The Best Dog Supplements Guide
More and more pet owners are using dog supplements to help their dogs live healthier, longer and more active lives. Most supplements are the same vitamins and minerals that humans use but are designed for easier digestion through the dog’s digestive tract.
The question becomes whether supplements are required for your dog’s health or just an additional way for pet owners to give their pets the best life possible?
Here is your healthy dog supplement guide:
Supplements: Safe, Necessary or Bonus
Just like with humans, dog supplements are just that: a supplement to diet and exercise. You can’t reverse health issues. Joint problems such as degeneration or diseases such as Cushing’s Disease don’t miraculously go away. Supplements do, however, help your dog function better with higher energy, healthier coats and ease joint issues.
Always check with your veterinarian before you start any supplement program. This is true for all dogs but especially in elderly dogs or animals with existing health conditions taking medication. Some supplements can lead to health issues in your dog if taken under the wrong circumstances.
Dogs eating a well-balanced diet could get too much of a mineral or vitamin that leads to toxicity or other health issues. Excess vitamin D has been known to suppress the appetite of dogs and lead to muscle atrophy. Excess calcium is known to create skeletal problems in large-breed puppy bone development.
However, commercial dog foods rarely contain the necessary vitamins and minerals dogs need for a healthy lifestyle. Raw food diets are becoming more popular among pet owners. Raw food diets give dogs the protein needed, is easier on the liver than a bunch of supplements and more enjoyable for your dog.
Chewable tablets and water-soluble supplements make it easier for your dog to digest and absorb the vitamins and minerals. Plus, most dogs see a chewable tablet as a treat, making it easier to give to the dog. If you know your dog has a vitamin deficiency, a supplement is a good idea. A quick blood test through your veterinarian will give you the details needed for a good decision.
Overall Dog Health and Longevity
More and more dog owners and veterinarians suggest probiotics to help dogs with digestions and nutrient absorption. When a dog is better able to maintain a healthy gut, it can optimize vitamins and minerals found in dog food. Probiotics are also used as a home remedy to aid with stomach issues such as diarrhea.
Many pet experts feel that antioxidants have the same effects in our dogs as it does in our own bodies. Antioxidants reduce the effects of aging by helping retain cognitive function. Antioxidants found in vitamin C and E, protect against free radicals that can lead to cancer and other diseases. A commonly used antioxidant for dogs is Coenzyme Q10. In addition to its antioxidant properties Coenzyme Q10 is also known to help with heart health, metabolize food better and improve energy in dogs.
Dog owners also give their pets beta carotene which is known to help maintain a dog’s keen eyesight by combining with fats to then convert into vitamin A where it eventually finds its way to nourish the retina. However, too much beta carotene can lead to bone issues. You can supplement beta carotene in your dog’s diet with fresh carrots and broccoli. Make sure to cut vegetable small enough for safe consumption and digestion.
Milk thistle is given to dogs to help aid in the liver’s natural detoxification process. If your dog is on a lot of medication, its liver gets strained. Milk thistle helps keep your dog healthy while taking his medications.
A Shiny Healthy Coat and Skin
The right supplements help give a dog a shiny coat and alleviate various skin issues. It can prevent hot spots and improve coat thickness in some cases.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oil. Fish oil is used to help a pet’s coat look smoother and shinier. It also helps to lessen the effects of allergies causing hot spots in the skin an excess shedding. Dogs with ear infections, mite irritation or atopic dermatitis get relief with omega-3 fatty acid supplements.
Brewer’s yeast is another supplement used for skin and coat health in dogs. Coats are fuller with less shedding with brewer’s yeast. Supplements that promote coat and skin health reduce itching and scratching in dogs the prevents accidental scratches and abrasions that can become infected.
Before starting dietary supplements for a dog’s skin and coat irritation, confirm your dog doesn’t have a tick or flea infestation. Also, check for signs of a more serious health issue causing the problem.
Maintaining Good Joint Health
Joint health is a major concern for many dog owners, especially owners with large dog breeds known to have hip dysplasia issues and arthritis. The same omega-3 fatty acids used to help dogs have a shiny coat also helps to reduce inflammation and improve joint health. Antioxidants control inflammation as well.
But the most popular supplement given to dogs for joint health is glucosamine. Dog joints naturally contain glucosamine, an amino sugar found in the fluid surrounding the joint. A deficiency in glucosamine increases the pain and inflammation of a dog’s arthritis. This supplement helps reduce pain and helps the dog improve mobility.
Talk to your veterinarian before giving your dog glucosamine. Too much of it, especially with other medicines or supplements, can strain a dog’s kidneys over time.
Choosing the Right Supplements
Don’t put your dog on a new supplement program without talking to your veterinarian first. Review all health concerns and existing medications to see if there are potentially dangerous conflicts through drug interactions.
Supplements are not regulated so don’t believe every claim the company advertises. You can’t undo existing conditions or heal injuries but you can improve your dog’s life and long-term health with the right supplements at the right dose. Your veterinarian will help you determine the best supplements for your dog.
Only buy supplements from companies you trust. If you aren’t sure what companies are reputable, ask your veterinarian for advice. Not all supplements are good for dogs and can lead to significant health risks if given. Human supplements are often mixed with things not healthy for your dog. Something as benign as garlic to humans can lead to vitamin toxicity and blood issues in your furbaby.
If you have other supplements that you highly recommend, drop us a comment below.
Kimberlee Leonard is a certified pet first aid and CPR instructor. Her company, Safer Family Pets helps families prepared for worst-case scenarios including evacuations during natural disasters. She enjoys time with her beagle mix, Arky who enjoys “sit-walks” where he sits more than walks, enjoying the fresh mountain air.