What are the best supplements for dogs?

Whether you’re curious about whether or not you should be giving your dog supplements (spoiler: the answer is yes!), or you are looking to buy pet supplements and aren’t sure where to start, we’re here to offer our advice on the best supplements for dogs to help target key ailments, from joint problems to gut health and more.

There are many types of supplements that dogs can benefit from, and whilst each dog is unique, you can be sure your pooch is getting the best possible care with our top picks.

Look out for key ingredients and specific solutions to problems your pet might be suffering from when considering which supplements to offer them. Remember, this is your pet and, along with their vet, you know best when it comes to keeping them happy and healthy.

There is no straight answer to ‘What are the best supplements for dogs?’, but, in this article we’ll run you through the full spectrum of options for a variety of health-related issues in dogs, which are all available at Total Pets. These include:

  1. Joint supplements for dogs
  2. Multivitamins for dogs
  3. Skin & coat supplements for dogs 
  4. Digestive supplements for dogs
  5. Calming supplements for dogs
  6. Dental supplements for dogs

Joint supplements for optimal joint health

As your pet grows from pup, to full-bred adult and ageing Rover, their need for supplements will change and develop too. One of the most common reasons for dog supplements is joint pain - just as us humans suffer arthritis and bad joints as we get older, so do our dogs. Whilst these supplements can’t cure arthritis or a degenerative joint disease, they can certainly help with any discomfort.

Key ingredients to look for in joint supplements for dogs

Glucosamine is an amino sugar that helps with joint lubrication and cushioning, making it one of the most useful ingredients in joint supplements for dogs. Stimulating growth of new cartilage and protecting existing cartilage in the joint, this natural compound can be an effective early intervention for larger dogs who are more susceptible to osteoarthritis or for those who have suffered from a bone injury.
Chondroitin sulphate
Found in your dog’s cartilage, chondroitin sulphate is a glycosaminoglycan (compounds that play a crucial role in the cell signal process) that helps protect your dog’s existing joint cartilage by putting a stop to destructive enzymes in their tracks. Benefits of this ingredient include: joint lubrication, shock absorption and reinforcement of tissues that line the joints.
When combined together in dog supplements, glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate can be a dream team in reducing inflammation and keeping cartilage strong in the long term.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
MSM is a well-rounded ingredient that provides a whole host of benefits when targeting dog’s joint issues. From its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, to its natural pain relief power and cell rejuvenating ability, this natural supplement is a great preventative measure for your pet’s joint health.
Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils)
Just as fish oils can be great for our skin, bones, sight and more, they can aid your dog’s joints, immune system, heart and skin. Omega-3 fatty acids are naturally anti-inflammatory, which will help regulate joint lubrication, and similarly to chondroitin sulphate, they can deter enzymes that break down cartilage.
Although many fish oils can be found in a dog’s natural diet, they can also be taken as a dietary supplement for a good oil boost. 
Green-lipped mussel (GLM) extract
New Zealand green-lipped mussel is a shellfish commonly used in supplements for its natural pain relief and anti-inflammatory qualities, especially in sufferers of osteoarthritis. Find this in your dog’s joint supplement, and they’ll also benefit from high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. 

