As a pet parent, you may want to do everything you can to keep your dog healthy and active and enjoy a long happy life. Just like humans, dogs also need some extra supplements to assist them with their overall growth and well-being. But before you start pouring in random dog supplements in your dog’s food bowl, make sure you know if your four-legged companion needs them. Many dogs do not need any kind of supplements when they are young and may need to start using them at an older age (which is ideal when your pup turns one year old). However, many dogs require these supplements at a very early age due to genetics or health reasons.
It is a common misconception that giving your dog supplements will guarantee a more healthy and balanced life. Some supplements may work great on your dog, while some will be just a waste of money as your dog may not need them at all. Not only that, there may be some dog supplements that could even be harmful to your pup due to his/ her age or other dietary requirements. Not every dog needs a plethora of vitamins and minerals in his/ her daily meal. Overdose can sometimes cause more damage to your dog than having a deficiency. But why will you risk any sort of supplement overdose or deficiency, when we can guide you all about the dog supplements your four-legged friend may need.
Harmful or Helpful?
Many good dog food companies formulate a complete and balanced diet according to your dog’s age, size, and breed. If you are purchasing commercially created dog food according to your pup’s breed and age, chances are that your dog may not need any additional supplements unless otherwise mentioned by your vet. If you still decide to give your pup additional dog supplements, the idea could backfire and cause an overdose – this may result in causing more harm than good to your pooch.
For instance, an abundance of Vitamin A can lead to dehydration, joint pain, and may cause harm to your dog’s blood vessels. An overdose of Calcium may cause skeletal issues in larger breeds of puppies. Too much Vitamin D can harm your dog’s muscles and bones and may cause food aversion. For this reason, you need to know about the possible deficiency in your pup’s body and provide him/ her with the required supplements.
On the other hand, if you are purchasing a generic dog food, it may miss out on certain vitamins and minerals that are necessary for your pup’s growing age. A dog needs a combination of many vitamins and minerals for an active and healthy lifestyle that may not be fully available in your dog food. Furthermore, if you make your dog’s food at home, the homemade meal may be free of many preservatives that commercial food has, still it will miss a lot of essential supplements that your dog needs for proper growth and development. Chances are, in cases when you are cooking dog food at home, your dog needs more supplements to have a complete range of essential vitamins and minerals.
Do They Work?
Whether a certain dog supplement may work for your dog or not depends upon many factors. Just because a certain supplement works wonders on your friend’s pup does not mean it will be perfect for yours too.
Glucosamine-chondroitin supplements generally work well for dogs who have Osteoarthritis by reducing their pain and giving them more mobility. Many Fish Oil supplements, as well as Vitamin C and E supplements, reduce inflammation in dogs. Vitamin C and E supplements also assist in memory issues when your dog is aging. Fatty acid supplements are great for making the dog coat look healthy. Having said that, there may be instances that these oils, vitamins, or minerals do not work on your pup and you need a combination of dog supplements, a change in the dosage, or to learn a proper way to give your dog the supplements so that he/ she can enjoy the life he/ she truly deserves.
Glucosamine helps restore your dog’s mobility and joint health. Since it is anti-inflammatory, it reduces the joint pain in your pup and repairs the tissues.
Glucosamine is naturally created in your dog’s body and is mostly found in his/ her healthy cartilage. This glucosamine produces a natural substance called glycosaminoglycan that not only creates but also repairs important body tissues such as the cartilage. As your pup grows old, the production of glucosamine starts to decrease. This is the reason why many aged dogs have muscle stiffness and joint pain, which may eventually lead to arthritis.
Giving your dog proper glucosamine dosages can help in turning back the clock – at least for the wear and tear of bones. Glucosamine supplements have an anti-inflammatory effect that reduces your dog’s muscular pain, improves lubrication in his/ her joints, and restores mobility. After introducing Glucosamine supplements, you may find your dog showing more willingness to climb stairs, jump, go on walks, and be more playful.
An excellent way to improve the quality of life of your four-legged friend is to introduce Fish Oil in his/ her diet. It has numerous benefits, such as:
- It supports your dog’s heart health.
- Fish oil reduces itchiness and lessens flaky skin.
- It makes their coat healthy and silky.
- Fish oil relieves your canine from many allergies.
