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Puppy Love

Your best friend deserves the best. Here, a vet’s top 5 supplement picks for dogs.

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Your best friend deserves the best.
Here, a vet’s top 5 supplement picks for dogs

1. Omega-3 fatty acids

Pet foods, even homemade diets, contain too much omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3s. These anti-inflammatory fats are important for nerve and brain health, immune function, and skin and coat health. A deficiency or imbalance of essential fatty acids can lead to many serious health conditions, such as asthma, allergies, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cognitive dysfunction (senility), and even cancer.

Best Form: The best source of omega-3s for pets is marine lipids: fish oil and cod liver oil. Dogs and cats can’t efficiently convert plant-source omega-3s to the forms they really need: EPA and DHA. The best fish oils come from abundant small fish from lower on the food chain. I recommend fish oils and cod liver oils that are formulated for pets, but manufactured to meet the freshness, quality, and purity standards for humans to guarantee the absence of environmental contaminants.

If you can only give your pet one supplement, make it omega 3s. Personally, I use and recommend Nordic Naturals products (for myself and my pets!).

2. Antioxidants

The immune system is large and complex, and in our modern world, constantly under attack from all sides—indoor and outdoor air pollutants, chemicals in fabrics and household products, electromagnetic radiation, and airborne viruses, molds, and toxins. Antioxidants, which help the body detoxify itself and prevent damage due to ongoing inflammation, are a great way to boost the immune system.

Best Form: A combination of antioxidants is much more effective than any single one. Avoid resveratrol, since it’s usually made from grapes, and grapes can be toxic to dogs. Also watch out for alpha-lipoic acid, which is toxic to cats.

3. Digestive Enzymes

In nature, our pets’ relatives catch and eat their food raw. A good way to mimic the benefits of the wild diet is to add digestive enzymes to our pets’ diet. This reduces the workload on the pancreas and helps pets get the maximum benefit from their food.

Best Forms: Digestive enzymes should come from a plant or fungal (yeast) source, as they work in the broadest range of pH and temperature. Look for a supplement that contains at least the four basic enzymes: amylase (for carbohydrates), lipase (for fats), protease (for proteins), and cellulase (to break down plant cell walls).

4. Probiotics

Probiotics—friendly bacteria—help the natural bacterial population in the gut (primarily the colon) stay balanced and healthy, and prevent nasty bacteria from making our pets sick.

Best Forms: Probiotics vary widely in quality. While even dead probiotics provide some benefits, it’s much preferred if they survive transit through the digestive tract all the way to the colon. This excludes many pet products, as well as those made from “fermentation products” which are not true probiotics, so choose carefully. For simplicity, I like products that combine both enzymes and probiotics. Many pets also benefit from the addition of soluble fiber (prebiotics).

5. Green Nutrition

Many cats are big fans of greens, such as wheatgrass or barley grass, and dogs love them, too. While greens are not a large part of the carnivore’s natural diet, they are still important. Chlorophyll, the pigment that makes plants green, is an excellent antioxidant. Greens also provide important vitamins, trace minerals, and enzymes.

Best Forms: Blue-green algae, such as spirulina and chlorella, are a good source of green nutrition; personally I use a combination of spirulina and other algae. I also give my cats fresh wheatgrass (they love it!), and there are also green treats available.

aw good buys

with food enzymes missing from processed pet food, and strengthens defenses with probiotics.

JARROW FORMULAS PET DOPHILUS is a probiotic formulation designed to help maintain a balanced intestinal microbial balance for intestinal health and immune function.

NORDIC NATURALS OMEGA-3 PET is an exceptionally pure source of omega-3 fatty acids in an easy to administer capsule. Supports healthy cells, skin and coat, joints, heart, brain, eyes, and energy levels.

VET’S BEST SEASONAL ALLERGY SUPPORT is ideal for dogs with seasonal allergies and skin irritations from exposure to pollens and flea bites. Contains nettle leaf to support normal histamine levels.