Life Extension Magazine®

Happy and healthy dog

Protect Your Canine Companion

Like people, dogs face age-related ailments, from joint pain to behavioral issues. More veterinarians today recommend specific nutrients to address dog health.

By Michael Downey.

About 65 million American households include at least one canine member.1

Many dog owners feel their pet is part of the family.

Less known are health benefits that dogs provide to owners from reduced anxiety to lower blood pressure.2

Dogs have unique nutritional needs that may not be met by commercial foods.

Commercial pet foods do not always provide nutrients that dogs need. Many contain cost-cutting "fillers" that along with inadequate nutrition can trigger health issues.

That's why more veterinarians are recommending a mix of vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and other compounds that address the health concerns of dogs.

These nutrients can contribute to a pet's overall vitality as well as address specific concerns such as behavioral and joint issues.3

Choose the Best Formula

How can you be sure you're giving your dog optimal nutrition beyond providing high-quality food? Simple. Choose a formula that is scientifically targeted for specific canine health issues.

Dog supplements fall into four main categories: Overall health, skin and coat, hip and joint structure, as well as stress.

To select an ideal supplement:

  • Avoid cheap fillers, such as soy, grain, and gluten,
  • Choose clinically validated ingredients,
  • Stick with a science-based manufacturer known for top-quality products,
  • Opt for human-grade ingredients,
  • Use dosages appropriate for your dog's weight, and
  • Select a chewable format, since dogs don't like swallowing pills or capsules.

Overall Health

Just like humans, dogs can benefit from a good multi-vitamin with probiotics.  Most dog multivitamins may leave out vital, but little-known ingredients such as colostrum for immunity, turmeric for inflammation, and a blend of probiotics for digestive health.

Vitamins and minerals:

Your dog benefits from the "insurance policy" afforded by a multivitamin. However, canine nutrient requirements are different from yours.

As opposed to humans, dogs are able to synthesize vitamin C on their own. Fortifying their diet with vitamin C may offer additional health benefits.4

Dogs need dietary sources of vitamins A, D, E, B6, B12, niacin, folic acid, and pantothenic acid,5 plus the mineral manganese.5,6


Human trials show that bovine colostrum supports immunity, gastrointestinal balance, and microbial infection resistance.7

Colostrum, the early milk mothers produce after a baby is born. For puppies it is an important source of key nutrients such as lipids, carbohydrates, immunoglobulins, and growth-promoting factors.8


Compounds such as curcumin, have been shown to improve overall health, suppressing inflammation,9 supporting brain/heart function, and promoting longevity.10


Many dogs get inflammation in the lining of their stomach or intestines which leads to diarrhea and vomiting. This can result from inadequate nutrition and even food sensitivities.

Adding certain probiotic strains to the diet may improve canine gut microbiota and immune response.11,12

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus,
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum,
  • Lactobacillus casei,
  • Lactobacillus fermentum,
  • Lactobacillus reuteri, and
  • Lactobacillus plantarum.

What You Need to Know

Optimal Canine Care

  • Dogs can develop joint pain, itchy skin, lackluster coats, stress, diseases, and anxiety-driven behaviors, often as a result of poor nutrition.
  • A multivitamin with probiotics, designed specifically for canines, based on scientific research, can help promote overall health and longevity.
  • Additional ingredients may help protect your dog against specific health concerns, including joint degeneration, dry skin and patchy fur, and stress.
  • Since dogs don't like tablets or capsules, the best way to deliver vital nutrients is in a chewable form.

Skin and Coat

A dog's skin and coat are good indicators of its health. A healthy and groomed coat is shiny and smooth, and healthy, well-nourished skin is supple and clear.

Dogs can suffer greatly due to dry, itchy skin and patchy fur. The most common cause is allergies.13

Fish oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent these conditions. It delivers an anti-inflammatory effect in dogs.14

In studies on dogs, omega-3 intake resulted in:

  • Reduced itchiness,14
  • Less fur loss,14
  • Improved coat character,14 and
  • Overall improvement in skin and coat health.15

A systematic review of animal studies found that use of omega-3 fatty acids had therapeutic effects on canine allergic dermatitis, haircoat disorder, and also canine and feline osteoarthritis (among the other benefits).16

Hip and Joint Health

Osteoarthritis is chronic, painful, degenerative, inflammation of the joints commonly experienced by aging dogs, affecting mobility, and impacting quality of life.