- It also helps in reducing joint pain.
- It is high in Omega-3 fatty acids which are great for the canine’s body and brain.
- It strengthens your pup’s immune system and helps fight against cancer.
Whether you want to introduce Fish Oil as a long-term plan to improve your dog’s health or it is part of a short-term diet change, it is always a great idea to boost his/ her health with essential Fish Oil.
Some people confuse fish oil with Omega-3. While fish oil is an excellent source of Omega-3 and other fatty oils, Omega-3 (also known as the “good fatty acid”) is found in many food sources. However, to make sure your canine companion does not get any Omega-3 deficiency, ask your veterinarian if you need to incorporate it in his/ her food. Omega-3 fatty acids are important because:
- They ensure the proper functionality of your dog’s kidneys.
- They keep the heart fit and healthy.
- They help your pup with skin conditions and allergies.
- Omega-3 helps with Lymphoma.
- They are great at boosting the cognitive functions of your pup.
- Omega-3 acids are also found to help relieve arthritis pain.
- Omega-3 also helps in balancing out Omega-6 fatty acids which are commonly found in your commercial dog food. Since processed dog food has meat from corn-fed animals as well as refined oil, your dog may end up getting too much of Omega-6 and not enough of the good Omega-3 fats. For a healthy dog, both these omega acids need to be in balance.
Antioxidants are generally added by the dog food company in the dog food for two reasons: they keep the food fresh and provides plenty of health benefits. Your dog needs an ample number of antioxidants due to many reasons.
- They help in making your pup’s immune system strong.
- Aging is a normal phenomenon where the body’s cells and tissues undergo wear and tear. An antioxidant supplement ensures that your pet ages in a healthy manner.
- The antioxidants neutralize the damaging effect of free radicals in your canine’s body. Free radicals are naturally produced by the metabolic activities of the body. These are also largely produced when your dog is sick, malnourished, exposed to harmful chemicals, or is getting old.
Probiotics are helpful microbes (bacteria and yeast) that live in the digestive tract of humans as well as dogs. The Probiotic supplements help in sustaining these “good bacteria” as they are beneficial in many ways, such as:
- Probiotics provide numerous benefits to the small as well as large intestine of your dog and help in the healthy digestion of food.
- Probiotics keep the immune system on track by controlling the inflammation caused by intestinal permeability.
- They produce Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, E. Coli, and Clostridium Perfringens (C. Perfringens).
- Probiotics may also play a role in preventing Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in your dog.
An important way to improve your dog’s digestive health is to offer him/ her a daily supplement of probiotics. These probiotics will not only help in treating several diseases, but they may also help in preventing them.
Your dog’s body needs many different vitamins for its growth and maintenance. Multivitamins provide the following advantages to your pet:
- Vitamin A is important for fetal development and general growth and development. It also aids in your dog’s wear and tear of body tissues and boosts the immune system.
- Vitamin B is a crucial group of vitamins. Vitamin B6 generates glucose in your pooch’s body, regulates hormones, boosts red blood cells, assists the nervous system, improves immunity, and plays a vital role in gene activation. Thiamine helps in regulating energy and activates ion channels in tissues of the pup’s nervous system. Pantothenic Acid helps in generating energy. Riboflavin and Vitamin B12 are responsible for facilitating the body’s enzymes to function properly. And if that’s not enough, the Folic Acid plays a crucial role in your four-legged companion’s wellbeing as it prevents your dog’s cell membrane from deteriorating.
- Vitamin C saves their body from the nasty free radicals and reduces inflammation of joints and muscles as well as cognitive aging.
- Vitamin D helps your dog’s body in the growth and development of healthy bones and muscles by balancing Phosphorus and Calcium in the body.
- The deficiency of Vitamin E can cause deterioration of eyes and body muscles as well as causing problems in your dog’s reproductive system.
- Vitamin K helps your dog’s body in activating the ability to clot blood which is crucial for health and survival.
- Choline supports healthy liver and brain functions. It is also used, in addition to other medicines, to treat epilepsy in dogs.
Lysine is important for your dog’s health. It enables the biosynthesis of proteins – a process in which your pup’s body cells build proteins. Lysine also plays an important role in absorbing calcium in the body, which results in proper growth and development of your dog’s bones and teeth. Therefore, it is always a good idea to go for a dog supplement that contains this essential amino acid such as Lysine.
