The pet industry is growing in leaps and bounds, but some areas are growing faster than others. Pet nutrition, for example, is booming. More scientists are researching the best diets for breeds, sizes, and life stages. Naturally, studies into pet supplements are also more common.
There’s a lot of specialized pet food on the market, and we’re also seeing an increase in nutritional pet supplements. After all, we take supplements to improve our health, so why not allow our pets the same benefits?
Expert opinion is divided on the subject of supplements. One on side are those who believe they benefit dogs and cats, and on the other side are those who think they’re a potential health risk.
Brennen McKenzie falls into the latter category, on the grounds that there is no concrete, scientific evidence that suggests that pet supplements make a positive difference to animals’ lives. It’s true, there aren’t enough studies on the effects of nutritional pet supplements and vitamins. However, many experts, including veterinarians, believe in supplements.
Dr. Ashley Gallagher is another veterinarian who warns against giving pet supplements without first considering the potentially harmful effects. For example, Dr. Gallagher says that if your dog or cat is on a special diet (for arthritis or pancreatitis) from a reputable brand, they get all the nutrients they need. Adding pet supplements without first consulting your vet can cause a variety of additional health concerns. Too much of certain supplements (calcium, vitamin D) can lead to a toxic build up, which can then lead to more serious problems. Adding certain supplements could also negate the effectiveness of supplements in your pet’s food, leading to deficiencies.
We don’t profess to be experts on the matter so if you decide that you would like to find out more or want to put your dog or cat on any particular pet supplements, talk to your veterinarian. You can also find holistic vets in your area who can give more in-depth and specialist knowledge.
Not that you’ve been warned, we’ll look at the most recommended pet supplements.
People use probiotics to improve their health and wellbeing, and to ensure a healthy gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics counteract the negative side-effects of antibiotics which kill off all bacteria in your body, even the good ones. The principal is the same in dogs and cats.
Veterinarians may recommend probiotics when your dog or cat is on antibiotics, and when treating chronic conditions. You might also want to consider probiotics to give your pet’s immune system a boost if you’re changing their diet, have to put them in a boarding kennel or cattery for a short period of time, have to travel with them, or if they have any gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhea and pancreatitis.
It’s important that you only use pet formulated probiotics. Dogs and cats have different bacteria in their gut to humans, in fact, they have more bacteria, and so sharing your morning probiotic won’t cut it.
According to Dr. Becker, you need to look for a good-quality pet probiotic that:
- Has 10 or more strains of good bacteria
- Contains at least 20 million good bacteria per serving
- Is GMP certified
Be aware that there are some low-quality products on the market that have no practical benefit at all.
Glucosamine helps dogs or cats with joint problems, including osteoarthritis and hip and/or elbow dysplasia. It doesn’t treat the problem, instead it eases the pain and slows down progression – it supports joint function.
Glucosamine is usually used with chondroitin and they are found in most human joint supplements. You can use human joint supplements for dogs, just be sure to talk to your vet about what brands are safe and to get the correct dosage.
MSM improves joint health, and is used with glucosamine and chondroitin. It’s also an anti-inflammatory and pain killer.
Fish oils/Omega fatty acids
Omega fatty acids (Omega 3, 6 & 9) are essential fatty acids and support general health, as well as skin and joint health. They are often prescribed for osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia in pets, as well as for some skin allergies and to improve coat health.
Omega fatty acids are just about the only nutrients missing from raw diets. Give your dog salmon, cod liver or even coconut oil if you feed them raw food.
Milk thistle is used primarily to help liver function. It’s often recommended for dogs and cats with raised liver enzymes or other disorders that affect the liver. There are specific pet products available, but you can use certain human products, so ask your vet.
Milk thistle and liver supplements may contain S-adenosyl methionine (SAM-e), which protects the liver from toxins and supports liver function.
Coenzyme Q10 can be used for pets who have heart disease, as well as for senior pets with cognitive dysfunction (dementia).
Other supplements used to help treat cognitive dysfunction include vitamin C and vitamin E. It’s best to give these as independent supplements rather than to give your pet a multivitamin. Multivitamins can upset your pet’s nutritional balance.
Digestive enzymes can be used to help cancer treatment and is often recommended for digestive problems. It’s also an anti-inflammatory.
A word on turmeric
Turmeric is not a supplement, but there is increasing evidence to suggest that is can play a vital role in your pets’ health – not to mention your own.