Pet Vitamins and Supplements


Should I Give My Dog Supplements?

If your dog is healthy and fit (no skin conditions or joint problems for example) and is fed a commercial dog food that is labeled as “complete and balanced”, he will not need pet vitamins or supplements. In fact, feeding your dog a “complete and balanced” quality dog food is the best way to ensure your dog gets all the nutrients he needs.

However, your dog will need pet supplements if:

  • You make homemade dog food,
  • Your dog is old and stiff,
  • Your dog has a health issue (particularly a skin condition or arthritis).

Choose a complete all-in-one pet supplement that includes vitamins, minerals, enzymes, Essential Fatty Acids and probiotics.

Some pet vitamins and supplements can interfere with medications, so if your dog is on medication, discuss supplements with your vet before giving them to your dog.

Old Dog with a health issue
If your dog is old and stiff he might benefit from supplements

Can I give my dog human vitamins?

Not without veterinary guidance. Dogs and humans have different nutritional needs. Too much calcium, for example, can cause skeletal problems in large breed puppies. Too much vitamin A can cause joint immobility and pain. Human supplements will contain nutrients that are in the wrong dosage for dogs and can contain additives that are harmful to your dog such as the artificial sweetener xylitol.

Human vitamin supplements
Dogs have different nutritional needs to humans

Do joint supplements work for dogs?

Some do, some don’t and some have yet to be proven one way or the other. Choose joint supplements that have been thoroughly put to the test in double-blind, controlled multiple studies.

Some commercial dog treats contain joint supplements but in quantities that won’t do much good. If your dog has a joint problem, he will need therapeutic levels of joint supplements. For correct supplement dosages, talk to your vet.

Below, we list the joint supplements that have been proven to work.

What is the best hip and joint supplement for dogs?

Glucosamine hydrochloride

Note that this is different to Glucosamine sulfate, which has no evidence to show that it reaches the synovial tissue of joints in dogs. A joint supplement doesn’t help if it doesn’t get where it needs to be. Glucosamine hydrochloride, on the other hand has been proven to build cartilage in dogs. Osteoarthritic dogs treated with glucosamine hydrochloride showed significant improvement by day 70. Glucosamine hydrochloride is also cheap, easy to find, and can safely be given to pets with diabetes.

Chondroitin sulfate

This supplement inhibits cartilage-destroying enzymes, but it’s pricey. When given with glucosamine, chondroitin has a synergistic effect making both supplements more potent when paired.

Avocado soybean unsaponifiables (ASUs)

ASUs protect cartilage against damage and help the bone and cartilage in knee joints to heal. When combined with glucosamine and chondroitin, ASUs increase the effectiveness of each and reduces the amount of chondroitin required.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3s are known to support heart health and joints, improve kidneys and boost the immune system, but the dosage for each condition varies. The best source of omega-3s are from wild-caught cold water fish such as salmon.

Salmon is the best source for omega-3
Salmon is a good source of Omega-3s

What pet vitamins and supplements should I use to treat skin conditions?

Skin conditions affect one in three dogs at some point in their lives and pet nutrition plays a key role.

If your dog scratches and bites at his skin creating bare patches, or of the skin is flaking, red or irritated, your dog has a skin condition. This might be due to:

  • Allergies: Food or environmental
  • Insufficient fatty acids in the diet
  • Parasites: Flea bites, mite infestations
  • Infections
  • Excess weight

Here are five ways to improve skin condition and build your dog’s natural skin barrier.

1. Essential Fatty Acid supplements

Fish oil, flax oil, hemp oil, evening primrose oil and borage oil contain large amounts of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) and other nutrients for healthy skin and coat. EFAs will calm your dog’s itchiness, resolve flakiness and nourish his coat.

2. Regular Parasite Control

Make sure your dog is protected against parasites. Parasite control has come a long way in recent years, making toxic rinses and weekly flea baths a thing of the past. A simple monthly chew will keep your dog free from fleas, ticks, mites and worms. Chat to your vet about the most suitable parasite control for your dog.

3. Monitor his diet

Most food allergies are in response to a protein source. If you suspect your dog might have a food allergy, work with your vet to devise a food trial based on novel proteins such as fish, venison, duck or rabbit.

Mite-infested grains are also a hidden cause of allergies. At unsafe levels mite-infested grains are deemed unfit for human consumption, but they can be used in pet food, so choose high-end pet foods that use ‘human quality’ ingredients. Oats, barley, millet and rice are the least likely grains to cause allergies. Some pet foods omit grains altogether and substitute them with starchy vegetables such as potatoes and yams.

Making your own dog food from our homemade dog food recipes gives you more control, but you will need to add a complete all-in-one supplement to each meal that includes vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, enzymes and probiotics. Choose one that is sourced from organic ingredients if you can find it.

4. Do not Over Shampoo

Do not over wash your dog as this will strip the natural oils from your dog’s coat and impair the skin’s natural defense barrier. Use a quality dog shampoo and rinse the coat thoroughly. Reserve dog washes for when soiled or smelly.  Dogs with a healthy skin and coat do not require regular washing.

