA, in a FDA, NSF certified facility at a pharmaceutical quality level. All essential ingredients are sourced from USA companies and are considered the best in class. TopDog’s Joint Health Supplements GlycanAid® and GlycanAid® HA have been approved by the NASC. Flexerna Omega® primary ingredient is an oil extracted from the Green Lipped Mussel of New Zealand and under-goes extensive testing for purity and safety.

The take away from all of this is simple. Purchase and support products that are manufactured by companies who care and you know can be trusted.