Dog supplements: A beginner’s guide
Your guide to dog supplements
Dog supplements can be pretty tricky to understand. But really, they’re just like supplements for humans.
Most of us are constantly striving to improve our health, diet and fitness routines. Often supplements can help us in this effort - filling in any nutritional gaps or helping us prevent or combat certain health conditions.
Just like humans, our furry friends can benefit from nutritional supplementation too. Diet and lifestyle is equally as important to their overall health but getting the right balance of essential nutrients, including important vitamins, minerals, amino-acids and antioxidants can help maintain, support and improve their health.
In this guide, we’re looking at the role dog supplements play in ensuring your dog gets the support they need to thrive and live a healthy and happy life. But first, let’s understand more about what we mean by supplements.
What are dog supplements - more than vitamins and minerals?
Most people think of supplements as purely vitamins and minerals.
Although these represent a large portion of the supplement category, there are other ingredients such that also fall under the supplement “umbrella”.
Supplements for dogs can include:
- Vitamins and minerals
- Natural remedies and herbs
- Ingredients to minimise deficiency
- Condition-specific supplements
- Essential fatty acids
- Amino acids
- + many more
Why use dog supplements?
When used in the right way, dog supplements can help keep dogs healthy and thriving. However, it's also important not to over-supplement, as this can bring its own set of challenges. Dr. Bari Speilman warns that over-supplementation in dogs can lead to vitamin toxicity, which can lead to health issues.
You should also be aware that vitamins can typically be categorised as either fat-soluble or water-soluble.
- Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and are easily absorbed into the body and metabolised quickly. Any excess water-soluble vitamins will be flushed out by the body through the urination process.
- Fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamin A, D, E and K) on the other hand dissolve in fat and any excess will be stored in the body for later use - vitamin toxicity is therefore more common with fat-soluble vitamins than water-soluble vitamins.
When supplements can be great for your dog
Most of the vitamins and minerals your dog gets come from the food they eat, and in an ideal world they would get all their nutrients from there too.
But just like us, sometimes it’s hard to get all our ideal nutrients from our food and we may also require additional specific nutrients to address a particular lifestyle, condition or ailment.
If your dog is eating a complete & balanced diet (store bought commercial pet food) and doesn’t require any health support, supplementation may not be required - although some ingredients may also help preventatively.
Commercial dog foods are often referred to as a ‘complete and balanced’ diet as technically the food will be fulfilling all of your dog’s nutritional needs according to AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) standards. To achieve this, most pet food brands will therefore add vitamins and minerals to their formulas.
However, if your dog is facing any deficiencies, health conditions or physical or behavioural issues, supplementation should certainly be considered. For example, if your dog is suffering from anxiety, they would benefit from an adaptogen herb such as ashwagandha or if they have a dull coat and itchy skin, they might need more essential fatty acids.
Similarly, dogs eating a raw or home cooked diet will most likely need supplements, as it’s unlikely that they will be getting all of their vitamins and minerals in a complete and balanced way. Having said that, it is worth noting that while the AAFCO standards have a role to play in keeping our pets healthy, they may not be well suited to a raw diet.
Bottom line - Do your research on dog supplements
Due to limited regulation in Australia, it’s not always clear or easy for pet parents to know which supplements are high quality and of good standards and which ones to stay clear of.
How to choose supplements for your dog
- Choose brands that have trust and expertise. See if you can find out who formulated the products.
- Look for brands with scientific proof / studies on the ingredients they use. The quality of the ingredient is sometimes as important as the type of ingredient itself.
- Look for an animal specific brand – do not use human supplements unless advised by your veterinarian.
- Look for the format of the product to ensure that the ingredients are not damaged in the manufacturing process.
- Check if the company is displaying all the ingredients on the packaging of the product.
- See if you can find the exact dose for each of the ingredients. Many products have “pixie dust” inclusions meaning that they only include a nominal amount. While this is not bad for the pet, it won’t really deliver a health benefit at such a low dose.
- Look for a batch number on the product as a sign of quality control.
- Be mindful of exaggerated claims or claims that sound too good to be true. Supplements are not there to cure diseases.
Supplements for dogs to look out for
Supplements can help your dog with a variety of issues, including:
Mobility and joint health
- As dogs age, they often become susceptible to joint issues, inflammation and osteoarthritis which impacts their ability to move, exercise and live a healthy life.
- Ingredients like Vitamin K, Vitamin D, Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Green-lipped mussels, Tumeric or herbs like Terminalia and Boswellia are known to play an important role in joint health and help with joint inflammation.
Skin and coat
- If your dog suffers with a dull coat or itchy skin , a supplement to aid their skin and coat can go a long way.
- Ingredients like Biotin, Zinc and Essential fatty acids are known to be good for the skin & coat.
- Supplements can help support a healthy immune system so they’re more resistant to foreign invaders and less susceptible to disease.
- In the face of illness, a strong immune system can fight disease better.
- Nectar’s immune + wellness contains Wellmune For Pets, a Beta glucan which can help strengthen your dog’s immune cells so that when the time comes, they’re ready for combat.
- Supplements can help your pup feel less anxious, so they’re able to live richer, fuller and more balanced lives.
- Calming supplements are especially valuable for pups who suffer from stress, anxiety and fear.
- Can help pups digest so they’re getting the most out of their diet and nutrition.
- Ingredients like probiotics, prebiotics, digestive enzymes, and Fulvic Acid can support a healthy gut microbiome.
Boost cognitive functioning
- Nutrition and the brain are closely linked, so supplementing their nutrition with ingredients like ALA, DHA, Vitamin B12, and L-carnitine can help stimulate cognitive functions, which is especially important for younger and ageing dogs.
Supplementation can give your dog everything they need
Supplements have many powerful benefits for dogs, and with Nectar you can be sure that the right ingredients have been hand picked and included at the right dose for your pup without any of the nasties.
When used properly, dog supplements can have a great impact on your dog’s health, whether it is to provide missing nutrients, or to add specific benefits to their diet to support a specific health area.
And the best part - it doesn have to be hard for pet parents to give. At Nectar we have developed plant-based powders that taste like an Aussie BBQ sausage. They can be mixed with your dog’s food or dissolved in a bit of water.
Want to experience the benefits of nectar? Shop the range now.