As with most chronic conditions, long-term management of the disease can be challenging for the owners and dogs.18,19 Climbing into the car becomes difficult for your dog. It may start holding up one limb or holding it oddly. Your dog may seem less inclined to run or jump.

Canine joint issues primarily stem from developmental or degenerative problems. Developmental problems include hip or elbow dysplasia, when joints don't develop correctly, while degenerative problems include arthritis.17

The following nutrients may help prevent or improve hip and joint problems, decreasing joint pain, swelling, and immobility.

Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA):

Produced by the body, PEA is supports healthy inflammatory response and has pain-relieving properties.20

In human trials, PEA was shown to reduce pain associated with chronic conditions such as arthritis, migraine headache, carpal tunnel syndrome and other types of nerve and joint pain.21

One human study showed that it reduced temporomandibular-related joint pain (in and around the jaw) significantly more than ibuprofen.20


Glucosamine inhibits inflammation, potentially improving joint discomfort.22 It is used in humans, dogs, and other animals to manage damage caused by arthritis. In canines it supports joint wear and pain.

In a review of 16 clinical trials on treatment options of osteoarthritis in dogs it was found that preparations containing glucosamine provided a moderate level of comfort.19

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM):

MSM exerts anti-inflammatory effects, which help mitigate joint discomfort, inflammation, and physical function.23

A clinical trial of humans with osteoarthritis of knee joint demonstrated improvement in pain and physical function after 12-week supplementation with MSM.24

In veterinary practice MSM is used most often in dogs and horses for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties for conditions such as arthritis.25

Stress and Behavior Problems

Like humans, dogs can experience anxiety disorders and behavioral issues (separation anxiety, anxiety on visit to vet, or car ride).  

Without intervention, dogs can develop aggressiveness, drooling, excessive barking, panting, trembling, growling, destructive behaviors, pacing, and compulsive actions.26

Two nutrients may help manage canine fear, anxiety, and stress problems.27


Found in green tea, L-theanine acts on the central nervous system and inhibits the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate, decreasing stress and anxiety.28

Supplementation with L-theanine may help your furry friends deal with their anxiety and stress.


A narrative review of studies showed that melatonin promotes faster, longer, higher-quality sleep.29 Veterinary handbooks mention melatonin as beneficial for sleep, phobias, and separation anxiety management.30 Melatonin appears to act on the central nervous system to reduce anxiety.31 In other words, melatonin will take the edge off your dog's stress.

A targeted combination of beneficial compounds, vitamins, probiotics, and other nutrients can help keep your canine companion healthy and happy.


Like people, dogs are at risk for many ailments, from joint pain to behavioral problems.

Most dogs are missing out on key nutrients necessary to keep degenerative conditions, pain, and diseases at bay.

The best solution is to give your dog high-quality vitamins, probiotics, and other health-promoting compounds scientifically targeted for canine health issues.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

Scientists Have Embarked on Dog Longevity Study32

Researchers are tracking genetic, metabolic, and micro biotic factors in tens of thousands of dogs in a massive bid to learn more about aging—both for the dogs and for us.33

The Dog Aging Project may reveal secrets about healthy canine longevity. It could also generate insights into human longevity.33

Among the specific aims for the project are to identify biomarkers of canine aging. The project team hopes to better understand the mechanisms by which genetic, environmental, and lifestyle variation influence aging.

Studying dogs could greatly boost our understanding of human aging. Unlike nematode worms, fruit flies, or mice, dogs are much closer to humans on the evolutionary scale. Their lifespans are shorter than ours. And instead of living in a cold and sterile lab, they largely share our lifestyle, environment, and daily routines.34 

Owners track their dogs' diet, exercise, and other factors at home. They periodically fill out surveys and take measurements of their dogs for the duration of the multi-year project.

The dogs periodically have blood drawn to investigate factors relating to their genes, molecules, microbiome, and other biological factors. Some owners may be asked to collect cheek swabs for DNA sampling.

Over a dozen research institutions have partnered to enroll companion dogs for the project, which is expected to run for at least 10 years.33 Initiated in 2018, the ongoing Dog Aging Project is well short of its goal of 60,000 dogs.

The researchers are still actively seeking canines of all breeds, sizes, ages, and U.S. locations—as well as donations of funds that could ultimately determine the number and full extent of the data sets investigated and analyzed.

Because the Dog Aging Project is an open data study, scientists around the world will have access to the vast amounts of data generated. The implications for human longevity could be substantial.35

For more information on the Dog Aging Project, enrolling your dog, or making a tax-deductible charitable donation, visit:


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