Scientific Results: Demographic factors associated with joint supplement use in dogs from the Dog Aging Project

September 12, 2022 - 6 minutes read

Posts in our Scientific Results series introduce recent papers published in the scientific literature by members of the Dog Aging Project research team. Follow this series to learn more about the scientific questions we’re asking, the kinds of results we’re getting, and what it all means for you and your dog.

Who worked on this research?

Jessica Hoffman
Katie Tolbert
Daniel Promislow

Where was it published?

Frontiers in Veterinary Medicine

What is this paper about?

As dogs age, their risk of developing osteoarthritis (OA) increases. Similar to OA in humans, OA in dogs has no cure, limiting treatment options to those that reduce pain and inflammation. To this end, many dog owners elect to provide their dogs with joint supplements that may help with joint function and slow the progression of OA. However, the clinical evidence that these joint supplements have an impact on OA is still debated.

The most commonly administered joint supplements are glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids. In this paper, we look at the different dog and owner factors that are associated with joint supplement administration among dogs enrolled in the Dog Aging Project.

Not surprisingly, we find that dogs with a diagnosis of OA are older dogs, large dogs, and dogs recorded as having been overweight at some time in their lives. Interestingly, we find that neutered dogs are provided joint supplements at the same rate as intact dogs, even though neutered dogs have a higher prevalence of OA in the population.

What do these results mean for me and my dog?

At the moment, these results are just the start of our understanding of what factors influence owners to provide joint supplements to their dogs. Importantly, our current results, based on cross sectional analysis, cannot test the hypothesis that joint supplement use alters the risk of future OA, and should not be interpreted as a test of the impact of joint supplementation, as discussed in a previous blog post.

However, we are hopeful that in the future, longitudinal studies in the Dog Aging Project will allow us to develop and test hypotheses to determine if dogs without OA who are provided a joint supplement are less likely to develop OA in the future. The Dog Aging Project allows us to ask these long-term questions that would be difficult in a clinical setting.

Where can I learn more?

Jessica M. Hoffman, M. Katherine Tolbert, Daniel E.L. Promislow, and the Dog Aging Project Consortium. 2022. Demographic factors associated with joint supplement use in dogs from the Dog Aging Project. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. DOI: 10.3389/fvets.2022.90652.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most prevalent age-related chronic conditions that afflict companion dogs, and multiple joint supplements are available to prevent or treat OA, though the efficacy of these treatments is controversial. While the demographic factors that are associated with OA diagnosis are well established, the factors that are associated with joint supplement use are not as well studied. Using data collected from the Dog Aging Project, we analyzed owner survey responses regarding joint supplement administration and OA diagnosis for 26,951 adult dogs. In this cross-sectional analysis, logistic regression models and odds-ratios (OR) were employed to determine demographic factors of dogs and their owners that were associated with joint supplement administration. Forty percent of adult dogs in our population were given some type of joint supplement. Perhaps not surprisingly, dogs of older age, larger size, and those that were ever overweight were more likely to receive a joint supplement. Younger owner age, urban living, owner education, and feeding commercial dry food were associated with a reduced likelihood of administration of joint supplements to dogs. Interestingly, mixed breed dogs were also less likely to be administered a joint supplement (OR: 0.73). Dogs with a clinical diagnosis of OA were more likely to receive a joint supplement than those without a reported OA diagnosis (OR: 3.82). Neutered dogs were more likely to have a diagnosis of OA, even after controlling for other demographic factors, yet their prevalence of joint supplement administration was the same as intact dogs. Overall, joint supplement use appears to be high in our large population of dogs in the United States. Prospective studies are needed to determine if joint supplements are more commonly administered as a preventative for OA or after an OA clinical diagnosis.