There are a lot of supplements out there but which are the best dog supplements and more importantly, does your dog need them?
We aim to find out a bit more here.
There are a huge amount of supplements available to our dogs these days and we need to know if they actually need them.
Sure, the stores want to sell them and the online world is happy to promote them, but as dog owners, we need to know that we are always giving our dogs the best food and treatments that they actually benefit from.
With that in mind, we will look at the kinds of supplements that are available for dogs through each stage of their lives starting with puppies.
Studies have shown that dog breeds that grow rapidly from the puppy stage will suffer from skeletal problems later in life.
It makes sense when you think about it.
The rapid growth can cause all kinds of orthopedic issues in later life.
The essence of these problems has it’s origin in the early stages of your puppies development.
In some breeds, the development of the dog’s bone structure is not fully formed until they are two years of age.
A good rule of thumb here is to not over-exercise your dog during the early formative time and this can be achieved by using a simple equation that is approximately 5 minutes of exercise per day per month age of your dog.
5 minutes x Age in Months Of Dog (eg 6 months)= 30 minutes daily.
This would mean a 6-month-old puppy really does not need to exercise for more than 30 minutes a day.
Obviously, letting your puppy out into the back yard or garden to have a toilet break does not count in this timescale.
So no long. exhausting walks for a young dog because they are still developing that bone structure.
Over-exercising early on can cause a lot of problems in later life.
Paying close attention to a puppies’ diet is vital during the early developmental time and research has shown that calcium is one of the key dietary factors that can lead to skeletal disorders later on, especially for giant and larger breed dogs.
This is one of the reasons that formulated diets for puppies are advantageous in so far as they have been developed with this in mind and they have the required protein and energy levels to meet the growing needs of our dogs and they have the right amount of calcium included too.
Below the age of six months, calcium absorption by the bones is passive so therefore puppies cannot regulate how much calcium the absorb from their food, and the more they eat, the more they will be absorbed into their bones.
If there is too much calcium in the food at this time and too much is absorbed into the bones, this can have an adverse effect on the development.
Therefore to sum up here, puppies do not need to be on supplements as long as they are on a complete and balanced diet.
Giving supplements in addition at this stage is actually going to be detrimental to your puppies’ health.
With adult dogs, as long as we make sure we are giving them good quality food that is labeled as complete and balanced we should be ok right?
Well. Generally yes. But is some cases we need to look deeper as this is when most of the signs of aging start to appear
Adulthood is a key time in a dog’s life and it’s a time that we as responsible owners need to be considering preventative steps to head off any possible issues with joint pain or any other physical conditions associated with aging.
It’s a time when your dog may need some form of medicine from your vet and it can be a good time to think about supplements as a complementary approach for a number of early signs in any kind of condition associated with this.
Larger breeds of dogs can be classed as senior dogs in an age range of 5 to 8. Smaller dogs can be considered seniors from the age of 10 onwards.
One of the things we want for our dogs to experience as they grow older is for their day to day lives to be as fulfilling and as happy and pain-free as possible.
I know I speak from experience that seeing a beloved pet get older has only made me love them even more and that means monitoring their exercise regime closely and not tiring them out.
It’s important for them to always feel like they are a dog and we need to support them in this, but muscular and joint pain is a pretty miserable thing to endure.
Issues connected with a dog over the age of seven can often include joint or mobility problems.
Either of these can severely affect the day to day living of your dog.
Untreated this can lead to the well being of your dog diminishing as well as their behavior towards you and other dogs changing.
You know how grumpy we can feel as humans if we are off-color or in pain and it’s exactly the same for our dogs.
They can’t tell us, remember!
We need to be thinking about these issues and acting on their behalf and in their best interests.
There are several types of supplements on the market that can help with osteoarthritis or OA.
Many of these are used as anti-inflammatories but it is worth noting that these supplements should never be used as an alternative to anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by your vet.
At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, I have to stress that if you notice your dog struggling with mobility or they appear in any discomfort then a trip to the expert is always the ONLY course of action.
Essential fatty acids have been shown to be beneficial in joint care because of their anti-inflammatory properties.
Chondroitin and glucosamine are good examples of supplements that work in conjunction with each other to maintain joint health.
Glucosamine is used to build new cartilage, something that is much needed in OA, and the Chronodroitin can help to slow the rate of cartridge damage.
These can be used preventively and also alongside medical treatment for Osteoarthritis.
Green Lipped Mussel has a naturally occurring combination of many nutrients including omega 3 fatty acids which will benefit joint health in your dog alongside anti-inflammatory medication.
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence showing that diets with added Green Lipped Mussel have greatly benefited dogs with osteoarthritis.
Curcumin is the biologically active compound found in turmeric and has been shown it contains phytochemicals which also contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
There is some evidence that it may be effective in treating OA but this has yet to be truly proven, therefore more measurable research is needed in this field.
