Regardless of the diet choice you make for your dog — kibble, raw or home cooked — the vast amount of supplements on the market today, including vitamins, minerals, digestion aids, and anti-inflammatories can make choosing the right supplements for your dog very confusing. It seems just when we might be getting comfortable with our choices, new products pop up or we read an article that warns us to avoid the supplements we have already been giving to our dogs! We want to feed our dogs the best we can and we want to make sure what we are giving them enhances their health and gives us the best value for our dollar.
First, let’s talk about minerals. I do not ever recommend adding minerals to a commercial diet (kibble or canned). These foods already contain the recommended minerals and you never want to give MORE than the recommended amount. Additionally, some minerals balance each other, such as zinc and copper, so you do not want to risk unbalancing those minerals. So, do not add minerals to any fixed commercial food diets!
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Calcium and Commercial Diets and Raw Meaty Bone Diets
In a raw diet with bones, you do NOT need to add minerals because the raw meaty bones contain the needed minerals, including the correct ratio of calcium and phosphorus. When feeding a raw diet with bones, you want to avoid supplements that contain minerals. NEVER ADD CALCIUM to a raw meaty bone diet or a commercial dog food diet because too much calcium can harm your dog, especially growing puppies and pregnant dogs!
Calcium and Home Cooked Diets
If you feed a home-cooked diet however, you DO need to add calcium because you cannot feed cooked bones safely. Calcium is added to the diet based on the amount of food fed and NOT the body weight of the dog. Dogs need about 900 mg of calcium per pound of food served, which is about 2 cups of food. The best source of calcium for a dog, when given as a supplement, is either calcium carbonate or calcium citrate with vitamin D3. These are both economical and can be found at any supermarket or drug store. You can also feed ground eggshells (use a coffee bean grinder to grind the shells). 1/2 teaspoon of crushed eggshells equal about 900 mg of calcium. Vitamin D3 is very important as it helps with the uptake of the calcium. Please note it is important that the Vitamin D offered to your dog is Vitamin D3, which is animal sourced. Dogs cannot utilize plant-based sources of Vitamin D. (More on this later).
Again, do NOT supplement with calcium if you are feeding a commercial diet or a raw meaty bone diet because these diets already contain enough calcium.
Below is a list of important Vitamins and supplements to add to your dog’s diet:
Water Soluble Vitamins
Two good water-soluble vitamins to add to your dog’s diet are B complex and vitamin C. Water soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, so any excess is flushed out in the urine.
B complex vitamins off support to many bodily functions, however the B vitamins can be more fragile so they do not keep well in commercial foods. B complex vitamins are good for the nervous system, brain function, cell division, help prevent anemia and support memory. Additionally, they are very important during pregnancy! They are helpful during pregnancy and for puppies and seniors. Turkey and liver are high in B vitamins.
Vitamin C was first found to prevent scurvy. However, more recently, it is considered an anti-oxidant and helps support the immune system. Too much vitamin C can result in diarrhea. If this occurs, just reduce the amount of vitamin C by one dose. I give dogs about 100 mg of vitamin C per 10 pounds of body weight daily. For dogs, the food highest in vitamin C is liver.
Fat Soluble Vitamins
Fat-soluble vitamins do not flush out of the body easily. Instead, they are stored in fat. The first fat-soluble vitamin I will discuss is vitamin E. This is also considered an anti-oxidant and helps the immune system. It also works with omega 3 fatty acids, as these two nutrients need each other to work effectively. Vitamin E also helps with neurological functions and protects against lipid oxidation. I generally give dogs vitamin E at 50 IU per 10 pounds of body weight daily.
Vitamin A, Specifically Retinol
Dogs, because they are carnivores, do best with animal-sourced vitamin A, or retinol. This vitamin supports eye health, the immune system and thyroid health. It is rich in liver and organ meats and is also found in eggs and yogurt. Dose is about 25-50 mg per 10 pounds of body weight.
As mentioned earlier, it is important that the vitamin D given is D3 (animal-based), such as calcium carbonate (made from eggshells) or calcium citrate. Avoid all plant-based forms, which are often known as D2. Dogs need about 400 IU per 100 pounds, but more can be given — up to double this dose — for immunity. It is also thought to protect against cancer. Vitamin D3 is necessary for the uptake of calcium and it is needed for healthy bones and teeth. It is also helpful to protect against diabetes. Foods containing vitamin D3 included fortified milk products, eggs, salmon and sardines.
