Thursday, December 7, 2017

Dog Longevity Survey Part II: How Important are Supplements to Longevity?

How important are supplements to your dog's longevity?


Analyzing the survey results is quite interesting. The way the answers break down under this subject makes perfect sense. I appreciate those who checked that they don't know, as well as those who opted to enter their own comments instead.




Extremely important  0.00%
Important40.00%
Somewhat important33.33%
Not important10.00%
I don't know  6.67%
Other10.00%

It is important to distinguish between targeted, individual supplementation and adding random multivitamin products willy nilly.


With supplements, less is more.

Whether or not and which supplements your dog needs depends on your dog, their diet and their health. Some human multivitamins can actually toxic to dogs. Some of these things contain xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs. But even those that don't often contain some nutrients at levels that can be dangerously high for dogs, such as iron, vitamin D and even calcium.


Fat soluble vitamins, such as vitamin D, or vitamin A can also reach toxic levels with over-supplementation. Don't throw a random multivitamin into your dog's bowl thinking it's always a good thing.

Know what nutrients are already present in the bowl and at what levels.


Particularly if your dog eats kibble, there is already all kinds of stuff added to it. Adding random amounts of random things can cause more trouble than benefit.

There are a few supplements all dogs can benefit from.


Those include omega-3 oils and joint supplements. Even the highly beneficial fish oils, though, can become dangerous in high doses and lead to toxicity. Some can contain high levels of vitamins A and D, such as cod liver oil. When deciding on supplementing your dog with source of omega-3 fats, consider the source, the amount, and the presence of things you wouldn't want in there at all such as heavy metals. Doses that are too high can even lead to reduced clotting and therefore bleeding.

I am not trying to scare you off supplementing your dog with omega-3 fats. I supplement them as well. I would, however, urge you to give careful consideration to the source and dosage.

Joint supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin are generally safe and overdose isn't likely cause much else than a digestive upset. There is still no reason to overdose, though.

Probiotics.


Probiotics is one of the things that you cannot go wrong with. These days, I think every dog can benefit from some. My dogs were getting a probiotic supplement for years.

Digestive enzymes.


Digestive enzymes can be beneficial with many digestive conditions. I used them for Jasmine's IBD, I used them after Cookie's pancreatitis, they can help with food intolerances and allergies, they can even have an overall anti-inflammatory effect. If your dog gets high quality diet and has no health issues, they don't need them but they can be helpful particularly when feeding foods void of such things = any processed or cooked foods.

Water soluble vitamins.


Water soluble vitamins are generally much safer, because they are not stored--what the body doesn't want gets simply eliminated. B vitamins are quite safe and the worst you're likely to do is to waste money if your dog doesn't need them. Though over-dose is possible if your dog gets into the stash.

Vitamin C is technically not needed for dogs because they can make their own. When ill, though, they might not be able to produce enough or the levels get depleted quickly so I'd consider vitamin C "conditionally" essential. Careful with it, though, as it could cause digestive disturbances.

Antioxidants


Antioxidants had been touted as the cure of all but lately some research seems to be showing they can be a double-edged sword. Perhaps all that is about the type and amount as well. In general, I'd rather provide that through food than supplements.

Measure twice, cut once.


When asked why you're supplementing one thing or another, you should have a concise answer. If you don't, or you answer is that "it cannot hurt," "it might be a good idea," or because "somebody else does," don't.

Whole foods versus pills.

I absolutely prefer to use whole foods as oppose to synthetic supplements. Wholesome fresh foods contain a lot of wonderful nutrients and supplementation is often not necessary. They provide a range of "stuffs" rather than one synthetic bit. They are less likely to be toxic and more likely to be beneficial.

I already shared my thoughts on "natural" when it comes to nutrition.

Carefully chosen supplements can be beneficial to health and longevity.


But supplementing blindly for the sake of supplementing can actually do the opposite.


Related articles:
Dog Longevity Survey Part I
Dog Longevity Survey Part II
Dog Longevity Survey Part I Results
How Important Is Weight Management for Longevity?

31 comments

  1. I always say I'm going to learn more about supplements, and I need to put that into action. My girls are now mature cats and I'd like to know if supplements will help them age more comfortably.

