By Hungry Bark | February 23, 2021
As a proud pet parent, your dog's health and wellness should be your top priority. You will agree that raising a strong, healthy, and active pet is a joyful sight to behold. Just like you take daily regimens of vitamins and supplements to boost your health, your pets may need more than just food to stay healthy.
Nowadays, pet owners are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of dietary supplements. According to the American Veterinary Association, about one-third of dog owners in the U.S use supplements.
But do your pets need supplements to stay active? And are they even safe? Most experts say they are effective; others say they aren't necessary and may even be harmful to dogs.
This article will address how to tell if your dog needs supplements and the best type of supplements for your pet.
What are pet supplements?
Nutritional or dietary supplements are ingredients or substances that boost your pet's nutrition, increase their activity level and improve wellbeing. They may contain vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and botanicals that are not available in your pet's meal.
Beyond bolstering your dog's nutrition, supplements lower risks of health problems and may be used to treat a variety of health problems, including
- Hip and joint
- Joint and mobility
- Skin and coat problems
- Heart issues
- Digestive issues
- Anxiety and behavioral problems
- Antioxidants, etc.
Pet supplements come in different forms, including chewable tablets, drinks, capsules, powders, and may double as treats for your pets.
Here's what you need to know. If your dogs don't get enough nutrients from their foods, most dietary supplements may help make up for the amounts of essential nutrients they need. However, they can't replace healthy and balanced diets.
Supplements will not make up for low-quality pet food, which often contains less protein, excess fat or carbs, and filler ingredients. So, it is better to invest a bit more in buying high-quality foods and balanced diets for your pet rather than using supplements to make up for deficiencies.
Types of Dog Supplements
There are different types and brands of dog supplements. These supplements are classified based on the roles they play and the health problems they address.
Let's take a look at some of the most popular dog supplements.
Hip and Joint Supplements
Most active dogs run around the house or exercise all day. And with frequent movements and activities, their joints are under pressure. As they grow older, it's natural for these pets to develop chronic hip or joint pain and arthritis.
If your dog has trouble moving around or getting up, hip and joint supplements like glucosamine may provide relief. Originally glucosamine is an organic compound that is naturally present in connective tissues and the joints. However, as your pet grows, glucosamine levels may begin to drop.
Glucosamine is one of the widely used supplements that aid mobility and flexibility in dogs. They help to repair damaged cartilage, the rubbery and strong tissues that protect your joints.
Unfortunately, there aren't any natural food sources of glucosamine. As a result, supplement manufacturers get glucosamine sulfate from shellfish shells.
Chondroitin is another supplement that improves your pet's joint health. It cushions the impact of stress on joints and tissues, repairs damaged cartilage and prevents your pet's cartilage tissue from dehydration or breakdown.
Methylsulfonylmethane (also known as MSM) provides sulfur, an essential building block for cartilage and joints. Supplements rich in MSM help build strong bones and cartilage, improve joint lubrication, flexibility, and mobility in pets.
The use of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements is scientifically proven to provide relief from osteoarthritis. According to a 2007 study, glucosamine and chondroitin supplements reduced pain and increased mobility after treatment for 70 days.
Supplements with blends of glucosamine, chondroitin, and methylsulfonylmethane are suitable for your pets. And they are available in many forms, including pills. powders, and as treats.
Skin and Coat Supplements
Your dog's skin and coat is a good reflection of her health condition. If your pets are healthy, their coats should be shiny, smooth, and their skin should be supple. Of course, you cannot resist snuggling your pet with shiny and lustrous coats.
Nutrients play an enormous role in keeping your pet's fur healthy. When nutrients like fatty acids are lacking, your pet's skin may be coarse or bumpy.
Supplements rich in fish oil and fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 prevents your dog's coat from overdrying and reduces excess shedding of hair. Plus, they alleviate skin allergies and improve coat quality and shine.
Recent research has shown that fish oils or fatty acids provide benefits that span beyond your dog's fur health. They reduce inflammation and diseases like colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Fatty acid supplements also reduce the risk of yeast infections and help treat heart and joint health.
Vitamins are essential nutrients for puppies and adult dogs. Like humans, dogs need vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K, and Choline to boost their immune system, develop muscles and live a healthy life.
If your pets do not get enough vitamins from their food due to eating problems or health issues, supplements may be your best bet. Canine pets like athletic dogs, security dogs with high activity levels usually go through lots of stress. So they need vitamins to recover and maintain their activity levels.
Most pet owners attempt to control or reduce their dog's weight by cutting back on food. Unfortunately, they also cut back on essential minerals and nutrients. With multivitamins and supplements, you can make up for your pet's lost vitamins while keeping calories in check.
If your pets are ill or recovering from sickness, the chances are that they may lose their appetite and eat less. Supplements may help boost their appetite or replace the vitamins and minerals lost from decreased food intake.
