We are also pleased to receive supplements designed to improve the health and well-being of our four-legged pets. However, do dogs really need extra food? When is it needed and when can it hurt them?
Supplements in a dog’s diet – is it necessary?
For a healthy dog who spends 1-2 hours a day, ready-made high-quality food should provide all the necessary vitamins and minerals. However, sometimes it is necessary to supplement the dog’s diet with some nutrients, especially when our pet is in a weakened state, under severe stress, over-exhausted, or recently undergoing surgery. In such cases, giving them supplements will make them feel better and help them recover faster. In what cases is it worth adding supplements to a dog’s diet and what should it look like?
Support for the growth and development of children
The first months of life are a period of intensive growth and development in dogs. During this period, we must pay special attention to the pet, because any deficiency and disease can result in growth disorders and health problems that will manifest themselves during adolescence. Choose food for puppies and young dogs and get supplements that support the immune, bone and nervous systems when needed. Along with highly digestible and biologically valuable food, the caloric content of food is also important.
– Calcium and phosphorus play a key role in feeding dogs in the early stages of life, which has a positive effect on skeletal formation and tooth development in young animals. Calcium deficiency in one dog can lead to bone demineralization, which can lead to lameness, unwillingness to play or walk, among others. However, it should be borne in mind that an excess of this mineral is also harmful, it can delay growth and develop serious diseases of the skeletal system. – Animal nutrition and dietetics expert Pets Diag explains Katarzyna Żmuda, an expert in the veterinary diagnostic laboratory.
The diet of young dogs should also include fat, a source of omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids that support brain development, vision and hearing. Fish oils, such as salmon or small sea fish, will work in a baby diet.
Improving the quality of life of older dogs
Supplements can also be part of the diet of older dogs, because combined with a properly balanced diet is a way to improve quality of life.
– In dogs, the surface of the intestinal villi decreases with age, which means that their body is unable to properly absorb all the nutrients provided. Older dogs should not have a zinc deficiency in their diet, which will ensure faster skin regeneration and improve the condition of the coat. Selenium is an equally important element in maintaining a good coat condition. It also affects the production of energy in the heart muscle, so it is an important ingredient for dogs suffering from cardiovascular disease. – Katarzyna explains Żmuda.
Antioxidants, or chemicals that slow down the aging process, play a major role in the diet of both humans and dogs. These include vitamins A, E, C, carotenoids and minerals. the above-mentioned selenium and zinc, as well as copper, iron and manganese. It is also worth remembering to support the joints and eyes in older dogs.
Needed for BARF diet
Mineral and vitamin supplements are also needed in the diet of dogs fed a specially prepared mixture of raw meat, offal and bone, ie BARFie. This diet should be supplemented with seaweed, a source of rich iodine – a mineral whose deficiencies cause problems with the thyroid gland, nervous system, fertility and heart function. Brewer’s yeast, which contains B vitamins that have a positive effect on the nervous and digestive systems, is equally important. Yeast is also a source of biotin, which improves the quality of skin and coatings. Fish oils are the next necessary supplement in the BARF diet. These include cod liver oil (fish oil), which is a source of vitamin D, and salmon, small sea fish or krill oil, which contain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). In addition, dogs that cannot eat bone should take calcium supplements such as eggshells, calcium carbonate, or calcium citrate.
Less means more
What preparations and how much to give our dog is a very individual matter, because each dog will have different needs for specific nutrients. It depends on the dog’s age, sex, diet, as well as physical condition and past castration.
– If we want to add supplements to our dog’s diet, it is worth consulting a veterinarian, dietitian or performing an EHAA elementary hair test, which will give us a reliable result of the levels of nutrients and toxins in our pet’s body. – Katarzyna Żmuda, an expert in animal nutrition and dietetics and an expert in the veterinary diagnostic laboratory of Pets Diag. – But keep in mind that an overdose of minerals can harm our dog, so supplements should only be given at the dose recommended by a veterinarian or dietitian. – the expert adds.
Supplements can also be given from time to time, for example, salmon or Atlantic krill oil will have a positive effect on the coat and will show itself in very active dogs. An interesting product is cyst herb, which also has strong antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. In addition, cleaning can help protect our pet from ticks, which is especially important in the spring and summer, as even a quick-release tick is a major threat to the dog – it can be infected with diseases such as Lyme disease or babesiosis. However, keep in mind that cleansing is only a support, and the basis of protection against ticks are tablets, drops or other means that can be obtained from a veterinarian.