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    1. Can't really help you with cats, but yes, they might benefit from some. Always try doing that with whole foods when possible.

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  2. Very informative article. We have always given our older cats a glucosamine supplement from the vet and it's helped them tremendously.

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    1. Yes, that is a safe one and probably every dog (or cat) can benefit from that, particularly given the diets most of them are getting.

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  3. Mr. N is currently getting a probiotic. I want to add a joint supplement but haven't decided on which one yet.

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    1. A probiotic is always great. For joints, there are so many choices it can make ones head spin. You can, actually, make your own by slow-cooking things such as chicken wings, feet, etc into a mush. The thin membrane on egg shells is also a great source.

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  4. What did you use as digestive enzymes? I take papain myself but is that safe for a dog? Chester has some IBD and probiotics don't seem to help. Maybe using the two things together would.

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    1. I started with different ones (and there are many out there) but presently I think the AURION Digest-7 is superior.

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  5. I prefer whole foods as well but sometimes... Monte needs a lot more Omega than he will eat fish. So.... we add it. I do wish there were more homeopathic vets to help on these journeys. I know I get a tune up every 6 months. Wish I could for the fur-kid too!

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    1. Yes, sometimes whole foods are not possible. There ARE whole food supplements/extracts, though, which are still whole food extracts. Fish oil, is actually an example of such a supplement.

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  6. Your article is the clearest one I've read about supplements for dogs. Our mixed breed gets glucosamine and chondroitin to help with his aching joints (Soldier is 19 years old) and range of movement. I had not thought about probiotics. I wil definitely discuss this with his veterinarian, as I think my dog could benefit from them.

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    1. Aww, thank you, that's a great compliment. Probiotics are one of the things every dog or person can benefit from, IMO

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  7. Really important information here. I found out the hard way how important it is to pay attention to supplements when my dogs had a B12 issue.
    —Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats

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    1. I'm glad you figured out what was needed for your baby.

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  8. This is great information for both existing dog owners and newbies too. Our first priority is to do anything possible to help ensure our furkids have a happy long life.

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    1. Yes, in that, the rule "first, do no harm," is important too.

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  9. This is a terrific post and so timely for me. I've been looking into supplements for awhile now, particularly Omegas, Probiotics, and Joint Supplements. Thanks for this great information Jana!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    1. Thank you, Cathy, glad it was useful to you.

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  10. I am circumspect about the supplements I give to our cats. At the moment I focus on the seniors who need it most especially for join care.

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    1. Yes, joint support is important, particularly given the diets and lifestyles our pets have.

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  11. I like supplementing with whole foods too, but we give both pups a daily probiotic. Bernie gets milk thistle to help his liver and kidneys since he's on a regular dose of prednisone. Of course, we run all of these supplements by our vet.

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    1. Milk thistle or probiotics are technically "whole foods" too. I meant natural sources, rather than lab concoctions. Concentrates, extracts still kind of qualify as "whole."

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  12. Agreed. Common sense should play a role, and more is not better.

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  13. I admit, I'm one of those who really doesn't know about the necessity of supplements. I did give my senior cat (previous cat) Cosequin to help with her joints.

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    1. There is a science that studies animal "self-supplementation" in the wild. It's amazing how animals sometimes choose what plants they eat, for example, to supplement themselves. Or choice of prey. Remember Jurassic Park II? :-)

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  14. I am never sure if supplements are regulated well or not. I know that they can make a huge positive impact on individuals, but as you said, they shouldn't be given willy nilly.

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    1. Well, they are not very regulated, so one needs to be careful about quality. There are only a few sources I get supplements for my dog from. Standard Process is one of the great ones.

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  15. I use supplements from the same company that I buy kibble from since the ingredients in the supplements are from whole foods and different from the synthetic supplements in the kibble so there is no chance of overdosing. The fish oil I use is IFOS rated 5* so I know it is purified. All good tips.

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    1. That is great that you have a company you trust which provides superior products.

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  16. Great info about supplements! Whenever I think about changing anything in Rooney's diet, even something like supplements, I always check with his veterinarian.

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