Multivitamins for immunity and general health

Although many commercial dog food brands claim a ‘complete and balanced’ meal, full of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients for your pet’s health, there is still good reason to supplement your dog’s diet with multivitamins.
Puppies, adults and senior dogs will benefit from different vitamins throughout their life stages. Always make sure the multivitamins are specially formulated for dogs, and determine the correct dosage for your pet (by size and weight) before administering them.
Essential vitamins that can benefit your dog
Vitamin A
Vitamin A supplements are well-known for their skin health improvements, helping to promote a healthy, shiny coat and clear skin in pooches. But, the benefits don’t stop there - the vitamin is important for dogs to maintain normal vision, grow and develop correctly, and keep the organs and immune system functioning well. It’s therefore great for growing puppies’ bone development, ageing dogs’ eye health and adult dogs’ general health.
Vitamin B
Vitamin B complex is essential for providing energy to the body - something your active pup may seem to have plenty of, but the merits don’t stop there. It can also be vital for healthy brain function, cell metabolism, infection prevention and cell health. Some foods such as whole grains, beans, kidney and milk are rich in vitamin B and safe for dogs, but even these diets can fall short of providing enough - that’s where the supplements come in.
Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a hard working antioxidant that supports a dog’s whole body with growth and repair by hunting down potentially harmful free radicals and fighting them to boost the immune system, help with wound healing and keep normal growth and development on track.
Vitamin D
Essential for regulating the balance and retention of minerals like calcium and phosphorus, vitamin D is crucial for development in dogs. By keeping these key nutrients in order, vitamin D will help keep your pet’s teeth, bones and muscles strong and healthy.
Vitamin E
In a similar way to vitamin C, vitamin E is an antioxidant vitamin that works hard to support your dog’s ability to counteract free radicals, keeping oxidative stress at bay. Vitamin E in dogs is especially good for cell function, fat metabolism, their heart, immune system, muscles, liver and their skin & coat.
Vitamin K
Vitamin K is vital for a dog’s ability to maintain normal blood clotting activation when required. For example, if your dog happens to ingest dangerous rodent poisons, they will need a healthy level of vitamin K in their body to prevent haemorrhaging and further complications.

Skin and coat supplements to keep your dog in top condition

It’s no secret we love a curly cockapoo and a shaggy sheepdog, but beneath those soft, shiny coats can lie some common skin concerns. The usual culprits are allergies - one of the most common reasons why pet owners seek advice from their vets. 
Your dog’s skin should be free from flakes, bumps and grease, and if they are healthy, it should be clear and supple. Although proper nutrition and regular grooming are great at keeping coats in tip top condition, a supplement can help provide best results. So, let’s scratch the surface on skin conditions and take a look at the best ingredients for supplements supporting healthy skin and fur.
What to look for in skin & coat supplements for dogs
Zinc is an important contributor to your dog’s healthy skin and fur, and although it’s likely already a natural part of their diet, supplements with zinc as a key ingredient can really benefit dogs with dermatoses. Quite often, dogs showing symptoms such as excessive scratching, crusty sores and hair loss could be experiencing zinc deficiency. Zinc not only supports a dog’s healthy skin and coat, it also helps with healing wounds, stimulating collagen production and works alongside antioxidants like vitamins C and E to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
Vitamin E
As we mentioned above, vitamin E is an essential antioxidant vitamin, providing a list of benefits to your pet’s health. Looking at the skin & coat specifically, vitamin E is a direct nutrient for these areas - with a lack of it, you’ll likely start to notice dandruff and dry skin in your dog. Its ability to deter oxidative stress and anti-inflammatory properties keep skin feeling soft and soothed, and it offers a restorative hand for the sheen and health of the coat. 
Essential fatty acids (EFAs)
Essential fatty acids play an important role in clear skin and glossy coats in dogs. The main types, omega-3 and omega-6, are found in fish oils, algal oils and flaxseed, which all help protect your dog’s skin and coat whilst keeping it shiny and irresistible! 
Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and hydrating, which contributes to keeping the outer coat hairs strong, waterproof and healthy, as well as soothing irritation. 
Omega-6 fatty acids are the main part of the skin’s moisture barrier, making it essential for keeping up its natural defences. Preventing dry skin, reducing moulting and keeping dandruff at bay are some of its superpowers. It also helps to encourage active coat growth, keeping those locks luscious and plentiful.
Also known as vitamin H, biotin is regularly used as an additive in dog foods and supplements as an essential nutrient for their health. As well as helping with dry skin and alopecia in dogs, it plays a vital role in their metabolism - breaking down fats, carbohydrates and proteins to boost energy levels and assist in growth and muscle formation. If your dog suffers from brittle nails, a biotin supplement is also a brilliant solution.

Digestive supplements to support proper digestion

If your dog suffers from loose stools or any changes in behaviour such as lethargy, lack of appetite or vomiting, you may want to consider digestive supplements to support proper digestion. Fibre, probiotics, vitamins and multivitamins can all help put your pup’s digestion back on the right track. But, where to start?

