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Dogs may benefit from human supplements

Updated on September 19, 2012

Roughly one in ten dogs dies of cancer. And for those of us who are animal lovers, the idea of our furry family members leaving us, often in pain and confusion is horrifying.

And while there is no fountain of youth to keep our friends as perpetual puppies, there are a few things that can increase their life span and health during that time.

Dietary supplements can head off muscle and structural problem.

Many large breed dogs end up with hip dysplasia, a condition in which dogs’ hip erodes, making the long leg bone move in the hip socket. However, supplements like glucosamine, condroitin, green lipped mussel and flax seed can improve this condition.

Our exceedingly large rottweiler, who at 150 pounds is 10 years old, suffers from this. When his adopted sister, at 75 pounds and a year old developed a limp, the doctor recommended the same supplement used by the older dog. Within months, her limb resolved and the joint has been strengthened.

Vitamins like E and C can strengthen the immune system. Fish oil complex and with Omegas improve mobility, seem to slow the development of tumors and strengthen the cardio vascular system.

Food grade bone meal, as opposed to the type used as fertilizer, can also add calcium when needed.

A variety of supplements, multivitamins and herbs are available at pet shops and through veterinarian offices. While some vets recommend their own formulations or recommended brands, most individuals who raise dogs recommend changing recognized brands in a rotation basis. Since there aren’t identified daily requirements for animals in the way there are humans, different brands include different combinations and strengths. Some brands include vitamins and minerals for behavior, joint and hip flexibility, growth or even fresher breath. Additionally, formulation manufacturers have come to recognize that all dogs aren’t the same.

Small dog versus large dogs formulas exist, as do those for puppies and senior dogs, working dogs, overweight dogs and sedentary dogs.

For large dogs, like my rottweilers, some human grade supplements are a cheaper alternative to animal versions. My dogs’ glucosamine condroitin, Vitamin E and Fish Oils tabs are human grade. Not only are they less expensive and of a potentially higher quality than animal grade vitamins, but they eliminate the number of multiple pills he would be required to take daily when they are created for a 25-50 pound animal.

While most supplements are created in tablet form, fish oil can be purchased as a liquid and squirted on food. Other compounds come in powder and can be added to wet food. However, precise measurements may be needed.

However, before a supplement, medication, herb or vitamin, speak to your veterinarian. Some breeds may be made ill or are particularly sensitive to some items.

Collies, as a rule cannot take certain types of heart worm medication and must be prescribed specific brands. German shepherds may be more susceptible to seizures when prolonged to long term consumption of flax seed, a common item that can be purchased at grocery, health food and pet stores.

Another easy tip for making life easier for yourself and your pet is to purchase a medication reminder case. Saturday or Sunday morning dole out a week’s work of vitamins, refrigerator oils for longer shelf life, and place other pills in a dark place.

The speed in which they can be grabbed, added to food or hidden in a treat and delivered is greatly diminished.

Peanut butter, liver sausage or cheeses are cheap carriers that seem treatlike. While pill pouches are available at the pet store, those with multiple pills or pets can usually find grocery store alternatives an effective way to save money.

And while there is no unquestionable test to determine what illnesses are prevented by these actions, growing old with a dear friend, knowing you are doing all you can to maintain his health, is enough.


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