Dietary supplements for dogs and cats are becoming more and more popular with pet parents. In some cases, these pet supplements can make a noticeable difference in a pet’s well-being and health. However, in other cases, supplementation is not only unneeded, but can cause problems.
Commercial dog food is complete, and even the worst brands add synthetic vitamins to get them up to the daily requirement (one of my tips for picking a good kibble is finding brands with the fewest added vitamins at the end of the ingredient panel). Fat soluble vitamins, such as A, E, D, and K, are stored rather than washed from the body in the urine like water soluble vitamins. So since most dogs are getting 100-percent of their daily recommendation of these, it is a bad idea to add more. Adding more water-soluble vitamins doesn’t carry the same risk of vitamin toxicity, but is still rarely needed.
My belief in pet supplements is simple; cater it to the specific individual dog or cat’s needs. Issues such as joints, skin and coat, and the digestive system can certainly improve with proper supplementation.
Many people, myself included, supplement glucosamine and chondroitin to senior dogs and cats. In human trials, the effectiveness of these is barely more than that of a placebo. But the reason for the craze of these joint supplements in humans was their effectiveness on horses. I am unaware of a large-scale trial using these in dogs or cats, but anecdotal evidence is…well, as solid as anecdotal evidence can be.
My last senior dog (RIP) would noticeably limp after three to four days of running out of Nupro, every single time. Scores of customers have also reported improvement in their pets from using it, so I am of the belief that either glucosamine, chondroitin, or a combination of the two is effective for joint pain in dogs. Keeping your pet lean so that his or her joints are supporting fewer pounds will also go a long way.
Another area in which pet owners use pet supplements is for skin and coat issues. Most commercial dog foods have an abundance of Omega 6 fatty acids but are low on Omega 3s. This is due to the use of vegetable oils or chicken fat, as well as Omega 3s being destroyed in the heating process of manufacturing. Omega 3 supplements for pets are readily available and are usually derived from marine animals, such as anchovy, sardine, and salmon. Vegetable-derived oils, such as olive oil, do not contain EPA and DHA, and instead contain ALA, which is of limited nutritional value. I personally use an over-the-counter blend of anchovy, hemp seed, and sardine oil for my own dog.