I may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. I am not a doctor; please consult your practitioner before changing your supplement or healthcare regimen.
When we talk about eating beautifully, it’s not just for humans. Your pet’s diet and supplements will determine their health and longevity, just like human nutrition steers the course for our wellness. This post shares the ten best natural supplements (and dietary guidance) — both for cats’ and dogs’ everyday needs, as well as for acute (sudden) or chronic (lasting) health conditions.
As a side note, it is one of the most rewarding posts I’ve written. I love helping others with supplement information; and pets bring us so much joy, and thus good health! What a privilege to support you and your pet’s wellness in this way.
Our family has loved both cats and dogs. Currently we have one cat, and we’re about to start our journey with a new puppy. When I began researching which food we’d feed our puppy, I realized there was a lack of information (especially all in one place) on natural supplements for pets. I know I’ll use this article myself as a reference over the years! (Pin the post here for future needs.)
Whether you’re looking for daily maintenance to keep your pet thriving, or for relief when they’re suffering from chronic or acute symptoms, may this post be a great resource. Also, feel free to add your own experiences and tips in the comments section below the article.
Yucca is an anti-inflammatory herb, used for both cats and dogs to address joint pain, skin issues and to provide digestive support. Yucca needs to be diluted and easily mixes into pet food.
Here’s how it works: Saponins in yucca create a sort of foam when mixed with water. The foam aids the digestive process by helping to admit vitamins and minerals through the walls of the intestine. Saponins also alleviate arthritic symptoms and soothe the skin, if used externally.
How to administer in food? As with many herbs, mixing yucca with alfalfa increases its bioavailability. Mix 1/2 teaspoon powdered yucca root + 1/2 teaspoon alfalfa for every 1 pound of food. If using dry food, add a small amount of water with the herbs before mixing.
Cautions? Yucca should not be used long term, as it can absorb some of the nutrition given. Short term it should be given 4-5 times a week, not everyday, for 1-2 months. This especially applies to pregnant females. Too much yucca can cause vomiting, digestive distress and/or bloating.
2. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth, also referred to as DE, is the ground up microscopic fossils of marine and freshwater algae-like plants. Although the jagged edged fossils kill external and internal pests, this supplement remains gentle on the skin and GI tract of your animal. DE can be used internally for deworming and externally to fight mites, ticks and fleas. If used internally, DE should be mixed well into the animal’s food to prevent inhalation of the powder. If used externally, DE can be sprinkled on the pet’s coat or bedding. Be sure to use food-grade DE, (find it here).
For deworming, use DE for at least one month:
— For dogs, add one tablespoon per day of food-grade diatomaceous earth to dog food, for dogs over 55 pounds.
— For puppies, smaller dogs, and normal-sized cats, use one teaspoon per day.
— Larger cats (cats over 13 pounds) can safely be given 1-½ teaspoons of food-grade DE. Kittens and smaller cats (2 to 6 ½ pounds) can be given a ½-teaspoon of food-grade DE.
— If the kittens are still nursing or only taking milk, avoid giving them DE until they have moved to solid food. (source)
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
As with human health, the benefits and possibilities surrounding apple cider vinegar are endless. I’m going to list its most powerful uses:
- If you make your own dog food that does include rice, soak the rice overnight in water with apple cider vinegar. This helps to make the grain more digestible. Rinse in the morning, and proceed with recipe. (For every 1 cup rice, use 1 teaspoon ACV in 2 cups water.)
- Equal parts ACV and water can be used to clean out ear mites in pets, as well as used in a spray bottle to stave off fleas, ticks and flies. This concoction also benefits the pet’s skin.
- Treat hot spots with equal parts water and ACV.
- ACV can be used internally or externally (as a warm compress) to relieve your dog’s joint pain associated with arthritis. For internal use, use one teaspoon to one tablespoon (for every 50 pounds of dog’s weight) in dog’s water twice weekly. Provide plain water, too, to ensure proper hydration. This is also an ideal supplement to support both your cat and your dog’s digestion, teeth and nails, and to treat UTI or bladder issues.
- For internal use with cats, a 1/4-teaspoon ACV can be mixed with 1 teaspoon broth or tuna juice, then stirred into wet food. Two teaspoons can be added to cat’s water dish, alternately; but my cat won’t drink this, so I prefer the food method.
- There is a hardly a health issue that will not be positively affected by the internal use of ACV. It helps to prevent disease and support even the emotional wellness of our animals.
4. Parasite Formula
Created by a Certified Master Herbalist, this formula can be used on farm animals, too; but it’s wonderful for dogs and cats. If you need to expel any variety of worms that are robbing your pet’s nutrition and health, this herbal formula acts quickly and effectively. The product page (linked to below) links to detailed instructions on how to administer. Read the testimonies! I love this product and have used the same herbs for human healing. Safe to use even during your pet’s pregnancy.
Find Parasite Formula here.
Lack of this meat-based amino acid in cats’ and dogs’ diets can lead to heart failure in both animals, and eye problems in cats. Starting in the 1950s, with the increased production of all processed foods, the culprit was high grain, low meat dry foods. Most pet food manufacturers now add taurine to their formulas. We are wise to give our animals high meat, grain-free diets. Taurine is also a valuable supplement for pets with liver disease, seizure disorders, Type I diabetes, and anxiety issues.
