These days pretty much everyone takes supplements to maintain or improve their health.
A lot of people sometimes don’t even bother with prescriptions when it comes to stuff like vitamin supplements.
It’s just vitamins, isn’t it? Better too many than too little!
And that naturally translates to supplements for dogs as well, of course. Right?
The fact of the matter, though, is that IT REALLY ISN’T.
You read that right.
Repeat – It’s not ok to pop supplements willy-nilly – for neither you nor your puppy.
Well, not all supplements.
While a prescription isn’t needed in case of certain supplements – and we’ll get to those in a bit – many can be quite harmful if taken in excess.
The Trouble with Giving Supplements for Dogs without Prescriptions or Diagnosis
Nowadays owners are becoming increasingly aware of conditions like arthritis in dogs, skin and fur problems, dental trouble and so on.
And knowing that, the urge among worried owners to cover all their bases with supplements for dogs they’ve read about somewhere or heard about from friends or family is perfectly understandable.
Especially when owners don’t have all the time in the world to carefully plan, prepare, cook and feed a varied, healthy, balanced diet for their pooch.
It’s just easier to make-up with supplements.
And while it’s true that conditions like arthritis call for joint supplements for dogs…
And conditions like eclampsia or milk fever in dogs can be really dangerous for both a pregnant mother and her puppies – needing calcium supplements for dogs to treat it.
But carefully controlling and monitoring the dosage is crucial as well.
The problem is that certain vitamins and minerals in supplements for dogs can be quite harmful in excess doses.
Some of these nutrients are water-soluble – such as vitamins B and C – which a body can reject and expel easily through urine and such – no harm done.
However, a number of supplements contain fat-soluble nutrients – like vitamins A and D, or calcium – which can’t be expelled that simply.
With nowhere to go, these pile up inside the body, becoming toxic and impairing health in a number of ways like:
- Dehydration, joint pain, and vascular issues in case of vitamin A
- Bone damage in the case of vitamin D and calcium
- Loss of appetite and muscle atrophy in case of vitamin D
Moreover, if your puppy is already on some medication, it might react with ingredients in the supplements, leading to complications.
Does Your Puppy Even Need Supplements?
Supplements for dogs should ideally be prescribed by your vet if he or she has diagnosed an actual deficiency.
If you are worried about your puppy’s health for any reason, you really should get her checked by your vet before you consider supplements.
It might even turn out that what you believed to be arthritis or skin trouble could well be symptoms of totally unrelated conditions.
Think about that!
And there’s another reason why – the quality or effectiveness of a number of such products isn’t quite up to scratch.
You will need your vet to recommend the right supplements after a proper check-up of your puppy’s health.
And believe it or not, if you’re following a vet recommended a balanced diet at home, most likely your puppy doesn’t need any supplements at all.
What You Should Do If Your Puppy Has Been Prescribed Supplements
When you are quite certain that your puppy needs supplements, be it vitamins for dogs or other prescribed by your vet, here are some things you should be mindful of before you add them to her diet:
1. Picking the Right Brand
Have your vet recommend the brand of supplements to use, and do a little research of your own as well.
For instance, always go for brands that have a proven track record in terms of clinical trials and proper certifications.
And, of course…
Read the labels to check for things like suspicious ingredients or wild claims!
2. Be Careful with Supplements Made for Humans
Certain human foods are quite safe as supplements for dogs, although their effectiveness might vary depending on the amount of content.
For instance probiotics for humans do tend to work for dogs too.
However, there are a lot of products containing probiotics for dogs in particular. Made for them.
And the strains of microbes or their composition can be quite different from human probiotics, making them more effective.
So why not use those?
Similarly, fish oil for dogs is a good supplement that has a variety of benefits. But fish oil capsules for humans may have little to no effect unless yours is a smaller breed of dog.
On the other hand, however, certain ingredients in human supplements can be toxic for your puppy, like garlic.
So be sure when deciding on using supplements not specifically made for dogs, and clear things with your vet beforehand.
3. Packaged Dog Food is an Option Too
Certain dog food products are specially made to include specific supplements aimed at treating your dog’s condition.
These are usually known as prescription dog food and are reliable, well-tested products.
Where regular dog food might contain the nutrient required, it may not have it at the needed levels.
For instance, glucosamine for dogs is a well-known supplement to relieve conditions of arthritis.
But regular dog food doesn’t have the amount needed that can have any notable effect on a suffering dog.
For that, you will need to get dog food specially fortified with glucosamine.
Ask your vet for recommended dog food products that have suitable levels of the supplement your puppy needs.
We hope this post will help you plan and decide things better if you’re considering adding supplements to your puppy’s diet.
If you have more insight from your own experiences on this, do let us know in the comments section below!
Featred image source: Anna Dudkova on Unsplash