Supplementation is important, regardless of a dogs life stage. The NASC provides information on how to talk to your clients about proper supplementation.
When speaking to your clients about supplementation, the NASC reminds veterinarians that the conversation should focus on adding to a healthy diet — i.e., incorporating ingredients that aren’t being supported through diet. If a pet owner is using kibble, a number of supplements need to be added, regardless of the dog’s age.
- Joint supplement with glucosamine, hyaluronic acid (HA) and chondroitin. In the wild, when a dog devours his prey, he’ll eat the joint capsules, joint fluid and cartilage caps of the bones, which provide him with the basic components for joint health. No kibble in existence has adequate levels of joint-supporting ingredients like chondroitin, HA and glucosamine, so this supplement is number one.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Most shelf-stable dog foods lack the amounts needed to be optimally beneficial. Omega-3 fatty acids are expensive —think fish oil, krill and algae — and they also tend to become rancid. In fact,most of the polyunsaturated fat in a dog food’s guaranteed analysis comes from Omega-6 fatty acids, which tend to be more pro-inflammatory.This makes it necessary to add clean,healthy and fresh Omega-3 sources to a pet’s diet.
- Probiotics. The FDA has a zero-tolerance policy for salmonella in shelf-stable foods. In the process of eliminating pathogens, however,manufacturers are also eliminating the healthy bacteria necessary fora good gut biome. The “kill-step”,which exposes kibble to high heat, is why we generally don’t see probiotics in “complete” pet diets. So it’s crucial to add a probiotic to the dog’s diet to flood the gut with beneficial bacteria.
The aging dog
As a dog gets older, we need to supplement his diet more, especially with antioxidants. Antioxidants can be produced in our own bodies, or come from what we consume in our diets. As we age, our endogenous antioxidant levels start to decrease; if we don’t increase our antioxidant levels, our bodies are susceptible to damage from free radicals and oxidative stress.This can lead to premature aging, the progression of chronic diseases, and a hypersensitive immune system, which damages good cells as well as bad. So it’s vital we start increasing a dog’s antioxidant levels as he ages. A terrific amount of research has also been done on adding other beneficial supplements to support a dog’s aging organs; unfortunately, dogs can’t get these nutrients just from food. Include dare CoQ10 for heart health, and valine, isoleucine and leucine for an aging brain.You want to increase the lipoic acid in the dog’s diet as well — lipoic acid is converted into glutathione, the body’s most important antioxidant. These supplements will support the aging dog in both mind and body.