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Do Dogs Need Supplements?

Taking care of your own health requires exercise, a well-rounded diet, and vitamins. Whether you pop a daily vitamin or you have a fairly intense supplement regimen, you’re aware that your diet may not meet all of your nutritional needs. The same isn’t always true for your dog. Their food is very carefully balanced in terms of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients because that’s the only food they get to eat, so it has to be balanced. But there are dogs that don’t get everything their body needs from their food, regardless of how high quality their food is.

Common Reasons to Supplement Your Dog

Supplements should never be given without your veterinarian’s recommendation. No matter how “healthy” or “natural” a supplement is supposed to be, there are some that are toxic to dogs if they’re given in excess. Consulting with your vet not only ensures your dog’s safety, it also guarantees you’re giving them the most ideal supplement for the condition you’re trying to help treat.

Dry Skin and Coat Supplements for Dogs

Dogs get dry skin and coats for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s an inadequate diet, other times it’s allergies, a thyroid condition, or even old age. If your dog’s coat or skin is dry and/or itchy, have them examined by your veterinarian before you start adding things to their diet. Underlying health conditions can’t be treated with supplements, and if they have a thyroid or adrenal imbalance, for example, they’re going to need more than a supplement. Fatty acids are the most commonly recommended supplement to combat this problem. Dogs deficient in fatty acids suffer from a dull coat or flakey skin. Fatty acids like fish oil, coconut oil, or brewers yeast will supplement any essential fatty acids missing in their diet.

Dog Arthritis Supplements

Arthritis isn’t curable, but it can be managed with a well-balanced diet and anti-inflammatories. Some dogs benefit from adding additional joint support in the form of chondroitin, glucosamine, or omega-3 fatty acids. These alone won’t eliminate the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, so these should be given in conjunction with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and steroids. Joint supplements and fatty acids help reduce some of the inflammation and prevent further joint damage, but they won’t help with the pain of joint deterioration.

Digestive Supplements for Dogs

The gut is filled with a variety of good and bad bacteria. They’re necessary for optimal digestive function, but sometimes an illness, a round of antibiotics, or even stress can throw this precarious balance out of whack. When a dog’s gut bacteria is unbalanced, they end up with diarrhea, loose stool, or a decreased appetite. Probiotics reintroduce the good bacteria and eliminate a host of minor digestive issues. You can buy probiotics made especially for dogs, or your vet might recommend a drugstore brand instead. Plain yogurt is also sufficient, and most dogs like the taste of it.
Supplementing has its place, but it should never be used to replace proper medical diagnoses and treatments. Work with your veterinarian to ensure your dog’s optimal health, but don’t use supplements in lieu of proper veterinary care.

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