Dasuquin vs. Cosequin: Which Joint Supplement Is Best for Your Dog?

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Dasuquin VS. Cosequin
When dealing with joint supplements there are a lot of things to consider about what’s on the market.
You want to be sure you are getting the right concentration and quality of the active ingredient for your dog.
Of the top products, I have used are those made by Nutramax. In studies, going back as far as 2002 they have been consistently high quality and beneficial products. In the course of discussing the value and purpose of the supplement, I’ll delve into Dasuquin vs. Cosequin.
In this in-depth comparison review, first we’ll cover the top 4 joint supplements on the market:
In the following sections, I’ll review some of the ingredients and what they do. The plan is to provide the body with things to make it healthier. How vague and almost silly that statement sounds explains why the supplement market is huge and hard to navigate.
Let’s dive into the reviews, and then we’ll go even deeper with covering the topics:


Cosequin DS plus MSM maximum strength

Cosequin Maximum Strength Joint Supplement Plus MSM - With Glucosamine and Chondroitin - For Dogs of All Sizes

Our Rating:


Price Range: $$

This supplement contains glucosamine, chondroitin, and msm as the primary active ingredients. There are some flavorings to make up the tablet so if you have allergy issues it’s a good idea to look the whole ingredient list over.
Both cartilage protecting and anti-inflammatory activity is present in this supplement. This means it will slow down the development of arthritis as well as decrease the pain of active arthritis.
The supplement comes in the form of a dry flavor tab which some dogs will eat right out of your hand, but it can also be given as a pill or hidden in some other food. Refusal to take it is not extremely common in my experience.
Nutrimax labs has excellent quality control testing of this supplement to guarantee you are getting what you pay for. Also the company has good customer support if you run into problems or are unsure about any aspect of the product and need to call them to get some answers.
what we like about it What We Like About It:
  • Lab tested and confirmed high quality supplement
  • A multicomponent product to improve joint health with minimal side effects.
  • The flavor tab form is generally well accepted by dogs.
what we dont like What We Don’t Like About It:
  • Does not contain omega fatty acid supplement.
  • Tabs can be hard to get in your dog if they don’t like them.

Effective joint supplements improve the thickness of joint fluid and the health of cartilage so that they wear down more slowly and decrease pain.


Cosequin Soft Chew Maximum Strength with MSM plus Omega 3

Cosequin Soft Chews Maximum Strength with MSM Plus Omega3

Our Rating:


Price Range: $$

This supplement contains the standard glucosamine, chondroitin, as well as MSM and Omega 3 Fatty acid supplementation. The combination giving a well rounded cartilage preserving and antiinflammatory effect.
The different ingredients in the product work throughout the body, not just the joints. Decreasing inflammation in a joint will also decrease pain. Decreasing inflammation in the skin lowers itching in dogs with dry skin especially.
The form is a soft chewable which would be a great treat to many dogs. In some cases this may make giving the supplement daily easier, which helps us to be more consistent. None of us like to force our dog to do something they don’t like every day.
Side effects are rare, occasionally dogs get upset stomach with any food/supplement. When this happens it’s best to avoid using supplements with that flavoring and fillers. This may be confusing sometimes and your veterinarian may be able to help you as well.
what we like about it What We Like About It:
  • The multiple supplements help protect cartilage from breaking down.
  • The antiinflammatory effect decreases pain and cartilage injury.
  • Addition skin and coat health from omega fatty acid.
what we dont like What We Don’t Like About It:
  • Some dogs won’t eat chews and they are hard to get down if not voluntary.
  • Some people feel they have a strong fishy odor.


Dasuquin with MSM Chewable

Nutramax Dasuquin with MSM Chewables

Our Rating:


Price Range: $$

This supplement contains glucose, chondroitin, msm with the addition of ASU and omega fatty acids which are on the ingredient list as EPA and DHA. The ASU is an additional component to reduce inflammation. The benefit of adding additional ingredients is that the body is a living system and the more ways that we manage inflammation the better the result is. Think about it like, if you go out in the rain with a raincoat, you won’t get completely wet, but if you have a raincoat and an umbrella, you’ll stay even dryer.
It comes as a dry flavor chew tablet that some dogs will take as a treat but it is usually manageable for those picky dogs to either give directly like a pill or hide it in a treat.
There are rarely side effects with the most common one being a mild GI upset. This is a digestive issue for some dogs and if it happens you need to use a different type of product with different flavorings usually.
what we like about it What We Like About It:
  • Strong anti-inflammatory combination of multiple ingredients give a better result.
  • Advanced joint cartilage support with the addition of ASU
  • It’s made by a company with a good quality track record.
what we dont like What We Don’t Like About It:
  • Occasional GI upset due to avocado
  • Rare allergy association with soy.


