Whether you’re feeding your dog a kibble or a raw food-based diet, their food forms the foundation of their nutritional profile, however, every dog's needs are different, and with each life stage, those needs change. Many of us take supplements for our own health and recognize the value they can add to our everyday nutrition as well as help with specific issues such as metabolism or those that come along with aging. But what can be done for our beloved dog and is there any guarantee of quality nutritional supplements for dogs?
Should I be Giving my Dog Supplements?
Whenever you're giving your dog anything edible you need to ask yourself why you're giving it to them. Are you giving them a pill to treat a symptom like pain or are you giving them something to help alleviate the underlying issue? Giving something to mask a symptom should only be done as a last resort. For example, when a dog has an acute injury and needs to be made comfortable while their body heals, or when a dog is in a palliative state caused by an incurable disease and needs to be made comfortable.
Whenever alleviating the underlying issue is an option, it should be done. Wouldn't you prefer to give your dog something to reduce joint inflammation and increase cartilage maintenance while simultaneously decreasing pain and joint stiffness as opposed to just pain medication to mask the symptoms and not deal with the cause?
Whenever you're making decisions about your dog's health you should always consult a veterinarian. If they're not discussing supplements with you, you should inquire about them or ask to be referred to a veterinary nutritionist.
What to Look for When Considering Dog Supplements
Consider what issue you're trying to alleviate in your dog. Metabolism, allergies, and aging joints are all three very different issues that each have their own requirements. The supplements you're considering have targeted ingredients that actively contribute to alleviating your dog's specific issue, not current buzzwords thrown around for marketing purposes or other additives to mask the symptoms.
Now that you know the type of supplement you're looking for you should first and foremost consider the quality of the ingredients in the product as well as how and where they're manufactured. You can have the best ingredients, but if their manufacturing process is subpar, then you can end up with impurities that could potentially reduce the quality of the supplements or at worst, even harm your dog.
In North America, we have Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that oversee food and drug manufacturing practices ensuring safe, reliable, and consistent quality. Making sure the product you choose has GMP & FDA approved logos on the label ensures the supplements you give your dogs are made in a regulated facility with a high standard for cleanliness and handling practices. This gives you peace of mind that your product was not made in someone's kitchen, basement, or somewhere else where contamination could occur.
Another thing to consider in the product you choose is the ease of use. Will it be easy to give your dog the supplement? Some supplements come in a treat form which often contains fillers, while others come in pill form which can be difficult to administer. Other supplements come in powder form which is typically easiest to administer as you can simply add them to your dog's food at mealtime.