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If you own a dog or cat, you’ve probably seen many advertisements or walked into your local pharmacy to see supplements for your pet. Vitamins and supplements are designed to support bodily functions. You may wonder if adding a supplement to your pet’s food or daily routine can be helpful.

So, are supplements a friend or a foe? While some supplements on the market are somewhat helpful for pets dealing with specific health issues, there hasn’t been a lot of compelling evidence to suggest that supplements for your pet can make a genuine difference or improvement.

Let’s examine some common and more popular pet supplements and whether they are helpful or harmful.

Multivitamins

Commercial pet food is formulated to ensure that it meets specific nutrient requirements for your pet. Unlike human diets that vary daily, many pets eat the same foods every day. Pet food manufacturers are set up to develop foods that fit the mold, so in many instances, a multivitamin is unnecessary for your pet.

The veterinarians and technicians at Bond Vet Animal Hospital in Chelsea, NYC state that while it’s not always necessary for multivitamins, It’s helpful for pet owners to understand that not all of their food is the same. In this case, you need to research or talk to your veterinarian about the best pet foods that provide the necessary vitamins and nutrients. There are differences in what ingredients are utilized in the food that you feed your pet.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

A popular supplement for dogs is glucosamine, often paired with Chondroitin. Glucosamine is an amino sugar found naturally in the fluid surrounding the joints, and chondroitin acts to help build cartilage. It’s often used to prevent the progression of arthritis by increasing lubrication within the joints.

The American Kennel Club researched this supplement and concluded that both glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are recommended by many veterinarians for arthritis. But, there is more recent evidence suggesting that it does nothing for osteoarthritis in canines. particularly if they cannot tolerate NSAIDs.

It’s important for you to ensure that you engage in a discussion with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your pet suffering pain from arthritis, so you can be given recommendations for proper supplements, rather than using glucosamine and chondroitin supplements on your own.

Fish Oil

Fish oil is a dietary supplement many pet owners use to provide omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are powerful anti-inflammatories for skin and joints and help support the function of many organs. It has multiple benefits and advantages, which include:

  • Heart health support
  • Kidney function
  • Immune system boost
  • Joint aid
  • Keeps skin from being dry (silky coat)
  • Brain function

Again, the foods you feed your pet typically have some omega-3 fatty acids in them. But, omega-3s are more expensive supplements, so in most pet food, the inclusion is minimal. Fish oils can be a healthy and welcome supplement to your pet’s diet, but again, you must discuss dosage amounts, brands, and whether it’s necessary with your veterinarian before adding it to your pet’s diet.

Probiotics

Probiotics have grown in popularity, and you may be curious about using them for your pet. Probiotics are naturally occurring live bacteria or yeast that lives within your body, and they are helpful in aiding your digestion and intestinal health. When you use probiotics as a supplement, it usually helps fix digestive issues, and it comes in many forms: yogurts, capsules, chews, and powders.

Your pet can have a probiotic to help promote regularity in digestion. However, you must talk to your veterinarian for a recommendation. In most cases, veterinarians recommend probiotics following a surgery or antibiotics to help get your pet back on track with their digestion, and it’s not something your pet would need daily.

Antioxidants

As you age, you might be tempted to jump on the antioxidant supplement train; after all, antioxidants help counteract signs of aging, including cognitive abilities, so that you can stay sharp. Many pet owners also believe that antioxidants are suitable for their pets as they age. Antioxidants play a significant role in your pet’s overall health.

The problem with using these supplements is that your pet’s food may already contain nutrients and antioxidants, including Vitamin E, C, L-Carnitine, and more. Antioxidant supplements, in this instance, are unnecessary since the food is already meeting your pet’s nutritional needs. However, if you’re concerned that the food is insufficient, it’s worth discussing it with your veterinarian. Your vet may have you switch foods or recommend additional antioxidant supplements if necessary.

Should You Give Your Pet Supplements?

If you are considering any supplements for your pet, have a discussion with your veterinarian first. Your pet could have some other underlying condition or cause as to why you believe it may need a supplement, and it’s better to seek medical attention rather than trying to treat it without research or a discussion with your vet.

Be watchful of your pet’s diet. Does your pet often eat scraps from the dinner table? Ensure that your pet receives all the correct nutrition, vitamins, and nutrients from its pet food. Research, talk to your vet, or look closely at the ingredients. Look for reputable companies that have conducted diet trials with animals, and have certifications.

Also, when dogs are on supplements, the importance of hydration becomes even more significant due to potential interactions between the supplements and their effects on the body.

Pay attention to the advertisements when it comes to supplements! Don’t fall for false claims because there are many spam messages with products that “claim” to fix specific pet ailments. There are no supplements that can cure severe diseases.

And lastly – don’t give your pet any supplements that you take. Human supplements are not suitable for pets and, in some cases, can be toxic. We all want the best for our pets, consider them part of the family, and give them the utmost care. Before giving your pet anything, your best action is to speak with a veterinarian before adding supplements to your pet’s diet.

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