Sometimes the food that you feed your dog does not provide enough nutrients to help him live a long, happy and healthy life. Aging dogs, as well as those with certain conditions, can benefit from a diet that is enriched with additional nutritional supplements. Because pet nutritional supplements are often sold in a powder form that is easy to measure and administer with each meal, many pet parents choose to add vital nutrients that could be missing from their dog’s diets, especially if they are feeding their pooch a raw or homemade diet.
Before supplementing your dog’s diet, make sure you discuss your dog’s health and needs with your veterinarian, who can steer you in the right direction not only in determining which, if any, supplements are necessary, but what dosages are right for your particular canine companion.
Daily Multi-Vitamin/Mineral Supplement
One of the most common canine supplements is a daily multi-vitamin/mineral that is specifically designed for dogs. This is necessary if your vet deems that the current food you are feeding your pet lacks the proper level of nutrients, or if s/he feels that high cooking temperatures or food storage could result in a loss of important nutrients in the food. Cooking methods that use high temperatures, as well as the storage of dog foods in very low or high temperatures could result in a loss of essential nutrients which could cause your dog to suffer from malnutrition.
In addition to a multi-vitamin/mineral, you may want to consider one or more of the following:
- Vitamin C is produced by your dog’s body naturally, but he may become depleted if he undergoes surgery, is under a lot of stress, has poor genetics or is over-vaccinated. Cooked foods that are heated to high temperatures also may lack the necessary amount of Vitamin C, which acts as a natural antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine.
- Calcium supplements can support healthy bone formation, muscle contraction, blood coagulation and nerve impulse transmission.
- Other vitamins, such as A, E, and B vitamins, can help maintain a strong immune system, as well as proper growth and reproduction. These vitamins can also assist in the prevention of certain diseases, such as cancer, as well as protect against various infections and allergies. Plus, they can also help combat stress and its adverse effects on the body.
- Fatty acids, particularly Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, are required for proper growth, energy, and the overall maintenance of the various tissues throughout the body, from the heart to the brain.
Nutraceuticals are sometimes recommended to dogs that have specific health concerns. These are natural supplements, such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin, which can be used for arthritic discomfort and joint mobility, or milk thistle, which can help heal a damaged liver and eliminate toxins from the body.
Things to Consider Before Giving Your Dog Nutritional Supplements
Your dog may or may not need nutritional supplements, based upon his current state of health and the food that you are feeding him every day. For example, if your pooch is already consuming a balanced diet that has enough of the essential nutrients his body needs to thrive and you supplement with additional nutrients, you may end up overdoing it and causing more harm than good. An overabundance of calcium can lead to skeletal issues, particularly in large breed puppies. Excessive vitamin A may harm your dog’s blood vessels and result in joint pain and dehydration. And too much vitamin D may damage the bones, lead to muscle atrophy or result in anorexia.
You may therefore want to consult with your veterinarian before adding nutritional supplements to your dog’s diet, especially if you are feeding him a prescription diet that may already have extra quantities of certain nutrients. When done correctly, there are many benefits that can be derived from adding nutritional supplements to your dog’s food on a daily basis. By providing the optimal level of various nutrients, you can help your pet’s body remain strong and healthy for many years.