Common Ingredients in Canine Dietary Supplements

For many pet owners, navigating the ingredients list for their dog’s nutritional supplements can be a confusing process. Understanding the basic ingredients in these supplement formulations and deciphering their purpose can help owners provide the most effective solutions for common pet health problems and can ensure a happier, longer life for canine companion animals.

Omega-3 and Omega-6

These essential fatty acids are often incorporated into scientifically formulated pet foods to promote healthy skin and a shiny coat. Flaxseed and wild salmon oils are good sources for Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 is present in canola and soybean oils and can provide added protection against the damaging effects of age for senior dogs.

Glucosamine HCl and Chondroitin Sulfate

Most joint supplements contain a combination of glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate. These powerful anti-inflammatory medications can address the pain of canine arthritis by attacking the inflammation present in joints.


One of a new wave of botanical pharmaceuticals for the pet products industry, supplements containing phycocyanin have been shown to have a beneficial effect on dogs with arthritis symptoms. Derived from the pigments found in blue-green algae, phycocyanin reduces swelling, inflammation and edema and may even increase the elasticity of cartilage in affected canines.

Herbal Stress Remedies

Chamomile tea and valerian are common ingredients in anti-anxiety supplements and can provide some relief for pets and their people. However, these botanical compounds can sometimes produce undesirable side effects and may not be suited for every dog’s needs. Consulting a veterinarian before use can help to protect pets against drug interactions and unwanted reactions to these supplements.


Antioxidants can boost immune system function and increase the regenerative properties of cells throughout the body. In dogs, this can translate into increased energy, faster healing and healthier skin, teeth and coat. Beta carotene, lutein and vitamins A, C and E are among the most common antioxidants included in dog supplements and can provide significant benefits for canine health.


Designed specifically to replace necessary flora and bacteria that live in canine gastrointestinal tracts, probiotic supplements are a healthy solution to the digestive upsets many dogs experience after a course of antibiotic treatments. Probiotics for dogs may also help to maintain good digestive tract health; however, the added benefits of these supplements is not yet proven in the veterinary community.

Multivitamin Formulas

Depending on the pet food formula chosen, dogs typically can receive their recommended daily requirement of vitamins and minerals in one serving of dog food. Owners who make their own pet food at home or who continue to have concerns regarding their dog’s nutrition may wish to supplement regular feedings with a well-balanced multivitamin formula to ensure optimal health for their pets.

A thorough veterinary examination is recommended before beginning any supplement regimen. Veterinary professionals can provide the most accurate assessment of the dog’s needs and can offer suggestions regarding the best treatments for any existing conditions. By working with the vet, pet owners can ensure that their dogs derive optimal benefits from supplements and enjoy better health throughout their lives.