Dr. Renee M. Streeter
Dog Supplements You Need for Homemade Food
Updated: Feb 1
There are a lot of benefits that come with making your own homemade dog food. But, if it’s not done correctly, there are also potential dangers.
Commercial dog food is formulated to contain the appropriate concentration of both vitamins and minerals, which makes it easy to ensure your four-legged friend is getting a balanced diet. If you decide to make your own dog food without expert help, you might be depriving your dog of the ratio of essential nutrients they need to stay healthy – especially if you’re simply finding your recipes from general online searches. This can lead to nutrient deficiency.
In fact, a study by researchers from the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine analyzed 200 homemade dog food recipes from more than 30 sources and found that only nine of the recipes met the minimum standards for adult dogs set forth by the Association of American Feed Control Officials.
For this reason, you should never attempt to create a homemade dog food diet without consulting a veterinary professional. In addition to formulating a balanced diet tailored to your pet’s health needs, you should also consider nutritional supplements to accompany your homemade food.
Why Supplements for Dogs?
Supplements for dogs are a great way to fill in nutrient gaps in a homemade dog food diet. However, it's important to keep in mind that most supplements for dogs were initially created to complement a commercial dog food diet. This means that the majority of dog supplements likely don’t contain the correct ratios of nutrients your dog needs on their own.
When selecting supplements for homemade dog food, there are two main factors you should consider:
What nutrients are missing from your recipe’s ingredients?
What is your dog’s current health and individual needs?
Common Dog Supplements
There is no universal standard for the best supplements for homemade dog food. The supplements that work best for your dog will likely depend on your dog’s:
Age (puppy to senior dog)
Specific medical conditions, if any
While the supplements listed below are commonly used to accompany homemade dog food diets, you should always consult a veterinary professional before giving your dog any supplements.
Probiotics Probiotics for dogs are commonly recommended for dogs with digestive upset, including diarrhea, excess gas and certain digestive diseases. Just like they do for people, dog probiotic supplements provide your dog’s gut with important digestive enzymes to support intestinal and immune health.
Fish Oil Fish oil supplements for dogs have a wide range of benefits, including:
Promoting skin and coat health
Reducing inflammation, especially in older dogs with arthritic problems
Maintaining heart health by reducing the risk of blood clots
Boosting their ability to fight off diseases
Antioxidants Dogs are exposed to a lot more toxins than humans, which is why it’s so important to keep your dog’s immune system strong. Antioxidant supplements for dogs can improve the immune response, decrease inflammation and even slow the aging process.
Glucosamine Glucosamine is commonly used for dogs with hip, joint and arthritic issues, though they can also benefit dogs with healthy joints. Glucosamine can help prevent mobility problems as your dog grows older.
Other Common Supplements for Dogs
Hip and joint health supplements
Omega-3 fatty acids
Vitamins A & E
Homemade Dog Food Can Be Complicated
Most homemade dog food recipes are not 100% nutritionally complete and balanced. While they will have some vitamins and minerals, you will need to add supplements to reach an optimal level of nutrition.
The first step in creating a balanced homemade dog food diet is to familiarize yourself with your dog’s nutritional needs and the amount of food they require for their age, weight and activity level. From there, it’s best to consult a board-certified veterinary nutritionist to develop a list of recipes that are close to meeting your pet’s needs.
Once you’ve decided on a diet, you’ll calculate which nutrients are missing and add in the appropriate dog supplements tailored to your homemade dog food.
Avoid These Common Mistakes
When it comes to crafting a homemade dog food diet with supplements, the two most important things you can do are be consistent and be careful. Common mistakes you should avoid include:
Using untrusted brands
Overfeeding or underfeeding
There are many variables that can affect what you put in your dog’s food, so remember that you can adjust your homemade dog food recipes as needed with the help of a veterinary professional.
Important Minerals for Your Dog
You know that certain minerals are important to include in your homemade dog food – and in your dog supplements – but do you know which minerals those are?
The essential minerals for your dog are divided into two groups: Macrominerals and microminerals. Below are the minerals you should pay close attention to.
Important macrominerals for dogs:
Important microminerals for dogs:
Dog supplements help fight nutrient deficiency that often comes with homemade dog food diets. Remember: Any changes you make to your dog’s diet or supplements should come after consulting with a veterinary professional.
It’s important to keep in mind that your dog’s digestive system is different than yours, so they’ll likely need different types of supplements than you might think. But, with proper guidance, homemade dog food and supplements for dogs can help ensure your companion lives a long and healthy life.