Caring for Your Pet’s Health: Understanding the Types of Pet Supplements

The first commercial dog biscuits were marketed in 1860, which is how pet foods were introduced. Many pet owners give supplements to complement their pet’s diet and prevent nutrient deficiency. At the same time, some prefer to make dietary changes and add supplements after their pets are diagnosed with a disease.  90 % of US veterinarians prescribe pet supplements.  These contain vitamins, minerals, and herbs, available in various forms, like tablets, capsules, powders, pastes, liquids, and soft chews. There are two categories of pet supplements: food supplements and health supplements. This article discusses different types of supplements and why a high-quality supplement is the right option for your pet’s health.

Understanding Pets Food Supplements

Pet food is either dry or wet, but the single most common purpose of using them is their ability to meet the appropriate nutritional demands of your pets. Baked cookies, pet chews, and coated pet food are also some of the examples. High-quality pet foods are formulated based on scientific nutritional studies and maintenance diet specifications. Grain byproducts, animal products, plant products, egg, milk products, and mineral and vitamin supplements are the common ingredients in pet food. Superfood treats for dogs and cats contain proteins, fats, fibre, moisture, amino acids, calcium, magnesium and vitamins. 

Diet and pet food specifications

  •  According to AAFCO 2001, maintenance diet specifications for adult dogs for moisture, crude protein, crude fat, and crude fibre include 10%, 22%, 8% and 4 %. You will commonly find these terms on labels of various pet foods.
  • Pet food specifications for different growth stages for puppies, adult dogs, performance dogs, racing sled dogs and lactating dogs include 28%, 18%, 25%, 35% and 28% protein and 17%, 9-15%, 2%, 50% and 17%  fats respectively. 

Important components of pet food

Whole food concentrates with a powerful nutrient blend are available for cats and dogs. Let us understand the components of pet food: 

  • Proteins provide amino acids for growth, lactation and gestation. Meat and bone meal are used as protein ingredients.
  • Fat is an important nutritional requirement in your pet’s diet because it is an energy source, improves palatability and texture, and supports the absorption, digestion, and metabolism of fat-soluble vitamins. 
  • Fibre is derived from plant cell walls and grains in dog food. Every commercial pet food has fibre because it improves colon health, maintains a healthy weight, and is helpful for diarrhoea and constipation. Pet owners feed high-fibre diets to their dogs to manage diabetes because it satisfies the dog by inducing a feeling of fullness and not any calories. Do you know diabetes is highly prevalent among dogs?
  • Minerals: Dog food contains minerals like calcium without phosphorus, calcium and phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, iodine, selenium, sodium and chloride.
  • Antioxidants are present in pet foods to prevent the oxidation of fat and fat-soluble ingredients and maintain food taste and nutritional value. These can be artificial or natural antioxidants. Ethoxyquin, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) are the artificial antioxidants used in pet food, while vitamin C, E, citric acid, and rosemary are the natural antioxidants. 

Pets Health Supplements

Pet owners are becoming more proactive in taking care of their pets’ and they prioritise products that address specific health concerns. Pet health supplements contain specific ingredients and have a unique composition to typically support a particular body system. The products falling under this category are:

  • Vitamins and minerals:

Like humans, pets also need a balance of vitamins and minerals in their body for good health. A vegan diet or homemade diet is not enough to fulfil all nutritional requirements of your pet. Weight loss, tiredness, dull coat, excessive shedding, joint pain, bad breath, bad body odour, digestive issues, abnormal bowel movements,  and skin irritation may arise in dogs due to vitamin and mineral deficiency. A multivitamin for pets provides all vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need.  

  • Skin and coat products:  

A healthy pet has a healthy, lustrous and shiny coat. It’s true! Skin and coat supplements formulated for dogs and cats provide numerous benefits, like relief from itchy skin and discomfort. According to studies, fatty acids highly benefit the skin and coat of pets contributing to haircoat luster and  skin smoothness. Significant impacts on skin and hair quality with EFA supplements can be seen from day 30. Within two months of supplements, maximum benefits are visible. 

  • Fiber-based products

These are highly beneficial for dogs because it promotes healthy colon, regular bowel movements, healthy balance of bacteria, and healthy weight management. Constipation and dry hard stools are the common signs of fiber deficiency.

It is important to note that fiber does not provide energy and nutrition to dogs but it is highly beneficial for dogs health. Nearly 56% Americal dogs are overweight so fiber satisfies dogs hunger by inducing a sense of fullness. Fiber-based supplements are given to overweight and diabetic dogs.

  • Essential fatty acid products:

Pets require linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic and arachidonic fatty acids. Cats cannot synthesise arachidonic. Similarly, dogs cannot synthesise omega-3 fatty acids and need it essentially through diet and supplements. Omega 3 fatty acids are given to treat pruritic skin diseases and maintain healthy functioning of heart and reproductive organs,  joints, skin and coat. DHA supplements are given to puppies and adult dogs for the development of a healthy brain, eyes and immunity.

