Supplements for Sled Dogs

Someone has a fire pit going and it smells wonderful through my open window. Not exactly what I’d expect for February 1st, but there’s nothing we can do about it. Snow dances and inside-out pajamas have proved futile.

It was 50 degrees when I woke up this morning and the thermometer hit 60 by mid-afternoon. I decided it would be a good day to rest the dogs. They’ve had four consecutive days of running and fast-paced walks, so a day off can’t hurt. We spent a good portion of it outside in the yard, where Denali and Knox decided to run laps anyway.

Since I don’t have a run to document, I figured I’d talk about the supplements I add to the dogs’ diet. I’m still mostly experimenting with what works and what doesn’t, so keep that in mind. What works for some dogs won’t work for others, and you should always consult your vet before adding something to your dog’s diet.

Fish Oil Tablets - Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids. I give each dog a tablet in their morning food mixture. Fish oil is said to help promote skin and coat quality, a healthy immune system, cardiovascular health and healthy brain development. Right now, I just give them drug store brand tablets, but I will be trying Alaska Naturals Wild Alaska Salmon Oil once they run out.

Probiotics - I began adding probiotics to the dogs’ morning food in response to Knox’s frequent dewormings. When dogs are dewormed, they lose a lot of good bacteria from their stomach contents. All three are prone to upset tummies as well. I used to give yogurt on a regular basis, but the dogs lost their taste for it. The capsule method seems to be doing the trick for now. I ordered a special variety of Alaska Naturals Salmon Oil that includes a probiotic blend – so after the capsules run out, I’ll rely on the oil.

Cranberry - Another supplement that started based on Knox’s needs. A suspected UTI lead to daily cranberry capsules being added to the morning food. All three seem to really like the cranberry, and no UTIs to report since!

Garlic  - I began adding Bug-off Garlic to the dogs’ dinner food mixture to ward off fleas and ticks. Despite the bad breath, the powder offers a lot of good things for the dogs’ bodies. It’s an antioxidant and stimulates immunity, among other things. Plus, it keeps away vampires.

Raw - At one time, Dexter was on a 100% raw diet. Unfortunately, I’m not confident enough in my ability to properly balance his food intake to meet all his needs. However, the benefits of some raw foods are too good to completely avoid. I often give liver, tripe, heart, ground beef, turkey necks, and egg as treats.

NUPRO Silver - I just ordered a five pound tub of NUPRO Silver, which contains a Glucosamine complex, MSM, and Ester-C. This supplement is recommended for active dogs and helps promote healthy joints.

All of the above is given in combination with Canidae dry kibble and Wellness canned dog food (I’d like to get them on a higher protein or no-grain kibble soon, but for now, this works). I closely monitor the dogs whenever I add something new to their diet and stop after any ill effects. For the most part, I’ve only had success or no obvious change. If I find a supplement isn’t hurting, but isn’t helping, I tend to discontinue or limit its intake. No need to bog them down with powders and pills if they’re not doing anything. And no use spending the money on something that isn’t working.

Jessica Kizmann

Dog musher, New Jersey.

For exclusive content, subscribe to our Patreon.