When we adopted Charlie from Rescue Ur Forever Friend (RUFF) at Halloween night, 2013, we were told that he was around 3 years old. However, he was not nearly as energetic as Roxie, who was born around January, 2012; and he already had grey hair around his mouth. Our Vet later estimated that he might have been older, more like 5~6 years, but neither of the Vets could tell for sure. To this date, Charlie’s birth year remains a mystery.
Not knowing Charlie’s age is not a big problem to us, except when it comes to decide when to start his joint supplements. Charlie has never shown any sign of hip problems. But he has very high pain tolerance, so waiting until him to slow down will be too late. Charlie also loves car rides. which requires him to jump up 3~4 feet with his 75-pound awesomeness. Recently, we learned that it is actually the jumping down from height that wear the hip joints of large dogs. Based on all these concerns, we decided to start supplying him with Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Glucosamine, and Chondroitin Sulfate, starting in 2016.
Bulk-order to save money
There are many articles describing the history, usage and resources of these three common joint supplements. Just like supplements for humans, they can be pricey. We decided to buy them individually in bulk, not only to reduce the cost, but also to ensure the quality of the supplements with our limited budget. After some search and research, we landed on the following three:
Human-grade Pure MSM Powder from Dual Health Body & Mind
Human-grade Pure Glucosamine HCl Powder from NuSci
Chondroitin Sulfate (for horses!) from Santa Cruz Animal Health
Based on how much Charlie needs and how long these compound can stay stable, we ordered them in 2~2.2 lb each. As you can see, these supplements themselves are not expensive at all, even some of them are qualified for human consumption. However, when we searched for pre-mixed supplements or same compound in the form of capsule, it becomes much more expensive. The recent exposure that many supplement capsule does not contain any active compound advertised is another reason we decided to buy dry compound directly.
Just to clarify, this post is not sponsored in any way and we are not advertising for these brands. For Charlie, these supplements are preventative, and he is not a very energetic dog to begin with. So we see very little change in his behavior. We did not perform any test that is more sensitive to measure his joint health either, if there is any. We also have not used these supplements in any other brand/form. If you are trying these supplements on your pooch who is older, or has already had joint problem, please comment and let us know if you see any improvement of your pet’s behavior or any slow-down of the progression of the symptoms.
The dosage for humans or horses are clearly stated on the labels of the products. However, dogs require different dosage per pound of weight from humans and large mammals, which can be found easily online. Treating pre-existing joint problem vs. preventative purpose require different dosage as well. We did not find much information on breed-specific dosage. Based on these information, we went with the most commonly used preventative dosage for Charlie, which listed in this table named “How to mix joint supplement for your pooch”.
In the top rows, you can see how we calculated the serving size for Charlie. At the bottom, I put in a table with built-in calculations so you guys can easily calculate for your own pooches after downloading the table onto your computer. All you need to do is to
- choose a dosage (in yellow color) depending on the treatment. I included the preventative dosage, so you need to up the dosage if your pooch is aged and needs treatment;
- change the weight for your dog (in red color);
- IF you bought different brands of these supplements, the active dose per serving size (in green color) might be different. It varies depending on the chemical structure of the compound, or the purity of it. This information should be listed on the packaging, so make sure that they are corrected in this table.
Based on this calculation, a 75-pound pooch like Charlie needs less than 1/5 teaspoon of MSM, 3/4 teaspoon of Glucosamine, and 2/5 teaspoon of Chondroitin Sulfate per day. Therefore, these bulk bags of supplements will last us for a few years. As dry powder, these compounds should be pretty stable. But we still want to limit the time opening the bags to prevent moisture from getting in. We make three-month supply at a time, by mixing ~1/3 cup of MSM, 1 and 2/5 cup of Glucosamine, and ~3/4 cup of Chonidroitin Sulfate together.
The mixture should be labeled, so everyone in the household is on the same page. The little handy spoon comes with the Chonidroitin Sulfate bag and made serving easier.
The rest of the dry compounds is put into sealed bags and stored somewhere cool and dry.
Strategy for better absorption
You probably have noticed that the suggested dosage for both Glucosamine and Chonidroitin Sulfate are per 12 hours, instead of per day. It means that for maximum effects, these two supplements should be given twice a day. Charlie gets fed at 7AM and 7PM, so we divide his daily serving of supplements into half for each meal. These compounds are better absorbed with moisture. Charlie is on dry food, so we pour a bit broth on the dry food to mix these compounds in, to which Charlie has made no complaints.
We hope by giving Charlie joint supplements early in his life, we can keep him healthy and happy longer. It does not cost us much with these bulk-ordered dry compounds, and as long as you work out the calculations, it takes five minutes every three months to mix the supplements. But it should made a big difference in your dogs’ lives.
Convinced? Questions? Let me know! Include a photo of your lovely pooch(es) in comments, because we can never get enough of doggy smiles.