I’ve some recipes in the works and some recipes to try out in my “test kitchen” this weekend so stay tuned for those results coming up soon!
I get asked quite a bit about what I feed my dog, what supplements I give and how I care for him in general since he’s in such great condition. I have to give a nod to Blizzard’s breeder as she was careful and selective in doing her breeding ; making sure not to cross/line breed, doing all health clearance but most importantly breeding for temperament. Regardless of whether you have a pure breed, American Shelter Dog, or a special stray that came into your home, feeding and supplements are important for continued good health. You don’t want to go nuts with supplements; there are a TON on the market and many of them are pure “snake oil”. Now, I’m not the “end all be all” so please be sure to talk with your vet, breeder or canine nutritionist to make sure your dog is getting exactly what they should be. While I have experience with small dogs, the majority of what I’m posting here pertains to large dogs. What supplements and nutrition they need with vary by size, age and breed.
I will discuss dog food itself in another post. Let me just say thought that your dog food is your base and no amount of supplements can make up for a bad base…. but like I said, I’ll discuss food in another post. Let’s focus on supplements!
Supplements in Detail
First, I give Blizzard three supplements in his nightly feeding. Since I water his food down and let is sit (a really good idea for big dogs to avoid bloat) the supplements have a chance to dissolve in the food and guarantee he’ll eat every last bit in there (and no…Jiff and Pepper are NOT supplements…just counter clutter).
Blizzard gets a Digestive Enhancer, Phyto-Flex, and Vitamin C. All of these are intended to go with his feeding and should be dissolved with the food + water before serving.
If you feed a commercially made dog food like most, then you probably want to look into this. A “digestive enhancer” is a pro/pre-biotic to help your dog break down the processed food he’s eating to gain better nutritional value from his food. Giving your dog (and even cats) this type of supplement helps them get nutrients that are vital for growth and health.
Now, you might be saying, “But Erica, if I don’t feed commercially made dog food, what would I feed?” Good question and my answer would be a raw diet. Again, I’ll discuss this in another post. Just keep in mind that food bought in a store isn’t your only option!
This supplement is used to promote healthy bone and joint growth. This is particularly important for larger breed dogs as they grow. Phyto-Flex helps protect again arthritis, dysplasia, and strengthens soft tissue growth.
This is made from a large variety of various materials including kelp, Omega 3 from Flax Seed Oil and New Zealand Green Shell Mussel along with many other ingredients.
Let me warn you though. While this is great for your dog, this stuff STINKS! I don’t know if it’s my over sensitive pregnancy nose or if this stuff is truly as foul as I think it i,s but it smells like concentrated dead ocean. After Blizzard eats it I can still smell it on his breath and have to get him a nice little after dinner peppermint treat to balance it out.
Finally the last supplement is Vitamin C. Now there’s actually some controversy around exactly how helpful feeding Vitamin C to your dog is, but Vitamin C is harmless to give. Therefore you’re really not losing if indeed it turns out this has no true supplemental value in dogs.
Vitamin C is said to help reduce arthritis and dysplasia in dogs. Again, this is a supplement to help with hip and joint growth and maintenance.
You can purchase a dog specific Vitamin C but Vitamin C is Vitamin C regardless of label (just check ingredients). I purchase mine from Trader Joe’s. You want a water soluble solution so it can dissolve in food for easier digestion.
One thing to be aware of with Vitamin C is that it does not help boost your dogs immune system. All too often we want to put human standards on dogs and it just doesn’t cut it.
Supplements like those mentioned above are actually, over the long term, extremely cheap to feed your dog (again depending on size). The initial cost might hurt your pocketbook but these supplements are literally pennies on the dollar to feed daily. I paid roughly $70 dollars to get started but this is going to last me a really long time; probably six months to a year.
Supplements are a good idea. However, which supplements and how much should be discussed with a breeder, your vet or canine nutritionist. Remember, the type of supplement and how much you give will depend on what you currently feed, breed, size, activity level and exercise. A dog who is doing agility will need something different from a small lap dog. If you show and travel a lot your dog might be stressed and need something completely different.
It’s a fine balancing act but it sure is worth it in the end to have a happy, healthy dog!