  • Hip & joint support:

Nearly 20% of dogs are affected by osteoarthritis. Obesity, trauma, injury, and excessive exercise are some of the common causes of joint problems in dogs. Joint support supplements are formulated to promote joint health in dogs and cats. Veterinarians recommend these supplements for pets facing joint flexibility and mobility issues to help alleviate occasional discomfort associated with routine daily activity. Studies have also supported the role and benefits of dietary supplements in relieving pain and reducing the clinical signs of osteoarthritis in dogs.

  • Calming aids: 

Aggression is a very common problem in dogs. Pet owners commonly report bite injuries. Studies have shown that serotonergic dysfunction is associated with omega-3 fatty acids and aggressiveness in dogs. Supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and zinc benefit pets reporting behavioural problems.

  • Cognitive support in aged pets: 

Like humans, pets undergo cognitive changes as they age. Deficiency of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and vitamin B6, 12 and folate are risk factors for cognitive decline among pets. Cognitive dysfunction is highly prevalent among the elderly dog population. Supplements containing DHA/EPA, phosphatidylserine, Ginkgo biloba extract, vitamins B6, C, E, N-acetyl cysteine, L-carnitine, a-lipoic acid, acetyl L-carnitine, CoQ10 and selenium are beneficial in improving cognition among aged dogs.

  • Antioxidants: 

Antioxidants like vitamin C, E, a-lipoic acid, and L-carnitare vitaloles in improving learning ability and memory in elderly dogs. 

  • Cardiovascular support: 

These supplements usually contain L-carnitine, Taurine, Coenzyme Q10, and anti-oxidants to support a healthy cardiovascular system in dogs and cats. 

  • Neurological support: 

DHA supplements may support neural development in young dogs, prevent heart diseases, manage dermatological conditions, etc. Events like loud noises, fireworks, place changes, and seasonal changes like hot weather create stress and anxiety in pets. Stress Support supplements containing nutraceuticals, adaptogenic herbs, phytochemicals, and neurotransmitters are available for pets to support calmness and a healthy response to stress.

  • Digestive health supplements : 

Digestive health is very important for overall health and wellness. 56 % of dog care and 54 % of cat care supplements are for digestive health. Veterinarian-formulated complete probiotic formulas are available for dogs and cats to support gut flora for optimal digestion, normalise bowel ecology and nutrient absorption, and promote healthy immune function.

How do you choose the best pet supplements?

Here are some of the tips that are easy while choosing pet supplements:

  • Choose products that are non-GMO and contain no artificial flavours or colours.
  • Prefer high-quality products because they are free from Artificial additives, preservatives, and chemicals that can trigger allergies, digestive issues, and other health problems in pets. 
  • Natural and Organic Pet supplements are also available. 
  • Choose products that address specific health concerns like digestive health, skin and coat, joints, etc.
  • Look for taurine if you are looking for a cat supplement.


There is a rising demand for pet supplements because pet owners are conscious about their pet’s health and seek alternatives to address their health concerns. They want supplements that are free from harmful additives and preservatives. This has led to the formulation of specialised pet foods, high-quality supplements and pet care products. It is important to know the different types of supplements available and their benefits to ensure your pet receives complete benefits from the supplement you are giving. Consult a veterinarian to learn more about pet supplements.


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  • Gautam et al. Scientific dog feeding for good health and its preparation: A review.Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies 2018; 6(2): 1683-1689
  • Combarros, D et al.  A prospective, randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of the effects of an n-3 essential fatty acids supplement (Agepi® ω3) on clinical signs, and fatty acid concentrations in the erythrocyte membrane, hair shafts and skin surface of dogs with poor quality coats.
  • Martello E, Bigliati M, Adami R, Biasibetti E, Bisanzio D, Meineri G, Bruni N. Efficacy of a dietary supplement in dogs with osteoarthritis: A randomized placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. PLoS One. 2022 Feb 16;17(2):e0263971. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0263971. PMID: 35171954; PMCID: PMC8849458.
  • Haneet Kaur.Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Canine Health: A Review.Int.J.Curr.Microbiol.App.Sci (2020) 9(3): 2283-2293


Dr. Aditi is a dedicated healthcare professional, a passionate writer, and fitness enthusiast who has a deep understanding of nutrition and wellness. At Present, She is working as Sr. Content Writer at

Dr Aditi has led scientific communication and also promoted patient educational materials. She is the author of international publications and 500+ scientific news articles. Her academic background is in dental surgery, laser, research and nutritional science. She has completed MDS from MP Medical Science University, a Clinical Researcher from Apollo Hospital and a Nutritionist from Indira Gandhi University, Delhi.

Aditi’s eight years of experience in various roles across the healthcare industry made her able to provide informative content on various health topics. Her work is informative and motivational, inspiring others to take control of their health and well-being.

Brenda Thompson

Brenda Thompson is an expert in dog behavior with over a decade of experience, and she is also passionate about working with cats and birds. In addition to contributing pet content to, she is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. Brenda received her Bachelor of Science in Biological and Biomedical Sciences & Philosophy from Colorado College in 2014. She has taken classes in writing and remote animal behavior consulting, as well as courses on how to manage aggressive dogs and litter box issues. In 2016, she obtained her dog behavior consulting certification and joined the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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