How to Choose Nutritional Supplements for Dogs

Care must be taken in choosing nutritional supplements for dogs. The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) does not monitor dog nutritional supplements, only pharmaceuticals. Therefore, a dog owner must investigate the ingredients of the dietary supplement as well as the manufacturer when choosing a nutritional supplement.

Nutritional supplements may contain not only minerals and vitamins but also amino acids, herbs, enzymes, botanicals or metabolites. Some supplements may actually contain substances that the body already produces, such as chondroitin and glucosamine for healthy joints. Natural herbs contribute antioxidants and active ingredients that flush toxins from the organs, especially the liver. This also aids the immune system in fighting diseases.

All Supplements Are Not Equal

Nutritional supplements add to the nutritional value and content of commercial dog food. Just as not all dog foods are the same quality, neither are nutritional supplements the same. Owners should scrutinize dog food labels as well as the labels found on nutritional supplements. Supplements containing high quality amounts of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and omega-3 fatty acids will benefit dogs the most. Excessive ingestion (overdose) of certain minerals and vitamins inhibit the absorption of other essential nutrients, so consultation with the veterinarian is equally important. For example, dogs suffering from arthritis or hip dysplasia (both joint degenerative diseases), need glucosamine and chondroitin; however, intake of these substances can interfere with nutrient absorption and medicine intake.

Nutritional supplements should provide:

  • Essential nutrients that are deficient in the regular store bought food
  • Support for a strong immune system
  • Support for dogs suffering from health conditions, such as inflammatory disease or urinary problems
  • Essential fatty acids for healthy coat and skin
  • Essential nutrients for healthy joints
  • Essential nutrients to help reverse bone diseases or joint damage
  • Essential nutrients for proper digestion and absorption of all nutrients

Nutrients should not include wheat, corn, dyes or preservatives.

Important Nutrients

Certain nutrients provide essential vitamins and minerals for the body in order for it to function optimally. Some of these vitamins and minerals are:

  • Vitamin E – Potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, fat oxidation reducer which increases the production of good cholesterol
  • Vitamin C – Works with Vitamin E as a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant
  • Beta carotene – Important antioxidant
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – Found in fish (salmon) oil or flax seed oil, these acids act as a powerful anti-inflammatory, especially for a dog suffering from arthritis, hip dysplasia or another joint or autoimmune disease

Investigate the Source

Choosing a nutritional supplement can be daunting; however, you can find help in consulting your veterinarian. Usually he has already read the informational material on the particular brand and has formulated an opinion on it based upon what he has read and observed with his other patients using the supplement. His advice will be especially important if your dog is already taking medications for other medical conditions. Some medications produce adverse drug interactions if mixed with certain substances.

Contacting the manufacturer itself may produce additional information; however, this information may be skewed since every manufacturer is going to promote its nutritional supplements in the best light.