10 Best Dog Food for Autoimmune Disease (Top Picks in 2020)

Mike PowellEdited by: Mike Powell
Abby TexasReviewed by: Abby Texas

Last Update:

If you’ve been a pet parent, you’ll know that pups love to dive into the world headfirst, getting their paws dirty.

This means that their immune systems are usually pretty sturdy.

But on occasion, the immune system goes rogue. Although not common, autoimmune disease is a potentially life-threatening condition that causes the body to attack itself.

It definitely needs to be treated by a vet, but feeding your dog the best dog food for autoimmune disease can give them the best chance of beating it.

Rank
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
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The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Grain Free Turkey Dog Food 4 lb - Embark, (Model: E4)
Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Mixers Immune Health All Natural Dog Food Topper, 5.5 oz. Bag
Diamond Skin & Coat Real Meat Recipe Dry Dog Food with Wild Caught Salmon 30lb
Pro 1
Human-grade, so you can be sure it’s extremely healthy
A recipe for every ailment
Specially added probiotics
Pro 2
10-pound bag makes 40 pounds of food
Raw and minimally processed
Contains antioxidant-filled superfoods
Best Overall
Rank
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Grain Free Turkey Dog Food 4 lb - Embark, (Model: E4)
Pro 1
Human-grade, so you can be sure it’s extremely healthy
Pro 2
10-pound bag makes 40 pounds of food
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Premium Choice
Rank
Ranked #2
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Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Mixers Immune Health All Natural Dog Food Topper, 5.5 oz. Bag
Pro 1
A recipe for every ailment
Pro 2
Raw and minimally processed
Custom Button
Best Value For Money
Rank
Ranked #3
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Diamond Skin & Coat Real Meat Recipe Dry Dog Food with Wild Caught Salmon 30lb
Pro 1
Specially added probiotics
Pro 2
Contains antioxidant-filled superfoods
Custom Button
Sources researched
13
Sources researched
Customer reviews
15,835
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
12
Hours spent testing
Products tested
10
Products tested

Best Dog Food for Autoimmune Disease

The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Grain Free Dog Food

Best Overall: FDA-Certified Human-Grade

Overall Score86%
Quality Animal Protein90%
Vegetables & Herbs90%
Added Probiotic80%
Omegas85%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Human-grade, so you can be sure it’s extremely healthy 
  • 10-pound bag makes 40 pounds of food 
  • Available in different recipes, with different nutrient counts 
  • Adds a bit more moisture to your dog’s daily intake

CONS

  • Not all dogs will fill up on this food

Dogs suffering from immune system problems need supremely healthy food. This recipe from Honest Kitchen is so wholesome, you could sit right next to your pup and eat it too. No jokes – this stuff is certified human-grade by the FDA.

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Great for Extra Moisture 

One of the best things about this dehydrated food is that you just add water. It’s a super way of getting a bit more moisture in your dog’s diet, especially if their drinking habits have changed due to their health. 

The protein and fat levels vary by flavor, so there’s something to suit every dog. Although they don’t mention Omegas on their label, their ingredient list does show DHA and EPA.

Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Mixers Grain Free Dog Food Toppers with Functional Ingredients

Premium Choice: Best Supplemental Kibble Topper

Overall Score85%
Quality Animal Protein90%
Vegetables & Herbs85%
Added Probiotic85%
Omegas85%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • A recipe for every ailment 
  • Raw and minimally processed 
  • Fairly low in calories 
  • Adds extra texture to a dog’s meals

CONS

  • All contain chicken, so may not be suitable for all dogs 

Similar to our top choice for raw food, these meal mixer packets come in a variety of recipes, each designed to assist with a specific health issue that could be a symptom of immune issues.

They’re meant to be popped on top of your pup’s kibble to add some extra texture and flavor (great for picky eaters), but these do much more than just get your dog excited about eating. They provide extra supplements in every bite.

