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Supplementation for Wellbeing and Digestive Health of Dogs

Supplementation for Wellbeing and Digestive Health of Dogs

Nutritionally replete ‘complete and balanced’ diets contain all the nutrients known to be essential to dogs. This is sufficient for the maintenance of healthy adult dogs, however, there are plenty of nutrients and other food-derived compounds that can provide additional benefits to dog health over and above meeting their nutritional needs. 


Prebiotics and Probiotics

The term probiotic is pretty familiar, many people and animals take probiotic supplements to bolster their gut health and metabolism. Probiotics are live microorganisms  (bacteria and/or yeasts) that may colonize the gut and confer health benefits to the host animal. The gut is so much more than just the site of nutrient absorption, it is also the body’s first line of defense against any virus, bacteria, toxin or other injurious substance ingested by the animal. As such, probiotics can play a role not only in promoting good fecal consistency and treating or preventing diarrhoea or constipation, but also in modulating the immune response, possible disease prevention or mitigation, reducing serum cholesterol, and preventing urinary tract infections (Kaur, Chopra, & Saini, 2002). In dogs, probiotics have been demonstrated to prevent and treat a number of gastrointestinal related disorders such as acute gastritis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), as well as improve health and immunity, reduce allergy symptoms, and improve markers of kidney disease (Grześkowiak, Endo, Beasley, & Salminen, 2015; Meineri et al., 2021; Xu et al., 2019). In particular, Bacillus coagulans has been shown to improve nutrient digestibility for dogs (Acuff & Aldrich, 2021). Prebiotics, indigestible fibres like inulin, nourish gut bacteria and help to maintain the colonization of good bacteria, including probiotics, in the gut (Strompfová, Lauková, & Cilik, 2013). Products that contain both pre- and probiotics can be termed synbiotics, as they contain not only the beneficial organism but also a nutrient source to sustain them.


The omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA have a plethora of activities in the body making them fantastic boosters to overall health and wellbeing. In dogs, research has demonstrated that DHA and EPA are effective in treating inflammatory skin conditions (dermatitis), reducing signs and progression of heart disease, improve blood flow to kidneys and slow progression of kidney disease, improve comfort and reduce inflammation in dogs with arthritis, and reduce lipid content the blood of dogs with hyperlipidemia (Bauer, 2011). It seems to good to be true that DHA and EPA can have so many beneficial effects, but wait, there’s more! Further research in dogs and other species has also suggested applications of DHA and EPA for reducing inflammation for patients with IBD, improving quality of life, extending survival time and improving efficacy of chemotherapy in dogs with cancer, improving cognitive function and ameliorating aggressive behaviour (Bauer, 2011; Bosch, Beerda, Hendriks, van der Poel, & Verstegen, 2007; Hajjaji, Schubnel, & Bougnoux, 2011; Marion-Letellier, Savoye, & Ghosh, 2015; Ogilve et al., 2000; Sun et al., 2013).  


Antioxidants and anti-inflammatories

Every bodily process needs energy, but the use of that energy comes at a cost – the production of reactive oxygen species, also known as free radicals. The production of these highly-reactive compounds promotes oxidative injury to surrounding tissues, which, if uncorrected, can lead to inflammation. Turmeric is a mild yellow spice prepared from the rhizome of the Curcuma longa plant. It contains a potent antioxidant compound called curcumin which has been demonstrated in dogs to reduce reactive oxygen species and reduce markers of oxidative damage and inflammation (Campigotto et al., 2020; Sgorlon, Stefanon, Sandri, & Colitti, 2016). The bioavailability of curcumin from turmeric alone is low, leaving much of the ingested compound in the gut, however this provides excellent local anti-inflammatory activity for gastrointestinal health (Scazzocchio, Minghetti, & D’Archivio, 2020; Song et al., 2022). Bioavailability can be improved by combining turmeric with black pepper, which contains piperine, a compound that increases the absorption of curcumin (Anand, Kunnumakkara, Newman, & Aggarwal, 2007). Recent research also suggests that turmeric in combination with rosemary extract, a natural preservative, may act synergistically with chemotherapeutic agents to improve outcome of treatment against canine cancers (Levine, Bayle, Biourge, & Wakshlag, 2016). Although vitamin C isn’t an essential nutrient for dogs, the way it is for humans, supplementation with vitamin C has powerful antioxidant effects, and in canine cancer cell lines it has even been demonstrated to have some anticancer effects (Shin et al., 2018). Lastly, Coenzyme Q10 (aka CoQ10) is a compound critical for energy metabolism as well as having antioxidant effects. In dogs, research has demonstrated CoQ10 to have benefit for heart health in dogs with valve disease (Tachampa, Lertwanakarn, & Buranakarl, 2018) and may be linked to cognition in senior dogs (Martin et al., 2011).

Multifunctional supplements can combine different beneficial active ingredients to promote all-around health and wellbeing for dogs. By targeting non-specific and broad-acting mechanisms, like antioxidants, pre- and pro-biotics, and DHA+EPA, general support can help the whole body to thrive. 


