Does my Dog need Supplements?

A number of people take dietary supplements or vitamins on a daily basis, and increasingly veterinarians are asked the question "does my dog need a supplement?"

It's a very good question and according to experts it all depends on what supplement you are talking about. They also believe that like supplements produced for human consumption, some work and others don't, while still others aren't necessary at all and may even be harmful to your dog.

Dog Supplements

Puppy and Senior dog supplements

According to leading veterinarians, owners of puppies and senior dogs are generally most concerned about whether or not they should offer their dogs a canine vitamin and mineral supplement of some kind. In general, the answer is no if you are feeding your dog a high quality, varied and well-balanced diet, no supplementation should be necessary. If for some reason the diet is insufficient, it makes more sense to alter the diet rather than add a supplement.

Also, the addition of vitamin and mineral supplements to a well-balanced diet may actually destabilize the diet. This is especially true if phosphorus and calcium ratios are altered, which can result in malnutrition and growth abnormalities, particularly in large breed puppies.

As always, there is an exception to the rule, and that is that if you are feeding a home prepared diet in the place of a commercial one, a vitamin and mineral supplement may be necessary. It is however only advisable to prepare a home cooked diet for your dog with the aid of a well informed and qualified dog nutrition expert which your veterinarian may refer you to if he/she doesn't feel competent to assist you in formulating the diet him/herself.

Below we'll look at the most some dietary supplements that can be beneficial if administered under veterinary supervision:

Canine Neutraceutical Dietary Supplements (Chondroitin Glucosamine, etc.)

Neutraceutical food supplements like Chondroitin and Glucosamine can have a positive impact on your dog's health especially when it comes to joint health. They may also be used as potential treatments for some other canine ailments but whether or not they should be used at all will depend on the individual dog, but this should always be discussed with your vet before beginning treatment.

Also, bear in mind that caution is necessary when selecting a neutraceutical product as these are not licensed or regulated in the same way that prescription canine pharmaceuticals are, so choosing a reputable company with safety and efficacy studies to back up their products is essential.

Prebiotic and Probiotic Dog Food Supplements

Prebiotic and probiotic supplements can be beneficial for many dogs as they promote gastrointestinal health and may boost the immune system. Your vet may recommend these in the following instances:

  • Your dog needs to be on antibiotics
  • Your dog's diet has or will be undergoing changes
  • If your dog is or will be going through a stressful period eg. being put in a boarding facility while you are away.