Supplement Guide
Recent surveys and studies indicate that as many as 40% of cats and dogs in the U.S. are given supplements. The rise in the number of pets receiving supplements mirrors the substantial increase   in human supplement intake.
Some of the most common supplements dogs are taking relate to joint health, allergies, skin and coat, and improving overall nutritional needs. With this increased use of animal supplements comes       concern about their efficacy and safety. Many dog supplements are not backed by satisfactory research and lack substantial quality data to be deemed safe for pet consumption.
The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) regulates the vitamin levels in all pet food. The group generally determines the recommended minimum daily dose of vitamins for dogs.
There are some dog foods that contain ingredients to increase supplement levels such as fish oil       and glucosamine and chondroitin. For a variety of reasons, these supplements customarily do not reach therapeutic levels. Be wary of claims that these supplements have the ability to cure and alleviate ailments and certain diseases
Is a Balanced Diet Enough?
Dogs need a variety of vitamins and minerals, and most of these can come from a balanced and nutritious meal plan. Whole foods are complex and provide micronutrients. While loving and dedicated owners strive to provide a healthy diet for their dogs, it is possible that certain essential nutrients may be lacking in their pets’ diets.
According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AFFCO), “a basic goal of AAFCO is to provide a mechanism for developing and implementing uniform and equitable laws, regulations, standards and enforcement for regulating the manufacture, distribution and sale of animal feed, resulting in safe, effective and useful feeds”. (Read more at
However, the way commercial dog foods are cooked, processed and stored may cause a loss of essential nutrients. Some nutrients included in dog food would not meet the dosage necessary for therapeutic purposes. Spending big dollars on expensive food also is no guarantee that your dog is getting the high quality, nutritious food he requires.
What to Know About Supplements
Human and Animal Dietary supplements fall under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.           Human regulation of dietary supplements was amended in 1994, but according to the Food and Drug Administration this amendment does not include animal dietary supplements.
How do you know if your dog needs supplements? The key questions to ask are 1) Is he is getting well-rounded, nutrient-rich meals and 2) Does he have specific age and health related needs that have been identified?
Do not begin a supplement regimen without discussing it with your healthcare professional. Your dog’s overall health and stage of life is important to determine whether he needs or can tolerate the particular supplement, and in what amount.
When purchasing supplements for your pet, research food and supplement companies that are well known and have a track record for product safety. It is difficult to remove substances from food and get the desired results in pill form. You should be looking at statistics and market analysis for such things as efficacy of the supplement, which should be supported by scientific testing of the product to determine if it is providing the desired results. Look for companies that have a customer service line to answer your specific questions.
There are supplements prepared and manufactured to meet standards for humans that are safe to give to your dog. The primary challenge is determining which ones can be given to your pet and in what amount.
Pet supplements are usually supplied with the correct dosage for your dog, which takes the guesswork out of the how much to give
Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored by your dog’s body (unlike high levels of water-soluble vitamins, which are eliminated from your dog’s body by his excretory system), which makes them more possible to build up to toxic levels in your dog.
The question as to whether dog supplements work is still controversial to some extent. We don’t have significant studies and clinical trials providing consistent proof. It also depends on what supplement you are using, the dosage and whether it was manufactured using good manufacturing practices.
Vitamin “A”  (fat-soluble) vitamin that is stored primarily in the liver until your dog’s body needs it.
  • Sources of vitamin “A”
    • dairy products
    • dark orange fruits and vegetables
    • egg yolks
    • fish liver oil
    • leafy green vegetables
  • Benefits
    • Skin and coat
    • Vision
    • Muscle
    • Nerves
  • Symptoms vitamin “A” toxicity include”
    • Skeletal and nervous disorders
    • appetite loss
    • bone spurs
    • constipation
    • lethargy
    • limping
    • stiffness
    • weakness
    • weight loss
Toxicity is very rare unless mega-doses are given for extended periods of time (usual months to years).
 “B” Complex (water soluble) is made up of eight different vitamins, known as vitamin “B” complex.
