Perusing the aisles of your favorite pet supply store, you may find yourself a bit overwhelmed by the choices of available supplements. Multi-vitamins, products for joint support, dental health additives, powders to help keep your pet’s urine from browning your lawn – the list is exhausting.
When faced with the overabundance of nutritional supplements for pets that are available, how are you to know what your pet needs or what is even safe? Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital is here to help you sort through it all.
Fact or Fiction?
A nutritional supplement is a food additive that, by definition, completes or enhances a pet’s diet. While nutritional supplements for pets are exceedingly popular (up to one-third of dog owners and one-fifth of cat owners choose to use them), choosing one is not always as easy as you might think.
Legally, nutritional supplements are not considered drugs and are therefor not subject to the same FDA regulations. This means that quality control, safety, and proof of efficacy are not legally necessary when a company manufactures one.
While some nutritional supplements for pets have real value, others are nothing more than snake oil. The weight falls on you as the owner to decide what, if any, supplements are appropriate for your pet. You don’t have to go it alone, however. Our expert staff is here to help you figure out the supplements and dosage that can help your pet.
We can recommend companies who practice good voluntary quality control, be sure that there are no interactions or contraindications for your pet, and advise you about potential side effects. Always call us before choosing to start your pet on anything. We are here to guide you.
Deciding on Nutritional Supplements for Pets
Before assessing whether or not your pet needs a supplement, you must first decide what you are trying to accomplish. Commercial pet foods are designed to be a complete and balanced diet, so if your pet is eating one of these there should not be any need for additional vitamins or minerals unless prescribed by us.
There are certainly supplements that we recommend for specific diseases or problems. Take for instance:
Joint disease — Pet patients suffering from joint pain, arthritis, or other joint problems can achieve better function and joint support from the use of certain products. These may include glucosamine and hyaluronic acid which support cartilage and joint fluid as well as fish oil and turmeric which can help to decrease inflammation.
Skin problems —The omega fatty acids found in fish oil can be very beneficial for many dermatologic issues when dosed appropriately.
Gastrointestinal health — The use of pre- and probiotics can help support healthy gut function, and hairball remedies can ease vomiting in cats.
Any supplement, regardless of how well it may work or not work, needs to be dosed in a safe and effective manner. Supplements are not always innocuous either, some interacting with other drugs, exacerbating other health problems, or even covering up a more serious issue.
It is always best to evaluate a new pet nutritional supplement under the guidance of someone who knows and cares for your pet. Thankfully, you don’t need to look too far to find us.