You could choose one that caters to your dog’s particular ailment, or you could feed them a different one every day for a well-rounded complementary boost.

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Additional Help Treating AI Disease 

Because autoimmune conditions can have so many different symptoms, it can be hard to find a food catering specifically to one physical issue. 

This kibble topper, though, comes in a number of varieties so you can feed your dog exactly what he needs at the time. Every one is high in protein and fat, so it’s a super healthy basis. 

The Immune Health formula had added vitamins and minerals. 

The Gut Health option has specially added probiotics. 

Skin and Coat Health is extremely high in Omegas. 

Mobility Support contains joint fortifying glucosamine and chondroitin. 

It’s advisable to be careful adding this to your pup’s kibble in case you overshoot their calorie count. Big fellows could do with some extra calories in the form of something other than kibble, but it can be very easy to overfeed little ones accidentally. Remember to do your math!

Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Dry Dog Food

Best Value For Money

Overall Score92%
Quality Animal Protein95%
Vegetables & Herbs90%
Added Probiotic90%
Omegas90%
Affordability95%

PROS

  • Extremely affordable option
  • Specially added probiotics
  • Contains antioxidant-filled superfoods
  • Impressive Omegas plus DHA

CONS

  • No joint supplements
  • Contains potatoes, which some dogs may be allergic too

Treating a pup with an AI condition can be pricey, but their food doesn’t have to be. This offering from Diamond Natural remains our favorite choice for dog food that’s excellent quality and an excellent price. 

Not only will your wallet thank you, but your dog will thank you too. This is the Skin & Coat formula, but there’s a variety of other recipes with a variety of proteins to suit every pooch.

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Great for Autoimmune Conditions 

The ingredient quality is superb for such a well-priced food. It makes use of salmon and fish meal as protein sources, avoiding protein allergens entirely. The fruits and veggies are high in antioxidants, and many of them are superfoods, upping the healthy factor. 

It also contains DHA, which is always lovely to see, in addition to the nice Omegas. With a protein count of 25% and a fat count of 14%, this should be a valuable, nutritionally sufficient meal for most dogs. 

Another thumbs-up is their special K9 Strain probiotics. This will give your pup’s immune and digestive systems an extra boost!

Diamond Naturals Dry Senior Dog Food Formula

Best For Seniors With Autoimmune Disease

Overall Score90%
Quality Animal Protein90%
Vegetables & Herbs90%
Added Probiotic90%
Omegas90%
Affordability90%

PROS

  • Joint support supplements included 
  • Contain L-carnitine 
  • Superfood fruits and veggies 
  • Added probiotics

CONS

  • If your senior is sensitive to chicken, you’d need to choose something else

This is a fantastic choice for older dogs who happen to be struggling with an autoimmune condition. Not only is it an amazingly nutritious and delicious meal, but it also has a really nice price tag

It comes with a nearly full range of supplements to benefit an older dog, especially one with autoimmune problems The only thumbs-down is that there’s only one flavor – chicken. If your senior is allergic to it, you’d need to pick something else.

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Superb for Senior Health 

The first ingredient is a premium quality animal protein, followed by high-quality carbs. There are grains in this one, but they’re the healthy kind – rice and oatmeal. They’ll help stimulate your senior’s digestive system. 

Superfoods like kale, chia seeds, blueberries, and kelp bring a full spectrum of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. You’ll also find L-carnitine, which is great for seniors to regulate their energy expenditure. 

Great Omegas and the addition of joint supplements round this food off really well. No matter how your senior’s AI disease manifests, this should help to ease symptoms.

ACANA Dog Puppy & Junior Protein Rich, Real Meat, Grain-Free, Dry Dog Food

Best For Puppies With Autoimmune Disease

Overall Score89%
Quality Animal Protein90%
Vegetables & Herbs95%
Added Probiotic90%
Omegas90%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • Contains full range of puppy supplements 
  • Multi-protein 
  • Contains botanical inclusions 
  • Probiotic-rich

CONS

  • Not a cheap option

AI disease can show up at any age, and if your puppy has been diagnosed with it, you’ll want to feed them the best puppy food you can find. This is a fantastic choice. Acana is biologically appropriate nutrition that feeds your little one everything their body needs to keep itself strong and on the right track.

