A complete guide to natural supplements for dogs
Are you confused about which supplements dogs need? Do you find conflicting information? Would you like to know what to give your dog without giving too little or too much? I understand your pain. People often contact me because they are not sure what their dog needs. Some believe that good food is enough and others have their kitchen counter taken over by dozens of bottles of supplements and pills.
It always fascinates me that the human species spends an incredible amount of time and resources to create systems that replace the natural ones. A good example is using chemical fertilizers versus the natural cycle of recycling nutrients.
In nature, a tree loses leaves to feed its roots, cows eat grass to later fertilize it with manure. In other words, all the nutrients that come from the soil are returned back to the soil. At least this is how it was before humans got involved.
Agriculture and food production is one of the glaring examples of humans trying to reinvent the wheel. For nearly a century, we have tried to replace the already perfect nutrient cycle with our own that is flawed and ridden with toxic chemicals causing further damage.
Food is now transported over long distances and then half of it is put in a landfill. This creates an ever increasing deficit of nutrients in the fields where the food is grown. In order for the farmers to grow something, chemical fertilizers come into play, creating serious imbalances and dead soil that erodes easily because it contains no organic matter.
I agree with those who say that “ideally” no supplements should be needed. An ideal world would be one where nutrients are recycled back into the soil and the animals would eat a bountiful variety of foods.
The problem is that our present world is miles away from ideal and nutrient deficiency is one of the most undiagnosed and serious problems connected to disease.
Most people do not like chemistry. I must say that I used to think I didn’t like it until I saw a connection with real life. Biochemistry is especially fascinating. Billions of biochemical reactions happen in you and your dog’s body every second (37 billion to be exact!) and they are completely automated. No CEO, no middle management, just pure force of nature nothing short of miracles.
What the biochemistry teachers forgot to remind us is that none of these biochemical reactions can happen without all the elements - building blocks - being present. This is where it becomes clear how important nutrients are and why I am so relentless in passing the message on. This is why I love formulating supplements that replace those nutrients missing because of the widespread irresponsible management of natural resources.
Most people do not realize that the most common causes of disease are not viruses or bacteria or even toxins but deficiencies of nutrients. That is why so many people see such miraculous recoveries of depleted and ill dogs when we simply add a few essentials that are missing.
In principle, no matter what medical condition your dog has, the first step is to correct deficiencies for the body to be able to heal.
All these nutrients can be found in four essential supplements. I can already hear some people saying - but I do not want to give so much or my dog hates pills. It is like saying, I want to have a roof above my head, but I don’t like roof builders and shingles.
I agree, the pharma industry didn’t make it any easier because they made us associate pills with toxic drugs. I suggest you see essential supplements as food, not as “pills” or potions.
My goal here is to give you the gist of what these nutrients do and why they are important in keeping your dog healthy. If you need to learn more about the source of this nutrient group, click on the group name to learn more details
Minerals - not a single mineral can be synthesized by the body. They are essential in the structural and chemical function of the body. Their deficit also creates a state of dehydration because the body cannot absorb water in sufficient amounts and dehydration is at the core of premature degeneration and aging.
Vitamins are the allies of minerals. They catalyze biochemical reactions, ensure proper formation of cells, tissue regeneration and function of organ systems. For example, Vitamin E is important in skin and epithelium formation and Vitamin B is essential in proper function of the nervous system. We now know that food grown with the use of artificial fertilizers has lower vitamin content.
Essential Amino acids are more complex than minerals, they are the building blocks of proteins, hormones and tissues. The are called essentials because the body cannot make them and they are also irreplaceable when it comes to health.
Super Food Greens - your dog knows how important superfood greens are because he or she eats grass. Some people think that grass eating is a sign of disease in dogs, but it is not true. Grass or chlorophyll-rich substances are important in neutralizing toxins, cleansing the digestive tract and have an anti-cancer effect.
Essential Fatty Acids come either from plants, seeds, fish or krill. These nutrients are rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6. There is a difference in opinion if plant-based oils are a sufficient source of EFA’s for dogs, if in the wild, dogs would be getting them from prey animals, their digestive tract content and also fish. I suggest avoiding fish oil blends that appear to be high in mercury (a heavy metal) and strontium (a radioactive element that comes from radioactive pollution in Japan).
