Senior dog supplements come in all shapes, sizes and formulas. They also target a wide range of health issues or needs.
Not every older dog needs a nutritional supplement or extra vitamins/nutrients.
If your golden oldie is active, happy, in good general health and eating a premium dog food (or a well-balanced homemade diet) then chances are he’s getting everything he needs.
But, if your old dog suffers from any minor, chronic (or even serious) health conditions, dog supplements could:
- Relieve some symptoms
- Improve overall immune health (which helps his body handle stress/illness)
- Provide a higher level of certain beneficial nutrients
See the specific supplements I would recommend for a variety of conditions here….
Although studies have been done on the effects of certain supplements and vitamins for dogs, generally these have been fairly small and over a short time period.
There are no studies that have looked at the long-term effects that I am aware of.
This is one of the reasons that I personally wouldn’t choose to give supplements or added vitamins to a puppy or younger dog, if I intended for them to take them indefinitely.
Choosing Dog Vitamins & Supplements
As a human being, who isn’t as young as she once was, I have a working knowledge of nutritional supplements, vitamins and minerals. And yes, I do take some myself.
Supplements for older dogs work in generally the same way that supplements for older people do… but of course the dosage and available products are not the same.
Also similar, is that supplements are not regulated in the same way medications are and are not subject to standardized testing or trials.
A manufacturer can basically stick a label on any product, making almost any claim they want to, and it is difficult for you (or I) to figure out how true those claims are. Sometimes it’s impossible.
This obviously makes finding the best products a bit of a minefield for the average dog owner, and one of the reasons I decided to create this page.
In my experience, the best way to choose supplements for dogs is the same way I choose supplements for myself… through research of the manufacturer and their practices.
WATCH: 3 Important Tips To Care For an Old Dog [VET VIDEO]
Whenever possible look for senior dog supplements which are manufactured by responsible, credible companies who test their products extensively and are endorsed by professionals in the veterinary field.
And who also meet any FDA or other requirements… such as the Good Manufacturing Practices set out for dietary supplements.
Independent testing of supplements manufactured for the pet market have shown that they tend to have a lower quality (and often less of the active/important ingredients) than those designed for the human market.
This emphasizes the importance of buying from reputable and well regulated manufacturers.
Here’s a look at the manufacturers I believe offer dog nutritional supplements which fit these criteria:
Nutramax produces supplements (for dogs, cats and people) in a state-of-the-art facility and in compliance with the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices for dietary supplements.
Rigorous quality control, quality assurance, ongoing research and development and staff training all contribute to producing top of the line supplements which live up to their labeling and are both safe and effective.
Visit the company website here…. Nutramax Laboratories
Vetriscience is a division of Food Science Corporation. Has been producing supplements (for dogs and cats) for over 40 years. Meets the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices. Has dedicated research and development professionals and a veterinary review board to oversee all products.
Visit the company website here…. Vetriscience
The US division of Virbac is part of an international veterinary pharmaceutical company founded by a French veterinarian/biologist. Manufactures high quality products and supplements for dogs, cats and other companion animals. FDA, USDA and FSIS regulated facilities.
Visit the company website here…. Virbac US
PetWellbeing was founded in 2001 by a veterinarian with an interest in both conventional and holistic veterinary practices. Supplements for both dogs and cats are made from organically grown herbs and produced in a facility which meets the FDA Good Manufacturing Practices.
Visit the company website here…. PetWellbeing
Dog Health Conditions & Dietary Supplementation
So, now let’s take a look at the types of conditions or situations where you may want to consider giving senior dog supplements to your golden oldie.
There are specific health problems which affect senior dogs (and younger ones too) and which can often benefit from supplements, vitamins or herbal products.
These might be given in addition to conventional medications or treatments BUT it’s possible for any supplement/vitamin to interact (negatively) with other medications or products your dog is taking. This could be dangerous….
Consult your vet BEFORE giving your dog any supplement/vitamin
It’s hugely important not to give your dog anything (even a ‘natural’ remedy) without consulting your veterinarian first if he/she has any underlying health problems or is taking any medications or other supplements etc.
Even if your dog is totally healthy, it’s always a good idea to check with your vet before starting giving supplements, vitamins, herbal or holistic remedies, or other similar products.
Some of the most common health issues in older dogs which may benefit from dietary supplements include:
- Arthritis and joint problems
- Poor immune system function
- Urinary problems (including incontinence)
- Skin and coat issues
- Heart, liver or kidney problems
- Digestive issues
- Brain or neurological conditions
- Weight problems (either weight loss or weight gain)
No matter how wonderful the claims for any medication, supplement, vitamin or herbal/natural/holistic remedy – it’s worth remembering that they are not ‘magic bullets’.
In many cases mainstream treatments, dietary supplements or herbal products (or a combination of several) can have a positive impact on either a specific health condition or your dog’s general health.
But no supplement can cure serious illnesses such as canine parvovirus, cancer, organ failure, hip or elbow dysplasia and so on.
It’s also a good idea to take a whole-body approach to treating any type of illness or chronic complaint.
This includes making sure your senior pet has a nutritious, well-balanced diet, an appropriate amount of exercise (see this page for tips on exercise for senior dogs… Exercising Older Dogs) and regular veterinary care.
Best Senior Dog Supplements
Now you have the ‘big picture’ of how dog vitamins and supplements work, and how to choose quality products, it’s now time to find out what the best choices are for your golden oldie’s specific problems.
Click on the link below to go to another page where you’ll find information on the best supplements for common senior dog health problems and links for more information or to purchase….
Related Article: Our Top 5 Tips to Care for Your Senior Dog
by Veterinarian Alex Crow.