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- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Many pet parents choose to go the homemade dog food route because they want to make sure their best furry friend is getting a diet based on wholesome ingredients. But truth be told, it can be difficult to create complete and balanced meals from scratch. It helps to consult a professional, such as a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist. Supplements for homemade dog food are likely to come up in that conversation.
Do You Need Homemade Dog Food Supplements?
- Your dog needs vitamins and organic compounds for balanced nutrition and normal growth. Dogs (like other animals and people) cannot produce vitamins and minerals naturally, so they have to consume foods that provide them.
According to Dr. Gary Richter, an award-winning vet and member of Rover’s Dog People Panel, “All dogs are of the species Canis familiaris and as such have very similar nutritional needs.”
Commercial dog food is specifically formulated to meet those needs. If your dog’s food is labeled “complete and balanced,” it contains all the vitamins and minerals your dog requires. Your goal with homemade dog food, then, is to achieve that same complete nutrition to benefit your dog’s health.
When to Give Your Dog Homemade Dog Food Supplements
A homemade, whole food diet (highly recommended by Richter) may be missing specific vitamins and minerals your pet needs that they cannot get from food alone. That’s where supplements can come in handy.
Dogs with specific health and wellness concerns, such as senior dogs, may also benefit from supplements in addition to their food.
“It is a good idea to consult with a veterinarian regarding any questions about nutrition,” Richter notes. This is especially important when feeding your dog a homemade diet. Your vet may even refer you to a veterinary nutritionist to determine the best course of supplements for your dog.
How to Choose Homemade Dog Food Supplements
- As noted, you should always talk to your veterinarian about what, if any, supplements your pet needs. In general, be aware that ingredients in some herbal supplements can interact with medication. Proper dosage is key: too little or too much of certain supplements can be detrimental to your dog’s health. Consult with a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist to determine the correct amounts of vitamins, compounds, minerals, and essential nutrients to include in your dog’s diet.
Richter has some general guidelines on choosing supplements for dogs:
- Look for brands that have commissioned clinical studies of their products.
- Read labels carefully to ensure quality and safety.
- Look for a lot number on the product. This is a sign that the company uses quality control checks.
- Choose brands with confirmed expertise.
- Be wary of claims that sound too good to be true. Vitamin supplements are just that—supplements. They are not cure-alls or medications.
- Do not give human supplements to dogs, as they may contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs.
- In general, the best options will be available through your veterinarian.
The bottom line about homemade dog food supplements: Talk to your vet first before introducing any nutritional supplement into your pet’s diet.
Homemade Dog Food Supplements
Consult with your veterinarian to determine the right balance of over-the-counter supplements, suggested below, for your dog’s homemade diet. To address a health condition, your veterinarian can also prescribe supplements that can help.
A well-rounded multivitamin is a good idea to help supplement your doggo’s homemade diet, ensuring they don’t miss out on any important nutrients. Zesty Paws’ chicken-flavored bites check a lot of boxes, and include essential vitamins such as A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D3, and E, as well as other key minerals.Shop on Chewy
Omega Fatty Acids
Get your pet’s omegas on with this wild-caught, natural salmon oil. The liquid form makes it easy to mix in with your pup’s meals. It contains a high dose of omega-3 with a helping of omega-6 for healthy joints, organs, skin, and coat, plus other natural benefits from salmon, such as antioxidants, vitamins D and B12, and EPA and DHA.Shop on Chewy
Made in the U.S., this SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) powder also contains the essential nutrient choline, to assist with cellular, liver, brain, and heart function. This formula is free of GMOs and artificial flavors, preservatives, colors and binders.Shop on Chewy
Just like it sounds, this is porcine bone meal, a supplement powder that is naturally rich in calcium and phosphorous. It can be used as a homemade dog and cat food supplement, helping to build and maintain bones and muscles.Find on Amazon
Free of preservatives and GMOs, this powder supplement is made in the U.S. from 100% certified organic pumpkin, a commonly used digestive aid. Sprinkle on dog food to help with diarrhea and constipation, or to help maintain regularity.Find on Amazon
Hip and Joint
Shout out to the senior dogs whose joints need some extra care. Made in the U.S., this powder supplement combines glucosamine, MSM, and collagen to support your dog’s joints and cartilage. Plus, it’s beef liver-flavored to appeal to your doggy’s palate.Shop on Chewy
Remember to always check with your veterinarian before introducing any new supplements to your dog’s diet. And read some of our other stories below for more ways to keep your dog’s nutrition balanced.
- How to Give Pills to Your Pet
- All About Vitamin Supplements for Dogs and When to Use Them
- 9 Surprisingly Dangerous Foods for Dogs (Starting with Popcorn)
- Your Complete Guide to Homemade Dog Food
- Decoding Dog Food: Your Guide to What You’re Really Feeding Your Pet
- Got Allergies? Exploring Hypoallergenic Dog Food
- The Best Pet Insurance in 2021
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