I’m really bad and following a routine. Over the years, I’ve started and stopped taking supplements many, many times. I hold onto the theory that “some is better than none” and congratulate myself for the times I can actually stick with it. This lack of consistency with supplements extends to my dogs, Chester and Gretel.
I got a big wake-up call a few months ago when Gretel hurt her back and was diagnosed with Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD). The thought of never being able to hike with her again scared me so I resolved to do everything I could to help keep her active and reduce the chance of re-injury. This effort involves many components but supplements are a big part of it.
While Gretel was healing, it was important for me to give her the prescribed medication regularly. Since I already had to do that, it was a no-brainier to also start giving her supplements regularly again. I already had a list of supplements I was sure were good for active dogs but I also researched new supplements I might be able to give her to help with this new health challenge.
As I’ve said before, her diagnosis was devastating but there was a silver lining. Many, in fact. One of the silver linings is that I started addressing Chester’s needs as a senior better. It turns out that most of the supplements that are good for helping with issues related to IVDD are also good for senior dog health.
What Specific Issues Am I Giving My Dogs Supplements For?
Chester and Gretel have always been active dogs. As with people, using your muscles and joints regularly can put stress on them. They need to take supplements that support high-energy activities such as hiking and paddleboarding and help in recovery afterward. They also need to maintain a healthy digestive system so they can properly absorb nutrients to maintain energy, strong bones, and muscles.
They also have specific issues.
Chester is 14 years old and, even though you might not know it by looking at him, is very much a senior dog. He has a touch of dementia that makes him restless and confused sometimes; he has accidents in the house now; and he has some weakness in his hind legs.
Gretel’s specific issues are related to her spinal disease, IVDD. This degenerative disease makes her prone to future back injuries. It’s important to keep her strong, support her nervous system, and keep her pain-free.
I give Chester and Gretel supplements to address:
- High energy expenditure
- Healthy skin and coat
- Joint pain and inflammation
- Nervousness and anxiety
- A healthy gut and digestive system
- Rear end and back weakness
- Reduction in cognitive function (Chester)
- Incontinence (Chester)
What Supplements Do You Give Them?
After Gretel’s injury, I went a little nuts with the supplements. I gave her everything that I thought would help, which was about 20 things. After a while, I realized that some of the supplements had overlapping benefits. I didn’t think some others were doing much for her or were that important. In the end, I settled on the 10 supplements below.
I consider these supplements high-quality and in most cases there is at least strong anecdotal evidence that they are effective for a lot of dogs, if not actual scientific studies. They’re all supplements that I think are good to give to active dogs, senior dogs, and dogs recovering from IVDD.
Please remember that I am not a vet and I am not qualified to give advice to YOU about what supplements you should give your dog. I’m just sharing what works for us. Always check with your vet first before giving your dog a new supplement if you are at all in doubt.
Note: many of the links below are affiliate links. This means when you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a few pennies to help maintain this website.
Supplements in our cabinet:
Grizzly Salmon Oil™ – Wild salmon oil contains high levels of the Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, as well as Omega 6 and Arachidonic fatty acids. These components not only support healthy skin and coat, but also cognition, vision, and other nerve-based functions. Note: if you give your dog oil primarily to improve their skin and coat, the Grizzly Wild Pollock Oil (which contains high concentration of EPA but very low DHA) is significantly cheaper.
Turmeric (Curcumin) – There are a whole slew of good things this ground root can do for your dog but the two biggest are reducing inflammation and pain associated with aging and damaged joints. Turmeric has been found to be more effective if it’s turned into a “golden paste” first. The recipe for golden turmeric paste I use calls for turmeric powder (make sure you use organic), pepper, and coconut oil, which has its own health benefits including improving skin health, aiding in digestion, and helping with arthritis or ligament problems. Check out the other benefits of turmeric HERE.
VetriScience® Vetri Disk – This is to help support spinal health. It combines bovine tracheal cartilage with amino acids, mineral sulfates, vitamins, pepsin, and natural silicon sources to help support and maintain connective and disk tissue.
Joint Supplement – This is probably the supplement I vary the brand of the most. There are several high-quality supplements that I trust and I think that rotating them, along with any others that sound promising, gives Chester and Gretel added benefits (because each one contains a little something different or varying amounts of the best stuff). Our go-to joint supplement is Glycoflex 3 or Glycoflex Plus (read more about Glycoflex Plus or click HERE to buy). Other favorites are ActivPhy Joint and Phycox Canine Joint Support. We’re currently trying out the SierraSil® joint formula for dogs. It contains a naturally occurring hydrothermal clay complex that helps reduce inflammation and pain and provides cartilage support.
