What to Know About Winter Supplements for Pets (Because Yes, It’s a Thing)

By: Ashley ZlatopolskyUpdated:

cat dog winter snow
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What to Know About Winter Supplements for Pets (Because Yes, It’s a Thing)

When winter arrives and the weather takes that sharp turn into spine-tingling cold territory, how do you keep your pet warm and healthy? Many of us might buy our pets a winter coat or snow booties for chilly walks. Some of us might head straight to the kitchen to make their dog or cat a warm, vet-approved meal. But when it comes to their overall health, have you ever considered giving your pet supplements?

During the winter months, the two most common issues dogs and cats face due to cold weather are dry skin and joint pain, says Dr. Stephanie Howe, DVM, Chewy pet health representative. She and fellow Chewy Pet Health Representative, Dr. Leslie Gillette, DVM, explain how supplements can help.

What Supplements Are Best for Dogs in the Winter?

dog laying in bed
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Supplements for Dogs with Dry Skin

Cold weather can be very drying to your dog’s skin, which can cause itching and irritation. “Utilizing products targeted to skin health can help keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy during dry weather,” Dr. Howe says.

For dog supplements for dry skin, look for omega-3 fatty acids. Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your dog’s food can help protect and encourage a healthy skin barrier. This will give your dog’s skin more resistance to cold weather.

Dr. Howe recommends the following supplements for your dog’s coat and skin:
Nutramax Welactin Liquid Softgels Omega-3 Fish Oil Skin & Coat Health Supplement
Nutramax Welactin Liquid Softgels Omega-3 Fish Oil Skin & Coat Health Supplement
$16.99
Shop Now!
Vetoquinol Triglyceride OMEGA Omega-3 Fatty Acid Medium Breed Supplement
Vetoquinol Triglyceride OMEGA Omega-3 Fatty Acid Medium Breed Supplement
$13.49
Shop Now!

Supplements for Dogs with Joint Pain

While joint pain in winter is a common occurrence in both pets and humans, Dr. Howe says there isn’t an exact explanation for the connection between cold weather and joint pain. Still, senior dogs or dogs with arthritis could benefit from supplements.

“Atmospheric pressures may play a role in causing joints to expand and stretch already inflamed tissues in our arthritic pets,” Dr. Howe says. “Ensuring that your senior pet is on a great joint supportive supplement can help to mitigate some of that joint discomfort.”

For dog supplements for joint pain, look for the following ingredients:

  • Glucosamine, a natural compound found in cartilage
  • Chondroitin, a natural molecule that builds cartilage
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), a natural compound that supports joint health
  • Green-lipped mussel, a shellfish extract that can treat arthritis

Joint supplements containing these ingredients can be helpful for geriatric pets or those with a previous orthopedic injury,” explains Dr. Gillette. Vibeful’s Mobility and Joint Support Joint Supplement, for example, contains glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM.

Dr. Howe recommends the following products for joint support:

Virbac MOVOFLEX Soft Chews Joint Supplement
Virbac MOVOFLEX Soft Chews Joint Supplement
$51.99
Shop Now!
Nutramax Cosequin Chewable Tablets
Nutramax Cosequin Chewable Tablets
$59.99
Shop Now!
VetriScience GlycoFlex Stage III Soft Chews Joint Supplement
VetriScience GlycoFlex Stage III Soft Chews Joint Supplement
$85.50
Shop Now!

What Winter Supplements Are Best for Cats?

cat scratching
Photo: iStock.com/chendongshan

Supplements for Cats with Dry Skin

Like their canine counterparts, cats can also experience dry skin during winter when the temperature drops outside and the heater kicks on inside, causing the air to dry out.

For cat supplements for dry skin, look for fatty acid supplements, like omega-3 supplements. These “will help cats who suffer from dry, flaky skin or brittle fur,” Dr. Gillette says.

Dr. Gillette recommends the following products to help keep your cat’s skin and coat healthy:

VetriScience Omega 3, 6, 9 Softgels Supplement
VetriScience Omega 3, 6, 9 Softgels Supplement
$21.00
Shop Now!
Vetoquinol Triglyceride OMEGA Omega-3 Fatty Acid Liquid Supplement
Vetoquinol Triglyceride OMEGA Omega-3 Fatty Acid Liquid Supplement
$19.99
Shop Now!

Supplements for Cats with Joint Pain

While joint pain is more common in dogs, some cats might need extra joint support, especially during the winter when cats with arthritis could experience stiffer joints and worse pain. Certain supplements can help maintain their joint health, reduce pain and inflammation and repair cartilage.

For cat supplements for joint pain, look for the following ingredients:

  • Glucosamine, a natural compound found in cartilage
  • Chondroitin, a natural molecule that builds cartilage
  • MSM, a natural compound that supports joint health
  • Green-lipped mussel, a shellfish extract that can treat arthritis

Dr. Gillette recommends NUTRAMAX Dasuquin Capsules. You can also rub a tiny amount of coconut oil into your cat’s skin if their skin is especially dry, itchy or flaky.

Not all Pets Need Supplements

Whether your pet could benefit from a supplement all comes down to their diet. If you’re feeding a complete and balanced diet (meaning it meets the nutritional standards outlined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials), then general vitamin and mineral supplements are not needed on top of regular diets, says Dr. Howe.

The standards for complete and balanced dog food include minimum (but not excessive) levels of about 40 nutrients vital for dogs and cats. Commercial pet foods are formulated to meet these nutrient requirements.

 However, “some pets may benefit from area-specific help, such as for joints or dry skin,” Dr. Howe adds. So, check with your vet before giving your pet supplements.

Have more questions about your pet's behavior? Get expert advice through Chewy’s Connect With a Vet service, available daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET.

This winter, stay warm, stay safe and stay healthy—and if supplements help your pet, great! Just be sure to always check with your vet before giving your pet supplements.

Expert input provided by Chewy Pet Health Representatives Dr. Leslie Gillette, DVM, and Dr. Stephanie Howe, DVM.

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By: Ashley ZlatopolskyUpdated:

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