Dog Supplements for Homemade Dog Food: Which Do You Need?

Last Updated: July 6, 2023

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Dog Supplements for Homemade Dog Food

Providing homemade meals for your dog can be beneficial in many ways. It's an opportunity to get complete control over what your dog consumes and ensures that they're getting wholesome ingredients.

With how hit-and-miss the commercial dog food market is these days, going the homemade route provides peace of mind. Plus, it makes things easier if you have a picky eater or one grappling with food sensitivities. 

On top of all that, it's a chance to spoil your pup rotten! Who doesn't love watching an excited dog scarf down a homemade meal they love?

Despite all the good that comes with making your pup's meals from scratch, there is one downside. It can be a challenge to create nutritionally balanced meals. Sadly, malnutrition is more common than people think.

High-quality commercial foods, while somewhat limiting, have balanced formulas that meet standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Many manufacturers go above and beyond, including supplements that promote better health.

When you make homemade dog food, it's your job to create a recipe that supports your dog's development, health, and unique care needs. While the wholesome ingredients you add will do much of the heavy lifting, they rarely take care of everything.

That's why so many dog owners rely on supplements.

Supplements bridge the gap, giving your dog everything it needs to stay happy and healthy.

Are Supplements Really Necessary?

Let's cut to the chase: Supplements are 100 percent necessary. Unless you're a master nutritionist creating complex recipes, supplements are a must!

Dogs are like any other living creature. They need vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds to support their health.

Like humans, dogs can't create everything they need to maintain proper biological function. As a result, they have to get those essentials from the foods they eat. Your dog's health will suffer without a balanced diet that meets its needs to a tee.

Again, many of the ingredients you use in your favorite dog food recipes will take care of the heavy lifting. There's a good chance that the food you lovingly make meets or exceeds macronutrient recommendations. It likely covers their proteins, fats, and carbs. It probably has a good amount of vitamins and minerals, too! But does it have everything?

Probably not. In fact, it may not cover the bare minimums your dog would get from commercial dog food, defeating the very purpose of going homemade.

The Right Balance

We're not trying to convince you to switch back to commercial kibble. Homemade dog foods offer many health benefits. However, you must consider using supplements to achieve the right balance.

Dogs need more nutrients than you think. For example, they require macrominerals like phosphorus, calcium, potassium, sodium, chloride, and more. Plus, there are microminerals like copper, zinc, chromium, iodine, etc. That's on top of  essential vitamins..

Think of dog supplements as another ingredient. It won't take away from your homemade dog food recipes in any way. But it will add all those essentials and make your food surpass most of those kibbles you see at dog foods!

Determining What Supplements for Homemade Dog Food You Need

What Supplements for Homemade Dog Food You Need

So, what supplements do you need to add? Answering this question is more complicated than providing a list of supplements. We'll go over common supplements you should consider adding, but the only way to know what your dog needs is to consult your vet and a canine nutritionist.

There's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to supplementing homemade dog food. It all depends on the ingredients your recipes utilize and the precise needs of your dog.

Every dog has core essentials that it must get. But your dog's age, breed, lifestyle, and overall health factor into the equation, too. For example, the needs of a growing puppy will be vastly different from those of an aging senior.

Always work with your vet when creating recipes. 

Nutritionists should come into the conversation as well. They can look at what you're currently doing, assess your pooch's needs, and provide guidance on creating tasty meals that check off all the boxes. 

With that expert support, you will have no problem adjusting your homemade formulas accordingly and figuring out what supplements to buy.

Why Not Just Use a Multivitamin?

Multivitamins for dogs

Multivitamins can be great for getting multiple vitamins and minerals into your dog's diet in one easy go. However, you must choose those multivitamin supplements wisely and under the direction of a nutritionist.

It seems like the simplest solution, but it's less cut-and-dry than it seems. Multivitamin supplements contain varying levels of crucial nutrients. Not only that, but formulas can differ between manufacturers.

Now, let's say that your homemade meal contains enough calcium to meet your dog's daily needs. However, you add a multivitamin to take care of other minerals. That multivitamin could contain high levels of calcium. Suddenly, your dog is at serious risk of health issues related to calcium toxicity.

There is such a thing as too much. Calcium is just one example of a nutrient that could cause health problems if given in excess. Providing a healthy meal isn't about pumping your dog full of nutrients. It's about finding the right balance they need.

There's nothing wrong with choosing to use multivitamin supplements. However, you need to pay attention to what it contains and ensure that it benefits your dog instead of harming them.