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Perfect Puppy Nourishment 

For active, developing puppies, the 31% protein and 19% fat counts should be right in the zone. The carb content, although not excessive, is wholesome, consisting mainly of lentils and beans. 

The real draw of this dog food is in the additions. Firstly, DHA and EPA are always necessary in puppy food, and their levels are good. Joint supplements are there, as are decent Omegas. 

Lastly, there are added probiotics and botanical inclusions in this kibble for an extra boost both digestive and immunologically. 

CANIDAE PURE Real Salmon, Limited Ingredient, Grain Free Premium Dry Dog Food

Best Limited Ingredient

Overall Score88%
Quality Animal Protein90%
Vegetables & Herbs90%
Added Probiotic90%
Omegas90%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • A recipe for every dog 
  • Nutrients vary, so you can choose what’s appropriate at the time 
  • Contain joint supplements 
  • Highly digestible, antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruit

CONS

  • A pricey choice

If you feel your dog would benefit from a limited ingredient diet, or they’ve been recommended one by a vet, Canidae Pure is our top choice. 

Every flavor is high in protein and fat, packed with Omegas, high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and contains glucosamine.

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Impressive Recipe Range 

Choose from 7 different recipes, each containing a different mix of proteins and vegetables. In addition to those, there’s a recipe for puppies specifically, one for seniors, a small-breed specific formula, and one for weight loss. 

Healthy and versatile! What’s not to love? We definitely recommend giving it a try if you’re keen on putting your pooch on a limited ingredient diet.

American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Premium Option

american-journey-salmon-1
Overall Score87%
Quality Animal Protein90%
Vegetables & Herbs90%
Added Probiotic80%
Omegas85%
Affordability87%

PROS

  • Superb for dogs suffering from hypothyroidism
  • Suitable for all life stages
  • High in quality animal protein
  • Contains phytonutrients

CONS

  • Although it’s not a chicken flavor, it contains chicken meal

Two of the most common ways autoimmune disease shows up is food allergies and hypothyroidism, and this dog food is amazing for both. Even if your dog has neither, they’d love the taste and nutrition of this kibble.

It’s our top choice for autoimmune disease thanks to its incredible natural ingredient list and useful added supplements that made it perfect for pups of all life stages.

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Premium Quality for AI Conditions 

The nutrient counts are near perfect for all dogs, at 32% protein and 14% fat. Whether your pup is a toy or a large breed, they’ll enjoy and get benefits from it. 

The added supplements give it specific properties that work superbly for puppies, adults, and seniors. Glucosamine and chondroitin mean that your dog’s joints will be well supported. High levels of Omegas keep skin and fur soft and moisturized. DHA keeps eyes and brains strong and functioning, and makes the nutritional qualities spot-on for puppies. 

There are other recipes available, but some contain allergens and others contain grains.This is the best choice for dogs who need an immune boost!

NUTRISCA Grain Free High Protein Dry Dog Food

Runner-Up Option

Overall Score87%
Quality Animal Protein90%
Vegetables & Herbs90%
Added Probiotic80%
Omegas90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Available in various flavors 
  • Contains DHA 
  • Grain and potato-free 
  • High in antioxidants

CONS

  • Slightly expensive option 
  • No joint support included

Nutrisca comes a close second for our best dog food for autoimmune disease. It’s available in various flavors so pups with allergies can still have a great meal packed with natural ingredients and vitamins and minerals.

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High-Quality Ingredient List 

Chicken, lamb, and salmon are the options your pup can choose from. Each one has a single source protein (although salmon contains Menhaden fish meal), so it’s easy to avoid things your dog can’t handle. 

