Keeping your dog happy and healthy is certainly your top pet care priority.
Though high-quality nutrition plays a vital role in ensuring your dog remains healthy, there are several expert-recommended supplements that can be added to your dog’s diet that can help boost his immune system and support vital organs, critical body functions and joint health.
Should I give supplements to my dog?
Many dog owners wonder if supplements actually deliver on their claims and if their dog actually needs them to maintain optimal health. According to Dr. Nancy Scanlan, a veterinary professional for over three decades, in Whole Dog Journal, “there are three main reasons to add specific nutrients to a dog’s diet” (6):
- Known or suspected nutrient deficiency
- Prevention of suspected nutrient deficiencies
- Optimize nutrient dosage for therapeutic or preventative benefits
Which supplements for dogs are most beneficial?
With such a large number of supplements available on the market today, it can be very difficult to determine which items will be the most beneficial for your dog.
Experts agree the following four supplements may provide excellent support to dog health:
Glucosamine for Dogs
When it comes to providing vital joint support for dogs, it’s hard to beat glucosamine. A supplement often also sold in conjunction with its sister chondroitin, glucosamine’s effects include reduced inflammation and improved range of motion in dogs suffering from arthritis or other mobility issues.
Glucosamine is derived from the skeletons of shellfish and is believed to assist with the growth of cartilage in dogs. The American Kennel Club shared a 2007 Veterinary Journal study which showed that glucosamine supplementation reduced pain and improved mobility in older arthritic dogs after 70 days of treatment.
This powerful supplement is easily accessible in many different forms such as capsules and powders, and even baked into dog treats, making it easy to give to your best canine pal.
Fish Oil for Dogs
Fish oil also earns top marks as a supplement that provides excellent health benefits to dogs. Oils derived from naturally oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies or herring are rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
These essential acids assist with coat and skin health and are particularly helpful for dogs suffering from skin conditions related to allergies. Dr. Brennen McKenzie, a practicing veterinary scientist, found “that fish oil supplements can improve coat quality and reduce the dosage of steroid medications needed to control itching” (1).
The American Journal of Veterinary Research also determined that fish oils may play a critical role in providing relief for symptoms of arthritis.
Fish oil can be fed to your dog in capsule form or directly through an oil. Most dogs love the taste of oily fish, making getting this supplement into your dog a breeze.
Probiotics for Dogs
In recent years, we have seen a rise in probiotic use for both humans and canines to assist with digestion. Probiotic supplements, which are often available in liquids, pills or fortified yogurts, encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, an important component of maintaining a digestive tract that processes foods effectively.
For dogs that suffer from gastrointestinal distress or diarrhea, probiotics can provide rapid relief. Dr. McKenzie cautiously supports the use of this powerhouse supplement in canines, as the evidence seems promising.
Milk Thistle for Dogs
For dogs suffering with liver conditions, milk thistle can be a great help. An herb-derived supplement, milk thistle contains an ingredient known as silymarin. One of the benefits of milk thistle use is the potential for a reduction in inflammation, a leading cause of discomfort and pain in dogs.
Milk thistle appears to work as an antioxidant and may fight pro-inflammatory chemicals or the metabolism of some toxic chemicals in the liver. It is primarily a supplement for liver support rather than to be used as a treatment for a specific disease.
What precautions should I take when giving supplements to my dog?
As with all medications and supplements given to dogs, there are some precautions that should be taken to ensure continued canine health and wellness.
One of the most critical precautionary measures is to first consult the advice of your veterinarian before beginning any new holistic protocol. Correct dosages are vital for your dog to experience any health benefits.
Supplements given in too high a dose or combined with other pharmaceutical medications can result in health complications. Your vet can guide you towards the proper supplements and the correct amount to meet your dog’s specific needs.
Where you obtain supplements for your dog is as important as which items you select. Not all supplements are created equal, and some may not be safe for canine consumption. The staff at your veterinary clinic can recommend the most effective and reputable brands of each supplement to ensure your dog’s health and safety.
- International Task Force on Canine Atopic Dermatitis--World Small Animal Veterinary Association. (2011). Treatment of Canine Atopic Dermatitis. Retrived from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1365-3164.2010.00889.x.
- Khuly, Patty. (2008). Top 6 Vet-recommended Supplements in Vet Practice. Retrieved from https://www.petmd.com/blogs/fullyvetted/2008/march/top-six-vet-recommended-supplements-vet-practice-5636
- LeBlanc, C., Horohov, D., Bauer, J., Hosgood, G., Mauldin, G. (2008). Effects of Dietary Supplementation with Fish Oil on in Vivo Production of Inflammatory Mediators in Clinically Normal Dogs. Retrieved from https://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/abs/10.2460/ajvr.69.4.486
- McKenzie, Brennen (2011). The Top Ten Pet Supplements: Do They Work? Retrieved from https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-top-ten-pet-supplements-do-they-work/
- Reisen, J. (2017). Four Popular Dog Supplements and What They’re Used For. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/popular-dog-supplements/
- Whole Dog Journal. (2019). Choosing Canine Supplements Wisely. Retrieved from https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/food/choosing-canine-supplements-wisely/