The Importance of Bioavailability in Natural Remedies for Pets

Keeping our companion animals healthy is an integral part of pet ownership. Unfortunately, due to in breeding issues pets and other environmental borne factors, plenty of illnesses, diseases, and other can instantly derail an otherwise healthy pet. This is why if you’re a pet owner, you’re probably already looking for the perfect dog immune booster. 

We’re lucky that modern medicine has advanced so much now that there are plenty of natural remedies that can improve our companion animal’s long-term health. The problem is that there are so many options for natural pet supplements in the market, making it challenging to choose which one’s the best for our beloved family pet. 

One often overlooked yet critical factor that can help you decide is bioavailability. It pertains to how efficiently the body can absorb and distribute the active ingredients to the areas that need them. So, in a way, it's a much more important factor from which our decisions on which dog immune booster to get should be anchored. 

Common natural remedies for pets  

There are plenty of natural pet supplements and remedies to choose from depending on whatever may be bothering our pets. Naturally, a lot of natural remedies and ingredients that have been studied and have been deemed as beneficial for humans are the first to get looked at by researchers. However, since our canines have different metabolic processes, it’s important not to jump the gun and give your pets the same supplements you’re taking. 

To help you out in learning about the most common natural ingredients that you may want to include in your pet’s regimen, as a start here are a few considerations:   


As an essential amino acid, the main function of L-Carnitine is in providing aid in the efficient transportation of fatty acids from food into the mitochondria. This makes it a beneficial substance for active dogs who like to run around all day and live their lives adventurously. It’s also a commonly prescribed dietary supplement for dogs suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) 

Vitamin K2

Speaking of plant-based options, Vitamin K2 which stems from green leafy vegetables are also slowly coming to the fore as an excellent natural pet supplement. IntechOpen published a chapter by Jayde O’Neil et.al. that suggests Vitamin K2 is an excellent dietary supplement especially for dogs suffering from coagulopathy and potentially, arthritic diseases as well. As pet diets evolve with less and less meat this is one vitamin that will be missed. 

Coenzyme Q10

(CoQ10) is a nutrient that is found in the mitochondria. We all know that the mitochondrion is the powerhouse of the cell, producing energy that the body needs to do basically all of its functions. But that’s not the only reason why CoQ10 is important. It is also a potent antioxidant that fights off harmful free radicals. This nutrient is used as a supplement for a wide variety of human diseases--to great effect. Studies on dogs have shown promising results. While the canine body can naturally produce CoQ10, there are conditions wherein this nutrient gets depleted, so look for supplements that give a daily top up dose   


Beta-glucan extracted from oats has been lauded as an excellent Th2-response inhibitor that helps dogs modulate the immune response. However, mushrooms are the most underrated yet highly effective natural sources of alpha and beta-glucans. Luckily, we’re slowly beginning to realize its potential as an excellent dog immune booster. The many benefits of the Agaricus blazei Murill (AbM), for example, are slowly coming to light because of recent studies. Often called God’s Mushroom, its rich nutrient content and its ideal balance of beta and alpha-glucans makes it an excellent booster for immunomodulatory responses. In a way, AbM is an ideal mushroom for dogs. 

The Importance of Bioavailability 

While substances like alpha and beta-glucans, Vitamin K2, and CoQ10 in these remedies may be readily available in nature, their bioavailability, or how efficiently the body can absorb and distribute them to the relevant cells, organs, and tissues is a much more important topic to discuss. What makes it even more complicated is that natural remedies must deliver the optimum amount to the specific area of concern to be effective. The stakes are elevated even more because providing more than what is needed might exacerbate issues and even introduce new ones So, be careful when you’re adding these natural ingredients to your pet’s diet. For best results, consult your veterinarian for their expert opinion on whether your pets can even derive benefits from supplementation. 

Maximizing bioavailability is a complicated process because multiple factors affect it. For example, the gut, where most of these substances break down, can often also destroy necessary proteins. The liver, on the other hand, might inactivate enzymes of the active ingredients. Therefore, the whole digestive process essentially weakens the effectiveness of a natural supplement. 

How To Improve Bioavailability? 

Companies that produce supplements and remedies understand that even the purest extracts may not be fully utilized by the body. What the best immune boosters in the market can really demonstrate  is that they’re well-optimized for bioavailability.  

There are currently three main ways to absorb active ingredients more efficiently. We’ll discuss them here: 

Route of Administration (RoA)

Oral, topical, intravenous, intramuscular, intraarticular, intraosseous. It depends on the target cells of the drug. Herbal medications usually target various organ systems, so a certain concentration has to be in systemic circulation to take effect. Currently, most dog immune boosters use the oral route as it’s the most stable. 

Dosage Form - (for oral RoA)

Tablets vs. capsules vs. syrups vs. suspensions vs. pills. Each has its pros and cons. Capsules, for example, have a protective coating that helps protect the active ingredient from gastric juices, but the granules inside are often 25% as bioavailable as liquid form dosages. Syrups, on the other hand, are generally easier to absorb but it may take some time before it takes effect.  


Because all ingredients are either attracted to water or fats the invention of microencapsulation has been groundbreaking allowing for the creation of formulations that were previously impossible due to these natural tendencies. These microparticles not only enable lipophilic and hydrophilic ingredients to be combined but also protect the encapsulated active ingredients as they travel through the digestive system and in the bloodstream helping generate a faster onset, a longer duration of effect and a longer shelf life for the product. In summary, this technology enables a more efficient way to deliver active ingredients to their intended targets. 

Final Thoughts 

Consumers now have advanced formula options for their pets that combine efficiency with convenience by enabling multiple ingredients to be combined reducing the number of containers in your cupboard and making administration simple. Make sure you research the technology to be sure that has a high stability rate, or you will just be buying a fancy word on the package.  

Bioavailability is one of the most important factors when considering if the remedies you are providing your pets are actually working. It's an often overlooked yet hugely important factor that pet owners need to check on when searching for a viable supplement for their beloved pets. So, the next time you're in the market for a natural dietary supplement, consider the route of administration, dosage form, bioavailability and the technology involved to ensure that the right natural necessary nutrients reach their intended targets. Only through bioavailability can we ensure that they’re effective and, most importantly, efficient in delivering the nutrients to efficiently and safely.  




O'Neil, J., Scarrott, B., Svalheim, R. A., Elliott, J., & Hodges, S. J. (2017). Vitamin K2 in Animal Health: An overview. Vitamin K2 - Vital for Health and Wellbeing. https://doi.org/10.5772/63901The Drake Center For Veterinary Care. (2014, September 9). The Risks and Benefits of Coconut Oil for Pets. https://www.thedrakecenter.com/about-us/in-the-news/risks-and-benefits-coconut-oil-pets 

Ferreira, L. G., Endrighi, M., Lisenko, K. G., de Oliveira, M. R. D., Damasceno, M. R., Claudino, J. A., Gutierres, P. G., Peconick, A. P., Saad, F. M. D. O. B., & Zangeronimo, M. G. (2018). Oat beta-glucan as a dietary supplement for dogs. PLOS ONE, 13(7), e0201133. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0201133