The dietary supplements industry is huge, and one that many think takes advantage of well-meaning people who only want to be healthy or provide better health for their loved ones and pets. The question has been asked many times and will probably continue to be asked repeatedly:
Do you or your pets really need supplements, and if so which ones?
When it comes to your four-footed friend, caution is always the best policy, since they cannot tell you if something you are giving them is harming them. It is also important to keep in mind that dogs have different nutritional needs than humans. Just because it is good for you does not mean it is good for them. In fact, the exact opposite can be true. Most experts agree that the average healthy dog does not need supplements and that giving them to your dog can cause more harm than good.
That said, there are times and places where additional nutrients can benefit your dog--usually if your dog has a unique nutritional need, or has been sick. Make sure to check with your vet before you give your dog any type of supplements. He can help you choose the right supplements for whatever condition you are trying to treat.
Top Supplements to Use for Dogs
Probiotics are essential bacteria that exist in the digestive tract and, much the same as in humans, these bacteria are essential for your dog’s good health. Supplementing is typically not necessary, but if your dog has been on a round of antibiotics then supplementing with probiotics can help your dog to avoid the diarrhea and gastrointestinal distress that often comes with using them. There is a lot of speculation that probiotics can be used for other conditions and preliminary studies are promising, but not enough studies have been done to support the use of probiotics for any other conditions. Using too many probiotics can make intestinal distress worse, so be sure to talk to your vet to see if they are a good idea for your dog and to determine the best dosages to start with.
One of the biggest sellers in the pet industry, the idea behind glucosamine is that it can help to treat osteoarthritis. There are some studies that say this supplement does help with joint pain, and many vets do recommend this supplement with good results. However, few studies have been done and not everyone agrees that this supplement is of value. Make sure to check with your vet to get his advice and if you do choose to give glucosamine to your dog, make sure to only purchase high-quality supplements or you may just be wasting your money.
#3. Omega Fatty Acids
Fatty acids are also a popular supplement, typically given as a fish oil supplement. Good quality fish oil has shown some success in helping with allergies and skin conditions. One of the best applications for this supplement is to reduce the inflammation caused by red itchy skin and if you take your dog to the vet, this is likely to be one of the treatments they will prescribe. Some experts also believe that fish oil can help with arthritis as well, but so far this has not been backed by science. Fortunately, fish oil in supplemental doses will not harm your dog and he will likely love the taste of it, so if you think it might help your dog feel better there is generally no harm in trying it.
Like people, dogs can benefit from the use of antioxidants that can stop the process of oxidation, a condition in which free radicals are created and allowed to go unchecked. These free radicals are thought to be related to cancer, inflammation, and a number of other diseases. Antioxidants neutralize these free radicals. Dogs that are exposed to a large dose of environmental pollutants and poisons, those that are elderly, and those that eat commercial dog foods, in particular, can benefit from supplementing with antioxidants.
You want the best for your dog of course, but are supplements truly the right answer? Before you go the route of buying supplements, consider first the food you feed your dog. A high-quality dog food can go a long way to fixing some of your dog’s health issues. You should also always talk to your vet before you supplement with anything. He can do an examination to see if there is any reason for supplementation and can make recommendations based on his personal experience as to what works. Finally, keep in mind there is little regulation when it comes to pet supplements, so using caution and getting an expert opinion will always be your best option.