Dogs are man's best friend, and they deserve the best! That's why it is important to feed them healthy food and give them supplements that will help them maintain a healthy lifestyle. More dog owners want their pups to have natural supplements and treatments rather than traditional means. Fortunately, there are many natural supplements for dogs on the market today that can help your pup live a long life with fewer health problems, especially nagging and debilitating ones like poor joint health. In this blog article, we will explore some of the top natural supplements for dogs so you can make an informed decision about which ones can improve your pup's health.

A Boxer mix eats a tincture of fish oil.

Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria that help keep a dog's gut healthy. Probiotic supplements or foods, such as yogurt and tempeh, help improve digestive issues in both dogs with chronic health problems, like diarrhea or constipation, and those at risk of developing GI disorders. They provide protection from harmful agents and chemical toxins found within a dog's stomach itself.

There are many different probiotic species, and each one has a specific function. For example, Bifidobacteria helps to slow down the duration of diarrhea and enhance overall immune system effectiveness. Lactobacillus bacteria aids with nutrient absorption rates by enhancing digestion rate, among other benefits.

What should pet parents look for in probiotic supplements?

Probiotic supplements are an excellent way for pet owners to encourage healthy digestion in their pups. However, there's no one-size-fits-all supplement available today because each dog has different needs and conditions that could be affected by this supplement in various ways, including digestion or immune functions. To address this issue, make an appointment with your veterinarian, so they can help guide you through finding out which probiotic strain would work well for your pup's health.

When researching probiotic supplements, look for the following ingredients before purchase:

  • Bifidobacterium animalis
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Enterococcus faecium
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • VSL#3

A probiotic that is organic and natural should include most if not all of the above bacteria.

A spoon of fish oil with dog treats.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fat. “Unsaturated” refers to the chemical structure in which these fats change upon digestion and function within our bodies. They can also help support overall cell development in your dog's body. The omega-3 essential acids in your dog's diet are vital for supporting her health. They help support immune function and immune health, improve cognitive function, and encourage increased mobility. They also promote healthy circulation by eliminating toxins from the blood, like heavy metals. Dogs need a balance between these fatty acids so that they can stay healthy throughout their lives.

Your dog's body can't make fatty acids like omega-3, so they need to be included in their diet. These fats are the building blocks for many essential compounds, including hormones. Without them, your pup might have issues with skin health, irritation, or inflammation, as well as mental health conditions like depression.

The average pup needs an appropriate amount of this dog supplement, which is typically provided through food. However, kibble and processed dog food don't have fatty acids that can perform at their best. The heating and cooking process used for kibble destroys the effectiveness of most fats, minerals, and vitamins. For that reason, many pup parents add an omega-3 supplement directly to their dog's food, in soft chews, or via mouth by caplet.

Using fish oil supplements with your dog

A fish oil supplement is a great way to ensure your dog’s omega-3 needs are being met. Dogs of different life stages, breeds, and health conditions may benefit from this supplement. Omega-3 supports a healthy coat and healthy skin, reduces itchy skin conditions, promotes better mobility, and supports a dog's immune response. Fish oils can be taken as a liquid supplement or mixed into your dog's food, making them very easy on animals' systems. Fish oil is readily available at local pet stores and online retailers.

A bull mastiff chews on a carrot.

Antioxidants

An antioxidant is any substance that prevents the oxidation process. That begs the question: what is oxidation? To answer this question, we must address free radicals, which are natural byproducts of metabolism that damage cells if they're not controlled. They are responsible for the development of diseases such as:

  • Heart health disease
  • Cancer
  • Osteoarthritis and joint disease
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Skin allergy symptoms and disorders
  • Eye health diseases, such as blindness or cataracts

It's easy for your pup to be exposed to environmental toxins that lead to the abnormal growth of free radical cells. Every time your dog licks a surface, rolls around in the grass, eats grass, or has toxins in their coat or on their feet, she is exposed to free radical cells. That's where antioxidants come to the rescue.

Antioxidants are the heroes of this story, as they attack and destroy harmful radicals in your dog's body. Unfortunately, a dog's diet doesn't provide the amount and quality of antioxidants needed to fight free radical cells. Supplements are necessary to give your dog the ability to fight off toxins that may lead to disease and future expensive vet costs and medical treatments.

Some of the essential antioxidants for a dog include vitamin E and C, selenium, beta carotene, and polyphenols. The polyphenols antioxidants are vital because they help slow down the progression of diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoarthritis.

