May 9, 2021
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9 Best Supplements for Dogs 2021

You’ve become used to taking daily multivitamins, loading up on vitamin C when you’re feeling sick, and may have even reached for adaptogenic herbs at some point — why wouldn’t you do the same for your pet, right? After all, all pet owners want their fur babies to be as healthy as possible, to live a long, full, adventurous life at your side. But most dog owners only need to worry about additional supplements when a certain health risk makes itself known, explains Lindsey Bullen, DVM, ACVN, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist at BluePearl Pet Hospitals.

“If a pet is otherwise healthy and on a complete and balanced diet, they likely do not need any supplements because their diet would have everything that they need to survive and thrive,” she tells Good Housekeeping. Most commercially available dog foods contain the nutritional balance that pets need, and owners are likely researching any holistic benefits of their dog’s food, too. The need for extra vitamins and other supplements becomes clear as puppies transition into full-bred adults and, later, as they develop health issues as they age. One of the most common reasons for supplements is joint pain, says Jerry Klein, DVM, chief veterinary officer for the American Kennel Club (AKC). Coat issues, gastrointestinal problems, weight loss, inflammation and cognitive disorders are other reasons pets take supplements.

But Klein and Bullen have a warning for pet parents: Never give supplements to your dog without talking to your pet’s veterinarian first. “Each dog’s needs vary greatly, and excessive amounts of some vitamins can be harmful to your dog,” Klein explains. For example, he says too much calcium could cause skeletal problems in some large breed puppies, and excessive vitamin A may lead to further dehydration, joint pain, and blood vessel damage. Some supplements may contain herbs and other ingredients that might interact with medications, and side effects are something that only your vet would know about in advance.

You should always confirm proper dosing guidelines for any product with your pet’s veterinarian. Human supplements shouldn’t be given to dogs, as they can contain ingredients that could be harmful to your pets.

There’s another reason why it’s best to discuss long-term use first: Supplements for dogs (and people, too) aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. And, few studies have tested the long-term safety of vitamins and other supplements for dogs. So, it’s essential to try only supplements recommended by your vet and that have a quality seal by the National Animal Supplement Council, Klein says. Other things you should look for in a dog supplement:

  • Brands that specialize in a certain area or have commissioned clinical studies of their products.
  • Products listing a lot number, which signals the company emphasizes quality control.
  • Products with contact details, so you can call to ask how the product was formulated and how long the manufacturer has been in business.
  • Know what ingredients you’re looking for and check the labels to make sure the product actually contains them.

Giving supplements to your dog could improve their health and quality of life. But it’s always best to talk to your vet first. They’ll help you decide what’s safe for your fur baby, and what your pet truly needs, how much they should take and for how long.

Do vets recommend CBD oils or products for dogs?

It’s gotten plenty of buzz in the wellness space over the past few years, so it’s not too surprising that several CBD products for dogs have popped up. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural ingredient found in cannabis that’s touted for health benefits like pain and stress relief. For dogs, some in the pet industry believe CBD could help control seizures, relieve joint pain and inflammation, and have a calming effect.

But little research has been done on CBD and its full effect on dogs, explains Bullen, and any product containing THC as a byproduct, the substance that makes you feel high, could be toxic for your pet. “Given the lack of scientific information supporting the safety of CBD in food, the FDA is also indicating that it cannot conclude that CBD is generally recognized as safe to use in human or animal food,” writes the agency in a warning to pet owners.

Regardless if it’s a CBD-specific supplement or a general product on the market, be wary of any supplements with unverified claims that sound too good to be true; i.e. they’ll cure cancer or other ailments, Bullen says. “I feel that the majority of supplements are likely manufactured and developed with only the best intentions,” she adds. “But, the challenge with supplements is that they are not well-regulated. And, if you’re choosing to supplement, it’s really important to talk to your veterinarian to make sure it’s actually safe.”

