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Do dogs need supplements?

Approx. 7 minutes read

Super Kev zooms into the kitchen, his cape a red blur trailing behind him. He’s ready to fight crime and zap the baddies. Watch out, world, Super Kev is here to save the day!

But first, Super Kev must take his morning multivitamin.

Yes, even pet heroes need to take their supplements, which brings us to the next question: do hero pets need supplements? In this article, we’ll explore the world of dog supplements. Are they necessary? What are dog supplements for? Do dog supplements really work? And also find out whether your dog needs a supplement.

Why do dogs need supplements?

In the last 70 years, pet owners and veterinarians alike have truly embraced the idea that dogs’ health and wellbeing all starts with good, healthy nutrition. What dogs eat from puppyhood through to old age can determine their health and quality of life. However, all dogs are different and their capacity to absorb and use the nutrients delivered via their food depends on a number of factors.

Even if you provide them with the best dog food, they may have food allergies or other immune response or stress-related issues that prevent them from using all the nutrients and ingredients in their food. They may also be genetically predisposed to certain diseases or disorders that require additional support in the form of vitamins, minerals and other supplements.

This is where dog supplements have an impawtant role to play.  

Do dogs need vitamins and minerals?

High-quality dog foods are scientifically formulated to deliver the best nutrition to meet the needs of specific dogs. Premium and prescribed pet nutrition is balanced and complete, meaning it already contains the right amounts of vitamins and minerals, probiotics, antioxidants and other ingredients for dogs’ optimal health. This is why it’s crucial to feed your dog the right dog food that is recommended for their particular needs. For example, large breed puppies will need puppy food with the right nutritional profile to suit their rapid growth in the early stages of life and reduce their risk of developing orthopaedic issues such as hip and elbow dysplasia. Senior small breed dogs will need a completely different nutritional solution to meet their needs for less activity, better dental health, and cognitive and joint support.

However, despite the best efforts of dog nutritionists, some dogs will still need additional nutritional help when it comes to conditions such as hormonal imbalance, food allergies, sore joints, skin problems, or some diseases of the internal organs. This is where dog supplements can come in handy.

Also, dogs that live on a homemade, raw or non-commercial diet will need vitamins and minerals added to their daily meals, but this should only be done with the help of a dog nutritionist. Any deficiency or excess of vitamins and minerals can be harmful to your dog’s health.

Please consult with the veterinarian before you consider supplementing your dog’s diet with vitamins, minerals or any other supplements. Only feed your dog additional nutrients based on the vet’s advice.

Are probiotics good for dogs?

A probiotic supplement is a good idea for most dogs, as they help to balance your pup’s gut bacteria. Bacterial balance in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract ensures your dog’s gut is healthy enough for maximum nutritional absorption and the optimal elimination of waste. Therefore, probiotics can help to correct the GI tract of dogs who have issues with constipation and/or diarrhoea, gas, bad breath, weight gain or loss, as well as itchy skin and allergies. Probiotics are also recommended for dogs recovering from an illness, especially if they were on antibiotics for infection.

While dogs with food allergies may need a change in diet and to avoid the proteins that could be triggering their allergies, eating a prescription diet or hypoallergenic dog food containing prebiotic fibre as well as added probiotics could be just the ticket to getting your dog’s gut health back on track.

If you want advice on whether probiotics are a good supplement for your dog, speak to your vet to see what they recommend. Here are some options:

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Is a fish oil supplement good for dogs?

Many premium dog food varieties contain fish oil to provide dogs with an optimal amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Dogs with dry, itchy skin and coarse coats can benefit from additional omega-3s in the form of a supplement to improve the condition of their skin and fur. Salmon oil is a popular source of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, which not only condition dogs’ skin, but also play a role in supporting a healthy heart and brain.

If you’ve noticed your dog’s skin looking a little flaky or their coat isn’t as shiny as it could be, ask the vet about how your dog could benefit from an omega-3 or fish oil supplement.

