VITAMINS FOR PETS: Should Pet Owners Supplement Pets’ Diets?
In today’s stress-filled world, sometimes it’s all we can do to grab a coffee and a donut for breakfast, to say nothing of eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. So instead, we pop a multi-vitamin and go on our way.
Does this also hold true for our pets? Will their health benefit from daily vitamins and supplements?
Not necessarily. While there are a myriad of vitamins available to conscientious owners looking for ways to help their pets, for many they may be unnecessary and even potentially harmful products.
It is a far better investment to make sure you pet is on a good quality diet. As with people, most vets feel when it comes to vitamins, if a healthy patient is eating a commercially balanced diet or a properly balanced home-made diet, they shouldn’t need supplements. Although many people frequently feel that more is better, in this case that is not likely true. It is potentially possible to over-supplement your pet.
That is not to say that some pets can’t use a little extra help for specific conditions. There are numerous supplements that can greatly benefit an animal’s health — especially those that suffer from arthritis, as well as other specific disease conditions. As with all medical treatments, the key is to choose the proper supplement when it is appropriate; and to be sure it comes from a reliable manufacturer.
Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and MSM (alone and in combination products) are among those most often recommended by veterinarians, and commonly purchased by pet owners. These products improve joint health by protecting and stimulating the joint cartilage, through their generalized antiinflammatory effects, and by improving the quality and volume of the lubricating joint fluid. Taken orally in tablet form, these products may help to relieve stiffness in joints. However, not all patients respond equally well to these supplements, and each individual should be evaluated for their response to the treatment before opting to use it long term.
Some popular glucosamine products are Cosiquin and, new to the market, Dasuquin, which contains and avocado and soy complex. Adequan, an injectable polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (PSGAG), which is currently approved for use in dogs and horses. It has an effect similar to the other joint supplements in helping to slow down the breakdown of cartilage, increase joint fluid viscosity, and decrease inflammation; but is considered by many to be a more reliable treatment.
Omega-3 fatty acids, a common source of fish, plant and nut oils, help relieve arthritis and skin allergies, are used to treat yeast infections and are essential for the proper development of the retina and visual cortex. While some pet food companies add omega-3 fatty acids to their products, pet owners can supplement their pet’s diets with an omega-3 gel tab or liquid drops applied daily in their mouths.
For cats with anxiety issues, Feliway – available as a pump spray or a diffuser that is plugged into the wall – releases pheremones, or facial hormones. When a cat rubs its cheek against you or any object, he is “marking,” leaving behind his happy, relaxed scent. Feliway tricks cats into thinking they have already marked a spot. Spray one pump into his carrier, for example, and he’ll be nice and relaxed when you put him inside.
The canine version is called DAP or Dog Appeasing Hormone. It works the same way Feliway does, except instead of a cheek pheromone, it’s the pheromone released from a mother’s mammary gland.
There are other supplements available for pets with specific issues including probiotics for pets with diarrhea, liver supplements, and iron supplements for anemic pets.
It is worthwhile to discuss any concerns about your pet’s diet or considerations about supplements with your veterinarian. As always, we at the Mamaroneck Veterinary Hospital are more than happy to take the time to discuss all of your concerns and your pet’s needs in person or by phone. Please never hesitate to call with any questions.