Does Your Dog Need Supplements?
Veterinarian Reviewed on April 10, 2009 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Every responsible dog owner knows that a diet which is both healthy and well balanced is essential for their dog to enjoy a long, happy life. Nevertheless, some dogs still require supplements in their diet. How do you know if your dog is one those dogs? If your dog is, do you know what supplements to add to your dog’s diet?
For most dogs, as long as they are fed a high quality diet, they usually do not need any additional supplements. Especially since most of these dog food formulas already contain all the necessary nutrients that your dog needs. However, keep in mind that some vitamins and nutrients found in dog food are not always easily digestible and so your dog’s diet may actually be lacking!
On the flip side, if you are feeding a low quality dog food to your dog then you will need to add extra supplements to his diet.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by adding a hardboiled egg to your dog’s food just a few days per week, as this give your dog extra amounts of vitamins A and D which helps to maintain good bone structure and healthy eyes.
Some dogs are fed a raw diet, whilst other dog owners prefer to cook their dog’s meals themselves. If your dog is fed in either of these two ways, you should educate yourself on the benefits of alternative sources of supplements. For example, you can increase your dog’s intake of vitamin B, which help supports healthy skin and muscles, by adding whole grains, green vegetables, nuts, beans, yeast, and liver to his diet.
Adding vitamin E (wheat germ, bran, and vegetable oil) to your dog’s diet will help keep immune system deficiencies away.
Adding vitamin K (liver, fish, leafy greens, and seeds) helps to enhance your dog’s blood clotting abilities.
Be careful when adding too much calcium to your dog’s diet though as this can actually have the opposite effect. Large breed puppies, for example, that have too much calcium in the diet will grow large bones that are not truly strong enough.
If you really want to make sure that your dog is receive adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals in his diet, it is highly advisable that you buy a vitamin supplement to add to your dog’s everyday diet. A great one to use is Canine Multi Essential Dog Vitamins. This supplement will help to give your dog the vitamins and nutrients that he may not be actually digesting from his food. And, since it is a natural, herbal supplement, your dog will experience more energy and be a lot more healthy as well.
Glucosamine is probably one of the best known supplements in every big dog’s diet. It helps to improve joint health and ward off arthritis by maintaining good joint cartilage. It actually helps produce joint lubricants which, in turn, help keep the joints moving and functioning with ease by hydrating and lubricating a dog’s joints. This added hydration and lubrication actually helps to prevent your dog from having arthritis later in his life when he is considered a senior dog.
Glucosamine also benefits larger breeds of dogs, since these dogs are usually predisposed to having joint and hip problems throughout their lifetime and the glucosamine helps to alleviate any future joint and hip issues.
Additional sources of glucosamine can be found in shellfish, as well as a unique process of fermenting corn, which creates a vegetable based glucosamine.
Just like for humans, glucosamine is a very safe supplement for your dog to have, especially if it is a part of a healthy and sensible diet, as there are no side effects or any interactions with other medications whatsoever.
Some large breed dog foods and high quality dog foods that are manufactured by reputable dog food companies, have glucosamine already added to them. This is largely due to the fact that a majority of leading animal nutritionists and top veterinarians have reported on the benefits of glucosamine in a dog’s diet and the major dog food producers have thus responded by adding glucosamine in to their dog food that they produce and sell.
If you do not have a large breed dog, or feed your dog a high quality dog food, or if your dog’s diet just does not contain glucosamine, or you feel that your dog could definitely benefit from the additional supplementation of glucosamine, then you should not have any problems in finding glucosamine supplements that are made specifically for your dog. There are even dog treats that have glucosamine in them! Some humane grade glucosamine capsules can even be opened and then sprinkled over your dog’s food.
However, it is much preferred to give your dog glucosamine supplements that are designed for dogs to ingest as these will be easier on their stomachs. Nupro’s Joint Support Supplement is the perfect example of proper doggie glucosamine! It is available for small and large breed dogs and contains a unique formula of Glucosamine Complex, MSM and Ester-C Chelated Mineral Blend.
Remember, however, that it is always advisable to discuss the nutritional needs of your dog with your veterinarian before you change anything in his diet, otherwise you may just inadvertently create an upset tummy for your dog. Your veterinarian will also be able to advise you on the type and amount of supplements that should be added to your dog’s diet.
Photo Credit: millicent_bystander
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan