There are many reasons your dog may need supplements including vitamin or mineral deficiency, prevention of inflammation, toxin exposure, allergies or intolerances to certain foods, and even for overall wellness. Your dog may also need supplements incorporated into their regimen based on their life stage. For example, if you have a senior dog, there’s a chance their body is no longer absorbing certain nutrients like it used to. In these cases, supplementation could be helpful. Learning how to supplement dog food can be helpful in many cases.
How to Supplement Dog Food
If your dog is deficient in a particular nutrient, the best way to supplement is through whole foods, like whole fish rather than fish oil, for example. If a dog’s nutritional needs can’t be met by food for any reason, like an allergy, not being able to find the recommended food, or for convenience, supplements can help.
However, when looking for dog supplements, it’s important to remember that they aren’t all created equal. If you provide your dog with a supplement with poor bioavailability (the ability of the body to absorb the nutrients), it’s not only a waste of your money but won’t help your pet. In this article, we’ll discuss supplementing with whole foods, and supplements and outline the ones we typically recommend.
Probiotics for Healthy Gut
Like us, your dog has something called a gut microbiome. Inside a healthy gut microbiome, there is a balance of good and bad bacteria. When bad bacteria overwhelm the good bacteria, this is known as dysbiosis which can wreak havoc on your dog’s gut health. This is where probiotics come in. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help get your dog’s health back on track so it can return to balance.
Dysbiosis is typically caused by the use of antibiotics and steroids. The drugs kill both good and bad bacteria in your dog’s gut, allowing bad bacteria to grow unchecked. This can lead to digestive problems like diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation. Dogs who eat a lot of processed foods are also more likely to suffer from dysbiosis because these foods contain ingredients that can irritate the gut lining and allow harmful bacteria to enter your dog’s body.
When you’re looking for a probiotic supplement, S. boulardii is a good option to look into. This yeast-based strain helps bring your dog’s gut microbiome back to homeostasis, and it’s resistant to antibiotics. It is most often used to treat diarrhea in dogs, but it also works well as a daily supplement to keep them healthy. Search for an S. boulardii product that contains 5 billion CFU. If the product contains less, it may not work as effectively.
Full Bucket Health Daily Dog Probiotic
The FullBucket Daily Dog is a concentrated yeast-based formula that naturally supports digestion and immune function in adult dogs utilizing probiotic, prebiotic, digestive enzymes & L-Glutamine. It’s all natural, formulated and used by veterinarians, and assists in a healthy gut microbiome.
Digestive Enzymes for Proper Absorption
Digestive enzymes are proteins that break down food in the body. The pancreas makes them and sends them to the small intestine, where they help break down food. Digestive enzymes help break down proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and some vitamins and minerals.
If your dog’s body does not produce enough digestive enzymes on its own, you may need to supplement them. Digestive enzymes are often helpful for dogs with skin problems, food allergies or intolerances, and/or recurrent ear infections.
We recommend reviewing the Adored Beast Apothecary for digestive enzymes. Their digestive enzyme formula has three main ingredients that help get your dog’s digestive system back on track: multi-strain probiotics, bromelain (from pineapples), papain (from papayas), and larch.
Slippery Elm for Ailments
Slippery elm for dogs is an excellent supplement to have on hand. The bark of the slippery elm tree is used to make a gelatin-like substance called mucilage. This mucilage contains polysaccharides that have numerous health benefits for humans and dogs alike. Slippery elm bark has been used for centuries by Native Americans as a natural remedy for coughs, sore throats, gastrointestinal problems, and diarrhea.
In addition to being rich in nutrients like vitamins A and C, and B complex vitamins (such as niacin), calcium, magnesium, and iron, slippery elm contains many anti-inflammatory compounds that can help soothe your dog’s digestive tract or respiratory tract if they’re not feeling well.
We recommend purchasing the capsules rather than the powder. The capsules help with dosage and tend to be easier to work with.
If you have organic slippery elm bark powder, mix approximately one-quarter of a teaspoon with cold water for every 10 pounds of body weight. If you have a product you purchased, review the dosage instructions for what the manufacturer recommends. Keep in mind, these are general guidelines and can be adjusted as necessary.
Milk Thistle to Cleanse the Liver
The liver is a hard-working organ, and it’s especially important for dogs. It helps detoxify the body, and it processes nutrients from what you feed your dog. But sometimes, the liver can get a little overworked, and that’s when it needs a boost from milk thistle.
Milk thistle will help reduce inflammation in your pet’s liver, which can help prevent congestive heart failure and other types of damage. It also helps clear out toxins that build up in the liver and protects it against damage from harmful substances like environmental pollutants or toxins from food sources.
The active ingredient in milk thistle is silymarin, which is a compound made up of flavonoids. Silymarin helps repair damaged cells and membranes and prevents liver cell death. It also stimulates the liver to produce more enzymes and bile acids, helping the liver function more effectively.
