November 2018: Vet's Advice
Pets popping pills
In a recent survey, 65% of adults were taking some form of vitamin or supplement either on a daily or an occasional basis. There is an increasing market for animal supplements too. They can be given to try to maintain an animal’s health and prevent certain diseases.
The range of pet supplements
Supplements, also known as nutraceuticals, are defined as pharmaceutical-grade and standardised nutrients. They can be used to support the joints, the liver, the bladder, the mind and for maintaining healthy skin and nails. Commonly used supplements include glucosamine, fish oil and milk thistle. Glucosamine is an important building block of cartilage. Omega 3 is from refined fish oil and helps to calm itchy skin. Milk thistle contains “Silymarin” which can improve liver function.
Why can supplements be beneficial?
Dietary supplements are not necessary for healthy pets eating a nutritionally balanced diet, but may benefit pets with certain medical conditions. Supplements are brilliant because you can use them preventatively and are normally very safe with minimal or no side effects. They are not drugs and so can really help pets with mild conditions; for example, the early signs of arthritis or dry, itchy skin. Unfortunately, there is very little hard evidence that they work and, unlike the pharmaceutical and drug industry, the nutritional supplement business is largely unregulated. This means that many products are not always what they appear to be. In the human market, 6 out of 10 joint products failed to meet their label claim and contained a lower percentage of the active ingredient than on the label! Therefore the potential benefits may not be seen.
What to look for in high street supplements
• Compare price per dosage rather than price per capsule. If more than one capsule are taken every day then the price per day will be much greater.
• Check if there is a ‘loading’ dose.
• Check the source of the ingredients and avoid land animal sourced ingredients. Some types of chondroitin, often found in joint supplements, is from shark cartilage and may not be ethical or sustainable.
• Ensure products contain 100% active ingredients.
• Check the percentage purity of the main active ingredients.
• Check if it is tablets, capsules or liquid. Pets can be very picky about what they will willingly take.
Supplements considered safe for humans may not be safe for animal use; therefore I would always advise asking your vet or buying directly from a vet practice. Please come in and talk to us about supplements. We stock a range of veterinary supplements and would be happy to help you.