Dasuquin with MSM soft chew

Nutramax Dasuquin with MSM Soft Chews

Our Rating:


Price Range: $$

This supplement contains glucose, chondroitin, msm with the addition of ASU and omega fatty acids (EPA/DHA). The combination of cartilage protecting ingredients and antiinflammatory ingredients gives your dog a lot of help for their joint disease.
The flavored chew is easier with food motivated dogs to simply give as a treat. I have found in most cases the easier it is to get your dog to take a product the better the chances that they really get it every day. Regular dosing is very important for supplements to work to their full effect, just like medications. Many dogs will be sitting and asking for it at treat time.
The company has a good reputation for making quality products with proper safety and efficacy testing. This helps to assure your dog gets the greatest benefit.
The more flavorings in the chew slightly increases the change of GI upset for dogs that have dietary sensitivity.
what we like about it What We Like About It:
  • The combination of ingredients provides multilayer joint protection
  • Easy medicating for food motivated dogs.
  • Excellent company quality control
what we dont like What We Don’t Like About It:
  • Hard to pill if the dog doesn’t want to take it on their own.
  • More flavor ingredients to consider in the case of allergy.

Why should I consider using a joint supplement at all?

Let’s start with the most basic question, why bother? What do joint supplements do? This depends entirely on what it is. There are a lot of different things out there that act as a supplement.
How These Supplements Can Help My Dog?
I’ll answer that questions by breaking down the different component in the products above. The actually contain a number of beneficial agents.
The advantage of multicomponent supplements is they work against the disease from many directions which generally gives a more pronounced benefit.
Every ingredient plays a roll, let’s take them one by one:

Fatty Acids

One of the foundation supplements are omega fatty acids also often referred to as DHA/EPA, or omega 3’s and 6’s.
It’s beautiful how they work, fundamentally they are anti-inflammatory. When the body builds inflammatory products they are not all the same. When omega fatty acids are supplemented they build a less damaging inflammatory product at the end.
This may sound odd to people, but part of the purpose of inflammation is to hurt, it’s telling us to stop what we’re doing. Unfortunately with chronic problems like a joint disease not getting up and walking around is no good, so we want that inflammation to be less destructive.

Skin allergy/itching are an inflammatory condition and the use of omega fatty acids do two things for those conditions. They decrease the irritation and itching as well as improve the protective coating the skin makes for itself so it doesn’t dry out so much. So a big bonus for those big retrievers among others with sore hips and itchy skin.

The two huge benefits of changing the inflammatory profile:

Decreased tissue damage

The inflammatory products that the body makes are damaging. This is why when we have an injury we take anti-inflammatories. They reduce the damage to tissue and reduce pain. So when we add the supplement and end up with a less damaging product then the tissue is healthier.

Less side effects

Most of us have heard about things like being careful about too much aspirin because it will hurt our stomach.
Most ‘drugs’ have side effects because in addition to the treatment effect that we want there is a side effect due to the ‘drug’ altering something in our body. In the case of aspirin it cuts off the inflammatory cascade, but in that process, it interferes with the production of a protective chemical for our stomachs.
Because omega fatty acids build a better product from the ground up there is no cut-off, therefor no dramatic side-effects. In actuality, there aren’t any documented side effects, though we always keep our ear to the ground for problems.

Glucosamine (Hydrochloride)

This is an interesting supplement. Glucosamine is one of the building blocks of healthy cartilage. Cartilage is part of the shock absorber of the joint system. Healthy cartilage protects bone, decreases pain and long term damage. This idea is understandable to all of you out there who have chronic degeneration in their knees and have talked about ‘bone on bone pain’.

So what’s the controversy? When we consume a product like glucosamine we digest it, meaning we break it down. So does the body really rebuild it? Does it really directly affect the joints? This has been a difficult thing to prove scientifically. What many of us have seen as doctors though is patients who take these supplements tend to do better.

(Sodium) Chondroitin (Sulfate)

This is the same idea as glucosamine except for one thing. Chondroitin is a very big molecule. What this means is that it is very expensive to make. There is a distinct reason why quality supplements containing chondroitin are significantly more expensive than the ones just containing glucosamine. Once again though, scientific evidence is hard to generate. Many of my patients for over 20 years have shown improvements on these supplements.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

This works as an anti-inflammatory. It works in a similar way to aspirin, but it’s less potent and therefore less side effects. This component is fairly straightforward in terms of ‘drugs’ we understand.

ASU (Avocado/Soybean unsaponifiable)

