Have you ever been in peak condition? Or met someone who practically glowed with perfect health? That glow is vitality. They look good, they feel good, and their mind is as sharp as a kitten’s claw.
Vitality is defined as “physical or mental vigor, energy,” by Dictionary.com, or “the power or ability to continue in existence, live, or grow.”
Vitality is a step up from being generally in good health, be it dogs or their humans. It’s demonstrated by boundless energy, sharper cognitive skills, and playfulness. It’s reflected in daily health, like optimum digestion, brighter eyes, a shiny coat, and great teeth. It can even be the edge needed to win at a dog show. Most importantly, maintaining vitality may result in a longer lifespan and a better quality of life for your dog.
5 Natural Supplements for Vitality in Dogs
There are many supplements promoted for dogs, but most of them haven’t been studied extensively enough. The following natural supplements have been studied far more thoroughly with more solid, replicable conclusions. That said, research is still ongoing.
Note of Caution: It is important to consult with your Veterinarian before making dietary changes. Supplements may aggravate existing conditions or interact with medication.
1. Seaweed & Algae
Seaweed (such as Kelp) and algae (such as Spirulina) offer a range of antioxidants and phytochemicals, as well as more vitamins and minerals than any other vegetation. They also provide trace elements (like Zinc) that improve the effectiveness of antioxidants, as well as facilitating the production of antioxidants by the body itself.
Seaweed has been studied for cancer treatment and prevention, toxin removal, oral health, and inflammation reduction. Now that the benefits have been proven in general, research has become more targeted for specific conditions.
“A study reported positive clinical effects of Ascophyllum nodosum [brown seaweed] supplementation… prevented plaque and calculus formation after a prophylactic dental procedure. Additionally, Ascophyllum nodosum was reported to reduce levels of volatile sulfur compounds thereby providing long-term good oral health in dogs (Gawor et al., 2018),” says the study, Potential of Algae in Holistic Wellness of Pets.
“Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (cKCS) in canines is an inflammatory eye condition that affects cornea and conjunctiva and is related to deficiency in tear aqueous fraction (Barnett and Joseph, 1987). Combination of classical drug therapy with a nutraceutical diet containing Ascophyllum nodosum, and Astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis, with other natural plant based components having potential anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating activities, showed reduction in clinical symptoms of keratoconjunctivitis sicca (Destefanis et al., 2016).”
It also has antimicrobial properties and offers immune system support. Note that different seaweed species excel at different things. For example, one might be better at preventing an illness while another might be better for thyroid support. Mix it up if you can. A few species that are readily available are Kelp, Irish Moss and Dulce.
(Micro)algae offer benefits that are just as impressive as seaweed.
“Microalgae have been reported for improving the immune system, lipid metabolism, gut function, and providing stress resistance in livestock and aquaculture feeds (Shields and Lupatsch, 2012),” says the above study. “In recent years, research on novel and natural compounds as immune modulators from algae is gaining popularity in mammals (Ricco and Lauritano, 2020).”
As a supplement, alfalfa is an excellent source of plant protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, zinc, vitamins A, B1, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K, chlorophyll, fiber, carbohydrates, antioxidants, digestive enzymes, amino acids, saponins, flavones, isoflavones, sterols, and coumarin derivatives.
However, heat processing will reduce many active components and vitamin content. Alfalfa may have a negative impact on some chronic conditions, so make sure you run it by your Vet before giving it to your dog.
We have an article that digs into Alfalfa As A Natural Ingredient Or Supplement For Pets, if you’d like more information about this supplement.
Turmeric’s Curcumin is a source of phytochemicals and antioxidants, including Glutathione. It’s often recommended for immune system support, liver support, digestion, parasites, and to reduce inflammation. It has been found to stop precancerous cells within DNA as well as interfering with enzymes necessary for cancer progression. It prevents cholesterol oxidation which may reduce plaque formation in the arteries. Curcumin may also block toxic compounds and it shows promise in cataract prevention.
“Curcumin is well known as a potent anti-oxidant, and recent studies have revealed that it is a potent inhibitor of reactive oxygen-generating enzymes… and it possesses anti-inflammatory activity,” concludes the study, Leishmanicidal Effect of Curcumin in Vitro. “Moreover, it has shown anti-carcinogenic activity in animal models, such as colon tumor initiation by azoxymethane and skin tumor promotion induced by phorbol ester TPA.”
4. Amino Acids
Several amino acids are “essential” for dogs, meaning their body can’t synthesize them so they have to be ingested. These 10 amino acids include Arginine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Tryptophan, Phenylalanine, Threonine, and Valine. They’re used to build proteins for healthy cells, metabolic processes, muscle growth & repair, antibodies production, and neurotransmitter functions.
“Dietary protein contains 10 specific amino acids that dogs cannot make on their own,” says the paper, Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs: A Science-Based Guide For Pet Owners. “Known as essential amino acids, they provide the building blocks for many important biologically active compounds and proteins. In addition, they donate the carbon chains needed to make glucose for energy.”
The beneficial gastrointestinal tract microorganisms referred to as “probiotics” offer health benefits outside the realm of nutrition.
The benefits of probiotics for pets are becoming well known for a variety of conditions and holistic wellness, including immunity, digestion and the treatment of digestive upset, vitamin synthesis, allergy prevention, parasite control, inhibiting harmful bacteria, and supporting good health in senior pets. Probiotics are also used for natural treatment and prevention of atopic dermatitis, chronic renal disease, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and other pet illnesses.
“Dogs usually have certain types of friendly bacteria in their intestines,” says WebMD. These include:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus casei
- Bifidobacterium breve
- Enterococcus faecium
- Bifidobacterium lactis
In order to keep these bacteria happy, dogs also need prebiotics to feed the bacteria and help them grow. Prebiotics are nutrients that are found in food.”
Probiotics may be depleted by stress, illness, low-quality diet, or medication such as antibiotics or steroids. Heat-processed pet food may have added probiotics, but it’s unlikely they would survive processing. Some brands add a probiotic coating after the cooking and extrusion process, which would produce far superior results. Quality supplements are the most reliable way to add probiotics to your pet’s diet.
Research conducted specifically for dogs is ongoing and more studies are needed to determine how well probiotics work for them, particularly for specific conditions. Evidence for benefits in humans is overwhelming and are probably similar in dogs.
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If you choose to add any of the above supplements to your dog’s diet for overall vitality, it’s important to select high-quality products that are dried using low (or no) heat. You can buy each one individually and mix them up, or buy a premixed supplement. For example, Spark is (by far) the most impressive natural supplement for dogs I’ve ever encountered. It contains all of the above supplements and much more, all with minimal processing.
Do you provide supplements for your dog to improve their overall health and vitality? Please share your experience or questions in the comments below.
DISCLAIMER: Statements on this website may not have been evaluated by the FDA, Health Canada nor any other government regulator. The information and products provided by AllNaturalPetCare.com are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, nor prevent any disease and are intended for educational purposes only. READ MORE…