The first commercial dog food was invented by James Spratt in around 1860. The ‘Patented
Meat Fibrine Dog Cake’ was essentially a dog biscuit given as a supplement to a dogs
normal diet (likely to have been scraps, raw meat, bones and available vegetables
and fruit). Spratt’s continued to refine its recipe and develop more complete dog
food for a dog’s different life stages as well as branching out into many more dog
related products. It was eventually acquired by General Mills in 1950.
The overwhelming success of a prepared food for dogs led to many more manufacturers
creating prepared dog foods which have been refined over time to provide optimum
nutrition and convenience for the owner.
Industrial and process development enabled new forms of packaging and distribution
to service the market including tinned dog food which could be shipped all over the
world. The availability of ingredients increased significantly after World War II
and the range of foods and number of manufacturers significantly increased.
As scientific developments were realised in human food, so too were advancements
made in dog food and complementary dog food products (supplements). The popularity
and range of dog food supplements has hugely diversified over the last 20 years through
the sharing of information and as clinical trials revealed many ingredients used
to treat human ailments could also provide significant benefits for our canine friends.
The range of supplements include specific ingredients and formulas targeted to treat
many of the known underlying health issues in dogs.
There are variations in the type of supplements available including:
‘Pharmaceutical’ grade supplements can only be dispensed with a prescription from
a vet (frequently patented products which generally include powerful concentrates
of ingredients) and should only be given to a pet if prescribed by their Veterinarian.
‘Neutraceutical’ supplements are available over-the-counter (and on the internet).
These are likely to contain ‘active ingredients’ which have various effects on a
dog’s health and a formula is normally targeted to assist with a specific illness
(ingredients are likely to include natural compounds which cannot be patented by
‘Herbal’ remedies which contain natural plant and flora extracts which may have a
history of certain health benefits.
What is a dog food supplement?
A dog food supplement is an additional food which is given complementary to a dog’s
existing diet. Supplements are given to pets generally for health reasons in the
same way that we take supplements for various health concerns or to keep a healthy
and balanced immune system to stave off illness. They differ from ‘treats’ in that
they are formulated to comprise vitamins, minerals and other ingredients designed
to enhance the overall well-being of a dog and sometimes to target specific illnesses
There are many brands of supplements available that promote different aspects of
health and they can come in many different forms including tablets, pellets, concentrate
powder and liquids (solutions). Probably the most well-known ailment is arthritis
since this is common to humans as we age and is also common to our dogs. Other common
ailments supplements are given for include allergies, digestive problems, skin problems,
coat problems, weight problems and dental problems.
Why are dog food supplements necessary?
The diet for domesticated dogs has changed dramatically from their descendants the
grey wolf and whilst modern day manufacturers strive to create a healthy balanced
diet for pets many veterinarians have recognised that some of these dog foods can
be lacking in essential nutrients and complimentary food may be recommended to supplement
the diet. This can be for simple maintenance purposes or it could be to treat a specific
The inter-breeding of domestic dogs has also left a legacy of known disorders amongst
breeds many of which can be treated by feeding a supplement to your dog. The most
common of these problems is osteoarthritis commonly referred to as hip or elbow dysplasia.
Skeletal problems of this nature are common in older dogs, however can be seen to
affect a large proportion of the domestic dog population.
What’s in a dog food supplement?
The active ingredients used in many of the supplements promoting healthy joints,
bones, skin, coat and immune system are as follows:
Vitamin E reduces fat oxidation and prevents free radicals from damaging healthy
These active ingredients are frequently combined in supplement formulas to provide
powerful supplements to give to a dog to increase their overall well-being. Our Brand
Active Ingredients chart identifies which of the major brands include the active
ingredients listed above.
Of course there are many more ingredients used in the dog food supplement brands
identified (too many to make an overall comparison) and individual research is recommended
to choose the most appropriate supplement for your dog.