It seems like there are just SO many pet supplements out there these days... my mind is boggled every time I go to the petstore and look at the supplements section! So I've been doing lots of research on my own to figure out what works and what's just a load of poo. I found this very interesting article written based on research that's been done: Science Based Medicine. It's actually a really good read... but in the end I guess it comes down to personal experience and what you think works best for your dogs.
The supplement that I've been feeding for the longest time is fish oil. I started giving that to Cadence back in Canada where the air was always dry and Cadence used to itch quite a bit. The fish oil that I get for the dogs is just regular human fish oil you can get from any pharmacy. It's actually MUCH cheaper than the exact same dog version! The dosage is about a single 1000mg capsule per day for a 10-15lb dog. Don't confuse the mg of the capsule with the DHA/EPA that's inside. Generally, a 1000mg capsule will have about 200mg of EPA/DHA in it.
From the research I've done, the conclusion seems to be that fish oil works BEST for giving EPA/DHA to dogs. Flaxseed oil and Evening Primrose oil contain ALA (plant derivative), which can be converted into DHA by animals, but it isn't always converted very well by dogs, so fish oil is actually the better choice to feed. I think it's because dogs are carnivores and fish is meat whereas flaxseed oil and evening primrose oil are extracted from plants. Around here, fish oil is also cheaper, weirdly!
Another thing... fish oil is also apparently better than cod liver oil or shark oil because cods and sharks are top predators, making them susceptible to having high levels of mercury in their fats and livers. Because cod liver oil is extracted from cod liver, it might be tainted with mercury... and obviously sharks are top predators so their bodies contain quite a bit of mercury as well.
In tandem with feeding fish oil, it is recommended that Vitamin E is also fed. It seems that processing fish oil depletes dogs' bodies of Vitamin E, so it helps to supplement as well. The dosage is about 100IU per day for a small dog, but the lowest dose capsules that I could find at the pharmacy were 250IU capsules, so I give them to the dogs every other day.
Remember to check that is says NATURAL vitamin E on the bottle instead of synthetic. Synthetic Vitamin E is not as good. Vitamin E is also good for skin and coat, so I'd still feed it even if I decided not to feed fish oil for some reason.
Lastly, I give the dogs a digestive supplement. I bought it because Lyra always has pretty soft stool, but it doesn't really seem to be helping so I think I'll stop feeding this after the bottle is finished.
This one has glucosamine (for bones/joint health), enzymes, and probiotics.
In addition to all these store-bought items, I think the best kinds of supplements are just.. regular everyday food! I don't think feeding kibble only day in and day out could possibly keep your dog in the best condition. My dogs get kibble only maybe 3 days a week. Some days they get canned food, other days they get raw food... and sometimes they just get leftover boiled meat (usually chicken and pork) mixed with eggs and stuff.
I feed the dogs scrambled eggs cooked in olive oil every other day--seems to really be helping! Also, they absolutely LOVE eggs... everything gets gobbled up within a minute!
Blog for the Dogs
Here's where I chronicle the dogs' daily lives, write reviews on dog products, and share tips on everything under the sun.