Pets, like humans, can have a whole variety of health related issues that may be improved by introducing nutritional supplements to their daily routine. Like us, they can have issues with digestive health, joint pain, gum disease and so much more. Supplements can provide the added nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants that will help keep pets thriving, so they can keep up with you and all the adventures you may have together.
Take cues from your own health habits
According to a 2015 consumer survey–68% of Americans have reported taking a supplement and over 50% of Americans report being regular supplement users!
Just as they do for us, supplements can provide the added nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants that may not be found in our pet’s diet, including commercial dog and cat food. You may take a daily multivitamin, probiotics, or a fish oil pill for your health. Why shouldn’t your pet also get the benefits of an added nutritional boost that they need?
What are supplements?
How are supplements different than traditional medicine?
Which pets should take supplements?
What are the benefits of using a supplement?
Keeping your pet healthy – While pet food usually provides the core nutrition that a pet needs, supplements can address specific deficiencies that may or may not manifest themselves visibly.
Provide non-medicinal solutions – Traditional medicine often has side effects that are sometimes worse than the problem that it is trying to solve. Since supplements are comprised of essential nutrients and fill nutritional gaps the animal may have, it can provide an alternative approach to maintaining and improving their health.
What is the difference between supplements and fortified treats and food?
Fortified food and treats may contain some of the same ingredients, but not at the same levels and can introduce more variability in how much the pet is getting. Sometimes, the levels can be so low in food and treats that the pet would need to eat an unhealthy amount of them before they would get enough of the active ingredient. With supplements, you know that a chew, tablet or capsule contains the specific amount of ingredients needed to support their health.
A fortified treat will often list an active ingredient as a percent of the treat’s weight or state that it contains a certain number of milligrams per kilogram of treat (usually stated as “xxx mg/kg” on the back label). This can feel like a lot but is usually less than you think.
For example, if a product says it has 500 mg/kg of glucosamine in its guaranteed analysis, that may seem like a lot, but if the treat weighs 5 grams (or 0.005kg), that means there is only 2.5mg of glucosamine in each treat. Hip & joint supplements often contain over 500mg of glucosamine per chew or tablet. In that example, a dog would need to eat 200 treats to get what is generally considered to be a therapeutic level of glucosamine!
Are supplements just for older pets?
In addition, there are plenty of other reasons throughout their life that a pet may benefit from various supplements.
What kind of supplements are there?
- Behavior and Cognitive support – Helps the pet to be calm and focused
- Cardiovascular Health – CoQ10, omega fatty acids, and other minerals and vitamins
- Dental Health – Chews and powders that can address the underlying reasons for dental issues
- Dermatological Health – Omega fatty acids, biotin and vitamins that support skin health and keeping their coat looking great. Can also include support for hairball prevention for cats.
- General wellness – Multivitamins in different forms and for different ages
- Gastrointestinal Health – Usually probiotics as well as fiber, and prebiotics
- Immune Health – Vitamins, minerals, enzymes and probiotics known to help support the immune system
- Joint Health – Common ingredients include glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and Perna Canaliculus. It can also include hyaluronic acid, selenium, grape seed extract, curcumin and others.
- Liver & Kidney Health – highly specialized ingredients such as Astragalus Root Powder, L-Arginine, and SAMe
- UT and Bladder health – Look for cranberry, bromelain, probiotics and other specialized ingredients
- Flea & Tick – An alternative or complement to prescription flea and tick medication
When choosing a supplement-what should I look for?
- NASC certified- The NASC (National Animal Supplement Council) was formed to help consumers recognize companies that are committed to quality, purity and transparency in the animal supplement world. It is a privilege to be granted their seal.
- cGMP certification - This indicates that the manufacturer is regularly audited and conforms to current Good Manufacturing practices when producing its products.
- NPA member- This means a company is in conformance with the Natural Products Association GMP Standard for dietary supplements.”
- Veterinarian formulated – When formulation is overseen by veterinarians, you are ensuring that the combination and quality of ingredients are designed to be effective.
- No corn, wheat and artificial ingredients – Since supplements work by providing nutritional building blocks, you don’t want anything getting in the way
- Pet friendly – supplements don’t do any good if your pet won’t eat them. Treat-like chews are often the most appealing to pets, though tablets and capsules can work for many pets as well.
- Satisfaction guarantee – This eliminates the financial risk of your pet not liking what you bought or the product not working.
* - “Campaign Development Quantitative Test” June, 2016 by Avena Brand Development and Schlesinger Associates N=200