The proliferation of pet health and wellness websites has produced an overabundance of information on supplements. Properly chosen, animal health supplements can play an important role in your pet's health. But with so many options, variations, and price points, how do you know if you're picking the right supplement?
What are "animal health supplements"?
Supplements formulated for pets are intended to support and maintain normal, healthy body structures and functions in dogs and cats. They are not intended for human consumption.
How do I know if my pet would benefit from a supplement?
Talk to your veterinarian. Your vet will consider your pet's age, lifestyle, medical conditions, and a variety of other factors. Together, you can determine if your pet may benefit from supplements and which are appropriate.
What ingredients are typically found in animal health supplements?
Your veterinarian may recommend supplements that contain:
- Glucosamine, Perna, and/or chondroitin sulfate—These ingredients help maintain healthy cartilage, ligaments, and synovial fluid in your pet's joints.
- Beneficial fatty acids EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) in fish oil supplements—These ingredients help support skin, heart, joint, kidney, and immune health.
- Lactic acid bacteria and inulin, found in probiotics - These ingredients also help maintain a healthy immune system and support normal gastrointestinal functions.
- Antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and/or botanical extracts—These ingredients can help with occasional stiffness, soreness, or discomfort.
Can I use a human supplement for my pet?
Even if a supplement is labeled or known to be safe for humans, it may not be safe for your pet. Dogs and cats have different requirements, and they may digest, utilize or metabolize the ingredients in a supplement differently. Always check with your veterinarian before giving your pet any supplements.
What questions should I ask my veterinarian?
If you and your veterinarian determine your pet would benefit from a supplement, be sure to ask about an exact brand. If you have ever gone into the supplement section in a store or started searching websites, you know that there's an abundant number of supplements. And the similarity in how they look can be overwhelming.
Other questions you may want to ask your veterinarian:
- What dose should I give my pet?
- Should the supplement be given with food or on an empty stomach?
- Should it be given for weeks, months, years, or lifelong?
- Are there any potential side effects?
- Are there any medications that should not be given at the same time?
- Is there ever a need to stop giving it (for instance, before a surgery)?
- Is there any special handling or storage?
Supplements may interact with certain drugs, so make sure your veterinarian knows exactly what supplements you're giving your pet.
Are there any other concerns about using supplements?
When selecting supplements for your pet, look for supplements produced by companies you recognize and trust. Look for large companies that are vested in veterinary healthcare products. Such companies should also have strict quality control standards in place and the science, expertise and manufacturing facilities to produce safe, high-quality supplements for your dog and cat.
What information should I look for on a supplement label?
- Manufacturer's name, address, phone number, and website—This information enables you to contact the company if you have a question or concern .
- Lot number—This information indicates that the company has a tracking system in place to ensure product quality.
- Expiration date—This information shows that the company has evaluated product quality over time.
- Full disclosure of the content and ingredient amounts—This information helps you determine how much of each active ingredient you're giving your pet per day.
What does the NASC Quality Seal indicate?
Your veterinarian may recommend supplements with the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) Quality Seal. NASC monitors animal health supplements through periodic reviews, inspections, and product testing. Only products that meet standards set forth by NASC can display the NASC Quality Seal.