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Senior dog supplements are an important part of your research if you care about senior dogs. You will soon be faced with an array of choices and paying your hard-earned money. While you may enjoy learning about senior dog supplements, identifying fact from advertising hype may be difficult. Join Dr. Julie Buzby, an integrative veterinarian and founder of Dr. Buzby’s ToeGrips®, for an in-depth look at senior dog supplements and the most accurate and up-to-date information. Read on to discover Dr. Buzby’s Part I of the Ultimate Guide to Supplements for Senior Dogs.

Senior dog supplements can be like navigating a foreign marketplace during rush hour. You don’t know the language, the culture, or who to trust. You don’t know whether you should be eating noodles or rice.

It’s true that taking the right supplements can be beneficial for aging dogs. However, it may be disheartening to realize that the available supplements are not always as effective as we’d like them to be. I’ve seen first hand how important supplements are for older dogs.

Be that as it may, I must come clean from the outset. Even though I have been a veterinarian for 24 years, attended veterinary conferences, and worked in veterinary medicine, acupuncture, and animal chiropractic, I, too, found researching senior dog supplements to be challenging. You are not alone. I would like to share a few things I have learned along the way.

My purpose in this article is not to give you fluency on the subject, but to take you on a journey through the world of senior dog supplements. We will explore the language, culture, landscape, and some key ingredients in my favourite products. Part II will look at specific issues that affect senior dogs and how quality supplements can help them. It will be released soon.

Prepare yourself, and let’s get started!

Senior dog supplements shouldn’t use easy words.

Before looking at the culture and landscape of senior dog supplements, it’s important to acclimate to “supplement language” so you’ll understand what terms mean when you see them in your reading and research.

What are supplements?

A supplement is a substance such as a vitamin, mineral, herb, amino acid, or a mixture of them that is used to supplement the diet. Supplements are typically provided in pill, capsule, tablet, soft chew, or liquid format.

The dietary supplement industry was booming in 1984, and the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) became involved. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1984 (DSHEA) clarified that supplements were defined, but the law did not specify whether the regulations only related to human supplements or if dog supplements included as well. In 1996, the FDA stated that the 1984 act only concerned human supplements. Therefore, supplements for dogs were not subject to FDA oversight and regulation.

Are senior dog supplements affected by this?

By government standards, the term “dog supplement” does not exist. According to the Pet Nutrition Alliance, the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine’s function is clear: “[Drugs] and [food] are the only animal products that the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine regulates.”

So, you may be wondering, “Can supplements be used to boost my dog’s health?” It all depends on the supplement’s purpose. There is no separate category for animal supplements. Since they are categorized as food products as long as they do not make medical claims, pet supplements are included in the category of food. We will talk more about this in the next section because of the potential issues it may cause as a protective dog parent and consumer.

What is the definition of “nutraceutical”?

If you’ve been researching “nutraceuticals”, you probably want to know how that concept fits into the picture. In 1989, Stephen De Felice, founder of the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine, combined the words “nutrient” and “pharmaceutical” to form the term “nutraceuticals”.

De Felice defines “nutraceuticals” as “foods or parts of foods that provide medical or health benefits, including disease prevention and treatment.” If you think that sounds similar to a dietary supplement, you would be correct. For our purposes, “senior dog supplements” and “senior dog nutraceuticals” are synonymous. Both are food-based products used to promote health in senior dogs.

Senior dog supplements are part of the broader culture.

Senior dog supplements are part of a culture where buyers should beware. Here’s why…

Years ago, I attended a veterinary continuing education conference where the speaker said something that made me request her to say it again. The American pharmacy school study concluded that a large proportion of nutraceuticals had different contents and concentrations in the bottle than what they advertised on the label.

More recent studies also support this conclusion. This is not only concerning from a business perspective as companies may skimp on active ingredients, but also implies that products may include toxins, heavy metals, mould, and bacteria due to a lack of regulation and accountability. These were human supplements that were tested! Furthermore, if you buy a human dietary supplement for your senior dog, it’s crucial that you know the facts.

The FDA says that firms are responsible for ensuring that dietary supplements they produce or distribute are safe and that any statements or claims they make are supported by adequate evidence showing that they are not false or misleading, in accordance with DSHEA.

It’s not the wisest move if you ask me, but dietary supplements can be purchased without FDA approval. Self-regulation by supplement manufacturers is the norm.

The FDA does not regulate supplements in the same way they regulate drugs. Unlike drugs and vaccines, which must undergo rigorous testing before being approved, the FDA considers supplements to be safe until proven otherwise. This should be a red flag for dog owners, as there are potentially over 50,000 supplements available. Be as cautious when choosing supplements as you would be when eating raw sushi that has been sitting out in the sun at a foreign market.

Senior dog supplements have a variety of landscapes to choose from.

Senior dog supplements are becoming more popular as more companies enter the market. The pet food industry, which includes senior dog supplements, is expected to be worth $35 billion by 2024. Senior dog supplements are big business, and not all companies are of equal quality. Your veterinarian is the best person to consult if you are interested in these products.

Senior dog supplements are brimming with key ingredients.

In Part II of my Ultimate Guide to Supplement for Senior Dogs, I will discuss the most effective supplements for treating ageing dogs, in particular those with specific diseases.

Senior dogs experience distinct health problems, just like senior citizens do. Brain function (or failure), digestive issues, dental disease, and skin and coat problems are all common issues. I believe high-quality supplements can be an effective method to address these problems and improve the quality of life of our dogs.

Drugs are an integral part of my practice as an integrative veterinarian, but what I adore about supplements is that they frequently produce good results with negligible side effects. For my elderly patients, I frequently prescribe supplements initially and then add drugs as required.

It’s impossible for senior dogs not to have some sort of arthritis, so I always prescribe glucosamine and chondroitin supplements to my patients. When I treat my patients, I’m always conscious that there is inflammation somewhere in their body. Mussel is an excellent source of glucosamine and chondroitin, and green lipped mussel is especially beneficial for dogs.

7 Signs of Arthritis in Dogs learn more about canine arthritis by reading Is it Canine Arthritis or Aging?.

The colour grey is used in supplements to indicate a non-active ingredient.

Every senior pooch is unique, so there’s a lot of grey in my listing of ‘must-have’ supplements. In part II, I’ll discuss my favourite items and brands for ageing canines. While your canine doesn’t need every supplement available, I believe there may be one or two that improve the quality of life of your pet, making both you and your pet happier.

Have supplements improved your senior dog’s health?

Comment below to share your experience.