Even if your dog is provided with a good quality complete diet and is in good health, many dog owners wonder about ways in which they can give their dog a little extra help or health boost. Whether you wish your dog’s coat was a little more glossy, want to give your dog an energy boost or are simply looking to the long term and ways in which you can help to protect their immune system, joints or mobility for life, there is almost certainly a natural, easy to find supplement that can help.
However, it would of course be a mistake and even potentially risky to simply trawl through your cupboards and mix up a cocktail of human supplements and vitamins and hope for the best! Many human foods and supplements are not safe or appropriate for dogs, and just because any given product is renowned to be beneficial to humans, does not mean that it will prove effective or even safe to give to your dog. Nevertheless, there are a wide range of common household spices, ingredients and supplements that can be safely given to healthy dogs, in order to give them a little extra boost. If you are wondering what you might already have to hand without shelling out a lot of money on expensive supplements and products, read on for some of our recommendations.
Brewer’s yeast is a bitter-tasting inactivated yeast produced as a by-product of beer making! It should not be confused with activated yeasts such as raw dough or baking yeast, which contain live yeast that can expand in the stomach and make your dog ill. Brewer’s yeast can be bought as a powder or a capsule, and is rich in vitamin B, iron, potassium, copper and zinc. It can help to address deficiencies of these vitamins, and improve the condition of the skin and coat. Add a little to your dog’s food, or mix with live yoghurt as a treat.
Nutritional yeast is specially grown and heat-treated so that it is no longer active, and is safe to eat. It has an almost cheesy flavour, and is often used as a flavour enhancer, particularly by vegetarians and vegans. It is generally considered to be palatable, and most dogs will happily eat it! Nutritional yeast is again rich in B vitamins, which are important for the metabolism of dietary fat. Over-feeding of B vitamins can lead to an excessive bacteria growth in the intestine, so just a small sprinkling over food can be used to improve palatability and help to regulate fat metabolism.
Spirulina is a dark green powder that is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, and is widely recommended as a health supplement for people. It can help to promote heart health, lower cholesterol, attack bad fats and reduce inflammation. Only a small amount of Spirulina should be given to dogs; around one tablespoon for a 45lb dog.
Apple cider vinegar is a common cupboard staple, and taking a spoonful of it each day is associated with a wide range of health improvements in people. Apple cider vinegar is reputed to help to ward off the onset of type two diabetes, and lessen the affect of allergies. It is important that nothing is added or taken away from the diet of an already diabetic dog without veterinary approval, so do not add apple cider vinegar (or anything else) to a diabetic dog’s diet without talking to your vet. As a general rule, around 1,000mg of apple cider vinegar per day is the appropriate quantity for a medium sized dog.
Turmeric is a food-flavouring spice that many of us already keep within the home. Its active ingredient is curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Curcumin is considered to be helpful for preventing the formation and spread of cancerous cells, and studies conducted in other species have demonstrated its efficacy at helping to lower the chances of cancer developing. Turmeric can be included in products such as home-made dog treats; consider adding a couple of teaspoons to the next batch you make, but don’t get carried away!
A wide range of different seeds make for delicious snacking for both dogs and people, such as hemp, chia and other super-seeds. Be careful about exactly what seeds you feed to your dog, as not all seeds are suitable for canines. Buy seeds in individual portions, rather than buying a mixed-seed packet and picking out the parts you don’t want to feed!
Super-seeds are rich in fibre, essential fatty acids and iron, as well as magnesium and zinc. These all have a range of health-boosting properties, and can help to improve the condition of the skin and coat, as well as regulating cholesterol. While canine-suitable seeds can give a real health boost, don’t forget that seeds are relatively high calorie, so don’t overfeed! Add 5g of seeds to your dog’s meal once a day, bake them into your dog treats, or mix them into a palatable paste for use in a Kong toy.