If you do nothing else to change the way that your dog is living, there are 5 supplements that every dog needs for a healthier life. Although not every disease can be “cured” by adding these 5 supplements to your dog’s diet, they are vitally important to the overall health and well-being of your natural dog.
Through stress, environment, toxins, genetics, poor quality food there are 5 supplements that will greatly improve the lives of all dogs. Even if your dog lives in a bubble and you feel like he is living a healthy lifestyle and you are feeding the best diet possible, he will still benefit from these supplements.
Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that the body needs to function properly. Most vitamins and minerals need to be replenished on a daily basis.
No matter what diet that you feed your dog – raw, home cooked, commercial dry or wet food – it is deficient in vitamins and minerals. Even if the food that you feed states that it is complete and balanced, it still is lacking in vitamins and minerals. Cooking and processing destroys most of the vitamins and minerals that occurred naturally in your dog’s food.
In addition to vitamins and minerals being destroyed by cooking it, your dog may require more than the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals. If he is athletic and active, a working dog, or is sick or just had surgery, he may need more.
When shopping for a vitamin and mineral supplement for your dog, try to find one that is from a whole food source. I personally love Nupro. It is made with all natural, raw ingredients. I can put this into my pickiest dog’s food and she still will lap it up!
The word probiotic comes from a Greek word meaning “pro life.” Probiotics are good bacteria.
Some of the benefits of probiotics are:
- Probiotics help to replenish the microflora in the intestinal tract.
- Probiotics help to keep the bad bacteria under control.
- Probiotics help to strengthen the immune system. Over 70% of the immune system is in the intestinal tract.
- Probiotics help to release the nutrients found in food.
- Probiotics help to prevent gastro-intestinal upsets.
There are many things that deplete the good bacteria in your dog’s gut, antibiotics (Greek word meaning “against life”, medications, stress, dietary changes, etc., therefore it is important to supplement with probiotics.
There are many different types of probiotics on the market, what do you look for when shopping for a probiotic for your dog. What is important to look at when shopping for a probiotic is the amount of different strains and the potency, how many are in a serving. Ideally the probiotic would have over 10 different strains and over 10 million bacteria per serving.
#3: Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes help to breakdown food and unlock vital nutrients, so that it can be absorbed by the body. Some digestive enzymes are created in your dog’s body, specifically the pancreas. However, not all of the digestive enzymes that are needed for proper nutrient absorption are made in the body. All unprocessed food has digestive enzymes in them naturally, however, most of these naturally occurring digestive enzymes are destroyed by cooking them. In addition to heat killing natural digestive enzymes in food, pesticides, herbicides, preservatives and additives in food kill them. This is why it is necessary to supplement your dog’s diet with digestive enzymes.
There are 4 main types of digestive enzymes:
- Amylase – which helps to breakdown carbohydrates
- Protease – which helps to breakdown proteins
- Lipase – which helps to breakdown fats
- Cellulase – which helps to breakdown fiber
Without proper digestion and absorption of nutrients malabsorption can happen. Symptoms of malabsorption are:
- Acid reflux
- Gurgling belly
- Stinky stools
- Lose stools
#4: Fish Oil (Fatty Acids)
Fish oil, particularly Omega 3, offers so many benefits. Researchers are discovering daily new benefits of Omega 3 fish oils. There are 3 types of fish oil: Omega 3, 6 and 9 (not as well known). The most important one is Omega 3. Omega 3 is anti-inflammatory, where Omega 6 promotes inflammation. Scientists are being to learn that the cause of most diseases in inflammation. Allergies are caused by inflammation. Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. Heart disease is caused by inflammation. Cancer is inflammation.
Researchers are just beginning to recognize the amazing healing benefits of Omega 3 fish oil for cancer. Cancer is a leading cause of in older dogs. Over 50% of dogs will be stricken with some form of cancer in their lifetime. According to researchers, adding Omega 3 fish oil supplements to dogs with cancer it can aid in controlling the cancer (not growing or spreading), it can increase remission and survival times, and it can help to counteract the metabolic changes that cancer causes like muscle wasting and weight loss.
Omega 6 is plentiful in food and Omega 3 is not, unless feeding a fish based diet. Omega 6 and 3 needs to be balanced. In a typical diet the ratio is about 50 (Omega 6) :1 (Omega 3), it should be closer to 5 (Omega 6) :1 (Omega 3).
A typical commercial diet has an over abundance of Omega 6. A lot of companies are now adding Omega 3 to there food, but unfortunately Omega 3 quickly looses it’s potency if not stored properly.
When looking for an Omega 3 fish oil supplement it’s important to research a few things. You want to see how it is harvested, manufactured, preserved, packaged, tested. You want to make sure that it does not have heavy metal in it. And make sure to check the date and type of bottle it’s in (you want a dark bottle), Omega 3 fish oil easily spoils.
Natural food sources that are high in Omega 3 include: canned sardines and high quality eggs. You can include these in your dog’s diet to increase his Omega 3 intake. I do use canned sardines a few times a week, but I also include Krill Oil daily. I feel Krill Oil is superior to other Omega 3 fish oils for a few reasons:
- The important substances (DHA and EPA) are in a phospholipid form, which makes it more absorbable.
- Kril Oil naturally contains phosphatidycholine, a natural source of Choline. Choline is an important natural supplement to support brain health. Choline also naturally supports the liver.
- Krill Oil is a natural source of Astaxanthin, a very potent anti-oxidant. We are only beginning to learn of the health benefits of Astaxanthin.
A few words of caution about using fish oil.
- If you have a dog prone to pancreatitis or gi upsets, please talk to your vet first and add slowly. With all of the many excellent health benefits of fish it, it is still a fat. And adding fat to certain dogs can upset there bellys.
- Dogs lack the appropriate enzymes to absorb Flaxseed oil, even though it is an Omega 3 fish oil. So I would stay away from supplement with Flaxseed Oil and stick with a fish oil.
- Be careful using Cod Liver Oil. Cod Liver Oil contains high amounts of vitamin d. Vitamin d is a fat soluble vitamin, which means the body can store the excess amounts that it doesn’t use on a daily basis. This excess can become toxic and cause liver problems. It is ok to give occasionally, but I would again stick with other fish oils.
#5: Joint Care Supplements
You may feel that it is only necessary to begin to worry about joints in our aging dogs or dogs that have some type of joint problem. However, it is better to be proactive with maintaining your joint health than to wait until problems arise.
Joint cartilage breaks down and depletes daily, as this is happening our bodies are trying to replace the lost cartilage. However, our bodies do not do this well and eventually arthritis will develop.
Joint supplementation will help to keep the joints flexible, reduce stiffness, and to have a good range of motion.
There are a few good supplements to use, but the most common is glucosamine and chondroitin.