The fact that these recipes avoid beef entirely is also super for fluffs who may suffer from hypothyroidism. 

As well as a high-quality animal protein as the first ingredient, you’ll find peas, chickpeas, and a variety of other dried vegetables in this dog food. It’s extremely nutritious, hardly processed, and every flavor contains DHA. 

The only thing that may be an issue for some (although it’s easy to work around) is the absence of joint supplements.

Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Stella’s Solutions Dog Food Toppers

Best Raw Food

Overall Score85%
Quality Animal Protein90%
Vegetables & Herbs85%
Added Probiotic85%
Omegas85%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • A variety of recipes, each for a specific ailment
  • Very high in animal protein
  • Raw nutrition, minimally processed
  • Grain-free, potato-free, and legume-free

CONS

  • Don’t contain many antioxidants or probiotics
  • Can be pricey

If your dog eats raw and you’re looking for a food to supercharge their immune system and alleviate symptoms associated with immune disease, Stella & Chewy’s is a superb option.

They’re minimally processed and have no artificial ingredients or added hormones. Your dog will just be getting pure protein, high levels of fat, and excellent supplementary ingredients.

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Supplementary Ingredients 

You can choose from a variety of recipes here, depending on what your dog needs. Each one also has a different protein, so it’s easy to avoid problem ingredients and give your dog a little supplemental dose of what they need. 

Immune Boost (lamb) contains high Omegas, added vitamins, beta carotene, and bromelain. 

Skin & Coat Boost (lamb & salmon) has increased Omegas and vitamins. 

Hip & Joint Boost (chicken) will give your pup a dash of DHA, EPA, glucosamine, and L-carnitine.

Healthy Heart Support (chicken) features DHA, EPA, taurine, and L-carnitine. 

Digestive Boost (beef) has added soluble and insoluble fiber.

Zignature Trout and Salmon Meal Formula Dry Dog Food

Best For Sensitive Stomach

Overall Score85%
Quality Animal Protein90%
Vegetables & Herbs85%
Added Probiotic80%
Omegas90%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • Super for allergies, avoids problem ingredients
  • Added vitamins and minerals
  • Contains L-carnitine
  • Antioxidant-rich vegetables

CONS

  • Pricey 
  • No joint supplements

Zignature is pricey but its ingredient quality is fantastic for pups who really struggle with allergies and sensitivities. No chicken, beef, lamb, or potatoes, and it makes use of fish protein sources for extra Omegas to give the skin and coat a lift.

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Easy on the Stomach 

The ingredients are easy to digest and great for sensitive stomachs. The absence of common allergens makes it much easier on the digestive system. L-carnitine is a super addition to help pups manage their energy expenditure. 

It’s a little pricey, and it doesn’t contain glucosamine either. But if your dog needs something to keep their stomach from rebelling along with their immune, this food would likely do the trick.


Testing Protocol & Criteria Used For Evaluation

Criteria #1: Quality Animal Protein

A premium quality, healthy animal protein should always be the first ingredient. We’ve made sure that that’s the case with every dog food we’ve reviewed.

We’ve tried to include a variety of protein sources. Dogs whose AI disease manifests as allergies may need to avoid certain proteins, so we’ve made sure to include a variety, and where possible, dog foods that have various recipes within one range.

None of the dog foods on this list contain animal by-products or meat ingredients that haven’t been specifically named. The protein counts on the dog foods we’ve selected vary, but what you choose will need to correspond with your dog’s needs. They all fall within the accepted levels set out by AAFCO!

Criteria #2: Vegetables & Herbs

We have made certain to stay away from grains like corn, wheat, and soy, which are not only hard to digest, but they’re entirely empty nutrients. 

The dog foods we’ve chosen may contain healthy grains like brown rice or oatmeal, but most of the options on this list are grain-free and use vegetables and fruits as their carb sources. 

Even if there are grains, you’ll still find vegetables in these foods. They’re an excellent source of vitamins and antioxidants, which is exactly what a dog needs when their immune is going haywire. 

