Joint Health Solutions: Exploring Joint Supplements for Cats and Dogs

Joint health is an important concern for pet owners, as joint problems can cause pain and decreased mobility in cats and dogs. Thankfully, there are a number of joint supplements that are designed to help improve joint health and reduce pain. These supplements typically contain one or more of the following ingredients: glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine HCl, chondroitin, MSM, and hyaluronic acid. 

Let’s take a closer look at these ingredients and how they can benefit your pet’s joint health.

Glucosamine sulfate & Glucosamine HCl 

Both glucosamine sulfate & glucosamine HCl are forms of glucosamine, a naturally-occurring substance found in the cartilage and other connective tissues of both cats and dogs. Glucosamine helps to protect and strengthen the cartilage, which helps to prevent joint damage and reduce pain. It can also help to reduce inflammation in the joints.

Glucosamine may take weeks or even months to start working, so it’s important to be patient when adding them to your pet’s diet. 


Chondroitin is another natural substance found in the cartilage of cats and dogs. It works in conjunction with glucosamine to protect and strengthen the cartilage and can also help reduce inflammation.

If your pet is taking other medications or supplements, it is essential to let your veterinarian know since chondroitin may interact with them. 

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane)

MSM is another naturally-occurring sulfur compound that helps reduce inflammation and joint pain. It also helps to improve joint flexibility and reduce stiffness and inflammation. MSM can also help rebuild cartilage and minimize further joint damage.

MSM supplementation does have potential side effects with higher doses. These can include nausea and dizziness. Please follow dosage instructions carefully.

Hyaluronic Acid (HA)

Hyaluronic acid is found in the joint fluid of both cats and dogs. It is a major component of joint fluid and helps to lubricate and cushion the joints. As pets age, the levels of HA in their bodies decrease, leading to joint pain and inflammation. Giving your dog or cat HA supplements can help replenish the natural lubricant in their joints and improve joint health.

Like glucosamine, hyaluronic acid can take several weeks before your pet may experience benefits. 

All of these ingredients are effective at improving joint health in cats and dogs. They help to protect the cartilage and reduce inflammation and pain while also helping to improve joint flexibility and reduce stiffness. As a result, your pets can enjoy better mobility and less pain.

If you notice signs of joint stiffness or decreased mobility, stop in to speak with one of our experts to determine the best supplements for their needs. 

Can Your Dog Really Have Too Many Toys?

Dear NPP,

I love spoiling my dog with new toys. I bring home new ones for him all the time but he gets bored of them so quickly. Nothing really holds his interest for longer than a couple of days. What can I do to keep his interest?


Drowning in Dog Toys

Giving toys to your dog is a great way to encourage play, enhance mental stimulation, and increase bonding. However, like with everything good in life, moderation is key.

NorthPoint Pet Tips

  1. Lump your dog toys into groups. Each group should have at least one toy for each type of play: tug, fetch, puzzle, and chew. You can customize these categories for your dog’s favorite activities like outdoor play, swimming, etc. You can determine how many toys is appropriate, but 4-5 should be plenty. Put each group of toys into their own basket or storage container. One toy group may include: Mammoth rope toy for tug, a Kong tennis ball for fetch, a West Paw Toppl for mental enrichment, and a Benebone for chewing.
  2. Put away all but one collection of toys. Each week, swap the “old” toys for a new group of toys. At any given time, your dog should have access to just one of those collections of 4-5 toys. When you dig out those new toys, offer them with as much excitement as you would if you brought home a brand-new toy.

Pro Tip: When exchanging toy collections, inspect them for damage that may be hazardous to your dog. If the toy can easily become a choking hazard, discard the toy immediately.

This is also the perfect time to give those toys a good cleaning! Some rubber and plastic toys are dishwasher safe, but most can safely be cleaned with mild dish soap and warm water. Most plush toys are machine washable.

Why It Works:

Having a huge assortment of toys can actually have an adverse effect on your dog. He can easily become overwhelmed and overstimulated, resulting in a lack of excitement around playtime. By removing the “old” toys and replacing them with some that he hasn’t seen in a few weeks, you’re refreshing his play drive with a brand-new variety for him to engage with.

