Of all the questions I am asked, one of the most common is “What supplements should I add to my dog’s diet?” This question is asked regardless of the type of diet the dog is being fed. Whether you are feeding a raw diet, a home-cooked diet, or a commercial dog food, all dogs should receive the same daily supplements, with the exception of calcium! If you are feeding a home-cooked diet that does not include raw meaty bones, calcium must be added to each meal. If you feed a raw diet that includes at least 40% raw meaty bones, or if you are feeding a commercial dog food, these diets already include the necessary amounts of calcium needed, so no additional calcium is needed.
Any of these diets, raw, home-cooked or commercial foods, also include an adequate amount of the needed minerals. Manufacturing companies add minerals to their commercial diets to achieve the NRA dog nutrition standards. Raw diets contain meat, organ meat and bone, which contain balanced amounts of the needed minerals. Additionally, home-cooked meals include meat and organ meat, and with the added calcium carbonate, ground eggshell, or citrate it balances the calcium. When varieties of proteins are used, all of these diets contain adequate amounts of minerals. I do not recommend adding minerals to any of these diets without the advice and supervision of your veterinarian. However, you must add calcium to home-cooked meals to balance the important calcium/phosphorus ratio.
The daily supplements I recommend are the ones that are harder to find in foods, or are fragile and therefore lose their integrity during food processing or during food storage and handling. These include water-soluble vitamins, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics and enzymes. Please note that it is important not to freeze these vitamins and supplements as freezing them can compromise their integrity.
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Water-soluble vitamins include B vitamins and vitamin C. Neither of these vitamins store well in commercial dog food packaging and are more difficult to find in large enough levels in fresh food. B vitamins are found in meat, organ meat and dairy and are important in supporting the nervous system and in helping to build red blood cells. They also help metabolize the amino acids that are found in proteins. Raw diets are generally richer in B vitamins, as these can lose potency when heated. While dogs can make some vitamin C on their own, additional vitamin C is needed as an antioxidant for collagen repair and capillary integrity. Bioflavonoids are also an important addition to vitamin C as it helps with uptake and absorption into the body. These important vitamins are easily excreted from the body, so I recommend giving both of these vitamins to your dogs daily.
Vitamin E is a very valuable fat-soluble vitamin that is also an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals. This is helpful in fighting cancer. Vitamin E is also heart protective and helps lower blood pressure. Most sources of this vitamin are plant related so it is important to add this essential vitamin to your dog’s diet. Vitamin E also goes hand-in-hand with fish oil, as they work synergistically.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oils. They are also present in plant oils such as flax and hemp, but dogs have difficulty converting the ALA in plant oils to a usable form of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are difficult to find in many food sources because most feed animals are fed a grain-based diet rather than a grass-fed diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are also very fragile and can be destroyed when exposed to heat, light and air. Omega-3 fatty acids help to support the immune system, are heart, renal and liver protective and help keep the skin and coat healthy. My general recommendation for this vital supplement is to give one capsule (180EPA/120DHA) per 20 pounds of body weight daily.
The next two supplements I recommend, offer significant benefits to your dog’s digestion system. They help assimilate and digest food better, fight gas, and they assist in forming firm stools. These two supplements are digestive enzymes and probiotics.
Digestive enzymes can be composed of either animal or plant-based enzymes. Animal-based enzymes help to pre-digest proteins and fats in the stomach, which makes the food easier to digest when it hits the small intestine. Plant based enzymes help prevent gas.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, such as acidophilus and bifidus. These help keep a good colony of the needed ‘friendly bacteria in the gut. This helps keep the immune system balanced, helps with food digestion, reduces gas and works to produce firmer stools. Probiotics also help make vitamin B and vitamin K in the large intestine.
A final important daily supplement that I consider to be optional, is a blend of green foods. These include alfalfa, kelp, blue green algae, spirulina, dulce and Irish Moss. I consider this supplement optional, as dogs can get along without them. However, they offer valuable nutrients that are not found in the diet. These green foods supply energy; help ease digestion, and can deepen pigment and intensify coat color. Sea vegetation and alfalfa are rich in trace minerals, including iodine, manganese (helps fight inflammation and pain), boron, cobalt, and more. They are also a good source of B vitamins, specifically B12.
Daily Supplement Recommendations for All Diet Types
B-Naturals carry a wide variety of natural dog supplements that are suited for any type of diet. Whether you feed a raw diet, a home-cooked diet (don’t forget the calcium) or a commercial brand of dog food, these supplements will go a long way in keeping your dog healthy and giving you the peace of mind that your dog is getting all the vitamins and nutrients it needs.
This supplement blend contains vitamin C, bioflavonoid, vitamin E, B complex, vitamin A and digestive enzymes and probiotics! This is a great supplement to add when you want most of everything included. My recommendation is to give the Berte’s Immune Blend at half dose to healthy dogs and give one fish oil capsule per 20 pounds of body weight daily. The dosage is recommended for raw diets, home-cooked diets, or commercial diets.
Because omega-3 fish oils are fragile, I recommend giving them in capsule form. This is because liquid or pump bottles can subject the oils to excess air which can compromise there integrity.
Berte’s Green Blend contains alfalfa, kelp, blue green algae, spirulina, dulce and Irish Moss. Sea vegetation and alfalfa are rich in trace minerals and are a good source of B vitamins, specifically B12. This blend of vegetation helps with energy, digestion and healthy skin pigment and coat color. A little goes a long way!
Always remember to offer your dog as wide a variety of proteins as possible! Each week you want to include at least four different protein sources, 5 – 6% organ meat such as liver and kidney, and at least 40 – 50% raw meaty bones if you are feeding a raw diet. If you are feeding a home-cooked diet, do not add more than 25% of the diet in low glycemic (sugar) vegetables for fiber and do not forget the calcium!