Dog Supplements: Are They Approved By AAFCO?

It's wonderful to have a dog as a companion, and the love we have for them is endless. However, while showering them with affection, the most important thing is making sure they have a long, healthy life. As a result, some dog owners give their canines some supplements to ensure they get enough nutrients, but the question is, do they need it?

Let's learn about supplements and how they can benefit your pet!

Image by Sven Lachmann from Pixabay

What are dog supplements?

According to AAFCO, supplements improve the nutritional balance or quality of the total diet when used along with another feed. These vitamins are available in various forms, from chewable tablets to powder supplements.

There are three ways on how supplements are intended to be:

  • Undiluted as a feed additive - the most common method for pets.
  • It is supplemented with other feed ingredients - mainly for livestock.
  •  Diluted to make a complete feed – only applies to certain dog food. These are vitamin and mineral premixes intended to be combined with meat, carbohydrate, and fat components to make a dog meal. However, the final nutritional content can vary greatly depending on the ingredients added to the base mix and the consumer's diligence in measuring and feeding directions.

Are they approved by the AAFCO?

Yes, as long as the AAFCO feed regulations are followed. Since supplements are known to provide essential nutrients to canines, they must follow strict dietary guidelines. Hence, they do not fall under the drug or medication category but still need to be approved by the FDA as safe.

Many of these items claim or indicate that they may treat, prevent, or cure illnesses. These are drug indications, and a disclaimer should be added on the packaging to inform the consumers. 

On the other hand, unapproved drug usage, misbrand and spoil animal feed products. This makes it unsafe and can potentially cause harm to your dogs.

As a fur parent, it is your responsibility to read and identify any supplements before giving them to your dogs. Here are ways to accomplish this:

  • First, pet owners must understand what legitimate pet food supplements are and whether dogs need them. 
  • Secondly, always refer to your veterinarian because they will be able to recommend specific supplements to go along with food. Use the vet-prescribed dosage, and follow the directions on the supplement label.

What supplements should I add to dog food?

Here are the top four supplements that are commonly added to a dog’s diet.

Fish oil 

Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming it helps to improve coat quality and shine, reduce inflammation, and prevent skin allergies. Moreover, fish oils help improve arthritis, heart, and joint health. Highly recommended unless your fresh diet contains oily fish. Every kibble or dry food will benefit from this. 


Antioxidants help prevent memory loss and cognitive dysfunction. They also treat dogs' heart disease and reduce inflammation. Coenzyme Q10 is a natural antioxidant that helps convert food into energy. Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals that damage cell membranes and cause cell death. Berries and cruciferous vegetables are excellent sources of antioxidants as well as some herbs and spices.


Probiotics are yeast and bacteria that improves digestion and intestinal health. They are used to treat diarrhea and other digestive issues. Probiotics come in different forms such as kefir, capsules, chews, and powders. They can also be found in some dog foods.

Dog supplements for arthritis 

Active dogs are at a higher risk of developing "osteoarthritis." It is by far the most common degenerative joint disease. Arthritis occurs when the cartilage that holds the joints gradually weakens, resulting in pain, swelling, and decreased mobility. Listed here are a few supplements that can assist in this problem.


Also known as an amino sugar, is a natural compound that reduces joint inflammation, slows cartilage degradation, and speeds cartilage repair. Unlike NSAIDs, glucosamine is safe for long-term usage, and it helps prevent osteoarthritis in dogs. Its important to note that the effectiveness of glucosamine on its own is low and should always be paired up with chondroitin.


This sulfate is used together with glucosamine to promote cartilage repair. Chondroitin reduces arthritis pain and improves joint function and mobility. This is a natural substance that can be found in the cartilage of fish, pigs, cattle, birds, and sharks.

Green Lipped Mussel Extract (GLM)  

GLM is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that help reduce inflammation and protect joints. Combining it with glucosamine and chondroitin has been shown to reduce pain and preserve joint function. 

You can check out Petcubes wholistic joint mobility GLM. It’s an all-in-one joint supplement!

Dog supplements for joints 

Over- or under-development of the bones that form the joints causes problems. When the hip sockets are too large, the hip bone can pop out or in, rubbing against the connecting bones. Eventually, this constant rubbing causes hip dysplasia in the dog. Here is a list of supplements that can help strengthen the joints.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

MSM is an organic sulfur compound used to treat hip, bone, and joint pain in dogs suffering from arthritis. MSM is safe and effective when given in the correct amounts to dogs. Pets on raw, organic diets get MSM naturally from their food.

