5 Natural Supplements for Senior Dogs

By on June 17, 2019

Do you have a senior dog in your life? After a lifetime of loving devotion, loyalty, and unconditional love, of course you want to help her age gracefully and comfortably.

Read on to learn about 5 healthy and natural supplements that may help improve her mobility, cognitive function, and quality of life.

Glucosamine & Chondroitin

Glucosamine & Chondroitin can help maintain joint health and function and improve mobility in aging dogs. They work together to signal cartilage production in the body, as well as reducing inflammation which can cause pain and joint deterioration. Although not as effective as NSAIDs in terms of the immediate effect, these supplements have been shown to have a significant long term positive effect on dogs suffering from arthritis or joint pain.

Your veterinarian can recommend the right type of supplement and dosing for your senior dog. In addition, there are natural sources of these compounds found in the joint tissue of animal bones (for example beef knuckle bones or oxtails), shellfish such as shrimp (particularly the shells), or broth made from boiling animal bones for 12-24 hours.   


CBD oil is found in extracts such as hemp oil (note: not hemp seed oil). It is one of the fastest growing natural health products for dogs because recent research has revealed a great many health benefits of this safe and natural compound.

In terms of our older canine friends, CBD oil is well known to help with arthritis in dogs by reducing pain, inflammation, and improving mobility. Because the Endocannabinoid System in all mammals is responsible for regulating many vital processes, CBD oil is also used by some veterinarians to:

  • Improve digestion
  • Fight itchy dry skin from allergies or skin disorders
  • Enhance sleep and appetite
  • Compliment cancer treatment therapies
  • Help with anxiety and aggression problems in dogs


Milk Thistle Extract

Used for centuries in herbal medicine, Milk Thistle is a common weed found throughout the United States. In recent years, scientists have looked into this nutraceutical in research studies on liver damage from degenerative conditions such as hepatitis. They have found that the compound silybin, which is found in high concentrations in extracts made from this plant, does in fact reduce inflammation in the liver by activating liver enzyme signaling pathways.

The liver is an important organ in the body as it regulates several vital functions, including playing a major role in immunity. It can be damaged from the chronic use of certain medications, diseases such as hepatitis, and normal aging processes. Holistic veterinarians often recommend this supplement to improve liver health in senior and aging dogs.


Pre and Probiotics

There are several natural products (capsules or tinctures) and even supplemental foods (such as yoghurt, raw sauerkraut, and beet pulp) that can be beneficial to promoting gut health. Among them are two classes: Prebiotics and probiotics. Both work by supporting the so-called “good” microorganisms that actually do the bulk of the work in the digestive tract.

Probiotics introduce bacteria such as Bacillus coagulans or B. Acidophilus (among hundreds of others) which keeps the digestive tract functioning smoothly and also crowd out harmful bacteria such as E. coli, preventing them from taking over.

On the other hand, Prebiotics are ingredients that either help good bacteria thrive by providing them with food they love throughout the digestive tract, or by reducing harmful bacteria through their conversion into short chain fatty acids.

If your senior dog has stomach problems such as diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, or food sensitivities, your veterinarian may recommend this pre or probiotics to help.


As our dogs age, free radicals in the body promote oxidation, the foundation of the aging process at the cellular level. Antioxidants combat this process in the cells of animals, improving immune function and potentially slowing cellular degeneration.

Studies on dogs have also shown the potential for antioxidants to improve cognitive function, something people with senior dogs are eager to do. They may also help improve with allergy related skin problems.

You can buy special senior dog food that has been supplemented with antioxidants. There are also many supplements on the market that provide antioxidant support from sources such as red algae, phytoplankton, and tumeric. Many foods that are safe for dogs are also rich in antioxidants such as blueberries, apples, cabbage, and fully cooked beans such as pinto and kidney beans.

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