Many people take dietary supplements. But did you know that supplements can be beneficial for your pets as well?
The sales of supplements for pets are estimated at 600 million dollars. However, pet supplementation undergoes less regulatory oversight than human dietary supplementation. Because the regulations are less stringent for pets, it is essential to know what supplements are beneficial, and which are dangerous in high amounts and aren’t as helpful for your pet. (1)
Because our pets age faster than we do, it is even more important to provide preventative care through:
- Dental care
- Parasite prevention
- Regularly scheduled exams
- Weight management
By tending to your pets’ needs early in their lives, you can give them the best chance possible of living a long and healthy life. (2)
Isn’t a High-Quality Pet Food Enough?
Sometimes, yes, but most of the time, no.
Even if you feed your pets a high-quality food that seems to meet all their nutritional needs, age, ailments, and environmental factors may contribute to the need for supplementation.
As your pets age, their nutritional needs change. Pet food, no matter how high the quality, isn’t always enough. It’s important to adjust your pets’ nutrition when necessary throughout their lives. Because pets age at such a rapid rate compared to humans, their nutritional needs can change quickly. (3)
The risk of developing diseases related to malnutrition exists if a dog or cat consumes an imbalanced diet, regardless of the manufacturer, how the product is marketed, or the high nutritional value it claims. (4)
8 Benefits of Pet Supplementation
Supplementation can provide many benefits for your pets. When taken as recommended by a veterinarian, supplements can help boost your pets’ immune system; improve their cognitive development, immune system, skin, and coat; maintain healthy digestion; and reduce joint pain and inflammation.
The most popular supplements include those for:
Our pets, like us, age. There’s no getting around that. But it may be possible to slow the progression of degeneration as your pet ages. It’s important to provide nutrients that support their aging bodies. Dietary requirements change according to activity level, their ability to eliminate waste and toxins, and their ability to digest and absorb nutrients.
Supplementation to help these adjustments may improve your pet’s length and quality of life. The best supplements to include in your pet’s diet are those safe for a variety of age-related issues. Such supplements include Coenzyme Q-10, digestive enzymes, omega fatty acids, probiotics, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and zinc. (5, 6)
Brain aging happens to all pets at different rates, but it can be a degenerative process for all. Vision impairment, smell disturbance, tremors, swaying, or falling are common in older pets.
Although there is no cure for an aging pet’s cognitive decline, there are things you can do to improve your pets’ brain function as they age. By adjusting an older pet’s diet and including supplementation, even pets experiencing cognitive dysfunction can see improvement in brain health. Look to the omega-3 in fish oil supplements to support their brain function, as well as Boswellia and Ginkgo biloba. (7)
Sometimes, your pet needs a little help not only to digest his food but to help absorb the nutrients. A lack of cooked food enzymes can lower resistance to stress and disease, and shorten the lifespan.
To prevent this early decline and support or improve your pet’s digestive health, look to provide probiotics and digestive enzymes. These supplements can improve the immune system, toxin, waste elimination, and hormone regulation, giving your pet the support it needs for digestive health. (15)
Heart disease isn’t found only in humans. Your pet can develop heart disease, too. Sometimes, diet and exercise aren’t enough to keep your pet’s heart healthy and strong. Many factors contribute to heart issues in your pet, such as obesity, breed, and nutrition. It is important to spot the signs early. The early warning signs are dry, wheezing cough after activity, restlessness when sleeping, rapid weight loss, rapid tiring, or fatigue.
To help to prevent these issues, look to support heart health with coenzyme Q10, Vitamin E, L-carnitine, taurine, and omega-3 fatty acids. (8)
There are many reasons your pet can develop inflammation — a common physical response to illness or injury. Bacteria growth, environmental stress, food allergies, genetics, metabolic diseases, and parasites can all cause inflammation in your pet. It’s the body’s way of protecting and trying to heal itself.
Arthritis and skin conditions are common ailments in pets and can improve with certain nutrients’ added support. Fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin have proven beneficial concerning joint health and inflammation in pets. (9)
Joint issues can arise in pets from age, surgery, injury, infection, and obesity. An obvious sign is lameness, but other signs your pet may have a joint issue are slower walking, limping, trouble standing from a seated or lying position, or reluctance to walk or climb stairs.
In addition to an active lifestyle and a healthy weight, you can add supplements to your pet’s diet to support his joints. Fatty acids, along with glucosamine and chondroitin and a multivitamin, can be beneficial for your pet during each phase of its life. (10)
Healthy fats are essential in keeping your pet’s skin and coat healthy. When pets lick and groom obsessively, it may be a sign they are having an issue with their skin. Allergies, infections, parasites, and wounds could be some of the culprits. If you notice any scaling, redness, inflamed or hot areas, or a dull coat, contact your veterinarian. Skin and coat issues can be uncomfortable and even painful for your pet.
For preventative care, bathe your pets in an oatmeal bath and brush them frequently if they have fur. Omega-3 supplements have proven beneficial for improved and maintained skin and coat health of dogs and cats. (11)
Your pet can acquire toxins in a variety of ways. There are many toxins in our environment, such as glyphosate. Glyphosate is the toxin in weed killers and pesticides. These chemicals can damage essential organs, such as the kidneys and liver, and can lead to many other health problems. Other foods are toxic to some pets, such as artificial sweeteners, avocados, chocolate, grapes, and raisins.
Supplements containing dark leafy greens, cleansing herbs such as antioxidants, amino acids, chlorophyll, mushroom fungi, and trace minerals are shown to help rid toxins from your pet. (12)
Dangers of Pet Supplementation
Dietary supplements (whether for humans or pets) are regulated very differently than drugs. They don’t require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review product effectiveness, safety, or quality before marketing.
Although supplements are thought to be safe because they are “natural,” this is not always the case. If a supplement is proven to be safe for humans, it may not be safe for pets, which metabolize supplements differently.
It is important to speak to your veterinarian about the best supplements for your pets to ensure they receive the appropriate nutrition for their current needs. (13)
Never give your pet vitamins meant for humans.
Lack of knowledge of what supplements are appropriate for your pet can result in: (14)
- Doses too low to have any potential benefits
Deficiencies in your pet’s nutrition can occur despite what is in their daily food. Supplements can help fill in any nutritional gaps that may lead to health problems down the road.
Even the healthiest pets can eventually require additional nutritional supplementation as they age to prevent problems such as joint disease, memory issues, cancer, digestional distress, allergies, infections, and stress-related issues.
Be cautious about giving supplements to your pets. Some products, such as garlic, can be dangerous for dogs. Always consult your veterinarian before beginning supplements to consider your pet’s medical history and current needs thoroughly.
As pet owners, you want what is best for your furry friends. Consider supplementation to improve their quality of life and ensure they are at optimum health through each phase of their life.
How are you going to supplement your pet’s diet today?