This post is brought to you by Brad Bowdon, manager at Tomlinson's Cedar Park. Known as one of our “supplement gurus,” Brad is trained in natural pet nutrition and has years of experience in the pet food industry. You've done your research, and found a pet food made with consciously-sourced, healthy whole ingredients. Your pet gobbles up his raw or grain-free or limited ingredient diet with gusto
What are pet supplements?
Supplements are vitamins, micronutrients and minerals given in addition to your pet's everyday diet to help improve overall wellness, or address any health needs specific to your pet.
Why should I give my pet supplements?
Make supplements fun: The Honest Kitchen wrote a recipe that serves their probiotic as a Pup-kin Spice Latte! If your pet's food is made with healthy, whole ingredients, she should be getting a decent amount of vitamins and nutrients through her food. However, nutritional supplements can give your pet an extra
leg paw up in a few ways: Micronutrients in high-quality supplements are minimally processed and retain more of their nutritional value than the vitamins added to kibble, which has been processed at high temperature. This means your pet's body can more easily break down and use these nutrients. Supplements provide nutrients in quantities sufficient enough for your pet to benefit, whereas some pet foods only contain minimal amounts. In order to reach a therapeutic level, like with glucosamine/chondroitin to alleviate arthritis, additional supplements are necessary. Supplements can be given as a preventative measure before your pet develops an issue that needs to be fixed.
Are vitamins & supplements safe to give to my pets?
Yes and no. Too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing. For example, too much calcium can be harmful to bones, especially in large breed puppies. An excessive amount of Vitamin A can lead to dehydration, joint pain, and blood vessel damage. It is important to remember that we're talking about supplements and not an alternative to a balanced diet. Each pet supplement will come with directions, and recommended dosages are given for a reason. Following these instructions will dramatically lower the risk of 'overdosing' on supplements.
Also, be sure to keep any supplements out of your pet's reach, as you would with any medicine or other. We have seen what happens when a puppy laps up a whole bottle of fish oil, and it is not pretty.
How do I choose the right supplement for my pet?
PetMD recommends the following when selecting a pet supplement:
Read the ingredient panel to ensure the vitamins are from a whole food ingredient as opposed to a synthetic source. You can feel better about what you're putting into your pet's little body if you know exactly what it is and where it's coming from.
- Look for a brand that specializes in that area, or that has commissioned clinical studies of their products.
- Look for a lot number on the product- a sign that the company has set up quality control checks.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If there is a contact number for the company on the label, call and ask who formulated the product, what expertise they have, and how long the manufacturer has been in business.
- Be wary of claims that sound too good to be true, such as promises to completely alleviate diseases like parvovirus, cancer, and hip dysplasia.
- Look for certification from an organization that has independently verified a supplement’s contents.
- Be cautious about giving human supplements to dogs. Some products may contain ingredients like garlic, which is dangerous for dogs.
Which supplements do you recommend?
As mentioned, supplements can be a great way to keep common pet ailments at bay. The following pet supplements are some of our favorites, and will improve overall health and wellness of any companion animal:
- E3 or Kelp Health: These are excellent sources of microgreens, and all of the phytonutrients that they carry.
- A probiotic like Primal's unpasteurized goat’s milk or Herbsmith Microflora: Probiotics are so important for maintaining healthy gut bacteria throughout your pet's life, and can help when transitioning diets or during tummy upsets.
- Fish oil, like Nordic Naturals: The Omega-3s and DHA in fish oil are critical to brain development in puppies and kittens, and help support coat health and heart function in older pets.
- Glucosamine/Chondroitin: This is a safe and easily administered supplement that is critical for seniors or large breed dogs.
What's the best way to give my pet his supplements?