Supplements and Healthy Nutrition for Dogs

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Supplements have become a way of life for humans. About forty percent of us take these to complement or boost our diet, or to treat a certain condition. Nowadays people are realising that nutrition alone is not enough for themselves or their furry companions and a market has arisen to meet the need for dog supplements. However, the basis of good health starts with adequate nutrition that can be supplemented where necessary.

Basic Nutrition for Dogs

Dogs have evolved biologically and have adapted through their time with humans to an omnivore diet. Although they belong to the scientific classification of Carnivora, so do many other mammals. Some of these, like cats, can only eat a carnivore diet which must include meat. Others, such as horses, are herbivores and only eat a plant diet. Dogs, on the other hand, need a diet of meat and plant foods.

Meals for your dog must be digestible. It is suggested that you give your dog cooked food over raw as this is easier to digest with enzymes that are produced in the stomach. This applies especially to complex carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Carrots can be cooked but also nibbled on raw to clean teeth and satisfy the craving to chew. Another healthy alternative is apples. In general, however, raw diets can be a burden and create health issues for young dogs and those with compromised immune systems, so cooked meals are safest.

The basic ingredients needed are protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. These six nutrients are necessary in the right combination. Often it is easiest to buy packaged dog kibbles to ensure that your dog is getting the correct amounts in a balanced way. But you want to compare brands and take a look at the options available from your vet practice. The quality of supermarket brands may be inferior and not as easily digestible even though you pay less. You want to look out for wholefoods instead of a lot of unpronounceable ingredients.

The next question most dog owners have, after what to feed their pet, is how often it should be fed and in what quantities. For starters, your dog’s daily calorie intake requirement can be worked out with a simple formula: 30 times their weight in pounds, divided by 2.2, + 70 equals the calories for a day. This is then split over the actual number of meals in a day and also includes any snacks you give your dog during the same twenty-four-hour period. Your vet can weigh your dog and do this calculation for you.

A dog can go without food for several days following a huge meal; however, on average, they should eat two to three times a day. A puppy and a pregnant or nursing mother will need to eat more frequently.

Supplements for Dogs

Supplements are used to add what is missing from a dog’s meals or to provide additional nutrition when it is lacking due to ill-health. Popular dog supplements are given for heart health, joint stiffness, skin conditions, and shiny coats.

If you are looking for organic dog supplements, they are available from Native Pet. They only use minimal ingredients which are shipped in from the USA and Canada. Nutrition is assured by limiting the number of ingredients to top-quality nutrients rather than bulking up for volume.

Glucosamine supplements usually also contain chondroitin sulphateand together they are a well-known treatment for canine arthritis. The quantity of the supplement they should take depends on their weight and how bad their joints are. Osteoarthritis affects twenty percent of dogs over the age of one. Although all types of dogs can get this condition, it occurs more commonly in large breed dogs. While your vet may prescribe a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine for your dog, this is not without risks such as stomach or kidney problems and dehydration. A supplement may thus be preferable. You should discuss the risk factors and benefits of any medications with your vet to relieve your pet of this debilitating pain and lack of mobility.

Omega-3 fatty acids for dogs are usually provided as fish oil. Whereas omega-3 reduces inflammation in the body, omega-6 can cause inflammation. The two exist in balance in the body for optimal health. Therefore, when your dog suffers from arthritis or joint problems, you will want to supplement with omega-3fatty acids. Fish oil can also be used to support a healthy heart and for skin allergies. This is what you want to give your dog for a beautiful coat.

Antioxidants are another class of supplements that can be given to dogs. Ageing can cause dogs to lose their memories and mental abilities. Free radicals can result in cell damage and cell death, but antioxidants fight against them. Antioxidants are also useful for inflammation and heart conditions. Your vet may suggest this supplement as your pet ages.

Vitamins for Dogs

Vitamins are contained in the food that you eat. However, your dog may not have enough variety in its diet to ensure adequate amounts, so this is when additional supplementation is required. It is important to take the recommended dosage as dogs do not require vitamins in the same proportion as humans do.

Along with eye care, Vitamin A supports the growth of unborn puppies and their early development after birth. Of the B vitamins, Vitamin B6 is one of the most important for nerve regulation, red blood cell production, and glucose levels. Other B vitamins variously support metabolism, enzyme function, and energy levels. Vitamin A, C, and E are antioxidants that fight free radicals.

If you are worried about the adequacy of vitamins your dog is getting, speak to your vet about his diet and possible supplementation or a multivitamin for dogs.

Supplementation by your Vet

Ultimately, your vet is the best person to advise you on supplements for your dog. The first thing your vet will check is what kibble you are feeding your dog and what other meals you are preparing. Secondly, your vet will look at the condition of your pet and check for underlying conditions. The age of your dog will also play a role.

Omega 3 and 6 may be recommended for a variety of skin conditions, chondroitin sulphate and glucosaminefor joints, and a B12 injection for run-down dogs or those with a chronic disease. A kidney tonic contains substances such as liver extracts and A, B, and E vitamins and is used for renal impairment. A multivitamin may be given to supplement an inadequate diet or when your pet’s nutritional needs are increased such as during pregnancy and lactation. A geriatric pet supplement with lecithin and vitamins could be suggested for an elderly dog. Special diet foods are also available that take the breed and size of the animal into account.

When it comes to looking after your special friend, you will want to make sure that basic nutrition is taken care of by choosing the best quality dog kibble you can afford. It will preferably contain wholefoods and ingredients that you can recognise. Then you may want to consider adding supplements to support your pet’s health depending on its condition and any specific problems it has.

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