Vitamins for Dogs and Cats
- Thursday, 14 June 2012
As a pet owner, you have likely come across many vitamins and supplements for dogs and cats, readily available at your local pet supply store. It is important to understand the purpose of additional supplements and to monitor your pet’s intake of them from various sources in his diet. Vitamins are necessary for the healthy functioning of a body, and can often aid in healing or reducing symptoms of common ailments in pets. Vitamins and supplements can help regulate body processes, break down nutrients, or eliminate toxins from the body.
Always check with your veterinarian before offering any additional vitamins or supplements to your pet. Many pets already receive a healthy dose from premium quality food. However, older pets may not absorb vitamins and minerals as easily, requiring additions to their daily diets. Pets who suffer from medical conditions or age related ailments may also benefit from vet-recommended vitamins and supplements, administered in pill form or as additives in treats.
What's Already In The Bowl?
If you are aiming to improve the health and vitality of your pet, begin by auditing the nutritional value of his daily meals. A high quality food that meets or exceeds nutritional standards set by AAFCO will provide your pet with a baseline of necessary vitamins and minerals for overall good health. Discuss your pet food selection with your veterinarian to ensure that it is delivering adequate support for your pet’s specific breed, lifestyle, and condition of health.
Boning Up On Common Supplements
Veterinarians may suggest additional vitamins and supplements for pets with joint disease and arthritis, skin issues, or liver disease.
Certified Veterinary Journalist Dr. Amber Andersen says she has seen glucosamine and chondroitin work effectively for dogs and cats with joint issues such as hip dysplasia or arthritis. But because these supplements are also marketed for human consumption, it is important to be aware that pets should only be given glucosamine and chondroitin formulated specifically for dogs and cats.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are cartilage components primarily harvested from shellfish that help a pet’s body repair damaged joint cartilage. In addition to over the counter or prescription pills, formulations designed for pets can also be found as additives in treats. Be sure that the treats are low in calories, however, as excess weight will only add problems for pets suffering from arthritis.
“For pets with skin issues, I recommend fish oil, as it can help with maintain your pet's coat,” says Dr. Andersen. However, some skin issues can stem from environment or food allergies. So it is always best to consult your veterinarian to determine the best course of action.
Proper liver function is another essential building block of health and vitality in pets. S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) can be prescribed for some pets with liver disease. The supplement is a natural biochemical produced from amino acids that helps repair and protect liver cells.
Dr. Andersen warns pet owners never to give pets vitamins and supplements formulated for human use.
“Human supplements and even some over the counter pet supplements can actually have ingredients toxic to pets,” says Dr. Andersen, highlighting that culprit ingredients most often include allium species of plants such as onions, garlic, leeks, and chives.
Never assume that a recommendation for your dog will also be appropriate for your cat, or vice versa. The body chemistries of cats and dogs differ greatly, and have very differing nutritional needs. Thus vitamins and supplements for dogs may not be beneficial for cats, or may even cause serious harm.
Your veterinarian is your best resource for determining the potential benefits of vitamins or supplement for your pet. Select the highest quality forms of supplements, as not all are made with the same standards. Provide your dog or cat the highest quality food and treats, and ensure that he has enough fresh water, exercise, and sleep to help support a healthy, active life.
Eric is the President of New Jersey-based Loving Pets Products, a company dedicated to high-quality, all-natural and affordable pet treats and pet product accessories.
Photo Credit: AV4TAr / CC 2.0