Like most vets, I recommend supplements for pets - everything from multivitamins to therapeutic probiotics for optimal gastrointestinal (GI) tract health. But did you know you can get these ingredients pre-added to your pet’s food? Indeed, adding them to your pet's diet need not require you to lift more than a finger beyond basic feeding. It is now that simple.
Here are some nutritional supplements you’ll often find “hidden” in that bag or can of therapeutic pet food:
1. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate: This is the most celebrated and controversial product combo on the supplement market. Whatever you think of these ingredients, we can credit their popularity for the size of this market within the pet industry.
Used to support joint cartilage (theoretically by flooding the body with the building blocks for proper cartilage production), these ingredients are available as chewable tablets or treats, liquids, powders, capsules, and as supplements blended into pet food.
My clients swear they help, and studies show they work. Consequently, I’m a big believer in their ability to prevent the cumulative effect of arthritis in the first place and to reduce the effects of arthritis in the second.
I recommend them for extra-big dogs of all ages, for all aging cats and dogs, and for any creature predisposed to arthritis for any reason whatsoever (joint trauma, congenital joint disease, etc.).
2. Fatty acids: A blend of fish and vegetable oils have long been used for optimum dermatologic wellness in pets. Lately, they’ve been popular for people, too, especially when it comes to their heralded role in heart health.
For pets, fatty acids are known to help reduce inflammation at the skin’s cellular level, which is why I don’t know of any veterinary dermatologist who doesn’t routinely recommend them for almost any inflammatory skin condition. They have long been postulated as being beneficial to normal brain function and are now commonly offered to older pets as a way of delaying cognitive impairments - conditions which I lovingly refer to as “catzheimers” and “dogzheimers.” Fatty acids are popular for treating joint ills, too.
3. Fiber supplements: Lots of fun new fiber supplements are now available specifically for pets, primarily for chronic or intermittent constipation. Added to pet foods, they take no extra time or effort to offer. And Metamucil is still an excellent option if your vet feels the need to recommend even bigger doses than what pet foods offer.
4. Prebiotics: I like to call these the building blocks of happy bacteria, but they’re more than that. They also make the cells lining the intestines happy, and that’s a great thing for pets with unhealthy dietary habits (eating garbage, for example), or for those with dietary intolerances or special sensitivities.
Okay, so these are my faves. What are yours?
Dr. Patty Khuly