Older dogs mostly absorb small amounts of electrolytes, minerals, and vitamins. And supplements can improve absorption and bring their body vitamins to optimal levels. Vitamin-rich supplements may also increase your pet's energy level, speed up healing and improve its skin and coat health.
Pets are exposed to toxins from their environment. However, antioxidants protect our pets from these destructive toxins, free radicals, and hydrogen peroxides by removing them from their bodies.
Pets typically take in these antioxidants and nutrients from their foods. And they are present in substances like:
- Alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E)
- Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)
- Enzymes (catalase glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase)
When pets do not take in enough vitamins or antioxidants, they are exposed to potentially harmful molecules that can damage cell membranes or cause cell death. They may also develop health problems like:
- Skin allergies
- Respiratory diseases
- Heart disease
- Eye problems such as cataracts and blindness
- Autoimmune disorders and immunodeficiencies
- Arthritis and joint problems
Antioxidant-rich supplements for pets can replenish or keep these antioxidants and nutrients at optimal levels. They also counteract some cognitive disorders like memory loss, convert food into energy, and fight free radicals.
Prebiotics and Probiotics
Probiotics are living organisms ( bacteria and yeast) that are good for your pet's health. Like humans, probiotics occur naturally in your dog's body. They inhibit the growth of other harmful bacteria, maintain balance and keep your pets in good health.
That's why probiotics are called "good bacteria"!
That's not all. Probiotics keep your pet's digestive system in perfect condition, balance belly bacteria to improve digestion, and boost their immunity against illnesses.
The most popular types of probiotics are lactobacillus, bifidobacterium, and saccharomyces boulardii. Moreover, they make up key ingredients in probiotics supplements.
Probiotics supplements help treat diarrhea, stomach upset and keep digestion on track. They may come in the form of chews, powders, yogurts, capsules and some dog food formulations.
Prebiotics are also crucial for your pets. They are dietary fibers or compounds that feed the prebiotics. For probiotics to keep up with good work, they need to eat prebiotics like oats, asparagus, artichokes, honey, banana, etc.
Supplements can make up for the prebiotics and probiotics that are lacking in your pet's meal. When choosing probiotic supplements for your dog, you need to talk to your vet about your dog's health. Plus, you must ensure that:
- The probiotics contain the correct strains and amounts of bacteria for dogs specifically (consult your vet)
- The ingredients and food sources are not toxic to your pets
- The supplement contains a healthy balance of minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and prebiotics that will improve your pet's digestive and immune system
If your pets have sensitive tummies and digestive issues, Hungry Bark's Balanced Belly probiotics supplements will make them feel awesome.
Often, your dogs may get apprehensive due to loud noise from fireworks or thunder. Pets also experience anxieties due to separation, change of environment, traveling, or grooming sessions. Separation anxiety is common since your pets are mostly home alone for at least two or three hours daily or more.
When your pup is in such a state of disarray or discomfort, calming aids or supplements may help to calm your pet in these tense situations. These products soothe your dogs and help to manage stress, anxiety, and fear.
Before choosing calming supplements for your dog, you should identify what's causing their anxiety. The type of anxiety they experience will influence your choice of product.
Calming supplements and products usually in the form of tablets, tinctures, and chews. So if you are welcoming a new puppy or your pet is anticipating grooming appointments, you may introduce calming supplements that promote relaxation and restore sleep.
You can explore Hungry Bark's collection of calming dog supplements to give your best friends emotional support and help them live their best life.
Does my dog need supplements?
Pet supplements may not be necessary for every dog. According to Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, healthy dogs eating high-quality, nutritionally complete, and balanced dog foods won't benefit from most nutritional supplements, particularly minerals and vitamins already present in their diets at appropriate levels.
But, for some dogs, supplements can make a difference and improve the quality of their health and mental wellbeing. Here are some instances where you should supplement your pet's meal.
You should use supplements If your veterinarian has diagnosed your pet with diseases triggered by vitamin or mineral deficiency. Dietary supplements also help to treat health conditions that respond to supplementation. For instance, supplements rich in vitamin E are excellent for treating osteoarthritis in dogs due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
If your pet has zinc-responsive dermatosis, a disease caused by deficiencies in zinc, they may experience:
- Stunted growth,
- Multiple infections,
- Crusted and cracked footpads.
Your veterinarian may recommend oral or intravenous zinc supplementation and improvement in your pet's diet. In most of these cases, supplements alone may not cure the disease. It would help if you fed your dogs diets that are rich in specific vitamins and minerals.
You may often find it challenging to feed your pet with homemade diets that contain essential nutrients in the right amounts. To ensure your dogs take in nutritionally complete meals, you may need to add supplements to their home-cooked foods.
