Supplements are a big buzzword for dog owners right now. You name the problem, and you can find a nutritional supplement for it. But does your dog really need a supplement? Except in the case of dogs battling arthritis and needing a joint supplement or some high-performance dogs, probably not.
Best Dog Hip and Joint Supplements
Joint supplements for arthritis have research behind their use. Glucosamine, chondroitin, Boswellia, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, and avocado soy unsaponifiables (ASUs) have clinical backing. Best of all, research is ongoing in this area, so other substances like hyaluronic acid (HA), green-lipped mussels, and MSM are also being researched with promising results. Many canine products are being developed based on decades of research from equine and human supplements.
Joint supplements are expensive, and you do need to feed the amounts recommended or you are just wasting your money, including the required “loading period,” where you may have to give additional product in the first few weeks or so. Be sure to give the product a fair chance to show if it’s helping, which means keeping your dog on the product for at least two months.
Starting your dog on supplements sooner rather than later is wise. Supplements cannot reverse arthritis damage, but some research shows they can help delay its onset. Many owners of dogs who compete in canine sports begin supplementing their dogs early in their careers. For older dogs, in many cases, joint supplements can make your dog comfortable, help to minimize pain and to maximize mobility into your dog’s senior years. For some, however, the arthritis damange may be extensive enough that your dog may require pain medications to keep him active.
Choosing a Joint Supplement
Once you get finish your research and come up with helpful ingredients, you need to consider the many different supplement brands. The National Animal Supplement Council evaluates the products from its member companies to ensure that these supplements do contain what the labels state and to check that the company meets high standards of manufacturing and ingredients. Your veterinarian can guide you as well, but checking for a product with an NASC seal on it is still wise.
Other Nutritional Supplements
While joint supplements do have proven benefits for arthritis, if you’re feeding quality food with an AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy on the bag that is appropriate for your dog’s life stage, your dog’s diet likely already covers any nutritional needs. Adding more is not always a good thing. You can even make your dog sick, as it’s important to consider what medications he is on and if there are potentially toxic interactions.
Ask yourself if there is evidence to back up any claims for the product you are considering. Look for a clinical trial or two that followed proper scientific protocols. Better yet, see if you can find one published in a peer-reviewed veterinary journal. Chances are, you can’t, except for joint supplements, as indicated. And always discuss nutritional supplements with your veterinarian.