To help our dogs stay healthy, there are a lot of things we can do. A high-quality, balanced diet is a good start. But, even if you feed your dog the highest quality diet, he still cannot benefit wholly from the foods if he cannot digest and absorb the foods properly.
Moreover, even the freshest and best quality homemade diet can still lack some key nutrients. For the above reasons, it is important to give daily supplements to our dogs.
What are the best dog supplements for our canine friends?
It mostly depends on the individual dog’s specific diet, health conditions, and lifestyle. But there are some essential supplements that almost every dog can benefit from.
Below are some canine supplements that we recommend giving to our dogs in order to maintain and promote their optimal health.
Best Dog Supplements – Enzymes
Enzymes are present in foods and the body can also produce them to help with the digestion process.
The problem is, food enzymes are unstable. Food cooking and processing can easily destroy the enzymes in the foods. Dogs who are not on a raw diet (or homemade diet with foods only cooked lightly) will benefit from supplementation of digestive enzymes.
Supplementation ensures that the dog is getting enough amount of enzymes for proper food digestion and nutrient absorption.
In addition, it can help protect the dog against health issues as a result of poor digestion, e.g. allergies and immune disorders such as IBD.
Supplementing your dog with digestive enzymes is therefore an essential way to improve digestion and maintain gastrointestinal health.
Read more about digestive enzymes for dogs here.
Best Dog Supplements – Probiotics
The dog’s digestive tract is his first line of defense against bacterial or other toxic invasions. It is extremely important to maintain the proper balance between the “bad” bacteria, which are a normal part of the intestinal environment, and the “friendly” bacteria (intestinal microflora).
A dog’s immune system can become weak due to stress, diet change, and illness. Some medications, particularly antibiotics, can destroy the good bacteria in the digestive tract. When that happens, the amount of “friendly” bacteria can decrease and the “bad” bacteria can easily over-multiply and take over control.
Adding probiotics to your dog’s diet can help maintain the right balance between the bad and the good bacteria in your dog’s digestive tract. By doing so, you ensure that this key part of your dog’s immune system is functioning optimally.
Read more about probiotics for dogs here.
Best Dog Supplements – Fatty Acids
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential to health maintenance in dogs, and there is no more natural place to get them than fish oils.
Usually, dog food contains sufficient Omega-6 fatty acids. As such, dogs are seldom depleted of them. But the same cannot said for Omega-3’s, and supplementation of Omega-3 FAs is highly recommended.
The two active forms of fatty acids (EPA and DHA) in Omega-3 are extremely important for our dogs’ health.
EPA is a precursor for the formation of prostaglandins that have beneficial effects on the liver, immune and cardiovascular systems. DHA is essential for developing and maintaining neural structures such as the retina and brain.
Furthermore, EPA and DHA act to reduce inflammation. They are essential for improving many health problems associated with inflammation, such as arthritis, allergies, and so on.
Read more about fish oil for dogs here.
Multiple Vitamins for Dogs
A basic multi-vitamin and mineral supplement is beneficial for most dogs, especially for those who are on a commercial diet. The reason is, much of the vitamin and mineral content in packaged dog foods is destroyed during processing.
Even if you feed your dog a raw diet with fresh foods, there is no guarantee that such foods contain all the essential vitamins and minerals these days due to poor soil quality and improper farming practices.
However, how much of multi-vitamin and mineral supplement to give to your dog depends on his diet. If you are feeding a fresh food that is professionally formulated, then your dog does not likely need the full dose of a daily vitamin. Half would likely be enough.
If you are feeding homemade food, then a full dose of a multi-vitamin supplement is probably a good idea. If you are unsure as to the correct dosage, consult your veterinarian.
Antioxidants for Dogs
Antioxidants are the vitamins, minerals, enzymes or other chemical compounds that work to remove free radicals. They work by neutralizing the oxidants, preventing or limiting cell damage.
They are important in supporting the dog’s immune system, reducing inflammation, preventing cancer, and slowing aging.
All dogs can benefit from supplementation with antioxidants because most dogs cannot obtain sufficient amount of antioxidants from their diet.
Read more about antioxidants for dogs here.
Best Dog Supplements For Older Dogs
As our dogs get older, on top of the above supplements, they need additional support to stay strong and healthy.
At the first signs of stiffness, or when your dog gets to be 7 to 8 years old, you should start giving your dog a joint supplement.
An effective joint supplement should include glucosamine and chondroitin, MSM, and preferably Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin C.
Such a supplement can help reduce the pain and other symptoms associated with arthritis and joint degeneration.
Visit our page on Canine Joint Supplements to view an effective joint support supplement for your aging dog.
To help protect and support the heart and gum health of older dogs, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an effective nutritional supplement.
If your senior dog is beginning to show symptoms associated with canine cognitive dysfunction, consider giving him a supplements with antioxidants that support the cognitive function and learning in older dogs.