We literally could write a blog every day for a year and still not cover every supplement and their use – this is such a big space with a huge market to match. There is a supplement that can benefit just about every condition and issue, and they can also be used to boost nutrition.
We recommend a variety of supplements for varying reasons – however the most common reason is to improve upon kibble. For example, we may add moisture to aid in digestion and to reduce inflammation. Or, we may add omega 3’s to improve upon skin and coat health. Here are some of my favorite tips for improving the health of your pet on dry food:
- Add Water – Kibble, regardless of the brand or quality, when fed consistently place our pets in a state of subclinical dehydration. Therefore, a pet that is fed kibble as the primary diet lives in a constant state of inflammation. Often times we do not see the inflammation on the outside until they are either elderly or sick. In the last 25 years dogs and cats have been presenting with obesity, kidney disease, arthritis, diabetes, liver failure, skin disorders, inflammatory bowel disease and cancer by the age of five. 25 years ago it was rare to hear of these diseases in young pets. Now, unfortunately it is commonplace and largely attributed to low quality diets, environmental toxins, over vaccination and poor breeding.
- Add Fresh Food – If you’re not comfortable adding raw meat scraps to your pets bowl, gently cook them without seasoning and stir oils and add them to your pets bowl. Vegetables & fruits such as sweet potato with skin, yellow and green squash, green beans, broccoli, carrots (grated) blueberries, watermelon, leafy greens, etc. can be added. Ideally these should be gently steamed and pureed, but not necessary. Large batches can be made ahead of time mixed with some coconut oil and frozen into ice cube trays or other pre-portioned sizes to save time! A great way to use up produce that will eventually go to waste!
- Add Quality Canned or Freeze-Dried Food – There are some really great companies that make high meat protein cans and freeze dried that can kick-start kibble. All kibble is high in carbohydrates (sugar) and a great way to decrease the carbohydrate percentage is to add a high-quality canned food. I prefer fresh foods first, but this is another great option. Even the best kibbles are 25% carbohydrate, and the average kibble is about 45%.
- Supplements – This is a really big space, and a topic worth its own blog post. Some of my favorites that I use on my own pets are Nordic Naturals Fish oil, digestive enzymes, pre & probiotics, coconut oil, green lipped muscle, cranberry, CoQ10, and glucosamine with chondroitin. Most people look at me wide eyed when I list all of the supplements I give my dogs. However, I don’t give every supplement to each pet at every meal, or even every day. I provide a healthy rotation and variety to each of my pets to provide support for all of their unique needs.
- Marine Oils – all oils are not created equal. With a proper balance of Omegas 3 & 6 many pets experienced reduced inflammation, better digestion, healthier skin and coat. There are also many cardiovascular benefits to marine oils. However, it is important to know that many marine oils today are oxidized, which means rancid, before you even purchase the product and open it. A rancid product will actually provide a negative effect for you or your pet. The best advice I can give you is, if your fish oil smells fishy don’t consume it! Fish oil should not be repulsive or smelly by any means. Nordic Naturals is one of very few companies who do not expose their product to oxygen during the distillation process – very important! They also use a light-block glass bottle for their liquid oils and have an exceptional quality capsule all for a very affordable price. Adored Beast also has a phytoplankton supplements which provides EPA, DHA, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This is a great sustainable and environmentally friendly way to provide so many nutrients in a highly efficient way.
- Probiotics – Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help the entire body to function effectively. Pre-biotics function as the food for the probiotics and both are necessary for the others function. The microbiome consists of a healthy colony of bacteria, viruses and fungi that aid in digestion, but also are responsible for many chemical processes including the manufacturing of neurotransmitters. Just within the last few years we have learned just how important it is to keep the diversity of our pets (and our) microbiome high and functioning at its peak. We often find that pre and probiotics help with digestive issues, skin problems, halitosis (bad breath), anxiety and even some behavioral problems. After all – remember that proper balance of gut bacteria is required for proper production of neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers.
- Digestive Enzymes – These go hand in hand with probiotics and I like to see all pets eating commercial food on high quality digestive enzymes. These help the body to break down food better and absorb the nutrients. When you think about how much processing goes into making fresh food look like kibble it is enough to make your head spin. In order for the body to metabolize the food, it first needs to undo some of the processing. Digestive enzymes are sometimes the missing piece for a pet who commonly has chronic diarrhea or vomiting.
- CoQ10 – Another supplement I like to proactively see as a part of every pet’s diet. CoQ10 is primarily sourced by the body itself, and production decreases with age. Cells utilize CoQ10 to generate energy. Additionally, CoQ10 helps to prevent damage to cells and DNA. CoQ10 can also help to slow normal aging as well as promote a healthy immune system.
Supplements cannot and should not take the place of adequate nutrition and, as always, supplementation should never replace the care and advice of your pet’s veterinarian. Please also remember that very pet is unique, and what may work for one pet may not likely work in the same way for another. If you would like more information or individualized recommendations our capable staff would be more than happy to help guide you.