A quick Google search for supplements for your dog will bring up results for itchy skin, joints, heart health, and even supplements to add to homemade diets. But do you need to give your pup these supplements? You may notice a wide variety of brands and ingredients making bold claims to boost your best friend’s health. Are they true? We looked at a wide variety of expert sources to determine what is truth and what is a marketing tactic.
Many of these products also come with a healthy price tag. You might be wondering when to spend and when to save your money for something else - like vet care or extra treats!
We looked at some popular supplements in a few different categories to help you determine which are worth considering for your pup. As always, before making any dietary changes or adding a supplement check with your vet!
What Are Dietary Supplements for Dogs?
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) defines supplements as: “A feed used with(sic) in conjunction with another feed to improve the nutritive balance or performance of the total feed.”
An April 2019 report by market research publisher Packaged Facts revealed that the pet supplement industry had a value of about $636 million. In their research, they found that the majority of this spending was done by dog owners.
They state that “For over a decade pet supplements have been steady and at times outstanding pet market performers, maintaining momentum thanks (to) the overall pet market’s driving focus on health and wellness, increased attention to age- and obesity-related pet health conditions and risks, the strengthening embrace of nutrition as part of a preventative health and wellness routine, and ongoing high-level interest in functional ingredients and products targeting specific health conditions.”
Popular Skin and Coat Supplements
When it comes to keeping your pup's skin and coat healthy there are many products at your disposal. From shampoos and conditioners to dietary supplements that can help from the inside out.
American Journey Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil
They say “Give your pet’s skin, coat and immune system a boost with American Journey Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil Liquid Dog Supplement." American Journey is made with wild-caught salmon, which contains long-chain omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA that help promote skin and coat health.
Zesty Paws Omega Bites Skin and Coat Support
These omega bites are chewable treats specially formulated with omega 3, omega 6, and omega 9 to keep skin healthy and coats shining for dogs. The chews contain cod liver oil and fish oil to soften your pet’s skin and fur, as well as flaxseed meal, vitamin C and biotin to keep your pets feeling just as good as they look.
Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet Cats & Small Breed Dog & Cat Supplement
Also available for larger breeds, Nordic Naturals also provides an Omega-3 supplement that can be served on top of your pup’s food. It is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids from sustainable anchovies and sardines of the South Pacific. Check the label for the suggested serving size based on your pet's weight.
Popular Heart Health Supplements
Heart disease is almost as common in dogs as in humans. While it is unlikely that your dog is smoking or living on just fatty cuts of steak, there are many other things that contribute to heart disease in our pups. These include obesity, poort diet, and even heartworms.
If your pup is showing signs of heart disease you will probably start by working with your vet to get their diet and exercise right. Even if your pup doesn’t need medication, you might be wondering about supplements to help with their cardiovascular function.
Dr. Gordon Peddle of Crown Veterinary Specialists & Associates says, “A wide variety of over-the-counter supplements are readily available on the internet and in the nutritional aisles of our pharmacies, nutritional stores, and grocery stores. Furthermore, a seemingly unlimited amount of often incomplete or conflicting information can be found on the internet about these products, which can make it difficult to decide what to give (or not give) to our pets.”
Herbsmith Taurine Boost
This supplement contains Taurine, L-Caritene, Omega-3s and Coenzyme Q10. They say that “Taurine Boost is a proprietary blend of amino acids, nutrients and antioxidants. Each ingredient in this veterinarian-developed formula works to keep your pets’ tail happily wagging.” Tauerine defficiency is linked to dilated cardiomyopathy in some dogs. Talk to your vet if you think your dog is not getting enough tauerine in their diet.
Dr. Mercola Heart Health Dog & Cat Supplement
This supplement contains 12 active ingredients including, taurine, organic hawthorn berry fruit, L-carnitine, pomegranate fruit extract and niacin. Tauerine is obviously important to heart health in dogs since it is in so many cardiac supplements on the market.
Popular Joint Health Supplements
As your pup ages they may suffer from joint pain and arthritis. Your vet might suggest adding a nutritional supplement to help slow the progression and minimize pain. If a supplement isn't working to keep your pup pain free, your vet may also recommend a combination of medication and therapeutic exercise.
Nutramax Cosequin Maximum Strength (DS) Plus MSM Soft Chews Joint Health Dog Supplement
"Healthy joint cartilage is crucial to joint function, which is why this number one veterinarian recommended brand formulated these soft chews. Not only do they help support cartilage production and protect existing cartilage from breaking down with ingredients like methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), glucosamine and chondroitin, but they also contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids to promote healthy skin and a lustrous coat. Plus, your dog will love the taste of these moist chews!"
Super Snouts Joint Power Green Lipped Mussel Dog & Cat Supplement
"Super Snouts Joint Power Green Lipped Mussel Dog & Cat Supplement is a powerful, unique joint supplement composed of 100% New Zealand green lipped mussels. Stabilized, freeze-dried green lipped mussels have shown extremely positive results in clinical trials for pets. That’s because they provide a rich source of all major classes of glycosaminoglycans, compounds responsible for natural anti-inflammatory, and joint-lubricating, properties. In addition, green lipped mussel extract contains a nutrient-rich blend of natural proteins, minerals and omega fatty acids." If your dog is allergic to shellfish please avoid supplements with Green Lipped Mussels to avoid an allergic reaction.
The bottom line: to supplement or not to supplement?
The answer to this question is not as simple as a yes or no. While all of the products we've listed above sound great and are highly rated by other pet parents it depends.
The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AFCO) says that “Generally speaking, healthy dogs and cats that are fed a complete and balanced diet appropriate for their life stage do not (need supplements).”
At Ollie, we’ve worked hard to develop recipes that are complete, balanced and appropriate for all life stages. These recipes are formulated to give your pup everything they need. We even include some popular supplement ingredients like fish oil, tauerine and chia seeds.
While most dogs on a balanced diet do not need additional supplements AAFCO does go on to remind pet parents that: “Veterinarians sometimes prescribe special “supplements” or “therapeutic diets” for pets with particular disease conditions.”
If your pup has a specific condition and requires supplements you will want to work closely with your vet. You should never give your pup supplements without consulting your vet first. Some of these supplements can interact with medication your pup is taking or cause more issues than they solve. If your pet is getting what they need from their diet, adding an additional dietary supplement can push your dog into a dangerous overdose of certain vitamins or minerals. Yes, even when you use all-natural or plant-based supplements.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.