Every day, millions of Americans consume multivitamins, supplements, and other products aimed at supporting their overall health. The fact that many of these products have no proven scientific benefit doesn’t seem to change the fact that the vitamin and supplement industry is booming. It only makes sense that animal lovers would want to enhance their pet’s diets, prevent disease, and help with symptoms.

Certain supplements for pets are helpful, but many do nothing or cause harm. Let the staff at Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital walk you through the ins and outs before you come to any conclusions regarding supplements for pets.

Supplements For Pets

The most commonly used supplements for pets we see in our clinic are as follows:

  • Glucosamine – There is some evidence that glucosamine supplementation has some benefits for treating the symptoms of arthritis in dogs. Glucosamine takes time to build up in the body, and the effects may not be noticed for several weeks or months.
  • Fish oil – The long-chain fatty acids found in fish oil may have some anti-inflammatory effects and might be helpful in heart, kidney, and skin diseases.
  • Turmeric – This bright yellow spice has been studied extensively in the laboratory, and it appears to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components. Very little has been studied when it comes to turmeric and pets, and in some cases supplementation can lead to gastrointestinal distress and other problems.
  • Collagen peptides – Collagen peptides are increasing in popularity as an “anti-aging” supplement which reportedly improves the health and appearance of skin, hair, and nails. The jury is still out on whether or not this product does what it claims to do in people, and no evidence that it benefits pets either.
  • Probiotics – Probiotics have been studied extensively in both humans and animals and their is some evidence that it can be useful in improving digestion and reducing symptoms associated with some gastrointestinal disorders.

Although some supplements for pets hold promise, many more have little to no effect and may even harm your pet. Supplements are not subject to the rigorous testing procedures required by law for medications, and in some cases have been found to be contaminated or to contain different ingredients than what the label states. Your veterinarian will know which products are safe and effective, and can help you make the right choice when it comes to amending your pet’s diet.

Buyer Beware

Pets should never be given human-grade supplements or vitamins, as some (such as iron or vitamin D) can have toxic side effects. Even products labeled “safe” or “natural” can be sweetened with Xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs, or contain other products that pets shouldn’t be consuming.

The Bottom Line

There is evidence that supplements for pets can be helpful in certain cases, but ultimately they are no substitute for clean living. Keeping your pet at a healthy weight, providing them with a high quality, life-stage appropriate diet, making sure their needs for daily exercise, mental stimulation, and love are met, and keeping up with their regular wellness appointments are the best ways to promote health and longevity.

Always consult your veterinarian before giving your pet a supplement or making any changes to their diet. Your Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital veterinarian will work with you to figure out which supplement is right for your pet, and come up with the correct dosage. Please contact us for more information.