Milk thistle can be taken as a supplement or added to your dog’s food. The recommended dosage is 1-2 grams per 10 pounds of body weight per day.
Eggs for Added Nutrition
Eggs are a high-quality protein source for dogs. They have all of the nine essential amino acids that your dog needs to grow and build muscle.
Eggs are also a good source of vitamins A, D, and B12. Vitamin A helps maintain healthy eyesight and skin, while vitamin D aids in bone growth and calcium absorption. Vitamin B12 is needed for red blood cell production and nerve function.
The number of eggs you can feed your dog depends on their size. Large-breed dogs can consume one egg per day, whereas smaller dogs should be limited to 1/4 of an egg per day.
You should also factor in the added calories from eggs if your dog is on a calorie-restricted diet. One egg is generally equivalent to 70 calories.
When possible, you should also feed your dog organic eggs. If you’re able to, purchase eggs directly from the farm. The sooner the eggs are consumed after being laid, the more nutrition your dog will receive.
Eggs contain a lot of cholesterol, which can be harmful to dogs with certain health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. If your dog has these conditions and you’re considering egg consumption, talk to your veterinarian first to get their advice on how much is safe for your pet’s diet.
Whole Fish for Fatty Acids
Raw diets can be deficient in fatty acids, including EPA, DHA, and ALA. Small, oily fish is the best option for adding omega-3 fatty acids to your dog’s diet. Larger fish have longer lifespans and are known to accumulate heavy metals. The following fish are recommended for your dog’s bowl:
- Mackerel: Contains the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. High concentration of Vitamin D.
- Herring: Contains less Vitamin D than Mackerel but is still high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Sardines: Often easier to purchase than mackerel and herring. If you purchase sardines from the grocery store, make sure they are stored in water rather than oil. Contain moderate amounts of Vitamin D, EPA, and DHA.
If you’re feeding fresh fish, regardless of where it’s sourced, you should freeze the fish for at least a week to eliminate any parasites or bacteria.
If your dog doesn’t like fish, you can search for krill oil, but there are a few factors to keep in mind while you’re choosing a product. Fish oils are known to oxidize quickly, meaning most are no longer good for your dog by the time they hit the shelf for purchase. Fortunately, companies that store their fish oils in dark-colored bottles are more likely to have viable products.
You should also search for products that should remain refrigerated. Refrigeration reduces the risk of oxidation.
Some companies offer omega-3 powders, which can offer a replacement for whole fish or krill oil. Powders have a longer shelf life and are often easier to provide the correct dosage. Look for powders that are derived from anchovies and check to see if they have a noticeable fishy smell.
Omega-3 powder capsules can stay good for up to two years, while liquid fish oils go bad quickly. This makes omega-3 powder capsules a better choice for dogs who don’t like fish.
Turmeric has been used for thousands of years in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, but it’s only recently that the Western world has caught on. Turmeric is a spice commonly used in curry and many other dishes.
Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant, which means it can help fight off illness and disease and even slow down the aging process. It is also known as an anti-inflammatory, which may help dogs with arthritis or other joint problems feel less pain.
If you’re looking for a natural way to help prevent inflammation and joint problems, turmeric paste should be a daily addition to your pup’s meals. Our favorite DIY recipe is from Planet Paws.
Generally, your dog can have half a teaspoon of golden paste per 10 kg of body weight per day. However, this can be adjusted as necessary.
Bone Broth for a Health Boost
Bone broth is a nutritious way to boost your dog’s immune system. Bone broth is rich in nutrients like gelatin, collagen, and amino acids. These nutrients help skin and hair get back to being healthy, bones and joints get stronger, digestion gets better, weight management gets easier, and the immune system works better. When your pup is sick, recovering, or going through an elimination diet, we recommend doing a modified fast with bone broth.
A Non-Traditional Allergy Test- Glacier Peak Allergy Test & Supplements
Glacier Peak Holistics offers an allergy test that tells the pet parent more than the traditional allergy test would. This test uses Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, to find out if the dog’s whole body is out of balance. It’s known as a biofeedback energy status analysis. The test gauges your dog’s body’s homeostasis (balance) in relation to the food and surroundings they are exposed to.
The energetic analysis can find up to 300 things in your dog’s food or environment that could be making him sick. Keep in mind that this is not designed to substitute a traditional allergy test, but rather to provide you with further insight into your dog’s energetics.
Digestive enzymes in dogs and cats | IVC Journal
Digestive enzymes | IVC Journal
Food microstructure affects the bioavailability of several nutrients
Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 5th Edition
Mineral and Trace Element Absorption from Dry Dog Food by Dogs, Determined Using Stable Isotopes | The Journal of Nutrition | Oxford Academic
Feeding Dogs: The Science Behind The Dry Versus Raw Debate: Brady, Dr Conor: 9781916234000
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