Acuff, H., & Aldrich, C. (2021). Evaluation of graded levels of Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 on apparent nutrient digestibility, stool quality, and intestinal health indicators in healthy adult dogs. Journal of Animal Science, 99(5). doi:10.1093/jas/skaab137

Anand, P., Kunnumakkara, A., Newman, R., & Aggarwal, B. (2007). Bioavailability of Curcumin: Problems and Promises. Molecular Pharmaceutics, 4(6), 807-818. 

Bauer, J. (2011). Therapeutic use of fish oils in companion animals. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 239(11), 1441-1451. 

Bosch, G., Beerda, B., Hendriks, W., van der Poel, A., & Verstegen, M. (2007). Impact of nutrition on canine behaviour: current status and possible mechanisms. Nutrition Research Reviews, 20, 180-194. 

Campigotto, G., Alba, D., Favaretto, J., Gebert, R., Souza, C., Baldissera, M., & Da Silva, A. (2020). Intake of snacks containing curcumin stimulates erythropoiesis and antioxidant response in dogs. Comparative Clinical Pathology, 29, 855-863. 

Grześkowiak, L., Endo, A., Beasley, S., & Salminen, S. (2015). Microbiota and probiotics in canine and feline welfare. Anaerobe, 34, 14-23. 

Hajjaji, N., Schubnel, V., & Bougnoux, P. (2011). Determinants of DHA Incorporation into Tumor Tissue During Dietary DHA Supplementation. Lipids, 46, 1063-1069. 

Kaur, I., Chopra, K., & Saini, A. (2002). Probiotics: potential pharmaceutical applications. European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 15(1), 1-9. 

Levine, C., Bayle, J., Biourge, V., & Wakshlag, J. (2016). Effects and synergy of feed ingredients on canine neoplastic cell proliferation. BMC Veterinary Research, 12. doi:10.1186/s12917-016-0774-9

Marion-Letellier, R., Savoye, G., & Ghosh, S. (2015). Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Inflammation. IUBMB Life, 67(9), 659-667. 

Martin, S., Cenini, G., Barone, E., Dowling, A., Mancuso, C., Butterfield, D., . . . Head, E. (2011). Coenzyme Q10 and cognition in atorvastatin treated dogs. Neuroscience Letters, 501(2), 92-95. 

Meineri, G., Saettone, V., Radice, E., Cruni, N., Martello, E., & Bergero, D. (2021). The synergistic effect of prebiotics, probiotics and antioxidants on dogs with chronic kidney disease. Italian Journal of Animal Science, 20(1), 1079-1084. 

Ogilve, G., Fettman, M., Mallinckrodt, C., Walton, J., Hansen, R., Davenport, D., . . . Hand, M. (2000). Effect of Fish Oil, Arginine, and Doxorubicin Chemotherapy on Remission and Survival Time for Dogs with Lymphoma. Cancer, 88(8), 1916-1928. 

Scazzocchio, B., Minghetti, L., & D’Archivio, M. (2020). Interaction between Gut Microbiota and Curcumin: A New Key of Understanding for the Health Effects of Curcumin. Nutrients, 12(9). doi:10.3390/nu12092499

Sgorlon, S., Stefanon, B., Sandri, M., & Colitti, M. (2016). Nutrigenomic activity of plant derived compounds in health and disease: Results of a dietary intervention study in dog. Research in Veterinary Science, 109, 142-148. 

Shin, H., Nam, A., Song, K.-H., Lee, K., Rebhun, R., & Seo, K.-W. (2018). Anticancer effects of high-dose ascorbate on canine melanoma cell lines. Veterinary and Comparative Oncology, 16(4), 616-621. 

Song, W., Chen, X., Dia, C., Lin, D., Pang, X., Zhang, D., . . . Lin, J. (2022). Comparative Study of Preparation, Evaluation, and Pharmacokinetics in Beagle Dogs of Curcumin β-Cyclodextrin Inclusion Complex, Curcumin Solid Dispersion, and Curcumin Phospholipid Complex. Molecules, 27. doi:10.3390/molecules27092998

Strompfová, V., Lauková, A., & Cilik, D. (2013). Synbiotic administration of canine-derived strain Lactobacillus fermentum CCM 7421 and inulin to healthy dogs. Canadian Journal of Microbiology, 59(5), 347-352. 

Sun, S.-N., Jia, W.-D., Chen, H., Ma, J.-L., Ge, Y.-S., Yu, J.-H., & Li, J.-S. (2013). Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) induces apoptosis in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Pathology, 6(2), 281-289. 

Tachampa, K., Lertwanakarn, T., & Buranakarl, C. (2018). Effects of coenzyme Q10 supplementation on cardiac troponin I level, heart rate variability, and echocardiographic profiles in canine with myxomatous degenerative mitral valve disease: a pilot study. The Thai Journal of Veterinary Medicine, 48(3), 443-452. 

Xu, H., Huang, W., Hou, Q., Kwok, L.-Y., Lga, W., Wang, Y., . . . Zhang, H. (2019). Oral administration of compound probiotics improved canine feed intake, weight gain, immunity and intestinal microbiota. Frontiers in Immunology, 10. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2019.00666

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