According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), about 68% of adults in the US take some sort of dietary supplement or multivitamin daily. We know that for our own health, supplements can fill gaps in our nutritional intake and help support the health of specific organs like hearts. So, if we rely on supplements for our own health, it makes sense that our furry friends may need an extra boost to theirs. Supplements for dogs are becoming more and more common and popular, and there are many different ones you can buy, so we’ve put together a guide to show you a few of the best ones available! This article will cover:
Why Supplements for Dogs?
Like we said before, pets may need an extra boost to their nutrition, but how can you know this? You should always look at the ingredients in your dog’s food to see what it contains and what nutritional value it has. While dog foods are often fortified and formulated to give canines all the nutrients they need, certain age groups or dogs with specific health issues may need something more. Supplements are particularly important if you feed your dog homemade meals rather than store-bought food because chances are very good that your dog isn’t getting all the nutrients they need from homemade food. As with anything else, it’s important to talk with your pet’s veterinarian before starting any kind of supplement or vitamin for dogs.
Sometimes a pet nutritionist can help too because you need to know what exactly your dog is eating to know what extra nutrients they may need. Too much of certain vitamins and minerals can be bad for dogs, causing other health issues, and sometimes conditions treated by supplements are symptoms of more serious issues. You want supplements to help your dog in the best way possible, not hurt them, so always check with a vet and nutritionist before giving your dog any kind of vitamin or supplement!
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s look at some different kinds of supplements.
Multivitamins for dogs are very similar to multivitamins for people! They contain many different types of vitamins and minerals that dogs need to support general health. Dogs, like humans, need Vitamins A, B (including B-12 and B-6), C, D, E, K, and a few others, but they need them in different amounts.
WHAT DO THESE INDIVIDUAL VITAMINS DO?
- Vitamin A: responsible for vision, immune health, and growth
- Vitamin B: the different varieties of Vitamin B all have distinct and very important functions, many of them pertaining to metabolism
- Thiamine – can help with carbohydrate metabolism and energy regulation as a result
- Riboflavin, B12, Niacin – help dog’s enzymes function properly
- B6 – responsible for immune response, hormone regulation, nervous system function, glucose generation, and more
- Pantothenic Acid – also helps with energy regulation and metabolism
- Folic Acid – helps with mitochondrial protein synthesis (aka your dog’s ability to make and use proteins), as well as amino acid metabolism
- Vitamin C: unlike humans, dogs can produce their own vitamin C in their livers, and just like in humans, it works as an antioxidant
- Vitamin E: helps with cell function and fat metabolism
- Vitamin K: helps dog’s blood clot
- Covers a wide range of necessary nutrients
- Easy-to-administer doses (usually chewable)
- Can be difficult to regulate the specific amounts of individual vitamins your dog may need
- Can lead to overdoses if not administered correctly
Glucosamine is found naturally in the cartilage that cushions joints, and when both people and animals have arthritis, the cartilage is worn away. That is where glucosamine supplements come in. Current research suggests that taking glucosamine supplements can help to relieve the pain caused by inflammation and the degradation of the cartilage in joints. Currently, it is most often used for treatment of humans, horses, and dogs.
- Can aid and possibly speed joint recovery after surgery or injury
- Can ease arthritis pain
- Easy to administer
- As the name would suggest, Glucosamine is sugar-based, and it can be harmful to dogs with diabetes as a result
- Synthesized glucosamine is often derived from shellfish shells or made in a lab. Those with shellfish allergies should probably avoid handling it.
Antioxidants are something you hear a lot about, and while most people understand them to be something beneficial, not many people know what they actually do.
When food is metabolized, the chemical reactions produce what are called “free radicals”, which contain oxygen that is missing an electron. More free radicals are produced when a person or pet is sick, exposed to toxic substances, malnourished, or elderly, and these free radicals will try to steal the electrons they lack from the body’s cells. This then causes the cell to become a free radical, and a cycle of electron theft continues, weakening lines of cells.
High quantities of antioxidants are found in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Selenium, as well as in many other vitamins and minerals, and these antioxidants can give electrons to the free radicals without becoming free radicals themselves. This means that no cell lines are weakened by the electron theft. (Bet you didn’t expect a chemistry lesson today!)
- Antioxidants support a healthy immune system
- Support mental function and health in older dogs
- Can help dogs that suffer from allergies and skin problems
- Support agility and memory in older dogs
- As with any supplement, overdoses are possible and can make your dog very sick.