The deficiency of Lysine may cause loss of appetite and hence a drastic and unhealthy weight loss in puppies. Introducing Lysine supplements to your dog can help in improving cold sores, reducing your pup’s blood pressure, and preventing symptoms of Lysine deficiency.
Milk Thistle (Silybum Marianum or its active compound is known as “Silimarin”) is considered a miracle herb in treating a variety of dog diseases including that of the liver. It protects your dog’s liver from toxic elements that enter your pup’s body through food, drugs, or the environment. It also activates the synthesis of proteins and works as a strong antioxidant.
Milk Thistle plays a vital role in stimulating the generation and growth of liver cells in dogs that have those damaged or dead. It is very useful in treating an inflamed bile duct as well as inflamed tissues around the bile duct. Since this powerful herb works magic on your dog’s damaged liver and bile systems, it has been known to be helpful in dogs that have Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
Milk Thistle aids the immune system and preserves the supply of Glutathione, which is another crucial antioxidant whose deficiency may cause early aging in dogs.
S-Adenosyl Methionine (SAM-e)
S-Adenosyl Methionine or SAM-e plays an important role in treating arthritis and osteoarthritis in dogs. It reduces pain, stiffness, swelling, and inflammation in tissues. It also rebuilds the cartilage, improves your pup’s mobility, and helps in the regeneration process of your dog’s joint tissues.
SAM-e is very beneficial in detoxification and helps in reducing elevated liver enzymes in your dog. It also aids in a healthy brain function and is used in treating cognitive disorders as well as dementia in dogs. SAM-e supplements also help the senior dogs who have coordination issues, are experiencing depression, or are slowing down.
All kinds of dogs, no matter what age or breed they are, need digestive enzymes to break down their food for the body to absorb nutrients from their food. In ideal conditions, your pup’s pancreas produces enough digestive enzymes to perform this task. However, if your dog is having any digestive issue or is aging, it is a good idea to include digestive enzymes in your pooch’s diet.
The intake of digestive enzymes can also be beneficial in dogs that have intolerance or allergies towards certain foods. In the case of dogs that have coprophagy (eat their feces), the digestive enzymes work in two ways: firstly, they increase nutrition absorption in the dog’s body and secondly, they make the stool less attractive.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What age to start a dog on joint supplements?
A good age to start with joint supplements is when your dog is one year old. Twelve months may not seem like an old age for your dog, but by this time your dog generally stops growing and it hence becomes vital to take important measures for the joints to stay healthy and active. You do not have to wait for your dog to start limping around the house to start a joint supplement.
If your canine friend starts to exhibit joint stiffness along with a decrease in mobility, it is a good idea to start giving him/ her joint supplements. Many dog breeds such as German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers are prone to develop joint issues, so starting the joint supplement early may avoid pain and damage to their joints.
What supplements should I add to homemade dog food?
It is more important to introduce vitamins and mineral supplements to your dog when he/ she is having homemade food than it is when you give him/ her store-bought food. Most of the dog-food companies add different amounts of essential minerals and vitamins in their food. However, when you are making food at home, there is no sure-shot way you can include all kinds of essential nutrients in your pup’s meal.
Homemade diets normally require Calcium and Vitamin E supplements to be included. Having said that, if you feel your homemade dog food is not covering an important food group, minerals or vitamins (like the ones mentioned above), you need to include dog supplements in your pup’s food to make sure he/ she enjoys a healthy and balanced diet.
Consider the following factors when deciding which supplements to add to your pup’s daily meals:
- What nutrients are missing from your homemade dog food recipe? Include the supplements that are, so your dog gets all the nutrients he/ she needs.
- Your dog’s current age and health needs.
A diet rich in glucosamine, calcium, protein, multivitamins, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and antioxidants, etc. is what your bundle of joy needs to grow and age healthily.
A well-balanced diet for your dog needs to have a sufficient amount of multivitamins and minerals and for this reason, a good dog supplement is of vital importance. Prevention is better than cure, so do not wait for your dog to start showing extreme symptoms. Even if he/ she has started showing some, it is never too late and it’s better late than never. Talk to your vet about introducing dog supplements so that your companion always remains healthy and happy.