Dog getting a bath
Do not over-shampoo your dog


5. Manage your dog’s weight

Overweight dogs are prone to hot smelly skin. Those in the obese range find it difficult to groom themselves and are physically unable to reach parts of their body.  Skin folds and fat rolls cause reduced skin ventilation with secondary yeast and bacterial infection.

Improve your dog’s longevity and quality of life through successful weight management. Find out more about WAGSTA veterinary guided weight plans today.

dog weight loss plan

How Much Food to Feed your Dog

Your Questions Answered: How Much Should I Feed my Dog

Many pet parents fear under feeding or over feeding their dog.  After all, there is no ‘one size-fits all’ approach to feeding. Age, breed, sex, activity level and food type all affect how much food your dog will require. And with pet obesity rates on the rise, it can be a challenge to find a happy medium to keep your dog a healthy weight without feeling hungry. But it is entirely possible!

Determining your dog’s food intake is a process that requires you to monitor the results of your feeding and tweak portions as necessary, ensuring your dog maintains good health and an optimal body weight.

The following dog feeding guidelines will help you establish how much to feed your dog.

A portion of dog food
Feeding the correct amount of dog food is crucial for overall dog health.

8 Feeding Guidelines for Figuring Out How Much to Feed Dogs

1. Know your dog’s daily calorie requirement.

Your dog’s daily calorie requirement is determined by their ideal body weight and is a starting point in determining how much food your dog requires. Check out your dog’s calorie requirement below.

Healthy Weight (lbs.) Daily Calorie Intake (kcal) Healthy Weight (kgs) Daily Calorie Intake
10 218 5 234
20 366 10 394
30 497 15 533
40 616 20 662
50 729 25 783
60 835 30 897
70 938 35 1007
80 1036 40 1113
90 1132 45 1216
100 1225 50 1316
110 1316 55 1413


2. Know the calorie content of your dog’s food.

To feed your dog the correct serving size you need to know the calorie content of your dog’s food. Commercial pet foods list this information on packaging.  If you home-cook for your dog, you will need to research the calorie content of your recipe ingredients.

Knowing your dog’s daily calorie requirement together with the calorie content of your dog’s food, enables you to correctly portion your dog’s meals to meet your dog’s calorie needs.

3. Don’t forget treats and extras.

Set aside up to 10% of your dog’s calorie intake towards treats and extras. Remember, everything your dog eats (treats, extras, chews) should be included in your dog’s daily calorie intake.

Dog chewing on a treat
Chews, treats and supplements contribute to your dog’s daily calorie intake.

4. Monitor you dog’s weight regularly.

If your dog drops below their ideal weight, increase food intake by monthly increments of 10%. If gaining too much weight, reduce intake by 10%. Weigh your dog regularly and track weight changes with your free WAGSTA Weight tracker.

wagsta dog weight tracker
Overweight dogs benefit from fortnightly weight tracking to achieve their weight goals.
5. Accurately measure dog food portions.

To maintain consistency in feeding, get in the habit of weighing dog food portions. Avoid estimating or eye-balling scooped portions, as this often leads to over/under feeding, especially for small breed dogs.

6. Avoid switching foods.

Choose a quality food your dog enjoys and stick with it. Dog foods differ in their calorie and nutrient content. Therefore, regularly switching foods will alter your dog’s nutrient intake and will require you to re-calculate the correct portions to feed.

7. Ignore packet feeding guidelines.

These guidelines tend of over-estimate the amount of food your dog requires. They also fail to consider any extra food types or treats your dog may be receiving. View packet feeding guidelines as the upper limit to your dog’s intake.

8. Seek your vet’s input.

Puppies, pregnant and nursing dogs, and dogs with health conditions have increased energy requirements and more complex feeding needs. Discuss your dog’s specialized feeding requirements with your veterinarian.

Vet assessing a dog's x-ray
Your vet can recommend foods suitable for your dog’s health requirements.

Finding a quality dog food is an involved process considering the tens of thousands of dog foods available. The Consumers Advocate BEST Dog Foods 2020 article addresses the complexities in rating dog foods and helps navigate the minefield of internet advice available.

To compile your own short-list of dog foods focus on finding a food which:

  1. Fits within your budget
  2. Is suited to the growth profile of your dog. i.e. puppy vs reproduction vs adult maintenance vs mature dog
  3. Is ‘complete and balanced’ – this AAFCO statement ensures the dog food is formulated to meet your dog’s nutritional requirements.
  4. Contains an ingredient list with readily identifiable ingredients. A quality protein source should be listed in the first few ingredients.
    (Tip: ingredients are listed in descending order of quantity. Foods with higher protein content will help your dog feel full longer!)

Your dog’s food should satisfy your dog’s appetite and support a glossy coat, whilst providing your dog an energetic and playful outlook.

For dogs with health conditions, it is advisable to seek your veterinarian’s advice over the many prescription diets available. From renal failure and hepatic disease through to arthritis and obesity, specially formulated diets can make a big impact in managing your dog’s condition.


dog diet plan

Is Grain Free Dog Food Healthier for my Dog?

