Just like certain dietary supplements can be beneficial to people, vitamins and nutraceuticals can also benefit dogs and cats in some cases. The mainstay of a healthy pet is a high quality, balanced diet and this should provide all of the vitamins and minerals required by your pet. However, there are some pet supplements that may boost your pet’s health if indicated.
Glucosamine supplements can provide some benefit to pets suffering from arthritis. Glucosamine is one of the components that gives cartilage its elasticity. Glucosamine is also thought to ‘switch off’ some of the inflammatory enzymes that trigger cartilage breakdown, inflammation and pain in arthritic joints and long term use may help the pet avoid the use of other anti-inflammatory medications, or lower the doses needed to maintain comfort.
Essential Fatty acids (EFA), especially Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are required for the stability of some cells and used for the production of certain hormones. Dogs do not produce EFA and rely on their diet for these, so supplementation may be necessary. EFA are found in high concentrations in fish oils. EFA have an anti-inflammatory effect and are most useful for the adjunct treatment of inflammatory joint and skin diseases, such as arthritis and skin allergies. Omega 3 and 6 oils should be administered in the correct ratios to be effective.
In some cases, your vet may prescribe other supplements, such as Lysine, which may be of use to control flare-ups of herpes virus infection in cats, and zinc, which may be useful in the treatment of certain types of skin disease.
Nutraceuticals should be used as an adjunct to prescription medication and your pet may take months to exhibit a response to these. As a general rule, you should consult your veterinarian before administering any of these supplements to your pet.
Does your pet take any supplements or vitamins? Tell us about it in the comments!