If you’ve already identified a common health issue for your pooch with your vet’s help, you may be wondering which supplements to try first. We rounded up some of the most common supplements for dogs and what you should know about each one before you give it to your pet.

1

Best Multivitamin

5-in-1 Bites, Multifunctional Vitamin

Zesty Paws
amazon.com

$25.97

Dogs need many of the same vitamins as people to stay healthy. Vitamin A, C, D, E, K and B vitamins are essential for your pet’s diet, according to AKC. Some multivitamins for dogs include these nutrients, which could keep your pet’s coat shiny and soft, and keep them active as they age.

2

Best Glucosamine Supplement

Soft Chews With MSM and Omega-3s

Cosequin
amazon.com

$34.99

Glucosamine is a natural compound found in cartilage that provides cushion for the joints. Klein says glucosamine supplements are commonly used to ease the effects of arthritis, including relieving pain and helping pets keep moving as they age. If your pet seems to be getting around a little slower, hops when they run or is reluctant to jump, talk to your vet about these supplements.

3

Best Fish Oil Supplement

Ultra Mega Fish Oil Advantage Soft Gel Capsules

Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids, which Klein says could improve your dog’s coat quality and shine. If your dog is always scratching, fish oil can help. Its anti-inflammatory properties will make their skin feel less itchy and even skin allergies less of a bother.

Bullen adds that many fish oil supplements contain omega-6s, too, which can help restore ceramides, the fat molecules that help the skin retain moisture, and boost cell membranes in the skin. She suggests looking for fish oil supplements containing EPA and DHA fatty acids, which are actually found in fish.

4

Best Probiotic Supplement

Mega Probiotic and Prebiotic for Dogs and Cats

VetriScience Laboratories
amazon.com

$26.00

Probiotics are the live healthy bacteria and yeast that aid digestion and promote intestinal health. For dogs with constant tummy troubles, Klein says probiotic supplements might help by reducing their risk for diarrhea, constipation, and gas.

5

Best Antioxidant Supplement

Select Antioxidant Supplement

Vetoquinol
amazon.com

$19.39

Antioxidants are found in substances, such as vitamin C and E, and prevent cell damage from free radicals, which are unstable parts of cells that can cause different kinds of illnesses and speed up aging. Klein says antioxidant supplements offer several benefits to dogs, including slowing the signs of aging, including memory loss and cognitive dysfunction. They may also help reduce inflammation and treat heart disease.

6

Best Immunity Supplement

Allergy Immune Supplement

Zesty Paws
amazon.com

$25.96

Supplements offering immune system support are also popular with pet parents. Many immunity supplements contain other healthy ingredients for dogs like antioxidants and probiotics. Supplements containing probiotics not only help with digestion, they can also provide immune system support.

7

Best Eye Health Supplement

Ocu-GLO, 90 Count

Ocu-GLO
amazon.com

$75.00

Just like people, many dogs experience vision problems as they get older. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science found that some antioxidant supplements can help improve and preserve vision in dogs. These antioxidant-rich supplements usually contain omega-3 fatty acids and lutein, which may protect the eye from sun damage and lower the risk of cataracts.

8

Best Anti-Anxiety Supplement

Quiet Moments Calming Aid

NaturVet
amazon.com

$13.99

The sound of thunderbolts or the doorbell makes some dogs a nervous wreck. There are several calming or anti-anxiety supplements out there to give your four-legged friend some peace of mind. These products usually contain ingredients known to have calming effects like chamomile, ginger and tryptophan. However, a study published in the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research found tryptophan supplements had no consistent effect on dogs’ behavior.

9

Turmeric for Dogs Curcumin Pet Antioxidant

Amazing Nutritionals
amazon.com

$21.97

Turmeric is a spice that’s sometimes added to dog food and treats to add coloring. And, it could offer anti-inflammatory benefits for dogs, so it might relieve joint pain and itchy skin. Though one small study showed that the compounds in turmeric had little to no effect on inflammation or arthritis.

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