Choosing Canine Supplements Wisely

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There are plenty of articles on the internet advocating giving dogs supplements, from vitamins and lecithin to garlic and yeast. But really, what should you be giving your dog regularly? As more information comes out, many dog owners worry that they could be doing more to feed their dogs healthily. Trying to feed your dog every supplement you hear about could accidentally cause as many issues as you’d hoped to solve. Below we discuss factors you should consider when choosing supplements for your dog. 

Related: 10 Ways to Improve Your Dog’s Gut Health & Digestion

Do All Dogs Require Supplements?

There are three main reasons you may want to add specific nutrients to the diet of your dog: 

Compensating for a known or suspected deficiency of the nutrient you are thinking about supplementing. 

The deficiency may be discovered via a blood test or the analysis of a dog’s nutritional status. In some cases, a dog owner may be aware that the diet their dog ingests lacks a specific nutrient, and rather than changing the formulation of the diet, they choose to supplement. For example, dogs fed a diet based on vegetables and raw meat may need a calcium supplement if they don’t also ingest fresh ground bones. If a dog lacks a particular nutrient and starts to be supplemented with an optimal dosage of the necessary nutrient, his health should improve markedly. Correcting even a small nutrient deficiency can make a significant impact on dogs that already seem relatively healthy. You should quickly see a shinier coat, less dandruff, and more energy. It can be challenging to notice micro-minerals’ deficiencies since a lack of micro-minerals doesn’t have obvious and immediate effects. However, with a well-rounded diet and nutrient supplementation, your pet should look better than before and have a little more spring to their step.

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Covering Suspected Deficiencies

You may not (and probably shouldn’t) trust commercial dog food companies who tell you they formulated their products to contain everything a dog requires. What commercial dog food manufacturers consider an “adequate” amount of nutrients may not be optimal for your pet. More and more research shows that the current minimum daily requirements of vitamins for dogs that the National Research Council has put out are not adequate. While the values for major minerals seem to be okay, there may be deficiencies in your dog and its unique nutrient needs. 

You probably know already that for human beings, the minimum daily vitamin requirements are not necessarily the optimum daily dosage but is instead the minimum required to keep symptoms of significant deficiencies at bay. Many nutritionists consider the optimum dose for different vitamins (including the “micro” kind) to double the minimum daily requirement the National Research Council recommends. The same situation may be true for animals. Consider this example: The amount of the amino acid taurine recommended for cats is now more than twice what it used to be in previous years, purely because it took years for researchers to find a good number for taurine. If you only feed your dog everyday commercial foods, giving your dog a vitamin supplement with no “mega doses” of any particular nutrient can be a safe bet. Most decent quality commercial dog foods have enough significant minerals like iron, calcium, copper, and zinc, so there’s probably no reason to add any of those. 

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Optimize Therapeutic Dosages

Another main reason to give your dog supplements is to optimize the dosage of specific nutrients for therapeutic or preventive purposes. Over-supplementation can cause many issues, but targeted therapeutic supplementation refers to giving a dog with particular health problems higher quantities of nutrients that assist the body in dealing with those conditions. One example is giving your dog extra doses of antioxidant vitamins E and C during allergy season if they have a pollen allergy.

On the other hand, preventative supplementation is done to stop the onset of disease. Of course, this only works if the condition is predictable and when the supplement has proven capabilities. One example is giving iodine supplements to Golden Retrievers to prevent hypothyroidism (which is very common in Golden Retrievers). 

Related: Should You Start Giving Your Dog A Joint Supplement?

Problems With Supplements

There are many situations where appropriate, targeted supplementation has potentially saved a dog’s life. However, there are also many ways that people can harm their pets with supplements. Consider this example: Kidney stones can be a result of too-acid or too-alkaline urine. A dog diagnosed with kidney stones was treated by a vet to have more alkaline urine. This treatment seemed to be okay for a while until the dog got kidney stones from over-alkaline urine. The vet was baffled- what can she do if the diet can’t be shifted in either direction? It turns out the owner was giving the dog three different kinds of calcium supplements. By cutting out the calcium supplements, the dog never had a problem with kidney stones again.

Common Mistakes With Supplements


Over-supplementing is one of the most dangerous things people can do to dogs. Over-supplementing with calcium can cause many bone deformities in young dogs, and overdosing on certain minerals can actually result in mineral poisonings. The most dangerous minerals to over-supplement are the ones that dogs need the most significant quantities of: Iron, copper, calcium, and zinc. Over-supplementing calcium in large and giant breeds can cause their joints to break down, and calcium can also bind with other minerals and cause major issues. Since minerals can build up in your dog’s system, it can cause major issues as time goes on. Supplementing a steady, moderate dose of antioxidants is fairly okay, but overdosing on antioxidants can actually encourage cancer.


Specific nutrients need to be fed in a proper ratio to another nutrient, or it can result in harmful imbalances. One example is the calcium/phosphorus ratio, which should be between 1-1 and 2-1. If the balance is off, then rickets could occur in growing dogs and osteoporosis or “rubber jaw” in older dogs.

Bad Interactions

Mixing certain medicinal herbs with certain medications can produce very dangerous results. You should consult with your veterinarian before adding any herbs to your dog’s diet, particularly if they are taking any medications. Vitamin E and Digoxin, for example, interact badly; Vitamin E can cause the animal to overdose on Digitalis, even if they are taking a normal amount. 

Related: Can Dogs Eat Eggs?

It’s crucial to be aware of the supplements you are giving your dog and consider their long-term effects. Appropriate supplementation can boost your dog’s health, but your priority should be to feed your pet a healthy, balanced diet. Rogue Pet Science offers pet products that are all-natural and sustainably produced. When you choose Origins Canine 5-in-1, your dog won’t need an additional fish oil supplement because it’s made out of wild fish protein and wild complete fish oil packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Order premium pet products from Rogue Pet Science for your furry friends!

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