It’s not uncommon for pet owners to feed their canine companions supplements to give their immune system a boost. Supplements should be given to canines that are lacking in certain nutrients. Generally, those fed commercial food do not require extra nutrients as the necessary vitamins would have been included in their kibble. However, furkids that are fed home-cooked food may require supplements as their diet might be deficient in certain nutrients. You should take into consideration the needs of your furkid—such as its activity level and age—before supplementing its diet with vitamins and minerals.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
These are naturally occurring substances found in healthy cartilage which lubricate joints. But when a dog’s body is unable to synthesise sufficient amounts of glucosamine to lubricate the joints when the cartilage wears out—a condition known as osteoarthritis that causes stiffness, swelling and pain when walking or running—glucosamine and chondroitin supplements must be given. While it may help to alleviate joint pain, it is not a preventative measure and should not be given excessively as your dog’s liver has to work harder to rid the body of nutrients that cannot be absorbed.
Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are fats that the body requires but is unable to produce, hence it must be obtained from another source. Also known as good fats, they are required for healthy skin, coat and joint health. Generally, these acids are categorised into omega-3 and omega-6; each comprises of different acids. Each acid has a role to play, such as cell growth, blood clotting, reduction of inflammation and formation of hormones. Omega-3 is found in oily fish such as salmon and herring, while sources of omega-6 includes whole grains and poultry fat, which can be found in most commercial diets for dogs.
You can also supplement your pooch’s diet with fish oil, which are readily available in capsule or liquid form at pet stores. Avoid fish supplements with vitamin A and D as they are only required in small amounts and may cause toxicity in the long run, if given in large doses.
Dogs require significantly larger amounts of calcium than other minerals, as it promotes bone health. A dog on a calcium-deficient diet may experience bone abnormalities, but this is rare. Commercial diets usually have the adequate amount of nutrients required for proper growth. The common misconception is that large breed dogs require higher amounts of calcium than smaller dogs. In fact, diet that is high in calcium may result in bone problems, especially in puppies. It has been generally acknowledged that the ideal amount of calcium is 0.7 percent to 1.2 percent. Giant breed dogs require no more 2.5 percent of calcium a day. Take note that vitamin D increases absorption of calcium, which may lead to excess amounts in the body.
These are live bacteria found in each dog’s gastrointestinal tract. Also known as good bacteria, they help to improve digestion, and this contributes to the overall well being of your pet. Changes to your canine’s lifestyle—such as stress, illnesses and medication—may affect the concentration of gut flora in the large intestine. This imbalance usually leads to health problems such as gas, indigestion and diarrhea.
Despite the benefits of these dietary supplements, it must be emphasised that not all dogs need them—some require an added boost, while others do well without. If you wish to give your furry friend a boost of health, consult your vet for the correct dosage before administering them.
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