Dietary supplements are vital to any family's health - they help to fight diseases and keep our systems smooth and running. Like humans, dogs need dietary supplements too because food alone cannot meet all dietary requirements. Besides, dietary supplements help to prevent and correct deficiencies. However, there is no one dietary supplement that fits all needs. Supplements are tailored into a diet to meet a dog's individual needs at every stage in life. For example, puppies need vitamin and mineral supplements, while senior dogs need glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. If you are considering feeding your dog dietary supplements or wondering which one and how much to feed, read on to discover why supplements can make a significant difference in your dog's life.
Dietary supplements are not substitutes for meals; they serve as building blocks to a dog's overall health and catalyze a nutritionally adequate (all nutrients in the right amount) meal to achieving its full benefit. Moreover, dietary supplements need to be given alongside adequate exercise, sufficient mental stimulation, and good quality nutritious diets to ensure a dog's overall health, i.e. neither one acts as a substitute for the other.
Why Do Puppies Need Supplements?
To start off, a puppy that's weaned falls short of certain nutrients it received from it's mother. Although weaning food may have necessary nutrients in adequate proportion, supplements can help to further stimulate their bodies to grow well.
Power of Protein: Some dog foods do not contain adequate protein to meet the growing needs of a pup's body. When considering protein supplements for puppies, choose one that is specifically labeled for puppies and not adult dogs; and remember to choose a supplement with good quality meat protein to give him or her the best of energy.
Friends with Fatty Acids: Essential fatty acids like omega 3 and 6 promote a healthy cardiovascular system and a shiny coat. They also help to build muscle and strengthen joints in young puppies. A puppy deficient in fatty acids tends to develop digestive problems, allergies, and deficiency diseases. EFAs for puppies come in the form of oils - fish oil, hemp oil, and coconut oil.
Desirable Digestion: Prebiotics and probiotics are by far the most important to keep a puppy's digestive system in good health. Dogs can produce only certain enzymes on their own, but not enough to ensure complete digestion. To keep a puppy's metabolism strong, he needs digestive enzymes like amylase to break down carbohydrates, lipase for fats, protease for amino acids, and cellulase for fiber, and digestive supplements help with that. On the other hand, probiotics promote healthy gut flora and prevent pups from experiencing diarrhea and other tummy troubles, especially when transitioning to new food.
Calcium, Phosphorous and Vitamins: Calcium helps to promote strong bone formation, cognitive function, and blood coagulation. When given in the right balance with phosphorus, they prevent orthopedic diseases when puppies mature into adults. Most dog foods have adequate vitamins in optimum proportion for puppies. However, be sure to check for Vitamin A and D - dogs deficient in Vitamin A and D are predisposed to certain cancers, muscle weakness, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
Why Do Adult and Senior Dogs Need Supplements?
It's easy to understand why puppies might need supplements, but dog parents are usually at a loss to understand why healthy adult dogs need them too. Well, the answer lies in 'healthy' - adult dogs need supplements to stay healthy until the very end.
Provide Essential Nutrients: A dog's diet needs a boost of essential nutrients in bioavailable amounts to strengthen an existing healthy body - you can never be too healthy, right? Fats and carbohydrates are adequate members of dog food, but certain vitamins, fatty acids, and minerals are lost in the commercial and domestic process of cooking, heating, dehydrating etc. Hence, veterinarians recommend supplementing a dog's meal with missing nutrients.
Boosts Absorption: Dog food, wet and dry, act as building blocks to good health, but they do not provide a pathway to improve low absorption of vital nutrients. Dietary supplements have a protein-based delivery system that optimizes a dog's dietary intake of essential substances like chondroitin, which helps to repair cartilage and strengthen joints in older dogs. In other words, they make sure that all the nutrients are available in a maximum form for absorption.
Aids Skin and Coat: Itchy skin, fur loss, excessive shedding, fungal infections, lice, ticks, fleas, environmental allergies....the list goes on. Supplements like fish oil, amino acids, coconut oil, and biotin are known to fight these skin infections, keep a dog's coat shiny and healthy, replenish vital systems, and prevent the spread/onset of particular skin problems.
Sustains Healthy Digestion: Like with puppies, prebiotics and probiotics promote healthy gut flora and find a perfect balance in everything, including a dog's mood. Probiotics', a popular dog supplement, efficacy increased with combines with prebiotics and soluble fiber. Digestive supplements reduce the occurrence of constipation or diarrhea by preventing the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut. They also help to improve bad breath and IBS.
Helps Senior Dogs with Age-Related Problems: While puppies need more supplementation for development, growth, cognition, and energy, a senior dog needs one for body repair and restoration, pain relief, inflammation control, and joint maintenance. Supplements for senior dogs minimise the effect of aging.
Helps Immune System: On the whole, immune supplements make the immune system uncompromised, alert, and ready to attack any infection. This, along with exercise and nutritious food, helps a dog to fight illnesses throughout her life. A robust immune system, supplemented with immune boosters, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, inflammation, pain, diabetes, orthopedic disease, and cancer.
Improves Brain Function: Supplements also help in improving cognitive function in adult and senior dogs. They contain antioxidants that link to improved focus, learning, and spatial attention. Most of these supplements include vitamin E and C, Coenzyme Q-10, and L-Carnitine. In combination with adequate mental stimulation, dietary supplements slow down cognitive aging in adult and senior dogs.
There are so many different ailments and issues that vitamins and supplements can help with, and in many cases, giving them to your pet makes perfect sense. However, it is important to remember that too much can cause problems. It is also critical to use the appropriate type of supplement to address their specific issues. Dietary supplements, when combined with mental stimulation such as walks, training, and play with other dogs, can significantly slow cognitive aging, keeping your dog healthy and alert at all stages of life.