How to help digestive upset in dogs 

Vitamin supplements
A vitamin supplement could be just what your dog needs if they’re struggling with a sensitive stomach, thanks to their digestive co-factor abilities. In order for digestive enzymes to function properly, they need a cofactor to work with them to help break down and absorb nutrients. Vitamin B12 is the most common supplement used to improve digestion in dogs, thanks to its ability to support enzyme functions and metabolise nutrients during digestion.
When general health is facing an imbalance, dogs just as humans, could be missing out on some of their required daily vitamins and minerals. Absence of these key nutrients can lead to IBS and other health issues, so it’s important to keep them on track. Multivitamins can be an effective resolution to help keep up a balanced diet.
Good for your gut, and your dog’s too, probiotics are well-known for providing good bacteria which helps with our digestion and our immune system. Choose a probiotic that has been specially formulated for dogs, as some healthy bacteria for humans can be dangerous for pups. 
Enzyme supplements 
For dogs with more serious digestive issues, such as pancreatitis or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), your vet may encourage you to consider enzyme supplements as a way to improve their digestion and health. Pets with conditions such as those may not be able to produce the number or varieties of enzymes needed to break down food, so a supplement, if administered early, could improve the symptoms. Speak to your vet if you think your dog may be in need of enzyme supplements for digestive issues.
We’ve already mentioned probiotics, but did you know that fibre is a prebiotic? This means it’s a non-digestible ingredient, which encourages useful microorganisms to grow in the intestines - leading to good intestinal health. There are plenty of natural sources of fibre, such as denmark leafy greens and sweet potatoes. But, you may also find some supplements with a combination of probiotics and fibre work wonders for your pet’s digestion.

Calming supplements to tackle anxiety, stress and fear

Whether it’s bonfire night, and the fireworks fear has kicked in for your dog, or you’re moving house and want to keep stress and anxiety to a minimum, there are calming dog supplements to help with that.

The best supplement ingredients to keep your dog relaxed and calm

Tryptophan, an essential amino acid, comes in two types: L-tryptophan and D-tryptophan. When it comes to therapeutic use, L-tryptophan can help control anxiety and reduce aggression and depression in dogs by encouraging serotonin production - we all know this as the happy hormone!

Gamma-aminobutyric acid is responsible for keeping calming signals flowing in the brain to relax the nervous system. It therefore makes a brilliant ingredient in calming supplements for your dog, especially those with anxiety.

In a similar way to GABA above, L-arginine is responsible for keeping things flowing in the brain - more specifically, blood. The two ingredients combined help maintain the pathways in the brain which in turn let calming signals circulate well.
Lemon balm
This calming herb derived from the dog-friendly lemon balm plant, is effective in soothing and relaxing your dog, as well as acting as a digestive aid. The terpenes in this herb (one of its naturally occurring chemical compounds), offers a relaxing effect in a similar way the GABA ingredient listed above does.

Fish protein hydrolysate
An effective dietary supplement to reduce fear and anxiety, fish protein hydrolysate reduces your dog’s hyperactivity response to stressful situations like thunderstorms. It also reduces the cortisol response, keeping its levels low in the bloodstream and preventing those alarm systems from ringing.

Dental supplements for optimal dental health

There are plenty of ways you can help keep dog breath at bay, from keeping your dog on a healthy diet, to brushing their teeth and finding the right supplements to fight off plaque and strengthen those gnashers. Today, we’ll be looking specifically at the supplements that work well to keep your dog’s dental health as fresh as can be.

Three dental supplements to support your dog’s oral health

Pro and prebiotics
Probiotics bring good bacteria to target areas, so by applying probiotics directly onto your dog’s gums or giving them orally, they’re able to create a healthier layer of microorganisms in the mouth, protecting from issues like plaque build-up. 
We already know that prebiotics are good for your dog’s gut, but did you know they’re also great at blocking sugar-to-acid and sugar-to-plaque production? This means they stop plaque production in its tracks, keeping those pearly whites looking… Well, pearly!
Antioxidants combat oxidative stress, which has been linked with oral bacteria and periodontal issues, meaning antioxidants also play a role in your dog’s dental health. Below is a list of antioxidant supplements that support good oral health;
  1. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) 
  2. Folic acid
  3. Vitamins E and C
Essential fatty acids (EFAs)
Anti-inflammatory and hydrating fatty acid supplements can help manage periodontal inflammation and clean teeth and gums. From fish oil supplements to coconut oil, there are a whole host of dog-safe EFAs that can be applied directly to the gums to support healthy development.