The Best Dietary Supplements for Senior Dogs
More and more dog owners are looking into dietary supplements to improve their pet’s health, especially owners of senior dogs. As a senior dog myself, I am familiar with what supplements are the most popular for senior dogs and why. If your dog is advancing in years and beginning to slow down, you may want to consider adding these supplements to their diet.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
Glucosamine and chondroitin are popular supplements for senior dogs, especially those with arthritis and hip dysplasia; some dog food formulated for senior dogs even include them.
Glucosamine is an amino sugar that may help the body repair damaged cartilage between joints and so relieve pain from arthritis and other conditions that affect the joints. Often given along with glucosamine, chondroitin is a structural component of cartilage. As dogs age, the level of chondroitin naturally decreases, and it can also drop due to illness or injury.
Together, glucosamine and chondroitin can improve damaged joints and reduce pain. However, don’t expect them to stop degeneration in its tracks; they merely slow down the process and provide some relief.
EPA and DHA
These supplements are also good for dogs with arthritis as well as dogs who are starting to lose their mental alertness, as they can help with cognition. EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid. They’re both long-chain polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, also called omega-3s for short. They’re processed from fish, krill, or algae.
You’ve surely heard about omega-3s because they’ve gotten a lot of attention in the past several years for their anti-inflammatory properties. It’s these anti-inflammatory properties that are believe to help senior dogs with arthritis and other joint conditions.
As for the brain, EPA and DHA are crucial for brain function in humans and dogs. They aid in communication between neurons and help maintain the integrity of cell membranes. It’s believed that this is why these omega-3s can help improve cognition in seniors of both species.
It’s common for senior dogs to have digestive problems as they get older. Enter digestive enzymes to the rescue. Enzymes are molecules that help break down the fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in the foods we eat. Digestive enzyme supplements typically have a combination of lipase, protease, and amylase (enzymes that break down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, respectively) to help speed along the digestion process.
As with the other supplements on this list, there’s not a lot of great clinical data on the efficacy of digestive enzymes in senior dogs. But they are believed to help with the absorption of nutrients from the food that’s being digested and reduce bloating, gas, and constipation.
Don’t Forget the Diet
Remember that these are dietary supplements and should be supplementing a healthy diet for your senior dog. As dogs age, they need fewer calories but may do better eating food with a higher protein content than before. They might also need more water, so keep the water bowl full. With a sound diet, plenty of water, and the right supplements, you’ll be helping your dog enjoy their golden years.
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.