Sales of grain-free dog food have been trending for several years now. Is the grain free movement simply a marketing bonanza or are there real health benefits gained by feeding grain free dog food? To find out let’s look at the rise of grain free foods….

The Grain Free Dog Food Trend

Magazines, television commercials and food packaging all sing the virtues of “super foods” promising us improved health and well being. Supermarket shelves are graced with the likes of chia seeds, goji berries, protein shakes, coconut water and gluten free foods – just a sample of the current “in crowd” of human health foods!  And of course it doesn’t stop here with many such trends now flowing on into the pet food aisles.

Considering the rapid growth of the human gluten free market, it is not surprising just how popular the grain free dog food movement has become. Grain free dog food has gained such popularity that nearly all major brands of dog food have now launched their own grain free line to avoid missing out on this new market.

Grain free dog treats
Grain free dog food accounts for 30% of dog food sales in the US.


The trend for grain free dog food is so widespread and highly marketed, owners who have happily been feeding dog food containing grain, are starting to question whether in fact they have been doing harm!

So the question begs… Should we be feeding grain free dog food? And is grain free dog food healthier than regular dog food?

To answer these questions, it helps to understand the reasoning behind the grain free dog food movement. Advocates of grain free dog food primarily argue grain is an ‘unnatural‘ canine food source and grain is an allergen causing ill health.

Dog vs Wolf

It is true that our dogs fore bearers would have been unlikely to consume grain, other than grains contained in the stomach contents of their prey. However unlike wolves our modern day domestic dogs are capable of digesting grain based carbohydrates. Cohabitation with humans over tens of thousands of years has resulted in physiological changes to the gut and the enzymatic digestion processes of our pet dogs. Quite simply domestic dogs are more adjusted to a humanised diet than their wolf fore bearers.

Modern day dogs have evolved from wolves
The digestive systems of modern day pet dogs have evolved physiologically to be able to digest grain.

Whilst on this point it is interesting to note that many brands of grain free dog food substitute grain with alternative carbohydrates such as potato, sweet potato, pumpkin and rice. From a historical perspective, carbohydrates such as these could also be argued as being “unnatural”.

Grains can act as allergens. Fact. This is backed by “grain allergic” and “grain sensitised dogs” who suffer ill effects such as itchy skin and gastrointestinal upset from ingesting certain plant and grain-based proteins.

However, it is important to realise that almost every food source has potential to act as an allergen. And it is interesting to note, allergies caused by animal based proteins such as beef and dairy, far outnumber those caused by grain.*

Grain free Benefits

An often-unheralded benefit of grain free dog food is their tendency to provide increased levels of animal-based protein. Egg and meat proteins (beef, poultry, fish, lamb, pork) are quality amino acid sources which are readily digested and converted by dogs. Naturally dogs thrive on such quality ingredients.

Grain free dog foods tend to have a higher protein content, which from a weight management point of view can be beneficial. Increased protein content enhances satiety levels (a feeling of fullness) and helps to maintain muscle mass during dog weight loss.

As pet parents it is important to realize, what works well and benefits one dog will not necessarily do so for another. There is no one-dog-food-fits-all approach. Hence the millions of dogs who consume grain in their diet and remain perfectly healthy!

It is important for pet parents not to be pressured by feeding trends. Ultimately it is your choice what to feed. So rather than following perceived health benefits of the latest food trend, invest your efforts in finding a quality food your dog enjoys and thrives on.

Whether your dog’s diet contains grain or not, if your dog sports a glossy coat, healthy appetite, formed stools and an energetic and playful outlook, you are onto a winner!

Grain Free Diet Tips:

Dog spills her Grain free dog food
Grain free dog food is necessary only for the small percentage of dogs who are allergic to grain.

Is grain free dog food healthy for your dog?

2018 reports by the FDA have linked grain free dog food with taurine deficiency and the development of congestive heart failure (dilated cardiomyopathy).  Ingredients of concern are potato, peas/ legumes and lentils. Avoid foods which list these as their main ingredients.

There is a tendency for grain free dog food to be high in calories so always check the calorie content (ME content) and portion meals according to your dog’s healthy weight.

Is grain free food necessary for your dog?

No, not unless your dog has a grain allergy or grain free food is your personal preference.

dog weight and walk tracking
* Carlotti DN, Remy I, Prost C. Food allergy in dogs and cats. A review and report of 43 cases. Vet Dermatology 1990;1:55-62.
Chesney CJ. Food sensitivity in the dog: a quantitative study. J Small Animal Practitioner 2002;43:203-207.
Jeffers JG, Meyer EK, Sosis EJ. Responses of dogs with food allergies to single-ingredient dietary provocation. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1996;209:608-611.
Paterson S. Food hypersensitivity in 20 dogs with skin and gastrointestinal signs. J Small Animal Practitioner 1995;36:529-534.
FDA Investigating Potential Connection Between Diet and Cases of Canine Heart Disease.…