What are dietary supplements for pets?
Just like with humans, our dogs and cats can benefit from supplements to provide nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that may be lacking in their diets. It's important to note that some prescription diets or medications may conflict with supplements, and too much of anything can be toxic. Beneficial ingredients for humans can be harmful for pets (like garlic and some other herbs), so look for supplements that are specially formulated for cats or dogs.
Consult with your vet first
Be sure to consult with a professional before adding supplements; they can make sure you're getting the right formulas at the right dosages for your pet and their unique situation – if they're even necessary.
Your veterinarian should be able to tell you which supplements might be appropriate for your pet, how much to give them, and where to purchase them.
Do your research
There's little regulation surrounding the safety, quality, or efficacy of animal supplements, and some less-reputable companies may use misleading labels, or unsafe/contaminated ingredients.
Consumerlab.com reviews supplements and provides lists of reputable brands. For a low monthly fee, you can get access to their reports and discover which supplements work and which don't.
NASC Quality Seal
Look for supplements that have the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) Quality Seal on their labels. You can find a list of NASC approved retailers here.
If your pet is acting abnormally or having any issues after starting him on supplements, stop administering them and contact your veterinarian.
Types of Supplements
There are countless supplements available for all kinds of ailments. Some common concerns that owners might seek supplements for include:
Many older pets, or pets with certain injuries, suffer from arthritis. Glucosamine-chondroitin supplements can be helpful in preventing or treating those stiff, painful joints.
Skin and Coat
Dry, flaky skin and fur may benefit from supplements that supply essential fatty acids. Fish Oil is a common supplement to encourage a healthy coat.
Supplements with antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and swelling, as well as maintaining cognitive function.
Pre- and Pro-biotics
Prebiotic and probiotic supplements can help with digestive health, diarrhea, and allergies.
Cranberry can help prevent urinary tract infections. Fish oil can be helpful for heart or kidney disease.
Potential Issues with Supplements
Too much of anything is generally harmful, and there are a few vitamins and supplements you want to be sure you're not overloading your pet with:
- Vitamin A: Can cause dehydration and harm blood vessels
- Calcium: Can cause skeletal problems
- Vitamin D: Can harm bones and muscles, and loss of appetite
- Glucosamine: Can cause gastrointestinal upset, or conflict with glucose regulation