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One of the common questions I receive from readers is “what supplements do I need to add to my dog's diet?” I get a sense of Dejavu every time I see this question because I remember asking the same question. People want to know:
- What supplements will help me balance to 80/10/10?
- What supplements will fill the nutritional gaps in my dogs' diet?
- What supplements do my dogs need other than protein?
When we are making the transition from a “complete and balanced” diet of kibble or canned food, we have a hard time letting go of the theory that every meal needs to be complete and balanced. I know I did. Today, I balance my dogs' diet over time, which means that I don't worry about feeding a balanced diet every meal or every day. My goal is to make sure they get all of the nutrients they need over the week. I start with a foundation of 80/10/5/5 (80% muscle meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, 5% offal-secreting organs) and then build on the diet through whole foods and supplements.
Why I Supplement a Raw Food Diet
I add supplements to my dogs' raw diet to fill in any nutritional gaps that they're missing as well as address any health issues. Although some believe that an 80/10/5/5 raw food diet is supposed to give dogs everything they need, the more I learn about dog nutrition, the less I believe that this ratio is enough.
- Not all dogs are the same; some dogs need more support in certain areas than others depending upon age or preexisting health conditions.
- There are some nutrients that aren't available in an 80/10/10 diet, e.g. iodine, which is better sourced from organic kelp.
- We don't all have access to the same ingredients/variety and a pet parent who is feeding mostly grain-fed chicken and beef may need to supplement to either offset nutrients(e.g. Omega 6 fatty acids) or add nutrients.
Whenever I see raw feeders pushing the myth (in my opinion) that all one needs to do is add meat, organ meat, and bone to their dog's dish and everything else will be fine – I scratch my head. How can one diet be okay for every dog?
The Risk of Over Supplementing a Dog's Diet
When I began feeding a raw diet, I made the mistake of adding every supplement recommended by other raw feeders. I figured the more they got, the healthier they'd be, and the longer they'd live.
I was wrong.
I often receive emails from new raw feeders who share a list of the supplements they're adding to a dog's diet and it's too much. By over supplementing, you increase the risk of:
- vitamin toxicity
- one nutrient canceling out the benefits of another, e.g. combining apple cider vinegar and raw goat's milk
- making raw feeding too expensive as you collect more and more supplements
Supplements I Give to My Raw Fed Dogs
I am not an animal nutritionist or veterinarian. The following supplements were chosen after years of research, a nutrient/heavy metal test, and under the guidance of our nutritionist and veterinarian.
These are the supplements that I add to all of my dogs' meals. I don't add all supplement daily unless directed by our veterinarian or nutritionist. Although many of the supplements have multiple benefits, I've added why I add them to my dogs' diet below.
Some, not all, of the hyperlinks in this post will take you to Amazon should you like to purchase any of these supplements for your dogs. I earn a commission on each sale. However, this doesn't add to your costs. Thanks for supporting the blog.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: I alternate whole foods and supplements to add Omega-3 fatty acids to my dogs' diet to offset the Omega-6 fatty acids in the protein. Omega-3 fatty acids also support skin and coat health, joint health, brain/cognitive health, and act as a natural anti-inflammatory.
I alternate between the following Omega-3 fatty acid sources:
- Mr. Ros Marine Phytoplankton for Pets
- Carp Burgers by Scout and Zoe's
- Raw Sardines by OC Raw
- Bonnie & Clyde Fish Oil (alternative)
- Lifeline Salmon Oil (alternative)
Fermented Foods: In 2017, I began adding more fermented foods to my dogs' diet to naturally support gut health. I had already been adding raw goat's milk and fermented fish stock on occasion, but today, these are a daily part of their diet, combined with healthy digestive supplements to promote a healthier gut biome.
I add fermented foods and other digestive supplements to my dogs' raw diet 7 days a week, alternating between the following:
- Fermented vegetables and seeds
- Raw goat's milk or kefir
- FullBucket Daily Canine Powder
- NZYMES 3-Pak Kit
- Mercola Complete Probiotics for Pets (alternative)
- Mercola Digestive Enzymes for Pets (alternative)
Raw Eggs – I feed pasture-raised raw eggs to my dogs for the mad amount of nutrients they bring to the table. I source my eggs from friends and the natural section of our local grocery store.
- Eggs are considered a superfood. Imagine the nutrients eggs need to have to grow a life.
- Eggs are a great source of several vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, and iron.
I add a raw egg to my dogs' dishes every other day or approximately 3-4 days a week.
Spirulina – I add a supplement called Spirugreen to my dogs' meals because it curbed their obsessive grass eating. I learned that they may need chlorophyll added to their diet which led me to Spirugreen. Spirulina also supports a healthy immune system while promoting energy.