Common Homemade Dog Food Supplements Worth Exploring

Now that you know why supplements are important let's discuss some options you should consider. We must stress that your dog might not need everything on this list.

Again, it's up to their current needs and your homemade dog food recipes. Always seek expert guidance from your vet and a nutritionist.

The following supplements can do a lot to improve your homemade recipes. They serve specific purposes and may even address health concerns to help your pooch reach its full potential.


Probiotics are a great supplement to add regardless of how "tough" your dog's stomach is. The canine digestive system is complex. The stomach contains a microbiome filled with beneficial bacteria. That bacteria helps to break down foods, keep the immune system in check, and more.

Unfortunately, the microbiome can suffer due to poor diet and lifestyle. Certain medications like antibiotics can wreak havoc on the bacteria, too. That results in painful stomach problems and a weakened immune system.

Regular probiotics help your dog's gut bacteria flourish! Over time, you'll notice fewer stomach issues, firmer stools, and better overall health.

Probiotics are available in many forms. You can get it as a liquid, a powder to mix into meals, and tablets. Either way, probiotics are well worth considering.


Antioxidants serve many purposes. They help to fight off free radicals and prevent cellular oxidation. Antioxidants work wonders to fight off inflammation and can even improve heart health.

The effects are widespread, and your dog will always benefit from a healthy antioxidant supplement.

These supplements can include many types of antioxidants. Vitamins E and C are popular. The same goes for Selenium. However, most canine supplements these days use Beta Carotene. The antioxidant can benefit ocular health while supporting many biological processes.

Omega Fatty Acid Supplements

Omega fatty acids are becoming increasingly popular in dog foods. It's not hard to see why. Omega-3 fatty acids can support cardiovascular health, boost the immune system, and keep your pup's coat nice and nourished.

Omega-3s also improve joint health, help puppies with brain development, and eases anxiety. The best source of omega fatty acids for supplements is fish oil.

You can get fish oil capsules for easy portioning or buy a bottle. Either way, the supplement can enhance the flavor of your homemade meals, making them irresistible to dogs.


Glucosamine is a natural compound that targets cartilage health. It's most commonly used in joint supplements. These supplements can strengthen joint function in the knees and hips, alleviating pain that comes from arthritis.

However, you don't have to wait until your dog is old to provide glucosamine. It can benefit healthy adult dogs, keeping the symptoms of arthritis and joint pain away as long as possible!


Chondroitin is another joint-supporting supplement. It's often used alongside glucosamine to provide a one-two punch of benefits. Chondroitin improves elasticity and shock absorption in the cartilage tissue.

When taken regularly, it may prevent bones from rubbing together, reducing pain-causing inflammation.


Calcium is the building block of your dog's bones. Many homemade meals lack proper calcium levels, leading to bone loss and susceptibility to fractures.

Puppies who don't get a careful ratio of calcium and phosphorus may develop developmental issues, leading to conditions like hip dysplasia and deformities.

As mentioned earlier, be careful about providing calcium. Too much of it can lead to calcium toxicity, opening up a can of worms of health problems. Work with your vet to perform blood tests and determine the right amount of calcium to provide.


Dogs produce choline naturally but can't create enough of it in their bodies to stay healthy. As a result, choline supplements are necessary to avoid deficiencies.

Choline is an essential nutrient that serves many purposes. It plays a part in brain development, heart health, liver function, and more.

Choline also impacts the central nervous system. A high-quality supplement will fulfill your dog's needs and keep those various biological functions in check.


Your homemade dog food may already have a good source of fiber in it. But if it doesn't, fiber supplements can be a great way to promote regularity. Fiber soaks up fluids in your dog's system, resulting in firmer stools, less constipation, and fewer digestive upsets.

You can get fiber in many forms. It's available in capsules and powders for easy mixing.

Dog Supplements for Homemade Dog Food - A Final Word

There's no shortage of fantastic supplements on the market today. With so many dog owners looking for the best for their canine companions, the supplement market is just as varied as the dog food market.

After speaking with a vet and nutritionist, take time to choose high-quality products that benefit your pup. Pay attention to the ingredients list and select supplements that complement your homemade meals. A high-quality recipe with premium ingredients and beneficial supplements is a match made in heaven.

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About the author 


Steve is a writer with over 10 years of experience in dog training and nutritiion.

His goal is to educate dog owners about the ins and outs of canine behavior as well as keeping up with the latest scientific research in the field.