What Should I Do If My Pet Is Overweight?

While our initial reaction to an overweight pet may be to call out how cute and cuddly they look, the reality is that their health is suffering. Obesity has quickly become one of the most common nutritional disorders and could be the most significant health threat to your pet. 

According to a survey performed by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 56% of dogs and 60% of cats were classified as obese or overweight by their veterinarian, making it one of the most common health concerns in the veterinary world today. 

That means over half of household pets are unhealthy. 

Overweight pets have become normalized in society. There is a disconnect between what we view as a healthy weight and what is actually a healthy weight in pets.

In fact, many pet owners don’t even realize their pets are overweight. A few extra pounds might not sound like a big deal, but realistically it is. Our pets are much smaller, and a few extra pounds make a big difference. For example, a dog with an additional 5-6 pounds is equivalent to a human having an extra 30 pounds. 

A Few Extra Pounds Can Mean Big Consequences

Obesity isn’t just a concern for vanity. It goes much deeper than the surface and has an impact on many facets of your pet’s health. Obese pets are at a much higher risk for many ailments, including:

–       Heart disease/ failure

–       Diabetes

–       Metabolic and endocrine disorders

–       Osteoarthritis

–       Hypertension

–       Renal dysfunction or urinary tract disease

–       Respiratory disorders

–       Shorter life expectancy (on average, obese pets have a two-year shorter life span)

–       Arthritis

–       Kidney Disease

–       Cancer 

–       Inflammation

–       Liver disease

–       High blood pressure

–       Decreased immune function

Lastly, an overweight pet can be costly to your wallet. The expenses of veterinary care and medications rise with the increased likelihood of diseases and injuries associated with obesity. 

Tips to be Proactive and Preventative

As with many aspects of your pet’s health, being proactive is key. If you’re worried about an overweight pet, there are steps you can take to take back control of your pet’s health. 

  1. Work with a veterinarian to assess the pet’s body condition, muscle condition, lifestyle, and any medical conditions. 
  2. Avoid “eyeballing” the measurement of food you feed your pet. Always use a labeled measuring cup or utensil to know exactly how much food goes into their bowl. This will make adjusting the diet much simpler if necessary. 
  3. Understanding the amount of food to feed your pet depends on age, weight, activity level, and other health factors. Since diet and nutrition is not one-size-fits-all, feeding guidelines on your pet food bag are often misleading. Instead, consult a nutritionist for feeding recommendations suited for your pet’s individual needs. 
  4. While the actual measurement of food plays a role, simply reducing the volume of food you feed your pet could lead to malnutrition. The secret is to get good quality – ideally fresh –  food that is nutrient-dense and highly digestible to your pet.
  5. Keeping your pet active with regular exercise can help release pent up energy (and stress), increase their metabolic rate, and retain lean body mass. A little exercise is always better than none. If exercise is new to your pet, start in small increments at 5-10 minutes a day and work your way up. 
  6. Remember to ease your pet into any lifestyle changes slowly. Small, incremental changes are best. 

Other Tips to Prevent Obesity

–       Know the difference between boredom begging vs. hunger in your pet

–       Replace processed food and treats with fresh, minimally processed                   foods

–       Limit treats and table scraps

–       Avoid crash diets

–       Avoid free feeding (allowing your pet to “graze” throughout the day)

Pet Food Storage: Could Dry Pet Food Be Making Your Pet Sick?

Feeding your pet dry food is convenient. You don’t have to worry about any special handling requirements or finding extra space in your refrigerator or freezer. However, that convenience can come with a price that can harm your pet.

Our Top Four Tips for Safely Storing Your Pet’s Dry Food.   

1) Keep your pet food in the original package.

Pet food bags are designed to keep the food as fresh as possible. After opening, fold over the top of the bag to press as much air out as possible. If you’d like to use a storage container, put the whole bag inside the container, but do not dump the kibble out of the bag. 