6. Glucosamin, MSM, Chondroitin Combo
Dog owners, whether you’re making homemade food or buying what you can afford, this category of supplements best falls under the option of a multivitamin for your pet. Glucosamin, MSM and Chondroitin all provide hip and joint support for dogs. Certain breeds will suffer from these issues more than others. This multivitamin is a good option for many pet owners; it provides all three combined with cod liver oil, Vitamin E, probiotics and a few other necessities to support digestion, skin and heart health.
Curcumin is the anti-inflammatory compound found in turmeric. It helps to ward off arthritis, diabetes, digestive problems, cancer, and liver disease. It also bolsters brain function. If your dog or cat suffers from joint pain, leaky gut, blood sugar issues, or chronic inflammation, (which can lead to cancer, kidney disease and dental issues) this supplement may be a wonder for treatment or prevention. However, there are several caveats (cautions) when giving pets turmeric or curcumin.
The first caution is that it’s a warming spice. Avoid this supplement if your pet already runs warm, seeks out cool places, always seems hot.
Secondly, this spice must be taken with coconut oil and black pepper (or piperine, its active ingredient) to be absorbed properly. (I like this supplement for dogs, which is formulated with the necessary co-factors present for effectiveness. This one is formulated for dogs and cats.)
Thirdly, check with your holistic veterinarian first if your pet is on medication. Turmeric can interfere with diabetes, anti-inflammatory and chemotherapy drugs.
Turmeric can also interfere with pre-existing gallbladder issues. And the coconut oil required for its assimilation can be hard for cats to digest, in some cases contributing to fatty liver. For this reason, it is best to use curcumin or turmeric with cats under the guidance of a trusted vet.
8. Salmon Oil
Is it necessary to supplement with salmon oil? The answer to that question depends on both your pet’s health and his/her diet. If your pet already eats a grain-free diet with the right ratio of fatty acids and enjoys excellent health, salmon oil may be a supplement you don’t need.
Those who supplement with salmon oil do so to improve their pet’s immune system, joint and skin comfort, coat appearance and heart health. Salmon oil is a great solution for dry and itchy skin.
Here‘s a great brand of wild salmon oil.
9. Liquid Soil Minerals
I still remember when I first added liquid soil minerals into my own diet, how much better they made me feel. Minerals used to be rich in our soils and therefore our water and produce, but have long been deficient with our changes to farming practices. These rich minerals help us to better absorb our nutrition, and they help to give us cellular energy. Pet owners who buy liquid soil minerals are often motivated thus: to enhance their pet’s immune system, improve their skin and coat health and aid their pet’s detoxification process from the heavy toxic loads we all carry.
Here’s where I buy pet soil minerals (and human soil minerals).
Although it isn’t a supplement, diet provides the foundation of health for both animals and humans.
Dogs and cats, when wild, eat raw meat. But there are additional nutrients pets need for optimum health. If we’re making our own pet food or buying a brand for its well-designed nutrition, there are some components that should be present.
- For dogs, this grain-free nutrition should be comprised of or include: pasture-raised meats including organ meat, vegetables, the right omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, sea salt, vitamin D, insoluble fiber (resistant starch for colon health and the right probiotic ecosystem), certain minerals like zinc, iron and copper, also Vitamin E (antioxidant effects, support for muscles, circulatory system, and healing from injuries), manganese (for bone and cartilage health), the vitamin thiamine mononitrate (helps with the conversion of carbs into energy and proper digestion), and iodine (supports a dog’s metabolism and thyroid function).
- For cats, their food should not contain grains, vegetables or carbohydrates. Cats are designed to subsist solely on meat; their bodies can not digest carbs. Roughly, cat food should contain raw meat and organ meats, the right balance of omega-3 and omega-6s, trace vitamins and minerals including selenium (immune system and thyroid support), B6 for heart health and energy levels, sea salt, vitamin D, insoluble fiber (resistant starch for colon health and the right probiotic ecosystem), certain minerals like iron and copper, also Vitamin E, manganese, the vitamin thiamine mononitrate, and iodine.
While homemade food with rice is tempting and economical, in the long run it won’t leave our animals as healthy. That’s because carnivores aren’t designed to digest grains.
If you’re looking to buy a great quality raw dog food, here is one option to consider.
If you’re looking to buy a great quality raw cat food, here is one option to consider.
Many of the supplements listed above will be less necessary if an animal is fed good food its whole life. There are exceptions with aging, of course. Certain breeds are more likely to suffer from certain conditions. But diet goes a long way in terms of prevention. There’s no better time than now to invest in good food, to save money on health care costs in the future. Many of our pets’ most common health problems are best treated with a grain-free diet and immune boosting. The proper raw food takes care of those needs in terms of prevention and treatment.
If finances don’t allow for a raw food diet, it is best to at least avoid pet foods that contain grains. Or, if making your own pet food with rice, remember the first tip under #3 above: Use apple cider vinegar, and soak the rice overnight to make it more digestible.