Supplements for your dog's health

Prevention is the most powerful cure. By providing your dog with supplements, you can ensure he is getting everything he needs to stay healthy.

Not surprisingly, our animals’ health is beginning to mirror our own. Today we’re seeing many of the epidemics that have plagued humans, such as obesity, diabetes and chronic inflammation, and even cancer, manifest at epidemic levels in our pets. If you take a good look around, you’ll find that people really do look like their pets. More accurately, they tend to have similar characteristics, and unfortunately, that includes similar health problems.

Some professionals claim this is caused by the emotional burden that pets absorb from the family environment; the animals manifest similar symptoms as the people. This emotional influence does, in fact, play a larger role than most of us think. But the majority of symptoms are a result of similar eating habits – a heavily processed diet. Research shows that the high glycemic (raises blood sugar dramatically) state of processed food promotes inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation is too small to diagnose but it does increase the incidence of chronic inflammation.

Processed foods, like low quality pet kibbles, tend to be higher in glycemic index than whole foods, and the addition of low cost grain or other starch sources are mostly to blame. These higher glycemic diets have also been linked to insulin resistance, which also increases the risk of obesity.

Obesity and cancer affect a huge number of canines these days, and our felines seem to be suffering from diabetes and obesity in epic proportions. Recent genetic research shows that a greater free radical load on the body caused, in large part, by poor quality food, adversely affects gene function. One of the gene systems pinpointed is directly involved in the production of hormones (prostaglandins) that contribute to inflammation and tumor formation.

What’s the significance of this? It provides a direct scientific link between processed, high glycemic index foods, and diseases like cancer, chronic inflammation, and obesity.

For our animals, these risks increase as they get older. Just like us, our furry companions can tolerate metabolic strains imposed by diet, environment and/or emotion when they are young. But as we age, our ability to produce internal antioxidants to protect us from these strains declines.

Consider supplements 

Fortunately, there are things we can do to block these nasty metabolic influences, starting with supplementation. Here’s what you should consider:

Antioxidants — Research shows that uncontrolled free radicals accelerate genes beyond their normal activity. This causes us to age faster. For our companion animals, this is an even greater problem since they already have a faster rate of aging then we do. Antioxidant supplementation literally helps protect us from the unnatural influence our food and environment deliver. Supplementing our animal companion’s food with a basic multivitamin/mineral formula that contains a healthy concentration of bioavailable, active forms of antioxidants and mineral and vitamin cofactors, is the key to better health and improved quality of life.

Grapeseed proanthocyanidins and boswellic acid (from the herb boswelia serrata) – These contain protective and anti-inflammatory effects as well. However, many who administer these herbs, or other nutrient-based therapies such as glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate for joint problems, experience limited results due to a failure to address the animal’s primary needs. This involves more basic daily nutritional requirements such as active essential fat, vitamin and mineral nutrients.

Manganese, copper, sulfur, vitamin C, and vitamin E – Our bodies and those of our companion animals are complex, requiring multiples of nutrients in tandem. Cartilage regeneration, for example, depends on much more than just glucosamine. Canned and dry kibble foods are fortified with many of these essentials, including vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids like linoleic acid. However, the gut’s ability to absorb them in this form may be limited. Vitamins degrade rapidly in these environments and the integrity and activity of essential fatty acids cannot be protected even if they are added back to the denatured food.

Choosing the right supplements for therapy or prevention

Our pets’ digestive system is shorter than ours; it runs faster than our own. Liquid forms, or properly manufactured powdered forms which do not contain binders are absorbed more efficiently. If you are using tablets, make sure your animal chews them thoroughly. Additionally, these nutrients must be provided in the correct proportionsfor the specialized metabolism of your canine or feline companion. Human supplements are designed for our own metabolic needs and are not best suited to treat and maintain our pet’s health. Instead, use products formulated especially for animals.

Remember, prevention is important. A correctly proportioned vitamin supplement is the most powerful health support you can offer your loyal friend.


Franco Cavaleri graduated from the University of British Columbia with a BSc degree in Nutritional Science and Biochemistry. He is conducting post-graduate work on the latest gene and insulin-related nutraceutical research. His findings have been applied to improving human and animal health and lifestyles (