Before formulating these recipes, you need to consult your veterinary or pet nutritionist. He/she will recommend the best supplements and homemade meal combinations for your pet.
Poor Eating Habits
If your dogs are picky eaters or eat very little food, they may suffer nutrient deficiencies. Sick pets may lose their appetite and may find it difficult to take in enough nutrients required for growth and activity. Multivitamins and supplements can help ward off deficiencies and improve your pet's health.
Nutritional Deficiencies and Supplements
As we have mentioned before, you should use supplements if your dog's diet does not provide enough nutrients. However, there are other instances when you should supplement your dog's food.
When your dogs suffer digestive diseases, their digestive tract is unable to absorb enough nutrients. More so, if they have diarrhea or frequently vomit after eating meals, their bodies will not get nutrients before they are spilled or flushed down the drain.
Most infectious and non-infectious digestive diseases have symptoms like vomiting, regurgitation, diarrhea, excessive drooling, bloating, etc. It is best to treat your pet's digestive disease before providing supplements. With supplements, your dog can get bioavailable vitamins and minerals and live a nutrient-rich life.
Signs of Nutritional Deficiencies
Nutrient deficiencies usually show telltale signs, so you don't need to look through a magnifying glass to see them. When your dogs lack enough nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, here are some of the signs you should look out for.
Lack of Energy or Decreased Activity Level
Protein and carbs are a major source of fuel, calories, and energy for pets. They help younger pets grow and keep the older pets active. When your pet doesn't get enough carbs and protein from their food, they lack energy and cannot maintain high activity levels, exercise, or play chase.
Skin and Coat Problems
Skin or fur disorders are common among dogs. About 25 percent of dog visits to vets are associated with skin and coat problems.
Your pets need vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids to maintain healthy skin and fur. Without these vital nutrients, your pets may suffer hair loss or excess shedding, skin disease, and infection.
Change in Feces
Normal and healthy dog poop should be chocolate brown, firm, and a little moist. It should be free of mucus residues or foreign objects. If you notice abnormalities in your dog's feces like watery diarrhea, soft and loose stool, dark, yellow, or red stool, it could be a pointer to nutritional deficiencies or underlying health problems such as:
- Bacteria or viral infections
- Food allergies
- Ulcer or
- Inflammatory conditions like pancreatitis
- Digestive issues
Calcium is essential for the growth of bones in pets. So when your furry friends receive too little or excess calcium during their formative stages, they may develop bone growth abnormalities or grow at a slow pace.
Nutritional imbalances, excess amounts of sodium, potassium, or phosphorus, and dehydration can cause kidney disease in dogs. Some of the early signs of kidney problems include:
- Significant weight loss
- Pale gum
- Loss of appetite
- Increase/decrease in water intake and urine volume
Hip and Joint Problems
One of the earliest signs that indicate that your dog needs joint supplements is the inability to move its hip or joints. You may often notice that your pets have trouble getting up and down from their sitting position swiftly. Or they may prefer to remain in sitting or lying positions throughout the day more often than usual.
At other times, you also notice that your pets walk slowly or are unable to walk for long periods or run. The stiffness in your dog's movement or the inability to get up or down may be a sign of joint pain.
If your dog pants excessively, it may be a sign of hip dysplasia, arthritis, stiffness, or pain. Another notable sign of pain, joint cartilage damage, is when your pet starts to favor one leg over the other.
Lastly, If your dogs experience swelling in their joints, you need supplements like Hungry Bark's Move + Groove hip and joint supplement. The supplement provides a balanced amount of glucosamine, fish oil, protein, and other minerals that improve your pet's joint and paw health, ease joint pain, and ensure your dog maintains an active lifestyle.
What are the Best Supplements for my Dog?
Most pet owners pick up supplements off the shelf without their veterinarian's advice. Others may feed their dogs with human supplements or those made with ingredients like garlic, which are toxic for dogs.
Before you give your dog dietary supplements, you should talk to your veterinarian or pet nutritionist. Your vet will test for any nutritional deficiencies or health problems and determine the best supplements for your dog.
Top veterinarians and pet food experts recommend Hungry Bark's collection of supplements, fortified with vitamins and minerals. These supplements restore and rebuild your pet's joint health and keep your pet's belly, heart, and skin coat healthy.
Create Your Dog's Custom Meal Plan
your dog unique.
A nutritious and balanced diet is the foundation for your pet's growth and healthy living. However, if your dog eats homemade meals, supplements can make up for the vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Supplements also help to treat skin allergies, digestive problems, and other health issues.
Although supplements are not substitutes for high-quality diets, they boost your pet's immunity, improve your dog's joint health, skin and coat, gut health, and overall quality of life.
Your furry friend deserves the best. If you notice any nutritional deficiencies, you should try Hungry Bark supplement chews and dry foods to keep your dog healthy and happy.