Whether dogs should take food supplements and vitamins is an open question because that depends on so many factors. Different dogs have different needs, they are of different sizes, breeds, ages, and in different health conditions.
Dogs that eat a diverse and balanced diet probably won’t need any vitamins and supplements, while older dogs or those that have some health problems may benefit from taking them.
Not all supplements are the same, either. Some of them are specially made to support certain conditions, and they could be harmful if given in excess to a dog that doesn’t really need them. Supplements can be of different quality too, so don’t rush to give them to your dog without your vet’s advice.
What Are Dog Supplements and What Are They For?
Food supplements are substances that are added to a dog’s diet for the sake of nutritional or therapeutic benefits. They can contain vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, and different herbs.
Supplements used for the diet are concentrated ingredients added to the dog’s food that help with including more nutrition in an imbalanced diet. Therapeutic supplements are used for the prevention or treatment of some diseases, but they also come in the form of food or food supplements, only in a higher dosage.
These concentrated doses of active ingredients are made to support dogs’ overall health and immune system, their skin, coat, digestive system, and gut health. There are also supplements for arthritis in dogs, for bones and joints, as well as supplements specially made for aging dogs.
Remember that supplements can never replace a healthy diet with nutritious food and fresh water, followed by regular play and exercise, but still, supplements can sometimes be very useful and come as the right kind of help to enhance your dog’s health or recovery from illness or an injury.
What Are the Most Common Supplements for Dogs?
Some of the most commonly used supplements for dogs are:
- Omega 3 fatty acids: Used for benefits of dogs’ skin and coat, but also heart and brain health and for reducing inflammations.
- Probiotics: Supplements that contain good bacteria that improve digestion, but also immunity and overall health.
- Multivitamins: Provide the mix of necessary vitamins for a complete and balanced diet.
- Joint and arthritis supplements: These usually contain glucosamine and chondroitin which support joint health and reduce possible pain.
- Digestive enzymes: Support digestion and absorption of nutrients. These supplements are commonly given to dogs with pancreatic insufficiency.
- Coenzyme Q10: Is usually found in heart health supplements for dogs, as it has positive effects on dogs with heart diseases.
- Supplements for liver health: They usually contain milk thistle for a healthy liver in dogs.
There are many other supplements and vitamins for dogs, and they are used to match every dog’s individual needs. Therefore, if you believe your dog would benefit from taking some extra vitamins or nutrients, talk with your vet and find out what will suit your pet the most, as well as what would be safe for it to take.
Are There Any Risks in Giving Supplements to Dogs?
Giving supplements to dogs can be risky, because a wrong choice of supplements, or an improper dosage could harm their health.
Dogs must be given only the supplements specially made for dogs and their specific condition. Giving too many supplements or vitamins to a dog can harm its health and disrupt its normal diet. Pay special attention to vitamin D and iron which can become toxic and dangerous if given in large amounts.
If your dog is already taking any medications, be careful of what supplements can combine. Some supplements won’t react well with certain medications and could reduce their effectiveness or even cause severe adverse reactions.
How to Choose Supplements for Your Dog?
Choosing dog supplements for your pet can be tricky, as they are not medication and are bought without a prescription. Medications are usually properly tested which doesn’t need to be true for all supplements on the market. That’s why you should pay special attention to their quality, as some of them can be contaminated with harmful substances that will bring more harm to your dog than benefits.
Besides containing harmful elements, the same types of supplements can simply be made differently, and ingredients can vary from product to product. You need to make sure you choose the one that will address your dog’s specific needs, therefore, try to read the labels and list of ingredients carefully and choose known brands that show expertise.
After all, because of all the uncertainty, getting advice from a trusted vet will be the best idea, as they should be able to recommend good and safe supplements for your dog.