Dry pet food formulations include necessary animal fats, which start to go rancid once exposed to oxygen (right after manufacturing, even inside the sealed bag). These fats coat the inside of storage containers and continue to oxidize over time and interact with compounds of the storage container itself (metal, plastic, etc.), which then contaminates the fresh kibble you just poured in.  In fact, improper storage of kibble is a large reason for food-related illness in pets.

2) Keep your pet food in a cool, dry place.

To prolong freshness and maximize nutritional value, keep your pet food in the same places that you store your own food: away from sunlight, heat, and moisture.


Moisture and food can be a fatal combination. Humid and warm areas create a perfect environment for mold and harmful bacteria to thrive. The worst of these bacteria, called aflatoxins, can cause severe liver damage and even lead to life-threatening emergencies.  Learn more about how to properly store your pet’s dry food here. 

3) Purchase a bag of food that will last your pet for roughly one month.

For optimal nutrition, freshness and palatability, we recommend buying the smallest bag of food that is appropriate for your pet – about 30 days’ worth. A small bag (4 – 5 lbs) is appropriate for a small dog, and a large bag (20+ lbs) for a large dog.


When pet food is stored for a long period of time, opened or not, the risk of rancid fats, mycotoxin contamination, pathogenic bacteria, and storage mites are significant risk factors. We often hear pet parents state that their pet gets bored by the end of the bag, but if that bag is 2+ months old, it’s likely that your pet can smell that the food has spoiled. In fact, one of the largest reasons pets turn their nose up to food midway through the bag is because it has turned rancid. Here are more considerations for bulk buying pet food.

Our team is always happy to discuss these topics on an individual basis. If you have questions regarding the storage of your pet’s food, please see one of our pet nutrition experts in-store.

The Best Enrichment Activities for Your Dog

What provides better mental health for your dog? Playing with toys? Eating treats? Or hanging out with other dogs? You might be surprised at what the research shows.


The Most Misunderstood Breed

Over the last half-century, pit bulls have gone from American heroes to vicious villains. How did this gentle and friendly breed get to this point?


My Overseas Trip to International Pet Nutrition Conferences

I’m so grateful to have been able to present at not one, but TWO international veterinary conferences recently in Helsinki, Finland for the University of Helsinki and in Barcelona, Spain for the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society.

The first conference was at the University of Helsinki for the annual DogRisk seminar. There, panelists shared their research related to the conference theme of “How to keep an aging dog healthy.” 

My presentation was on “Differently processed dog foods and their research.” In it, I discussed raw and processed pet foods, what the pet food industry is doing right, and what it can improve.

It was truly an honor to have worked with such notable professionals![vc_single_image image=”8715″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_outline” border_color=”black”][vc_single_image image=”8931″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_outline” border_color=”black”]What an unforgettable week of travel, science, and seeing old friends.

On my way back to the University of Georgia, I took time to reflect on the significance of this overseas trip. 

Five years ago, I would have never imagined attending an international pet nutrition conference — let alone being invited to serve as a panelist and present my research in front of a global audience. 

That journey has been remarkable.

It’s taken a whole lot of hard work…

Not taking no for an answer…

Not being afraid to take risks…

And most important, the never-ending support of the people who believed in me and my mission to revolutionize the pet food industry. About Nicole Cammack

No other pet store owner in CT touts as many certificates and achievements as Nicole Cammack & Team, who travels around the globe to learn from some of the world’s top vets in search of unbiased truth. She’s gained a reputation for fearlessly standing up for what is right for pets; boldly questioning the validity of marketing claims and demanding transparency in regard to food safety & efficacy. In a constant search for answers, Nicci’s background in human nutrition provides insight to break through pet industry marketing gimmicks to get to the truth.

[vc_single_image image=”8725″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_outline” border_color=”black”]Myself (Barcelona, Spain)[vc_single_image image=”8723″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_outline” border_color=”black”]Myself with Dr. Nick Thompson[vc_single_image image=”8726″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_outline” border_color=”black”]

Can Dogs Digest Carbohydrates?

If you want to start a heated debate with veterinarians, biologists, and canine nutritionists, ask them if dogs can digest carbohydrates.

