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Dog owners have become more aware of what they are feeding their furry friends in recent years. You’ve likely seen the commercials showing pet owners who are horrified that they’ve been feeding their dog brand x instead of brand y.

The truth is that, just like people, many dogs can benefit from a nutritional supplement, helping them to get all the vitamins and minerals they need. The proper nutrients and formulas, such as those offered by  The Missing Link, are needed to make your dog healthier and happier. Here are the most common nutritional deficiencies for dogs and their associated symptoms.

Omega 3s

Omega 3 deficiency is one of the most common dietary issues seen in most veterinary practices. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to many processes in your dog’s body, including brain development, cardiovascular health, and proper immune system function. A lack of Omega 3s can cause impaired immunity, muscle weakness, stunted growth and eye problems, to name just a few complications.

Omega 3s can be found in fish oil and flax seeds. Your dog needs a proper ratio of Omega 3s to Omega 6s for proper health. Most commercial dog foods have too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3.

The most common issues associated with Omega 3 deficiency involve the skin and coat. Issues like atopic dermatitis, skin inflammation due to allergies, itchy skin, hair loss and skin lesions due to excessive scratching can all be treated with Omega 3s. Mange has also been treated and cured with Omega 3s.

Omega 3s are also essential for joint health because they aid in joint development and lubrication. They can help relieve inflammation caused by conditions like arthritis, as well as inflammatory bowel disease.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A, also known as beta-carotene, is found in yellow vegetables, like pumpkin, squash and sweet potato, ingredients that aren’t found in most commercial dog foods. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that fat is required for your dog’s body to be able to absorb it properly.

Vitamin A deficiency can contribute to skin conditions, nighttime blindness, and a lower immune system. If your dog has eye problems, skin problems or gets sick easily, they would probably benefit from more Vitamin A.

Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, can be found in liver, turkey, chicken, peas, and beef. The most common sign of a vitamin B3 deficiency is a black or brown tongue. Your dog may also have inflamed lips and gums, bloody stools or a lack of appetite. Severe B3 deficiency can cause seizures.

Vitamin D

Fish, mushrooms, eggs, and liver are all good sources of Vitamin D. Unlike people, dogs aren’t able to synthesize vitamin D from the sun, so they must get it solely from nutritional sources.

Vitamin D deficiency can cause bone problems and swollen joints, while adequate levels are associated with lower risk of many chronic diseases, including cancer.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is also essential for healthy skin and a lustrous coat. In addition to problems with your dog’s skin and coat, vitamin E deficiency can cause problems with your dog’s heart, liver, muscles, and nerves.

Vitamin E can be found in wheat germ, spinach, sweet potato, and squash. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant. Adequate consumption can help prevent cell damage and boost your dog’s immune system.

Supplementing Your Dog’s Diet

While these nutrients are all essential to your dog’s health, they can also be damaging if your dog gets too much of them. The best way to supplement your dog’s diet is to purchase a supplement made specifically for your dog’s size and weight and use as directed.

It’s also important to know that whole food sources of these nutrients are optimal. Nutrients from whole food sources are more easily absorbed by your dog’s body, making them more effective.

You can choose a supplement based on your dog’s specific symptoms or suspected nutritional deficiencies. For example, you can find supplements specifically targeted for your dog’s coat or joint health.

The proper nutritional supplement can make a big difference in your dog’s quality and length of life. Just be sure to choose a quality supplement and administer it to your dog in the recommended amounts.