This is another agent that helps to maintain and heal cartilage. In humans, this has been shown to significantly decrease the breakdown of cartilage (Arthritis Foundation ) It has been tracked in humans for safety and has an excellent track record.
Dogs are not people and caution must always be taken when using data between species, but this does show good data as to why Nutramax went down this road of research.
Nutramax’s data shows an increased strength against inflammation with the addition of ASU. (www.dasuquin.com/nmx/dasuquin_charts.pdf )
After years of research and discussions with pharmacologists I have learned a lot about supplements.
One of the most important facts to me is that supplements are not regulated by the FDA like what we commonly refer to as ‘drugs’. Supplements are actually considered food and the standards of proof are much looser than and FDA regulated drug. What this means in the general sense is that if an FDA regulated drug says it contains 500mg of a product, then it must.
For a food supplement says it contains 500mg of a supplement then 5mg or 10mg is passable or minimally tested. Many of the inexpensive supplements on the market are made with low quality ingredients and varied concentrations.
(Molecules. 2015 Mar; 20(3):4277–4289. Published online 2015 Mar 6. doi: Discrepancies in Composition and Biological Effects of Different Formulations of Chondroitin Sulfate Johanne Martel-Pelletier, Aina Farran, Eulàlia Montell, Josep Vergés, and Jean Pierre Pelletier Vito Ferro, Academic Editor).
So back to the question, how to pick a supplement? The best guarantee of quality is to work with a quality company.
Nutramax is one of the companies that has consistently made quality products including the Cosequin and Dasuquin line. There is such a thing called third party analysis. A company makes a product and then send portions of it out to an outside lab (third party) for a quality control. When a company does this you have much better assurance that the product is high quality. Yes, it’s okay to ask, I discuss this with companies all the time. The ones that have strong quality control systems in place don’t mind talking about it.
This is an area where I have to put in a plug for your veterinarian. We talk with the companies to try and support the best products for your pets. When it comes to supplements talk with your family pet doctor about what’s best. There is too much out there that isn’t worth your pet’s welfare or your money.

Both products contain glucosamine and chondroitin. There are multiple versions of the Cosequin with omega fatty acids and MSM. Dasuquin contains glucosamine, chondroitin, and ASU and has additional types with the addition of MSM and omega fatty acids.

So the key difference between the two products is ASU and cost. ASU as previously mentioned had an additive effect of protecting cartilage.

How long does it take Cosequin to work?

It is designed to work with the body systems and it takes some time for them to be incorporated.
In most cases you will start to see some effects in 4 weeks, with the maximum effect in 8 weeks.

How long does it take Dasuquin to work?

The body has to absorb and process the ingredients into the body tissues and this does take some time.
The product will start to produce some effects in 4 weeks, with the maximum effect in 8 weeks.

What are the side effect issues for Cosequin?

There really have not been any consistent side effects to Cosequin.
The only occasional issue is GI upset if a dog has a food sensitivity to what is in the flavoring or source of the ingredients. This will happen rarely.

What are the side effect issues for Dasuquin?

The ASU contains avocado and soy, the omega fatty acids come from seafood in most cases, though some supplements use flax seed. If there is a soy allergy then you wouldn’t want to choose this product.
Overall these are very safe products to use. I have not had any negative reactions in any patients other than a few rare cases of upset stomach. In those cases this just isn’t the best product for that dog.
For any dog prone to joint disease I like to start these at a young age, even as low as year 1. These help to prevent and slow the breakdown of cartilage so they do some of their best work before signs of pain appear.
These are the pets like large breeds prone to hip or elbow dysplasia. This generally includes Retrievers, Rottweilers, Shepards, Standard Poodles.
Athletes with knee ligament damage, this is very common in fast muscular dogs of any size.
Any of the giant breeds like Newfoundlands, and Great Pyrenees.
These products are safe throughout a patient’s life time.

Are Dasuquin and Cosequin vegan?

No they aren’t. Some of the components like omega fatty acids come from seafood. The chondroitin comes from a cow source. Additionally to make flavor tabs they may use poultry, pork, or beef sources.

Is this product yeast free?

No, both product lines contain brewer’s yeast.

Is this okay for a diabetic dog?

In general yes. It’s important though when you are treating your dog for any illness that you discuss all supplements with your veterinarian to be sure that your dog’s total health is taken into consideration. There are some supplements that can interfere with medical treatments.

Is this product grain-free?

Though I can find no evidence that they certify Dasuquin and Cosequin are grain-free the ingredient list does not contain any grains. The concern would be fillers that are used to make up the pill and flavoring. It is unlikely to contain enough grain to be any concern.

Our Verdict : The Best Product to Start With?

Our top pick for Best Joint Health Product is the Dasuquin with MSM soft chew. This supplement has the most joint protecting and anti inflammatory ingredients and comes in a tasty treat form that will make giving it to your dog every day easier.
Using small amounts of different types of products increases how well they work by approaching the disease from multiple directions. Also by having lower doses of complementary products we are less likely to see negative side effects. For dogs that are food motivated flavor chews are wonderful. It makes medicating a treat not a chore. It’s a great place to start if you don’t know how your dog feels about them.
Joint supplements have a huge benefit to our pet companions. It’s often ideal to start them young. Be sure to check with your veterinarian and keep them posted on any supplements you use to give your family member total health care.
Speedy in Hollywood, LA

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Dr. Peters put so much effort writing this blog post to provide value to the dog parent community. It’ll be very helpful for me, if you consider sharing it on social media networks.

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Dr. Jennifer Peters DABVP. earned her B.S. from the University of Massachusetts with a minor in chemistry and she was a Howard Hughs grant researcher in Microbiology. In 1998 she graduated from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and went into private practice. In 2007 she was board certified in canine and feline practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (recertified in 2017) and taught for four years at Oklahoma State University Veterinary School. She now resides in the foothills of Northern California.

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