To summarise, depending on you dogs life stage, there may be supplements that can improve the quality of their lives and as long as you take caution and always get the best possible advice from your vet, then many of the products that promote improved joint health are good to use as long as they are used in tandem with prescribed meds if there is a real need.
Supplements For Preventative Health For Dogs
For general health and vitality in our dogs, antioxidants, in particular, have been shown to be helpful.
They have been to show that they actually slow down some of the physiological signs of aging as well as promoting and supporting a healthy immune system.
The increased oxidative stress with age is considered one of the important factors in the process of aging and by including antioxidants in your dogs’ diet, this can offset this.
Antioxidants don’t have to be anything specialized or in a supplement (tablet) form either.
Adding something as simple as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries which are excellent sources of Vitamins C and E as well as selenium, can hugely help your dog’s being.
A nice sized handful scattered in with your dog’s usual food will almost certainly be scoffed down with no complaints and this way you know once again that they are having a natural additive that is only going to help them in the long run.
Having an overweight dog can have a huge impact on their quality of life.
In much the same as we see in humans, overweight and out of condition dog is going to have a hugely restricted quality of life.
Many of the things a dog loves to do are based on fitness and feeling well is absolutely paramount in them being able to run, chase, sniff, and just generally be a dog.
We as owners owe to them to factor in the exercise and diet regime that promotes this and if we neglect this in any way then the side effects on health are going to be huge and negative.
Not to mention mental health side effects, diet is so important so therefore if you feel your dog is overweight or you inherit a dog that is in need of dietary help it is important to look at certain factors.
Firstly, look at the ingredients of dog food that can help with them losing the unwanted extra weight yet still feeling full.
These include soluble fiber which forms a gel-like substance in the gut and this slows down digestion leaving them feeling fuller for longer.
In the same way as a bowl of porridge for us humans fills our tummies and slowly releases energy for us, the soluble fiber really satisfies even the hungriest of pooches!
L-Carnitine which is known to help the body burn fat as a primary fuel is also a good additive that you should look at in terms of ingredients also.
These additions to a dog’s diet may well help with weight control and importantly help prevent other problems associated with this in later life for your dog such as the OA that is accelerated in an overweight dog.
Look at adding things like Sweet Potato, pulses, and vegetables like a carrot to your dog’s diet and while you are at it, these foods are great for us too!
Joint care supplements can be used before there are any signs of joint stiffness and the evidence does show that they can work very well as a preventative measure and work as an offset for the daily wear and tear on the joints.
I myself add a drop of omega 3 in Cod Liver oil form to my dogs’ dry kibble mix on a regular basis and have seen no adverse side effects.
He weighs 29kg so a good way of knowing how much oil he can have daily is to look at this neat graph we have here:
You can, of course, give the oil in capsule form and an easy way to remember how much to give is as follows:
Small dogs 1 Capsule, Larger dogs 2 Capsules and for very big dogs (Great Dane, etc) 3 Capsules daily and either give your pet the capsule whole or gently pull apart the two pieces and sprinkle the contents onto their meal.
I have never had my Greyhound Wilson not enjoy the extra fishy oil on his dry kibble and I know it has made a huge difference in his life, coat, and also, knowing that you are adding some much needed extra oil to his joints is a good feeling too.
Supplements To Help With Existing Conditions
Probiotics are highly recommended as supplements in digestive related diseases such as pancreatitis and inflammatory bowel disease. They work to increase good bacteria in the gut which will of been reduced during a flare or through the use of an antibiotic that will of taken away all of the bacteria from the gut, including all the healthy kind that is needed.
Some of these contain digestive enzymes and that can be a healthy bonus to our dogs too.
There are many brands out there but the best-studied ones are probiotics containing acidophilus.
Certain fibers can act as prebiotics.
Fructooligosaccharides or FOS are prebiotic fermentable fibers that provide nutrients for the good bacteria in the gut.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids have anti-inflammatory properties which can also be a benefit to gut health too.
Also, Omega 3 fatty acids in combination with antioxidants, can help support blood flow to the kidney and promote kidney cell health.
Silymarin or Milk Thistle as it is more commonly referred to, is a known antioxidant and helps to promote synthesis but may also be beneficial in chronic liver disease although, research in this claim is still ongoing.
Again, with this kind of advice I always strongly urge you to talk to your Vet first before embarking on any kind of additional treatments.
There are man online experts out there, but your dog’s vet knows best. They know your dog better than anyone else when it comes to their health and building a good relationship with a vets practice is yet another important step in owning a dog.
A good chat with your Vet when they are prescribing medication for your dog is to always ask the question “What I else can I do to help?”
In terms of a reduced exercise regime, extra holistic supplements and diet changes may be needed to help the meds work better and these are always valid and pertinent questions.