Hemp CBD (Cannabidiol) – CBD for pets is all the rage right now. It is touted as somewhat of a cure-all. CBD is derived from industrial hemp and contains to THC, the compound that produces a “high”, so it’s safe for dogs (it’s even been found safe in really high doses). Benefits of CBD include reducing inflammation, reducing pain, increasing muscle repair after strenuous exercise, reducing stress and anxiety, and increasing cognitive function. There are many other benefits that include potentially fighting cancer. I’ve tried almost every CBD product out there with Chester and Gretel. The one I think works best is from Pet Releaf. I give them the CBD Dog Treats daily and boost those with the CBD oil if the dogs are acting particularly anxious or went for a strenuous hike.
Related: Can Hemp CBD Oil and Treats Benefit Your Dog? and Best Hemp CBD Dog Treats – Pet Releaf Review
Bu Yang Huan Wu Herb (just for Gretel) – Honestly, I don’t know much about this one. Gretel’s acupuncturist prescribed it so I’m giving it to her. It’s a TCVM (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine) herb that treats ataxia, weakness after IVDD, and rear weakness, among other things. I get this powder from the acupuncturist and couldn’t find what looked like a reliable source online to point you toward. If you are interested in trying this herb for your dog, you should talk to a holistic vet that believes in Chinese medicine.
VetriScience® Vetri Mega Probiotic – Vetri Mega is a non-dairy probiotic produced from an all-natural source of beneficial microorganisms and prebiotics to support digestive tract health. It’s recommended for normalizing digestion, coping with food intolerances, supporting regularity, and gastrointestinal, immunological and neurological support.
Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar – There are a lot of benefits to giving your dog apple cider vinegar like aiding digestion, helping with gas and constipation, and helping with joint problems and arthritis. It’s important to use apple cider vinegar that has the “mother” still in it. The mother is the dark, cloudy substance in the apple cider vinegar that contains some of the best parts of the apple. Vinegars with the mother contain enzymes and minerals that other vinegars may not contain. Bragg apple cider vinegar is pretty much the “holy grail” of healthy vinegars.
VetriScience® Bladder Strength (just for Chester) – Bladder Strength for Dogs contains pumpkin seed powder, Rehmannia glutinosa, wild yam extract, saw palmetto, and olive leaf extract. The combination of these ingredients supports normal hormone levels, renal function, bladder muscle strength, and normal bladder tone in spayed or senior pets.
VetriScience® Vetri DMG Tablets – I only give Chester and Gretel this supplement on days we hike or during prolonged periods of high activity (like my 3-day backpacking trip with Gretel). DMG, an adaptogen that helps the body cope with various forms of stress, supports immune system function, helps maintain healthy circulation, increases oxygen utilization, decreases lactic acid build-up, and improves performance/stamina.
Are These Supplements Good for People Too?
Remember that I said I was really bad at taking my own vitamins and supplements? I’ve gotten better about that. I now take my supplements when I give Chester and Gretel theirs in the morning.
Doing all this research for the dogs made me take a second look at what I was and wasn’t taking. It turns out that I was doing a better job at taking care of Chester and Gretel than myself. I found that many of the supplements I give them could help me with similar issues.
For example, I have really achy knees. I took ibuprofen almost every day. I knew that wasn’t good for me but I didn’t know what else to do. I heard such good things about turmeric helping reduce joint pain and inflammation that I decided to give the natural route a try. After only a month of taking turmeric capsules (only the ones where the powder was mixed with olive oil – New Chapter Turmeric Force – worked for me), I no longer felt the need to take ibuprofen!
In addition to my multi-vitamin, vitamin D3, and the turmeric, I’m also taking:
- Fish oil capsules for heart health and to reduce pain and inflammation (brand varies)
- CBD oil to help me recover from strenuous exercise (I either use the same one from Pet Releaf or order a human version)
- A joint supplement (brand varies) to help maintain cartilage and increase lubrication
- A probiotic – Enzymatic Therapy Acidophilus Pearls
- Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar – I mix it in water or use it in salad dressing when I can
- DMG on days when we are going on a big hike (I use DMG by Food Science of Vermont, the same company that makes the dog’s GlycoFlex)
Whew! Did you make it to the end of the article? There was a lot of information to cram in there. I hope you found some of it helpful.
Do you or your dogs take any of the supplements that I listed? What do you think?