10 Basic Supplements for Canine Wellness
Do you wonder if there might be foods you could add to your dog's diet to enhance his wellness? Maybe your dog suffers from a nagging ailment that you can't seem to get under control. Or maybe you have a working breed that needs some support for his extra energy expenses. Here are my top 10 favorite supplements that I feel every dog owner should know about:
1. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's)
These nutrients are not called essential for nothing! They are an important addition to every dog's diet whether they are working or not. Essential fatty acids are needed to support healthy skin and coat, eyes, gut lining, paws, nervous system function, hormone synthesis, and regulation, and much more. EFA's are found in oils as polyunsaturated fats. Each oil has a unique nutrient profile so it's important not to use the same oil all the time. Always use cold-pressed, refrigerated oils. Buy in small quantities often to avoid them going rancid as these oils are fragile and do not stay fresh for long. Rancid oils are toxic so be sure they are always fresh. Vitamin E (discussed further below) can help to preserve these oils during ingestion.
Oils suitable for dogs: salmon, sardine, mackerel, krill, hemp, flax, coconut, chia seed, hemp seed.
Use up to bowel tolerance for therapeutic results. Feeding up to bowel tolerance means that you will increase the amount of EFA's every day until the stool becomes slightly loose. Then you will cut back to the last dose that worked for the bowel.
2. Digestive Enzymes - Some animals are living in an enzyme deficit, especially if they are not eating a raw diet that is packed full of live enzymes. When the body is called upon to synthesize all enzymes needed for the digestion of foods, this energy output takes away from the overall health of the dog, especially over the long term. Adding digestive enzymes to the diet can make all the difference for these animals. Sometimes skin "allergies" can actually originate in the gut and are actually a digestive deficiency rather than a true allergy. If your dog experiences itchy skin, ears, feet, yeasty skin, and ears, bouts of vomiting, belching, diarrhea, or inconsistent stools, enzyme deficiency may be the cause.
Digestive enzymes usually come in powdered form. Best used with each meal. Use a canine digestive enzyme rather than a human one.
3. Vitamin C - A well-known, effective antioxidant that aids in immune function. Useful in powdered form and can be used up to bowel tolerance as a therapeutic aid for joint inflammation (arthritis) and other immune-mediated illness such as nagging colds, allergies, digestive problems, skin disease, and more. Use ascorbic acid powder unless your dog has a sensitive stomach in which case use a buffered vitamin C such as calcium ascorbate. Can be purchased from your human health food store.
4. Vitamin/Mineral supplementation - If you are unable to feed a balanced raw diet on a regular basis, a good quality, natural source canine vitamin/mineral supplement is recommended. Seniors, even if on a raw diet, will benefit from extra natural source nutrients. Consult with your holistic vet to match your dogs' diet with the best supplementation possible.
5. Probiotics - If your dog has ever had a round of antibiotics, extended periods of digestive upset, irritable bowel-like symptoms, poisoning, yeast/staph infections of the skin, or other hardships of the digestive tract, your dog's gut flora may not be balanced. Good bacteria in the gut help to keep the immune system strong, synthesize multiple vitamins for the cells, and keep bad bacteria at bay. Daily probiotics for maintenance have also been shown to increase immune health.
Refrigerated, pharmaceutical-grade probiotics are best. The higher the live bacteria count and the more bacterial strains, the better for therapeutic use. 3-6 months of daily probiotics are recommended if any of the above ailments have occurred or are occurring.
6. Dimethylglycine (DMG) - an amino acid and natural immune modulator which stabilizes overactive and underactive immune systems, supports brain & nervous system function, aids in neurological diseases such as epilepsy and reduces lactic acid build-up in the muscles of very active dogs. Best given in the liquid form. Ask your holistic vet if this supplement would be appropriate for your dog.
7. N-Acetyl Glucosamine (NAG) - extremely useful for recovery from smooth muscle inflammation eg. Urinary and digestive linings (bladder infections, interstitial cystitis, irritable bowel disease, pancreatitis, and more). Often useful in combination with digestive enzymes and probiotics for animals with digestive ailments and ailments of the skin which are often interconnected.
Green-Lipped Muscle Supplements for joint & ligament health/inflammation. These supplements can be used as a preventative for very active dogs and also for dogs suffering from arthritis or joint/ligament injuries. Check with your vet to see which brand or formula might be best for your dog.
9. Antioxidants- as much variety and as often as possible! Antioxidants are the secret to ultimate cell health and function. They give the whole body an advantage against disease whether they currently have one or not. Use them as a preventative and to support animals with any type of disease.
Super green powders: kelp, moringa leaf, olive leaf, spirulina, chlorella
High antioxidant foods: blueberries, leafy greens, raspberries, blackberries (should be blended or juiced for best results).
10. Vitamin E - this vitamin is an antioxidant and also works as a natural preservative. It helps in keeping EFA's oils from going rancid or breaking down before the body has a chance to digest and utilize them to their fullest. It is also useful for animals suffering from skin-related illnesses. Can be purchased at your local health food store. Vitamin E oils are absorbed best.
*Please note that all supplements should be started in small doses and slowly worked up to a full dose.