While any veggies are good veggies, some dogs may exhibit a bad reaction to potatoes. If your pup is one, try to choose a dog food that contains sweet potatoes or squash instead.

Criteria #3: Added Probiotics

Some autoimmune diseases begin in the gut. Even if your dog’s condition affects another part of their body, the addition of probiotics and prebiotics will strengthen your pup’s digestive system. This can only be helpful!

There’s a certain amount of natural probiotics and prebiotics in these foods, and some have added their own strains. We’ve mentioned it where a kibble doesn’t contain extra probiotics, and if you would like to use one of those dog foods, it’s still super easy to buy separate probiotic supplements.

Criteria #4: Omega Fatty Acids

Omegas are wonderful things, and they can be helpful in many aspects, from digestion to nourishing skin and coat. They can even make a difference to the ways autoimmune diseases present themselves.

We’ve made sure the dog foods we’ve covered here all contain good levels of Omega 3 and 6s. We’ve also checked whether or not they contain DHA and EPA. Our puppy food certainly will, but they can be extremely helpful for adult dogs too, and highly useful for seniors as they age.

Even if your dog doesn’t suffer from skin and coat-related immune system symptoms, Omega 3and 6s are an essential part of their diet. You can rest assured that every option on this list is packed with great Omega ingredients.

Criteria #5: Affordability

Treating a pooch with autoimmune disease can be a big stressor, both on the heart and the bank account. It’s our goal here at Dog Embassy to bring you the best of the best dog foods, but it’s also highly important to us that we do what we can to keep pet and pet parents healthy and happy.

Our Best Value for Money option is recommended for pet parents who are feeling the pressure of looking after a pup with a compromised immune system. It’s supremely healthy, packed with all a pup needs, and will go easy on your wallet, and on your peace of mind.


Questions & Answers

What is autoimmune disease in dogs?

Autoimmune disease has the same mechanics whether it’s in dogs or humans. Basically, the immune system begins to see itself as a threat, and starts to attack its own healthy cells. 

The function of the immune system is to attack and get rid of germs or foreign bodies. Nobody quite knows what causes the body to start seeing its own cells as invaders, but autoimmune disease can cause severe illness. 

It can also affect multiple areas of the body. The skin is commonly affected, as is the blood. Indigestion and arthritis can also be results of autoimmune disease.

What are the signs and symptoms of autoimmune diseases in dogs?

The signs and symptoms can be very hard to pinpoint. Because autoimmune disease can manifest in so many different ways (and mimic so many other diseases), there is no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to symptoms. 

If, however, your dog has any of  the following symptoms without a particular cause, it could be a sign of one of the autoimmune diseases: 

  • Chronic diarrhea or vomiting. 
  • Changes in how much they drink. 
  • Loss of appetite. 
  • Unexplained weight loss. 
  • Pale gums and eyelids. 
  • Lethargy or physical weakness. 
  • A fever. 
  • Unexplained skin conditions. 
  • Blisters (especially around the mouth). 
  • Chronic stiffness or limping. 

Bear in mind that these can be caused by other things. For example, if your pooch is 16 years old and frail, stiffness and limping is most likely not because of autoimmune disease. 

In the same vein, if your pup got into the trash bags and ate half the rubbish, they could be vomiting for days on end while their digestive system works through what they ate. 

It’s important to consider the bigger picture. Either way, if the symptoms above present no apparent cause, it could be a good idea to take a trip to the vet and have your pup tested. 

Here are the most common autoimmune diseases in dogs and a few of their specific signs and symptoms. 

Hypothyroidism 

This is one of the conditions that most people don’t realize can counts as one of the autoimmune diseases! But basically, your dog’s thyroid decides that its own thyroid is an intruder and begins attacking it. 

This leaves the thyroid unable to produce the necessary hormones, and so the signs and symptoms here are very consistent with the usual hypothyroidism signs. 

Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) 

Strangely, this form of AI disease affects Cocker Spaniels most often. It destroys the body’s red blood cells, leading to severe and life-threatening anemia. 

This is an extremely fast-moving immune response. Usually, the bone marrow can’t make enough new red blood cells to replenish those that have been destroyed, and new ones just get decimated anyway. 

The signs of serious hemolytic anemia include unexplained weakness, rapid heartbeat, labored breathing, and unusually pale gums and eyelids. It requires rapid treatment and sometimes needs a blood transfusion. 

Immune-Mediated Arthritis (IMA)

In this case, the dog’s system can attack and decimate the cartilage between joints. This leaves pups with anything from moderate to severe arthritis, but it needs to be treated as soon as possible with anti-inflammatories and chemotherapy. 

Signs and symptoms include sudden lameness, swelling in the joints, fever, and weight loss.

Allergies 

Yes, allergies are an immune system condition! This is probably the most common of all autoimmune diseases in pets, and once again, the cause is unknown. This is why many pups end up with dry, itchy skin in response to certain ingredients.

What can cause autoimmune disease in dogs?

Just like it can be difficult to spot the condition because it has different symptoms, the actual cause of your dog’s immune system going out of whack could be any number of things. 

In some cases, genetics could play a role. It’s accepted that autoimmune disease dog conditions could be triggered by certain drugs, but it’s hard to know which. Some researchers also believe that exposure to UV rays could also be a potential cause. But in most cases, it’s extremely hard to nail down the actual cause.

How is autoimmune disease treated?

The accepted way of treating autoimmune disease is by something called immunosuppression. In a nutshell, this means that the immune system is muted, so it doesn’t respond as harshly to its own cells. Often, steroids are prescribed to keep the immune system’s response to a minimum. 

The bad thing about this kind of treatment is that it also doesn’t respond to real, actual germ cells. That’s why choosing the best dog food for autoimmune disease is so important. It can be the difference between your dog staying fairly healthy or being riddled with health problems. 

There are a few other newer treatments for autoimmune diseases that are still in early phases, but have had some success. One includes intentionally exposing the pet’s immune system to tiny amounts of the problem component. The difficult thing here is identifying what the problem is in the first place, the thing that the body begins reacting to. 
Another has to do with your dog’s gut flora. This bacteria is healthy (and necessary) when it’s in the right place in your dog’s system. But when it somehow ends up wandering around in the body, it can trigger terrible autoimmune responses. Killing these bacteria can help improve autoimmune disease.

What should I look for in the best dog food for autoimmune disease?

An autoimmune diet can help keep symptoms at bay, although it is not a cure. The best dog food for autoimmune disease should, first and foremost, contain only wholesome, natural ingredients. Minimal processing is essential, and something containing natural preservatives is also a good idea. 

It should also be free from artificial colors and flavors. Avoid glutinous grains like corn, wheat, and soy. 

What you do want to see is a high-quality animal protein as the first ingredient. Your carb ingredients should consist of easy-to-digest vegetables. The addition of herbs of any kind is a bonus, as they’re often used in supplementary treatments of autoimmune diseases. 

Omega fatty acids, other useful supplements (glucosamine, DHA, L-carnitine), antioxidants, and probiotics and prebiotics are all wonderful things to see on an ingredient list.

Is there anything else I can do to help my dog with autoimmune disease?

Apart from a diet autoimmune food, there are a variety of therapies that could bring some relief to your pup, depending on how exactly your dog’s condition shows up. 

Hydrotherapy is exceptionally useful for pups who suffer from immune system disease that causes arthritis. Acupressure and acupuncture are also good options, but it’s definitely something you need a trained professional to do. Don’t try it at home, for your dog’s sake! 

Supplementing with natural herbal supplements could help too. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, while cinnamon has pain-relief properties. Do a bit of research on how to incorporate these in the right amounts, though, because too much can be detrimental to your pup’s health.