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What supplements work for stress in dogs?

Dogs are super sensitive furry friends who sometimes need a bit of suppawt when it comes to managing their stress and anxiety. Whether they suffer from separation anxiety, are scared of loud noises, or don’t enjoy travelling by car, they can benefit from supplements that will help to naturally de-stress them. Anti-anxiety supplements that contain L-theanine, Zylkene, or melatonin for dogs are ideal for dogs with mild anxiety. Pheromone products will have the same calming effect. They work best when combined with behaviour modification techniques, which expose dogs to their anxiety trigger and train them to remain calm.

If your dog has mild anxiety when there’s a thunderstorm, they need to get in the car to go to the vet, or when the cat is in a bad mood and your dog is on edge, a calming supplement can help to keep them calm. It will also help to gradually expose your dog to their trigger (loud noises and flashing lights, starting the car, or walking past the cat while she’s asleep) and reward them for staying calm. The best calming treats for dogs are those combined with positive reinforcement techniques to help your dog stay calm when faced with the thing that stresses them out the most. Try one of the following anti-anxiety supplements:

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What are the best hip and joint supplements for dogs?

Degenerative joint disease (DJD) or osteoarthritis is such a common problem for dogs – large breed dogs in particular, due to their size and weight – that joint supplements in dog food have become commonplace. Hip and joint supplement ingredients include glucosamine, chondroitin, green-lipped mussel extract, MSM, collagen, and omega-3 fatty acids – or any combination of these ingredients. They work to reduce the destruction of the dog’s joint tissue and cartilage, and to calm the inflammation that occurs in a joint with little to no cushioning. Osteoarthritis cannot be cured or reversed.

Some senior dog foods are formulated with these ingredients already in the kibble, delivering joint health support even before your dog starts showing signs of osteoarthritis, and slowing down the degenerative process. However, glucosamine and chondroitin for dogs can also be found in a whole range of joint supplements. From powders, gels and chews, to capsules, tablets and drops – joint care for dogs is available in a variety of formats to suit your dog’s lifestyle.

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Liver and organ supplements

Some dogs have diseases of and problems with their major organs, such as their liver, kidneys and pancreas – especially as they age. These issues can also play out on dogs’ skin, which can be a huge indicator of the health of a dog’s internal organs. Supplements that are focused on supporting digestion, liver health, and kidney and pancreatic function can contain ingredients such as B vitamins, thioctic acid, choline, and milk thistle for dogs – among other natural ingredients.

If your dog has issues with digestion or major organ function, ask your vet about recommending a supplement to support them.

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Do all dogs need a dog multivitamin?

Human children are often recommended to take a multivitamin, so shouldn’t furry children do the same? Not necessarily. Firstly, never give multivitamins intended for humans to dogs! Secondly, if your dog is eating a premium quality dog food, getting enough exercise and mental stimulation, and is in great condition with a clean bill of health from the vet, they don’t need a multivitamin. Only give your dog a multivitamin if the vet recommends it. Why?

If your dog is getting a balanced diet and is not deficient in any nutrients, there’s no reason to give them a multivitamin. Also, an excess of vitamins and minerals can actually be harmful to dogs when they are taken unnecessarily. Too much vitamin A can lead to vitamin A poisoning, which affects your dog’s skin and coat health, causes constipation, weakness and weight loss, and can affect your dog’s mobility and bone growth. An excessive amount of vitamin D affects the liver and kidneys and can quickly become fatal. High potassium levels in dogs can also be fatal because they have a direct impact on the heart’s ability to function. Calcium may be necessary for bone and teeth health in dogs, especially in large breed puppies, but excess calcium in puppies can lead to malformation of the skeleton.

Never give your puppy or dog multivitamins they don’t need, or without a recommendation from the vet. If you choose to feed your dog a homemade diet, work in conjunction with your vet or a pet nutritionist who can determine exactly which foods and supplements your dog may need for their unique health profile.

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