Depending on who you ask, you’ll get an enthusiastic YES or a resounding NO.

As an animal nutritionist, my answer is…It depends.

Yes, some dogs can digest carbohydrates just fine.

No, not all dogs can digest them in the same amounts, or well.

One reason is because dogs, like humans, have a varying ability to produce enough digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates to the sugars our cells can utilize. Other reasons include genetics, health status, activity and more.

What are enzymes, and why are they important for dogs?

Enzymes are proteins that help the body break down foods into usable nutrients. They are made by the body in the mouth, stomach, small intestine, and pancreas – but not all areas produce an effective amount. 

Among all of these enzyme factories, the pancreas is the most important. It is the body’s enzyme powerhouse. 

Several factors can influence the efficiency of the pancreas’ enzyme production, including the dog’s age, breed, health status (e.g., diseases like pancreatitis and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency), and genetics. 

There are also variables that can dictate how well an enzyme works, such as temperature and pH. For example, if the body is too hot or cold, or the pH is not within the ideal range, enzymes may not work as well as they should. 

While there are many types of enzymes, below are the three main types:


Enzyme Type Macronutrient Targeted Examples (not comprehensive) Can be found
Carbohydrase (often called amylases) Carbohydrates (Sugars) Amylase, Sucrase, Lactase, Maltase Mouth, Pancreas, Stomach, Small Intestine
Lipase Fats (Lipids) Bile Salt-dependent Lipase, Pancreatic lipase, Hepatic Lipase, Gastric Lipase Stomach, Pancreas, Small Intestine
Protease Proteins (Amino Acids) Trypsin, Chymotrypsin, Carboxypeptidase Stomach, Pancreas, Small Intestine


The digestive enzymes responsible for carbohydrate digestion are called carbohydrases. A small amount of carbohydrase is found in saliva but is not enough to help dogs digest carbohydrates. 

Carbohydrases are produced in large quantities by the pancreas and then excreted into the stomach and small intestine, where they start breaking down carbohydrates (starches and sugars) as part of the digestive process. These carbohydrases are critical to helping dogs digest diets that are higher in carbohydrates (like kibble). 

However, dogs need to have enough carbohydrases available to completely break down carbohydrates in their digestive system. 

The primary cause of a dog not producing enough carbohydrases is genetics. This is because each type of carbohydrate has one or more genes associated with enzyme production. The dog will have difficulty digesting certain carbohydrates if there aren’t enough genes to produce a specific enzyme. 

What makes this complicated is that not all dog breeds have evolved the same regarding types of genes and numbers of gene copies. Even dogs in the same breed (or even litter) have inconsistent numbers of carbohydrase gene copies. 

Researchers in a recent study examined the relationship between amylase activity (a specific carbohydrase) and the relationship associated with higher numbers of AMY2B copies in canines. AMY2B is responsible for the production of pancreatic amylase, which starts the breakdown of starch.

The overarching finding was that the number of AMY2B varies widely among dog breeds but also within individual dogs of the same breed¹.

This is what makes the blanket statement “dogs have evolved to digest carbohydrates” untrue.  

What does all of this mean for your dog when it comes to digesting carbohydrates?

Your dog’s ability to successfully process carbohydrates is largely individualized and complex. That means your pet’s diet and nutrition deserve an individualized approach. It also explains why some diet types and food formulations work really well for some dogs and not for others – even dogs from the same lineage!

Even though the dogs share the same genes, they don’t always share the same number of genes that helps them successfully digest carbohydrates.

This is yet another example of why some diets, supplements, medications, etc work for some pets and not for others. We’ve all heard of littermates eating the same diet, with similar exercise patterns, and one of them is obese! This is because each animal (and person) is an individual and diet should be approached as such!


  1. Arendt M, Fall T, Lindblad-Toh K, et al. Amylase activity is associated with AMY2B copy numbers in dog: implications for dog domestication, diet and diabetes. Anim Genet 2014;45:716-722.

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Ugly Sweater Social

Check out this year’s ugly sweater participants.