Ocean Kelp – I add kelp to big batches of raw dog food when I'm doing meal prep. Organic ocean kelp is a great source of iodine supports the thyroid while boosting a dog's metabolism.
Mushroom Complex – I recently started researching the benefits of mushrooms for dogs and was blown away by the fact that this one supplement may have the power to protect my dogs from cancer. So, I add it to their meals 5 days a week.
Milk Thistle – liver health is important because it's the liver that filters out the toxins such as vaccinations, chemical flea treatments, and household and environmental toxins. In April 2018, I started adding milk thistle to my dogs' morning meals daily because I learned that it is most effective when given to our dogs before they are exposed to toxins.
Vitamin B Complex – in December, I treated my dogs to a nutrient/heavy metal test by ParsleyPet. After years of feeding my dogs a raw food diet, I decided to check to see how my dogs were doing on the diet I had formulated. I received a big ‘ole A+, I have mad raw feeding skills. The only recommendation was that my dogs could benefit from a Vitamin B supplement and the holistic veterinarian who reviewed the tests recommended Rx Vitamins for Pets – Amino B-Plex, which I alternate with hearts (primarily pork and beef heart).
Supplements for Senior Dogs
Two of our dogs are now seniors and I'm blown away. My sweet little puppies who used to share a dog bed and kennel are now 9 years old. With those senior years
Golden Paste with Coconut Oil – golden paste naturally eases the pain and inflammation of arthritis while also supporting skin health, digestion, immune system, and it may help to cancer prevention. Coconut oil also helps with healthy weight, thyroid health, and nutrient absorption.
I give Rodrigo and Sydney 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons of golden paste daily, split between two meals.
Joint Supplements for Dogs
Today, each of my dogs get a joint supplement each morning (they think they're treats – hahahaha). I've tried many joint supplements and the following work best for our dogs.
WINPRO Mobility (for Rodrigo and Sydney) – this is a supplement made from blood protein, which has been used for decades to help animals recover from injury. I tried it with Sydney initially and saw an immediate improvement in her mobility, so I now give it to both of our seniors.
Cosequin DS Plus with MSM (for Scout and Zoey) – I began giving Scout and Zoey a joint supplement when they turned 4 years; I recently changed their supplement to something that will better support and protect their joints and aid in recovery given their activity level.
Canine System Saver – I was introduced to Canine System Saver several years ago and it helped Sydney recover from a partial cruciate tear. There was a time when Sydney's back legs weren't able to support her and she'd cry in pain when walking. Within 48 hours of Canine System Saver, she was running around outside. No lie. Canine System Saver combined with WINPRO Mobility has been a game changer for Sydney.
Today, I give CSS to both Rodrigo and Sydney to support joint health and promote overall body health. Rodrigo and Sydney get 4 pills each daily (5 days a week).
Supplements for Dogs with Allergies
Green Honey Allergy Support – I use the term “allergy,” because it's something we all recognize, but what Rodrigo experiences is more accurately described as sensitivities, stressors, or triggers. Rodrigo has a list of food and environmental stressors and focusing on supporting Rodrigo's gut health has reduced many of his reactions. However, he still has itchy paws from time to time.
One of the veterinarians we see suggested adding nettles to Rodrigo's diet, which are the 2nd ingredient in a product that I give to Rodrigo in the summer, Green Honey Allergy Support. Today, Rodrigo gets this year around (several days a week). He'll lick it off of a spoon or I'll add it to his meal. He no longer licks his paws obsessively.
I recently noticed Zoey biting her toenails and after giving her a trim (she wasn't happy), I gave her a treat of Green Honey Allergy Support and now add it to her meal as well.
Choosing the Right Supplements for Your Dog
I know that it's tempting to buy a shopping cart full of supplements for our dogs when we take control of their diet. Don't make the same mistake I did. Many dogs don't need many supplements initially and many health issues or deficiencies can be resolve through whole foods. For instance…
- If your dog isn't getting enough zinc, add canned boiled oysters (not smoked) to the diet. Oysters are an excellent source of zinc.
- If your dog has loose stool, gas, or itchy skin, start by adding fermented foods or raw goat's milk to the diet. By boosting the digestive health and immune system, you can improve many conditions.
- If your dog is reacting to local pollen, in addition to the fermented foods, add local raw honey or bee pollen to the diet.
Basically, before spending a lot of money on supplements, try whole foods first. They may prove to be the solution your dog needs and it won't break the bank. If whole foods don't provide enough support, then find the best supplement for your dog. You may have to kiss a few frogs before you find THE ONE, but you'll get there.