Choosing the right pet health supplements

October 28, 2014

Pet health supplements have become one way to invest in your pet’s health. Read on to find out if they're right for your pet.
What supplements are there?

Health supplements, such as multivitamins, are a billion dollar business for humans. In recent years, this industry has ballooned for dogs and cats. The most common health supplements for pets are multivitamins, supplements to support arthritic joints, and fatty acids to improve a coat’s shine.

Pet owners also may give probiotics to alleviate gastrointestinal problems or antioxidants to counteract the effects of aging. While there has been little scientific study to determine the efficacy of pet supplement claims, that hasn’t stopped companies from selling them by the millions.

As a pet owner, it can be difficult to identify improvements from supplementation, since it’s common for multiple supplements to be given simultaneously or in conjunction with other lifestyle changes. For example, a dog might receive a supplement in addition to a new natural dog food and increased daily exercise. Any noticeable improvements could be due to one of the factors, a combination of all three or even a placebo effect.

Why consider pet supplements?

If your dog has not been getting a well-balanced diet or has a particular health issue that requires additional intake of certain ingredients, you may look to pet supplements. Human pet supplements are formulated in larger amounts that can be inappropriate or even dangerous to animals. Follow your vet’s guidance when choosing the right supplement for your pet.

Common pet health supplements include:


Just like humans, dogs can get arthritis. Glucosamine is fast becoming the most widely used supplement for dogs to combat joint issues. Usually marketed in combination with chondroitin sulfate, omega fatty acids, vitamin E and other minerals, glucosamine can help decrease inflammation and improve the body’s ability to repair and strengthen tissues.

It has also been marketed for treatment of feline interstitial cystitis, a chronic inflammatory disease of a cat’s urinary bladder.

Fish oil

Fish oil’s natural fatty acids can increase moisture in the skin and hair, a benefit to pets who suffer from skin allergies or dry coat.


Probiotics are found in foods with live cultures such as yogurt, which helps maintain optimal balance of bacteria in the intestines. Supplementing your pet’s diet with pre- and probiotics not only supports a healthy digestive tract but can restore balance after a bout of diarrhea.

Vitamins C and E

These vitamins are known for their antioxidant properties. They can help reduce inflammation and may help maintain cognitive function in older animals.

If you’re interested in health supplements for your pet, a licensed veterinarian who is well versed in alternative medicine can provide guidance in choosing the right one. Watch for any negative changes in your pet and stop supplements immediately if they become ill. Always report adverse effects to your vet and the product’s manufacturer.

Choosing the right pet health supplements
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