Supplement Myths

If appropriate raw food is great for pets, then surely adding supplements will make them better!?

Well no.  Sorry.

It is unfortunate for people feeding raw that so many people have jumped on board to make their fortune by selling you unnecessary vitamins, supplements, and other such bits and pieces.
Some of these people genuinely mean well, but most don’t. They already know the supplements and vitamins won’t do anything for your dog (or cat, or ferret), but will be more than prepared to take your money.

How did this situation develop?

It’s a combination of a few things happening including:
The pet food industry has tried to make it look like feeding your dog is a difficult event. They want you to think that it takes an incredible amount of science to feed your dog, and that clearly the general public is so dumb, they would never work it out! Adding supplements gives the illusion that the food is “balanced”, and nothing could be further from the truth.
The health food industry is a machine which is designed to make money. Forget about trying to make you healthy. There’s no profit in healthy dogs or healthy animals. Providing useless supplements, vitamins, etc which provide no value, without “fixing” the underlying health problems, is a fantastic way of corporations and individuals to keep a great cash flow coming from a niave public.
People with healthy dogs like to think they can make their dogs healthier by feeding supplements. Clearly all this does is make you feel better and is no benefit to your dog, nor your hip pocket.
When supplements and vitamins are added to commercial dog products via the manufacturer they are invariably transformed by the cooking process, and ruined. It’s a bit like buying a fantastic pair of shoes, then putting them in a furnace for an hour, then bringing them out, expecting them to give you the same level of satisfaction as before they were cooked. Just as it would be ludicrous to expect your shoes to be fine after a cooking process, the same goes for vitamins and supplements.

There is little evidence, if any, to suggest that adding supplements and vitamins is of any benefit to your dog. In fact, the benefit comes from giving the illusion it will make your dog healthier, or cure it’s health problems.

Let me be clear, the best way to provide a solid platform for the health of your pet is to feed it an appropriate raw diet. This is a diet that is designed for a carnivore. Any diet that comes from a can, a packet, or is designed for an omnivore (and if you think dogs are omnivores, it’s time to wake up to yourself!), is inappropriate for your dog.

You need to feed a diet which is based on the “prey model”. A dog in the wild would feed on whole raw prey, or scavenge parts thereof.
Any person who states that the digestive tract or the needs of the “modern” dog are any different from that of a wild dog, is either deliberately trying to deceive you, or needs to quickly update their own education.

There is no excuse for deception of the public.

Supplements that your dog doesn’t need:

Cod Liver Oil
Flax Seed Oil
Missing Link (another fantastic way to waste money!)
Vitamin E, Vitamin C, etc
Grape Seed Extract
Brewers Yeast
…. and they don’t need veggies or fruit.

Are Supplements Harmful?

They can be. On many occasions, I’ve been emailed by people new to raw feeding who have found their dogs not improving, or indeed, their dogs being in worse condition than before. I always ask them what they are feeding. Invariably they include a plethora of supplements and vitamins. The first thing I tell them to do is remove all supplements, vitamins, etc from the diet.
On most occasions it becomes clear to the pet owner within a week, that one of the causes of their current problems is this supplementation which they have provided. Not only have the supplements cost them a small fortune, but they have made their dog’s condition worse.

Supplements are processed

Feeding a raw diet is all about feeding naturally. Any processing of food is absolutely discouraged. 99.9% of supplements and all vitamins are processed. This means they are rendered in a way which changes their form, making them almost impossible for the body to use. In some instances, the supplement can actually cause a health problem in your dog.
The best “alternative” is to feed your dog a natural form of that particular substance. For example, rather than feeding fish oil (and expecting some amazing result!), feed your dog fish.

And some supplements are completely wrong. For example flax seed oil, which some claim is a fantastic supplement, is grain based, as well as being highly processed. Dogs do not have a digestive system designed to eat grains or associated products. As such, feeding this sort of thing, can actually cause health problems in your dogs.

A recent study on fish oil found that the not only was there a vast overstatement as to the amount of omega 3 in most fish oil products sold in Australia, but that many of the products were rancid. Yes, sold as rancid products. Click here to read the article.

In summary

As a general rule of thumb, I do not feed supplements except in abnormal situations. eg: I will feed calcium supplements to my toy poodle girls after whelping to prevent eclampsia, particularly when they are not eating enough bones. There is not one supplement or vitamin I can recommend feeding your pet. In some instances it causes its own set of health problems.
Remember, people everywhere make a living out of gullible pet people. Save your money, and use it to buy better quality food for yourself and your pets.

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for cats, dogs, and ferrets – by Jane Anderson