Your dog can benefit from PetCubes Wholistic Joint Mobility supplement, which is filled with various nutrients that provide joint and cartilage support to your dog.

Dog supplements for muscle growth

Some dogs are born short and stout, while others are born muscular. While genetics plays a role in body type, there are numerous things you can do to assist your dog in gaining muscle. 

Protein is one of the most essential supplements for your dog. It aids in the restoration of muscles, skin, and tissues. It also encourages hair development and preserves your dog's immune system in perfect condition.

Aside from protein, Omega-3 fatty acids offer an anti-inflammatory effect that aids in muscle development by reducing injuries, and it can keep your dog active. Antioxidants are also thought to help repair your dog's muscles. 

Dog supplements for itchy skin

When you see your dog scratching over and over again, you will feel bad and try to help them in any way you can. The following are some supplements that veterinarians frequently recommend.

Fish Oil

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil help reduce inflammation, which can reduce the severity of many allergies. It also reduces sensitivity to pollen and other common environmental triggers.

Coconut oil

It helps with a variety of skin conditions, including itchiness and dryness. It can also help to reduce allergic reactions. Check out PetCubes Wholistic Coconut Oil, which is made with super-premium ingredients and is 100% organic certified.

Digestive enzymes

Digestive enzyme supplements are used to treat a wide range of health issues, including itchy skin. By breaking down protein, starch, fat, and fiber, the product also aids digestion.


This is an antioxidant, antihistamine, and anti-inflammatory flavonoid available in pills and capsules.


The extract is used to treat various ailments in dogs and might be an alternative to steroid medication. Yucca is available in capsule and liquid forms.

Dog supplements for homemade food 

For a well-balanced diet, your dog requires vitamins and organic compounds. Because dogs cannot produce vitamins and minerals on their own, they must be supplemented with their daily diet.

Before preparing homemade dog food, we should seek advice from a veterinarian or a qualified pet nutritionist on meal preparation. Then, you must keep track of your pet's progress and ensure that the new diet meets all of its requirements. Because if it doesn't, your dog will require supplements to replenish the nutrients they are lacking.
Here is a list of supplements to give to your pup!

  • Calcium
  • Fish Oil
  • Hip & Joint Supplement
  •  Gut Supplement
  • Multivitamin
  • Vitamins A & E
  • Protein

When should dogs take supplements?

If you're not sure whether your dog needs supplements, here's a quick guide: 

  • Your dog has a vitamin/mineral deficiency or a disease that requires supplementation.
  • Your dog eats homemade food. Home-cooked meals need vitamin and mineral supplementation to be nutritionally complete. Such recipes are best prepared with a veterinary nutritionist's guidance.
  • Your dog eats little or only unhealthy food. Whether your dog is sick or just picky, a multivitamin can help prevent deficiencies. But this is a poor substitute for a healthier diet.

Can a pregnant dog take supplements?

Yes, a pregnant dog can consume supplements, but only prenatal vitamins. Prenatal supplements can help pregnant or nursing dogs to get the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they need during pregnancy and lactation. Consult your vet before giving your dog any new vitamins.

Can I mix supplements into my dog’s food?

Yes, you can mix supplements into your dog's food, but you must check the ingredients of each supplement, and consult with your veterinarian to avoid feeding your dog excessive nutrients.

Too much of some vitamins and minerals can be harmful. For example, overdosing on Vitamin A can cause blood vessel damage, dehydration, and joint pain. It can lead to anorexia, muscle loss, and bone problems.

How many supplements should I feed my dog per day?

It is important to feed your dogs in moderation, just like how it is for everything else. Each mineral and vitamin have a minimum and maximum quantity. Different dogs will also need a different amount, depending on factors such as size and type of feed. Talk to your vet about what supplements your dog needs as well as how much it needs.


Your dog only needs supplements to enrich his homemade diet, to treat a medical condition, or a nutritional deficit. Also, it’s better to use a veterinary vitamin supplement or one made specifically for dogs. Always check the label to verify the right amount to give your dog.

The simplest way to ensure your dog gets all of the nutrients is to serve him high-quality food, but if you have any questions about supplements, always consult your veterinarian.

For more information, read “What Are The AAFCO Approved Dog Food?

Reviewed by: 

Dr Francis is one of the top wildlife nutritionists in Asia. Originating from Montreal, Canada, he left at 21 to pursue his Masters and subsequently a PhD in wildlife nutrition at Oxford Brookes University. Instead of taking the path of common animal science to learn about farm animals, or through the veterinarian space and taking a certificate in nutrition, he took the road less travelled to dive deep into the world of animal ecology, metabolism and nutrition.