It's easy for pup parents to find ways to incorporate more antioxidants into their dog's diet. Natural supplements with high antioxidant levels include plant and vegetable-based foods, such as:

  • Spinach, green beans, kale, steamed broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes, cooked yellow squash, carrots
  • Mangoes and tomatoes, in moderation due to GI upset
  • Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries

A daily antioxidant supplement will work just as well for dogs with sensitive stomachs or who aren't thrilled with fruit and veggies in their diet.

Choose a balanced supplement with bioavailable and bioactive nutrients, and use an appropriate supplement for your dog's age. When choosing an antioxidant supplement, look for these antioxidants in the ingredients:

  • resveratrol
  • lactoferrin
  • cystine
  • superoxide dismutase
  • alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)

Ideal antioxidant supplements will also include vitamins B, C, and E and omega fatty acids. Your veterinarian can provide more information on which antioxidants are best for your dog.

A woman holds some valerian herbs.

Valerian

Does your adult dog suffer from anxiety caused by veterinarian appointments, traveling by car or plane, loud noises, thunder, or fireworks? If so, the valerian root may be an excellent natural supplement for dogs. With its natural sedative properties, this supplement can assist in stress management in canines. Some people believe that valerian increases the brain's production of a neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Veterinary scientists don't know precisely how this root works; still, some promising studies in animals suggest its effectiveness at treating stress disorders, especially post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and separation anxiety.

Is valerian safe for all dogs?

Valerian is safe for healthy adult dogs only. Valerian should not be given to older dogs, pregnant dogs, puppies, or canines with underlying health issues. You must check with your vet before administering valerian root just to be safe. This herbal supplement can help calm nervous, anxious, stressed, or fearful pets, but the dosage is key to its effectiveness. Your veterinarian will determine the correct amount of valerian for your dog, which will vary depending on the dog's age and health history.

Valerian is available in tinctures, capsules, powders, and essential oil. You can easily mix these forms into your dog's food, and this supplement is available over-the-counter at pharmacies and grocery stores.

Two long-haired dachshunds run together.

Hyaluronic Acid

While this joint supplement is often found in combination with more well-known joint treatments, such as glucosamine supplements and chondroitin, hyaluronic acid (HA) can help a dog with arthritis and achy joints all on its own. HA is a naturally occurring gel-like substance that belongs to the group of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). HA can be found in different places in an animal, but mainly around the joints where it binds together with the joint's synovial fluid, lubricating movement in that joint. This action works to reduce inflammation and relieve joint pain in dogs with arthritis.

In a dog’s joints, naturally occurring HA has two key roles: lubrication by increasing joint fluid viscosity and improving the shock-absorbing capacity of cartilage. As dogs age, the body does not produce enough natural HA. Lower levels of HA combined with injury and natural wear-and-tear lead to less mobility in the joints and failing joint health.

An HA supplement will promote lubrication, strengthen connective tissues, decrease joint stiffness, and increase overall joint support. Studies show that dogs with hip and elbow dysplasia can benefit from this supplement. HA joint supplements are offered in liquid form, liquid injections, powder, soft chews, or tablets. They are also found in combination supplements, especially glucosamine and chondroitin.

Keep your dog healthy with the best dog supplements

There are many ways to use natural resources and dog supplements to improve your dog's health and wellbeing. Remember to always consult your veterinarian before giving any supplements to your dog. Although natural supplements are typically safe, too much of a good thing can lead to health problems.

Additionally, if you have a pet insurance plan that covers natural and alternative therapies, you can save money on supplements and future veterinary costs. Pet Insurance Review can help you find the right pet health insurance plan for your pup, including those that offer coverage for natural supplements and procedures. Get a free quote now!

 

References:

 

1. AKC Staff. (2020). Probiotics for Dogs. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/probiotics-for-dogs/

2. Canine Arthritis Resources and Education. (n.d.). How much Omega 3 fatty acids should I give my dog? Retrieved from https://caninearthritis.org/article/how-much-omega-3-fatty-acids-should-i-give-my-dog/

3. Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center & Pet Clinic. Top 10 Antioxidant Rich Foods. Retrieved from https://www.chagrinfallspetclinic.com/2010/10/05/top-10-antioxidant-rich-pet-foods/

4. Peralta, J. (2014). 3 Helpful Herbs For Fearful Dogs. Retrieved from https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/natural-herbal-help-for-fearful-dogs/

5. Marti-Angulo, S., Garcia-Lopez, N., Diaz-Ramos, A. (2014). Efficacy of an oral hyaluronate and collagen supplement as a preventive treatment for elbow dysplasia. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4269601/