  • Sources of vitamin “B”
    • Nuts
    • Legumes
    • Dairy
    • Meats
    • Vegetables
    • Fruits
  •  Benefits
    • Support a healthy brain and nervous system
    • Fighting allergies
    • Healthy immune system
    • Thyroid and adrenal health
 “D” (fat soluble)
Study confirms risk factor for congestive heart failure. Vitamin D is at the core of strong bones and healthy teeth. Extensive evidence also suggests that vitamin D plays a role in cardiovascular health for people. The results of the first research ever conducted to investigate the association between vitamin D status and congestive heart failure in dogs now confirms that the same holds true for our canine companions: vitamin D deficiency may be a risk factor for Congestive Heart Failure in canines.
Recently published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, the study analyzed 31 dogs with confirmed congestive heart disease and 51 unaffected control dogs. The Cornell research team discovered that while age, sex, and body condition were not statistically significant factors, the level of 25(OH) D, a measure of vitamin D in the blood stream, positively correlated with heart health. The study participants were all patients of the Cornell University Hospital for Animals and were visiting the hospital for medical care that required the collection of a blood sample. Dogs were enrolled with client consent.
More info
  • Sources
    • Dairy Products
    • Fish liver oil
    • Sunshine,
  • Benefits
    • Regulating calcium and phosphorous levels
    • Bone formation
    • Support for congestive heart failure
 Toxicity is very rare unless mega-doses are given for extended periods of time.
Vitamin “E”  (fat soluble)
  • Sources
    • Nuts
    • Leafy green vegetables
    • Cold pressed vegetable oils
    • Meats
  • Benefits
    • Keeping cells of major organs alive
    • Hormone protection
 No known vitamin “E” toxicity
Vitamin K (fat soluble)
  • Sources
    • Egg yolk
    • Alfalfa
    • Kelp
  • Benefits
    • Normal blood functions
    • Keeps blood clotting
No known toxicity levels have been documented.
Vitamin “C”  (water soluble)  
Dogs can produce their own vitamin C which has created much controversy as to whether to supplement a dog’s diet with vitamin C or not. There is general agreement that puppies and dogs that are older, sick, stressed and over exercised may benefit from vitamin C supplements.
Wendell O. Belfield, DVM, is perhaps the world’s best-known advocate of vitamin C supplementation for dogs. According to Belfield, young dogs and old dogs can benefit the most from routine vitamin C supplements.
As they get old, dogs become less proficient at producing their own supply of vitamin C, and more in need of antioxidants. Administering vitamin C to even very old and feeble dogs, says Belfield, can reinvigorate and strengthen them.
  • Sources
    • Fruits
      • Cantaloupe
      • oranges
    • Vegetables
      • Red pepper
      • Broccoli
      • Red cabbage
    • Benefits
      • Immune system health
      • Used for bacterial infections
 If given in large doses at one time may cause diarrhea in your dog.
Fish Oil (Fat Soluble)
According to a study published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research, fish oil supplements (DHA and EPA) can reduce inflammation.
Other studies show mixed results for use of fish oil for arthritis in dogs.
This is one of the most common supplements added to the dog’s diet.
Dosage also depends on your dog’s age, size and overall activity level and health.
  • Sources
    • Tissues of oily fish
  • Benefits
    • Possible treatment of arthritis
    • Treatment of skin allergies
    • Improvement of coat quality
    • Boosting immune system
    • Anti-inflammatory
  •  Side effects: (excess amounts of fish oil)
    • Interference with wound healing
    • Alter platelet production
There are no known toxicities from Fish Oil
  •  Probiotics
Some research shows that healthy bacteria can benefit our dog. Illness, stress, diets and medications can create a digestive imbalance
  • Benefits
    • Reduced flatulence
    • Reduced allergy reactions and symptoms
    • Overall health benefits
  • Deficiency
    • Diarrhea
    • Flatulence (excess)
    • Eating stool
    • Vomiting
    • Excessive shedding
  • Benefits
    • Joint health support
    • Help Treat Arthritis
    • Slow Degeneration of Cartilage
 If vomiting or diarrhea occur, reduce your pet’s dosage. May be best given with food.
Always check with your healthcare professional before beginning a supplementation program. It is important to assess your dog’s age and specific health needs.


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