The Best Natural Supplements for Dogs
The topic of supplements seems to come up frequently. I think it’s common in this day and age to try and use supplements as Band-aids. People try to use them to fix things that are better addressed via diet. This isn’t always the case, of course! But, I’ve noticed a trend towards over-supplementing without getting the diet on track first.
When you’re considering supplementing, first ask yourself what substance or nutrient is deficient. Remember, a supplement is supposed to replace a nutritional gap in the diet you’re feeding. If there’s something missing from your dog’s diet, see if there’s a way you can get it in whole food form first.
If not, consider supplementing—but only after you make sure the diet is as correct, balanced, and complete as possible. Providing nutrients in whole food form is much more beneficial in most cases than providing them as a supplement, because they’re more bioavailable to your pet.
No matter what you feed your dog, you’ve probably wondered what the best natural supplements for dogs are. Are there any you should be giving to help your pup be as healthy as possible? It’s a tough question, and probably one of the ones I hear most frequently. And it’s no wonder—there’s so much conflicting information out there. Even more than that, there’s just so much information floating around!
Some people swear by this supplement, others by that supplement. Some people say you shouldn’t supplement at all, and others say every dog needs supplementation throughout their whole lives. It can be enough to make your head spin (it sure has mine!).
The Best Natural Supplements for Dogs
While it’s next to impossible to put together a global supplement list that works for every dog in every situation, I did think it would be helpful to put together a list of some of the supplements I think are most valuable to dogs.
Plus, I thought it would be a good idea to break down when and why I think these supplements are helpful. That way, you can decide if it’s something you might want to give your pooch. To make things even easier, I’ll share which supplements I’ve had success with or heard positive things about.
Ready to demystify supplements? Let’s get started!
If you’re transitioning your dog from a processed food diet to a balanced, varied, raw diet; if your dog has been on antibiotics; or if they’re showing signs of an imbalance (for example, excessively gooey or waxy ears, skin issues, UTIs, diarrhea or vomiting, rashes, and so on), you should supplement their food with probiotics. In fact, probiotics are one of the best natural supplements for dogs. They are beneficial bacteria that, along with other amazing benefits, promote and support health and the efficient functioning of the digestive system.
If you feed a species-appropriate raw food diet, particularly a well-balanced prey model or whole prey diet, your pet is already getting probiotics through the organs they eat. Another great source of probiotics is green tripe (if it’s organic and pasture-raised, like the tripe from www.Greentripe.com—if it’s not, you run the risk that it doesn’t have many probiotics at all). I give my dogs green tripe once or twice a week (for all the benefits it contains, not just probiotics).
However, even if your pet gets probiotics through their raw meals, they may need additional supplementation. This is true if you transitioned them to a raw diet within the last 6 months or if you’ve given them antibiotics. Supplement for at least 6-9 months (and, if possible, even longer—it takes a long time to build the gut flora back up!).
I personally like Adored Beast’s Fido’s Flora for probiotics, and I give it to my dogs when I think they need a little boost. But it’s not the only options out there, so pick one that works for you. I would look for a supplement with a minimum of 10-12 strains of “good” bacteria and 20-40 million (or more!) beneficial bacteria per serving.
Enzymes are another vital supplement you might want to consider giving, particularly if your dog is coming off kibble or canned food. Enzymes are responsible for thousands of vital functions in the body, including detoxification, healing, digestion, and absorption of nutrients. If your pet’s body doesn’t have enough enzymes, they will die.
In the wild, carnivores naturally get enzymes from the meat and bones of their prey. If your pet has been on a kibble-based diet, her enzyme levels are undoubtedly very low, because the process of cooking and processing the kibble kills all the live enzymes that were in the meat.
With each raw meal your pet eats, they’ll gain vital live digestive enzymes. If you want to kick up their enzyme level (which is a good idea, if you’re transitioning from kibble), green tripe is a great option—it’s packed with digestive enzymes and tons of other nutrients.
#3: Turmeric paste
Turmeric is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. And, since cancer and other diseases start with inflammation, it’s important we as pet parents do everything we can to decrease and prevent inflammation.
#4: Fish oil
Our pets need omega-3 fatty acids. They support skin and coat health, joint health, help control inflammation, reduce allergies, and more. Essential fatty acids are fatty acids your pet can’t produce himself. Dogs obtain them through diet. Adding wild-caught whole raw sardines (frozen, thawed, or semi-thawed) every week is a great way to boost omega-3s.
If your pet needs some additional supplementation beyond what the sardines provide, krill oil is a great choice (I really like this one). There are less pollutants and contaminants in krill than in fish (because they’re at the bottom of the food chain), krill oil doesn’t contain heavy metals (while fish oil must be tested to make sure mercury levels aren’t too high), dogs tend to absorb it better than fish oil, and it has more of the omega-3 fatty acids that we’re going for.
Krill oil is often more expensive than fish oil, though, so if you decide to go with fish oil (instead of the sardines or the krill oil), make sure it doesn’t contain soy or other questionable ingredients (one option I’ve used and liked is Deley Naturals Wild Caught fish oil for dogs, although I do prefer wild-caught, whole, raw sardines if possible).
Last but not least in our list of the best natural supplements for dogs: antioxidants. Antioxidants decrease various chemicals that cause cell damage. They include Vitamins C and E, among others. Vitamin C is most present and bioavailable to dogs in raw liver (and least present in muscle meats)
Here is a round-up of products mentioned in the article for your shopping convenience!
- Adored Beast’s Fido’s Flora
- Green tripe
- Organic turmeric
- Krill oil
- Deley Naturals Wild Caught Fish Oil
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