Common Dietary Supplements for Dogs
You humans aren’t the only ones who can benefit from the right dietary supplements; they can be good for us dogs, too. Dogs with particular conditions, such as arthritis, may get the most benefit, but even dogs that are healthy as a horse (so to speak) may see improvements. If you’re curious about dietary supplements for dogs, check out the list below of some of the most common kinds.
(Quick caveat: the FDA doesn’t test supplements for effectiveness and safety for humans, and they don’t do it for pets, either. While there’s scant clinical research on the efficacy of the following supplements in dogs, their benefits are supported by anecdotal evidence. Some dog owners figure that they may as well add a supplement if it could help and doesn’t hurt, while others are more conservative. Keep all this in mind when considering supplements for your pet.)
A Quick Look At Dietary Supplements for Dogs
The anti-inflammatory properties of the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil may help with joint health, making it popular with owners whose dogs suffer from arthritis. It’s also said to help with heart health, as well as help alleviate skin allergies and improve coat quality, too.
It’s important to know that it’s not just the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in a diet that matter, but the ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids. Dogs who eat kibble or grain-fed meat likely get a lot more omega-6s, which are found in grains, as well as eggs, nuts, poultry, and vegetable oils. Dogs who eat primarily grass-fed meat likely have much lower omega-6 levels and may not see as much benefit from fish oil.
More and more studies are demonstrating how important good gut bacteria is to human health, and the same is true for dogs, too. The microbiome, as it’s called, helps with digestion and immunity. Probiotics help build a healthy microbiome and are found in many varieties of dairy foods like kefir, yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese, as well as fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, and miso.
There are probiotic supplements made specifically for dogs, but you may want to give them human-grade probiotic supplements or see if your dog likes any of the foods above. Many owners like to supplement with probiotics to help with digestive issues or after a bout of antibiotics, which kill good bacteria along with the bad.
Cells in the body use this coenzyme for growth and maintenance. Like humans, dogs produce their own CoQ10, but levels drop with age. It’s typically used for heart health in older dogs with heart disease. Other owners supplement with CoQ10 to help with their older dog’s cognitive health, though there isn’t as much research on the benefits of this.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
These two supplements are separate but often given together to help support joint health. Chondroitin helps build tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bones, and glucosamine is an amino sugar that serves as a building block of chondroitin. Dogs with arthritis may benefit from these supplements, which are said to improve mobility and help reduce pain.
Fiber can help dogs with digestive issues, just as it can in their humans. Commercial dog foods typically have enough fiber, but dogs eating a mainly meat diet may benefit from additional fiber. There are fiber supplements for dogs in pill or chew forms, or owners can easily supplement on an as-needed basis with fiber-rich foods like canned pumpkin, vegetables, and brown rice.
What About Multivitamins?
There’s not good evidence that a multivitamin is a beneficial supplement for most dogs, and in fact a multivitamin could lead to excess of certain fat-soluble vitamins, depending on your dog’s current diet.
Dogs eating a kibble-based diet will most likely get the essential nutrients they need from their food. Dogs on other diets, such as a BARF (bones and raw food) diet, may be missing nutrients, but owners can supplement to fill in the individual gaps rather than give a general vitamin.
Before Starting Supplements
Take a look at your dog’s current diet and possible needs when deciding what to supplement with. Remember that humans and dogs don’t have identical nutritional needs, so something that’s vital for you may not be vital for us. For instance, we dogs can produce our own Vitamin C, so we don’t need to get it from outside sources. The point is, don’t spend money on nutrients your dog doesn’t need anyway.
Also, talk to your vet before starting any supplements to check for interactions with existing medications and to get your vet’s take on which supplements could help improve your dog’s health.
Finally, be sure to check out Snoozer’s Orthopedic Pet Products that can help alleviate symptoms for aging or arthritic dogs as well.
Maple's a little older, but with age comes wisdom, and Maple is always ready with great life advice! He's seen a lot in his lifetime, and he's happy to be spending his golden years sharing that experience with others.