Digestion aids help support the digestive system and are very useful for puppies, pregnant mothers, through changes in your dog’s diet, for that travel and dogs that suffer from digestive issues.
These beneficial bacteria help maintain the good flora and fauna in the digestive tract. These help promote well-formed stools, support the immune system and help control excess gas. I find these especially helpful for diet changes, while traveling with my dogs and for puppies. These ‘good’ bacteria also help keep bad bacteria at bay and in check.
These include pancreatin, pancrealipase and ox bile. These animal-based enzymes help pre-digest fats in the dog’s stomach, ease the digestion of fats in the liver and pancreas, increase assimilation of nutrients, and help promote better formed stools.
This amino acid is used to help heal the digestive tract lining. It has also been used in infants and starvation cases to help with weight gain. Once the digestive tract lining is healed, it continues to help by assisting with proper digestion. Dogs with IBD, IBS or colitis have an inflamed digestive tract, which can result in diarrhea, mucus covered stool and loss of the ability to absorb all the nutrients. Over several weeks, L-glutamine helps heal the lining and works to restore health back to the stomach and intestinal lining.
There are several types of essential fatty acids. Two of the more common ones are omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 6 is found in most foods and is therefore more abundant in the diet. Because of this, there is NO reason to add more omega 6 to your dog’s diet. Avoid any plant-based oils such as corn, safflower, coconut, and olive or canola oil. The essential fatty acid your dog DOES need to balance the omega 6 already in the diet, is Omega 3 fatty acids. It is important to use animal-based sources of omega 3 because dogs are unable to convert the omega 3 oil found in plant oils (ALA) to a usable form. Animal-based sources include fish body oils like salmon, menhaden, sardine or mixed fish oil. Omega 3 oils are fragile and heat, air and light can destroy their properties, so use fish oil CAPSULES rather than bottled oil. Omega 3 fish oil is a natural anti-inflammatory and it helps with the immune system, supports liver, kidney, heart, eye and brain health, and it is very good for the coat and skin. Use fish oil capsules at one capsule per 20 pounds of body weight (generally a capsule is 1,000 mg with 180 EPA and 120 DHA).
Arthritis and Inflammation
It is always important to get a diagnosis if your dog is limping, acts sore, has rear end weakness or shows discomfort. While it may be arthritis, it could also be something else. Just a few of the diseases that may resemble the symptoms of arthritis are Addison’s Disease, cancer, Lyme’s or tick disease, or leptospirosis, and more. If the problem IS inflammation, then some following supplements to try include:
Fish Oil Capsules: Omega 3 fish oil helps fight inflammation.
Yucca Intensive: Yucca contains natural steroidal saponins which are powerful anti-inflammatory agents to help reduce pain. DO NOT use yucca with other prescription NSAIDs such as steroids, rimadyl, metacam, etc. Give one drop per 10 pounds of body weight, WITH FOOD, once or twice a day.
Glucosamine/Chondroitin Blends: These are thought to help lubricate the joints and repair cartilage.
Willow Bark Tincture: Willow Bark is a natural form of aspirin, only give with food! NEVER feed on empty stomach.
There are numerous remedies for arthritis on the market. Therefore, always check the ingredients and their safety for dogs! The best diet for a dog with arthritis is a carbohydrate-free raw diet. Carbohydrates are sugars which help promote and increase inflammation in dogs.
I know trying to put together all these supplements can seem daunting. To make it easier, I would recommend B-Naturals Berte’s Daily Blend, which contains all the vitamins I have listed, as well as kelp and alfalfa. This is a powder supplement that is easy to mix with your dog’s food.
Another choice is Berte’s Immune Blend. This mixture has all the vitamins I have listed with vitamin C and E in double doses. While it does not contain kelp and alfalfa, it does have added probiotics and some digestive enzymes. The Immune Blend is ideal for dogs with health issues but it can also be given to healthy dogs at half dose.
For those with dogs with digestive issues, B-Naturals carries Berte’s Digestion Blend. This blend contains the animal-based enzymes, as well as l-glutamine and probiotics. It comes is a palatable powder form that can easily be mixed with your dog’s food or you can mix it with some yogurt.
I hope you have found this information helpful. If you have any questions, please email us at B-Naturals and we will answer any of your questions: email@example.com