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Essential supplements for dogs

We all want to provide our dogs with the very best nutrition we can afford. Here are a few supplements for dogs you can add to your pet’s food, regardless if you are feeing dry kibble, canned or raw, to help ensure your dog is getting the nutrition he needs.

Probiotics are essential if feeding processed food, including raw food that is high pressurized processed (HPP).  Probiotics help maintain a healthy environment in the gut.  They compete against unhealthy bacteria for space along the intestinal lining.  Probiotics help your dog with digestion, healthy bowels and a healthy immune system.  They can even help with allergies.

There are many probiotics to choose from.  Always choose the highest quality probiotic you can find.  Look on the label to see how many strains are in the probiotic and look at the colony forming units (CFU’s). You want to find a product with a lot of diversity, so a variety of strains and billions of CFU’s.  Strains that are great for dogs include SF68, AHC7 and LGG.

A refrigerated probiotic is better than one you find sitting on the shelf. Non-refrigerated items contain fewer live organisms than what the label may lead you to believe.  The organisms in probiotics are very sensitive and can easily be killed off during processing or shipping.

Some dog foods have probiotics already added, however the chances of them having enough strains, CFU’s or still being alive, so they can actually help your dog, is very slim. Remember when dog food is being processed it is subjected to very high temperatures, which while making the food sterile, kills off many nutrients.

You can buy a probiotic that is labeled for human use, just be sure to give the proper amount. Assume a human product is dosed for 150 lb body weight.  Divide accordingly for your dog’s weight.

Fermented vegetables are a great source of probiotics.  Start with ½ teaspoon for 15 lbs of body weight and build up to 1 teaspoon per 15lbs of body weight.

If your dog is not sensitive to dairy, goat keifer or plain yogurt are also great sources of probiotics.

Prebiotics exist in non-digestible fibrous parts of food such as bananas, apple skin, raw dandelion greens, asparagus and oatmeal. They travel through the intestines and then ferment once reaching the colon where they convert into short chain fatty acids.  Prebiotics act as a fertilizer for healthy bacteria that is already in the gut.

If you choose to add a store-bought prebiotic, always feed it along with a probiotic. There is some controversy as to whether or not prebiotics increase the number of unhealthy bacteria in the gut if given alone, so always give with a probiotic.

Fish Oil is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil benefits the skin and coat, is a wonderful anti-inflammatory, improves the immune system and increases stamina.  Fish oil is prone to oxidation and should always be added separately to food. The fish oil that is already in processed food will quickly oxidize and go rancid.

To make sure your dog is getting enough fish oil, multiply his weight by 20 and that’s how many much EPA your dog should be feeding.  So if your dog weighs 15lbs, you’ll want to add 300 EPA’s to his food. The DHA will be similar, so you don’t need to be concerned with the math on it.

Coconut Oil contains saturated, monosaturated and polysaturated fats with many medium chain fatty acids.  Coconut oil is great for the skin and coat, it helps maintain a healthy weight, it helps with neurological function and it can help with gut health.

Always select a virgin or extra virgin coconut oil that is packaged in glass.  You’ll want to feed 1 teaspoon per day per 10 lbs of body weight. If you live in a hot climate, you can also choose Coconut Butter which is less likely to liquidize on your shelf and has the same benefits as the oil.

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