Many pet parents fall into the trap of believing supplements are useless. Owners think food, water and exercise is enough to keep their furry friends healthy. Unfortunately, some cats and dogs live with nutritional deficiencies without their owners realizing it or are predisposed to health problems that supplements may help prevent. Supplements are for the young and old, big and small, healthy and sick—and here’s why.
How supplements can benefit your pet
Nutritional supplements aren’t reserved for humans. Many pets experience vitamin and mineral deficiencies, especially as they get older or suffer from chronic ailments. No matter their age, breed or medical history, every cat and dog can benefit from some type of supplement to help them live a long and happy life.
If you think supplements are just a waste of money, think again. Here are just a few ways supplements can help your pet.
- Provide all essential nutrients: Just like human food, not all cat and dog food is nutritious. Pet food must contain six categories of nutrients—water, lean proteins, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, many modern pet foods lack a proper balance of all six nutrients. A pet eating kibble with a lot of fat, empty calories and very little nutritional content is the equivalent of a person eating nothing but junk food their whole life! There’s also no one-size-fits-all bag of kibble or canned food that guarantees a balanced diet for every animal. Supplements can help fill in the gaps of your cat’s or dog’s diet to make up for what the food lacks.
- Health support the natural way: Supplements are a natural alternative or addition to traditional medicine. While prescription drugs effectively treat many health problems, they also come with a host of unpleasant side effects. What’s more, prescribed medications often treat symptoms instead of fixing the problem itself. The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in supplements provide the building blocks that help every organ in the body function at its best. When administered at the proper dosage, supplements often have few side effects and can be just as effective as traditional medicine.
- Prevent breed-specific ailments: Some supplements are great at mitigating ailments that are common in certain breeds. For example, as dogs get older, their behaviors may start to change. For larger breeds in particular, pet parents might notice their senior dogs have a difficult time walking and are less agile than they used to be. That’s because large dog breeds are predisposed to joint problems. One compound called glucosamine naturally occurs in the fluid that surrounds joints. When large breeds take a glucosamine supplement earlier in life, they’re less likely to develop arthritis symptoms in the future.
- Protect your pet during major changes: Cats and dogs naturally produce a range of micronutrients. However, stressful situations can deplete or otherwise inhibit the production or intake of vitamins and minerals. Major life changes can provoke stress in pets, such as a new living environment or family member. Extra stress placed on the body can lead to a vitamin deficiency. Supplements can keep your pet healthy as they navigate a stressful time in their life, either by providing a range of nutrients or by helping the pet maintain a calm demeanor.
- Support their overall health: Supplements don’t always target specific ailments. Some micronutrients are not only good for treating a pet’s unique needs but can also boost their overall health. For example, omega-3 fatty acids are a very well-known anti-inflammatory that addresses skin and joint problems. Supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids have also been proven to support organ function throughout the body, therefore making it an essential nutrient in every pet’s diet.
- Save money on medical bills: Supplements can prevent or slow the progression of diseases. Pets with a vitamin or mineral deficiency are more likely to develop health problems later in life. They might also have chronic health conditions that worsen over time. When those problems crop up, the resulting medical bills can put a strain on your wallet. Supplements might sound like a waste of money, seeing as your pet is perfectly healthy right now. However, herbal supplements can ensure they remain healthy down the road. The price of a supplement is well worth saving your furry friend from a preventable ailment.
Always check with your vet before incorporating a daily supplement into your pet’s diet. A supplement that works for one pet might not yield the same results in another. Additionally, some products have been known to negatively interact with prescribed medications. Every pet has a different set of needs, and vets possess the necessary knowledge to help you make an informed decision.