Food supplements are the allies of tired, stressed dogs, or simply in perfect health !
They allow you to enrich your faithful companion's diet to give him a boost or to balance household rations.
The choice of food supplements to give your dog will depend on his lifestyle, his age and his health.
In these conditions, it is not always easy to find the right product for your dog! This article will give you an overview of the different types of supplements and their uses.
CAUTION: do not give supplements without asking your veterinarian's advice to ensure that they are appropriate. The wrong choice can affect your dog's health.
What is a dog food supplement?
A dietary supplement is a product that is added to your dog's regular diet to meet certain additional needs. There are many different types of supplements available to address various deficiencies in vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids or nutrients.
Most supplements are available over the counter, so you don't need a veterinary prescription to buy them. However, they are usually recommended by a health professional after he or she has detected a deficiency in your pet.
Although they are relatively harmless, food supplements should not be distributed indiscriminately: an excess of vitamins, minerals or certain nutrients can indeed be just as harmful as a deficiency!
I therefore advise you to never give your dog food supplements without a valid reason, and to always seek the approval of a veterinarian who has an eye on your dog's health and history.
When should I give my dog food supplements?
The traditional food dedicated to our friends the dogs (kibbles or pâté) is generally conceived to suit the largest number of dogs. It is therefore not specifically adapted to each particular case, and it is possible that it does not fully meet your dog's needs, either on a daily basis or during a specific period of his life.
For example, it's common to supplement a growing puppy, a pregnant or nursing bitch, or a tired old dog. A long-term illness, such as diabetes, may also require supplementing your dog's diet to help maintain his immune system and stay healthy.
Top athletes may also need supplements to help them boost their vitality or prepare for intense exercise. Finally, some dietary supplements will simply help your faithful companion to better live through a stressful phase or, simply, to keep a silky coat.
How to choose a food supplement for dogs?
The food supplements you give your dog must be chosen according to his real needs, otherwise they will be of no use. Good quality industrial kibbles are perfectly balanced and do not require the addition of food supplements.
However, if you feed your dog a home-made ration or a BARF diet, you will need to add minerals and vitamins. Dogs need phosphorus, calcium and trace minerals, which are hard to find in sufficient quantities in homemade meals.
In any case, home-made rations and raw meat diets should always be carefully prepared with all the nutritional needs of the dog in mind.
If you're not feeding your puppy premium kibble specifically formulated to meet his needs during this time of life, you'll need to choose supplements dedicated to canine growth. These are usually made up of vitamins and minerals, but may also include a good dose of calcium to help support bone development.
Extra calcium may be especially helpful for puppies of large breeds.
The same is true for pregnant and nursing bitches: if you don't feed them kibble specially designed for their condition, you should supplement their diet with vitamins and minerals.
For an older dog, your choice should rather be for food supplements that help fight against cellular aging, especially those based on antioxidants.
If your dog is an avid sportsman, you may want to consider products with amino acids, vitamins and added calories to help him prepare for exercise and recover.
Dogs with dull coats or irritable skin can also get their coats back in shape with the help of supplements containing brewer's yeast, fatty acids or certain amino acids.
Stress and mild behavioral problems can also be improved with the right food supplements, avoiding all the side effects of medical treatment. In this case, you should turn to casein products with the approval of your veterinarian.
Finally, it is also possible to opt for convalescent food supplements that will help your doggie recover or fight against an illness. The choice of this type of product is generally made by a veterinarian after diagnosis of the pathology that is affecting your pet.
Natural food supplements for dogs
There are many natural ingredients that can be used as dietary supplements to improve your dog's well-being and health on a daily basis.
Warning: natural does not mean harmless, and you should always consult your veterinarian before adding anything to your dog's diet!
Brewer's yeast, for a shiny coat
Rich in vitamins, proteins, amino acids (lysine) and minerals (zinc, phosphorus and magnesium), brewer's yeast is undoubtedly one of the best known food supplements. In addition to its ability to stimulate the vitality of the skin and coat, brewer's yeast plays a full part in the well-being of animals and helps strengthen their immune system.
Eggshells, to strengthen the bones
Eggshells are made up mainly of calcium and are ideal for strengthening the bones and teeth of our animal friends. If you plan to make your own eggshell powder for your dog, choose organic eggs and remember to boil them before crushing them and giving them to your pet.
Green barley, to purify the body
Green barley contains vitamins, trace elements, amino acids and enzymes that help the dog's digestive process. It has the virtue of preventing cell aging, strengthening the immune system and purifying the body.
Spirulina, to avoid deficiencies
As popular with humans as with animals, spirulina is more of a superfood than a food supplement. Rich in proteins, vitamins, iron and amino acids, it is ideal for preventing deficiencies and giving your dog back his energy.
Turmeric, garlic, cider vinegar... There are many other natural food supplements that contribute to the well-being of our four-legged friends. So take the time to observe your dog to determine what he seems to need before making your choice. You can also combine several of these supplements to obtain a real wellness cocktail for your pet, or turn to industrial products that generally contain a mixture of different supplements.
How do I choose the best diet for my dog?
For me, the easiest way is to trust the recognized professionals of the sector. This gives you the assurance to give your dog the right products while simplifying your life. For example, I recommend Ollie products.
It is a company with an excellent reputation that prepares customized recipes for your dog, 100% fresh and delivered directly to your home.