Probiotics - I often say with a pinch of humor nothing makes a dog lover happier than a perfect number two, but there is more to probiotics (the beneficial inessential flora) than perfect number twos. Probiotics strengthen and condition the intestinal tract and especially the colon where eighty percent of the body’s immune function resides. They also have a positive effect on neutralizing toxins such us BUN (blood urea nitrogen), which is a toxic by-product of protein metabolism.
How many supplements are too many?
Finally, I am getting to answer this frequently asked question. It is very apparent from nature that living organisms are extremely capable of selecting nutrients that they need and throwing away the ones that are in excess. The body does it without any outside regulation and with ease.
The problem with excess nutrients only arises when synthetic chemicals are offered instead of food-based concentrates and supplements. These supplements including synthetic vitamins and minerals can correct symptoms of severe deficiency - for example scurvy - Vitamin C deficiency and Beriberi - vitamin B1 hypovitaminosis. However, synthetic non-food based supplements can create severe excesses and overdoses. Good examples are fat soluble vitamins ADEK or overdoses of minerals in chemically manufactured mineral supplements. I frequently see this in hair tests done on dogs.
The body is designed to process food-based nutrients and not chemicals which can easily create a state of excess often expressed in agitation, heat production and digestive problems. These are the main reasons why I only recommend naturally-fermented vitamins, probiotics, plant-based minerals and naturally-sourced omega oils that are powerful, yet gentle and can be managed by the body well.
One can experience the difference between taking a cheap synthetic multivitamin that commonly causes stomach upset when taken on empty stomach and a naturally fermented multivitamin that usually does not cause such symptoms.
Nature never "measures' the exact amounts of vitamins and nutrients in food. It just provides nutrients that are natural and non-synthetic.
There are two major and very common problems in nutrition and the origin of premature aging and chronic disease:
1. Deficiency of nutrients and vitamins.
2. Supplementing them in artificial forms.
A few more things to remember
Now that you know what each of these nutrient groups is good for there are a few more things that you need to know.
- Go for natural. Food can’t be grown in the lab and neither can vitamins. Many people still have no idea that most vitamins on the market are made from coal or crude oil. These products create chemical imbalances. I use only naturally cultured certified organic multivitamins because they do not cause nausea when they are ingested and the body is capable of absorbing and processing them more efficiently because they are real food.
- Go for capsules or powder and ditch tablets whenever possible because tablets contain additional bonding agents and are heat processed. Capsules are better for less stable supplements such as probiotics and EFA’s because they are less likely to oxidize when capsulated.
- Go for glass packaging because plastic leaches into the product and may have a long-term negative effects on the body and our environment. Glass is natural packaging made of silica - one of the most common elements in the earth’s crust.
- Go for quality and do your math. Some manufacturers may try to convince you that they can make and sell an all-natural product for $15 or $20 dollars. In reality, it is impossible unless they source second-grade quality ingredients or use artificial ingredients or fillers.
- Remember essential supplements are not drugs or pills but nutrients that used to be present in food and are now often missing because of intensive agriculture.
- Supplementing these six nutrient groups in four essential supplements is the foundation of treating or preventing any disease in dogs of any age. Nature does not know the difference between puppies, adults and seniors. As soon as puppies are weaned they should be getting real food and essential supplements.
It is the greatest gift you can give to your best friend.
Below is a Fab4 supplement dosage chart you can download and stick to your fridge. Right click on the image to save it to your desktop and print.
Items referenced in this article.
Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM has 30 years of experience as a veterinarian. He graduated as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1988 in the Czech Republic and obtained the Canadian Certificate of Qualification in 1995. He is currently licensed in the European Union, and his unique approach to healing and nutrition helps holistically minded dog lovers worldwide.
Dr. Dobias strongly believes that disease prevention, natural nutrition and supplements, the right exercise and a drug free approach to medicine can add years to your dog's life.
As a formulator of his all-natural vitamin and supplement line and co-inventor of natural, chemical free flea and tick control, FleaHex® and TickHex®, his unique healing system and products currently hold the highest independent five star customer rating. For more information click here.
Any general recommendations that Dr. Dobias makes are not a substitute for the appropriate veterinary care and are for informational and educational purposes only.