Dietary Supplements for Your Pets

You may take dietary supplements to maintain health and wellness. Could your pet also benefit from dietary supplements? Check with your vet before giving any dietary supplements to your pet. While many supplements are harmless, there are some that may prove dangerous to pets with certain conditions.

Types of Dietary Supplements

Common types of dietary supplements for pets are marketed to improve or maintain:

  • Joint health –these supplements may include methyl-sulfonyl-methane (MSM), glucosamine, and chondroitin, all of which possess anti-inflammatory properties. They are often given before the pet shows any signs of joint issues to keep these problems at bay as long as possible.
  • Skin and coat health –omega-3 fatty acids may boost a dull coat or dry, flaky skin.
  • Gastrointestinal health –supplements for gastrointestinal health may contain probiotics and prebiotics, which boost healthy gut bacteria. Vitamin B12 may relieve nutrient absorption issues in some animals. Fiber promotes regularity in animals dealing with constipation.  
  • Cognitive function –Older animals displaying cognitive problems may improve with antioxidant supplementation, such as vitamins C and E.
  • Kidney disease –fish oil supplements may help animals battling kidney disease, but always consult your veterinarian.

Good Nutrition

Before giving your pet dietary supplements, make sure his nutrition is adequately addressed. Multi-vitamins are no substitute for an improper diet. Animals receiving a well-balanced commercial diet should not need supplements. However, there are exceptions. For instance, an older dog showing signs of arthritis may benefit from a canine joint supplement.

Many pet owners substitute a homemade diet for commercially available pet food, thinking it is healthier. In fact, homemade diets may not contain the appropriate amounts of vitamins and minerals constituting good nutrition. If your pet shows any signs of nutritional deficiencies, your vet can test for them. Perhaps they will recommend an alternative diet, or advise supplementation depending upon the test results.

If your pet is on a veterinary prescription diet, certain supplements may interfere with the diet’s efficacy or worsen symptoms. It may also end up wasting money because the supplements are already included in the prescription diet.

Dietary Supplement Considerations

Discuss the best kinds and brands of supplements with your veterinarian. Because the FDA does not regulate the pet supplement market, it’s a case of buyer beware when purchasing these products. For many supplements, there are no studies showing they are effective for the purposes for which they are touted.

Quality control is often lacking in the supplement industry. What appears on the label may not actually be in the package, at least when it comes to accurate dosing. Contamination is common. Keep in mind that “natural” is not synonymous with “safe.”

Only buy high-quality supplements from established companies that provide such studies. Don’t substitute human supplements for pet supplements unless cleared by your veterinarian.   

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