Health supplements for pets

Health supplements for dogs and cats

As a pet owner, you want to make sure you're doing all you can to keep your pet happy and healthy, and that might make you wonder if you should be giving your dog or cat dietary supplements. A quick online search will yield an overwhelming number of options — from vitamins to probiotics to herbs and more. But like those intended for human consumption, not all supplements are created equal. So what do you need to know about supplements and their safety? Let's take a closer look. 

When it comes to pet supplements: exercise caution 

About a third of dog owners in the United States give their dogs dietary supplements, as do a fifth of cat owners. Most buy their supplements through their veterinarian, but some go it alone — and that can be cause for concern, particularly when it comes to efficacy, purity and safety. Simply put, owners could be paying a lot of money for supplements that don't work, are contaminated or, worst case, put the health and safety of their pets at risk.

There's a common misconception that natural supplements are inherently safe — this is simply untrue. Just because a product says it's natural does not mean it's safe for humans or pets. Many natural or plant substances can, in fact, be harmful to your pet, and supplements can also interact with your pet's medications, so it's essential to consult with Dr. Nicole about any supplements you intend to give your animals. 

If you're searching for information about supplements, it can be difficult to find reputable material about the safety and efficacy of the product. It can also be hard to determine the purity of ingredients, the quality and the active ingredients in supplements. More, supplements can be contaminated with ingredients not listed on the label. 

Every pet owner needs to know there is no government regulation of supplements or natural health products. This means they are not required to meet the stringent standards applied to pharmaceutical products or medications prescribed by your veterinarian. For these reasons, it's imperative to exercise caution if you want to give supplements to your pet. 

As always, it's best to speak with a veterinarian first. Some are knowledgeable about alternative or complementary medicine and can advise you about possible benefits, dangers or side effects of dietary supplements for your pet. 

Some common reasons owners choose dietary supplements for their pets

Pet owners explore dietary supplements for their dogs, cats or other animals for many reasons. Some health conditions can be addressed in part through vitamins and mineral supplementation. Sometimes medications themselves can have side effects that supplements can help balance; for example, if your pet needs to be on antibiotics, your veterinarian may recommend supplementing with a probiotic. Older pets may experience joint pain or other conditions that can benefit from nutritional supplements. In addition, for pets who experience anxiety, scents and pheromones have shown promise in restoring a sense of calm — which is why they are an important component of our dedication to Fear Free® methods of care at Onalaska Animal Hospital. 

Consult with your veterinarian before giving pets supplements

There are many reasons pet owners are interested in dietary supplements for their pets, ranging from their pet's emotional wellness to their physical health — and our desire to help them be a part of our lives for as long as possible. But no loving pet owner wants to take chances with their dog or cat's health. Consulting with a veterinarian is an essential part of your information-gathering stage to ensure you are giving your pets exactly what they need to live long and healthy lives.