Have you considered supplements for pets?

Most of us take a supplement of some sort – be it a vitamin tablet to keep colds away, or a cod liver oil capsule to ease aches and pains. But what about our pets?

Although we may think about dietary supplementation less for pets, it can be very useful and more clinical trials are proving its worth.

However, it is important to know which supplement to use, and when to use it.

The supplements that I most commonly recommend are to help in the management of arthritis. Pain relief medications are useful at increasing mobility, but they can have side effects and must only be prescribed by a veterinary surgeon – unlike supplements, or as we call them ‘nutraceuticals’.

Glucosamine, chondroitin and extract of green­-lipped mussel are well know from the human field, and while no clinical trials can prove the effectiveness of glucosamine/chondroitin (as yet) in pets, there are many anecdotal accounts from owners who saw a positive effect.

Extract of green­-lipped mussel has been proven in a clinical trial to be beneficial in cases of osteoarthritis in dogs, and I have used this for my own dog for the last six years to great effect.

A word of warning, however. Many products advertise containing glucosamine/chondroitin, but there is no legislation controlling the amounts so please ask for veterinary advice, or try a veterinary product first to ensure your pet will benefit.

I fear many owners have tried misleading products, been disappointed and lost confidence in this area of nutrition.

Skin and urinary conditions can greatly improve as a result of dietary nutraceuticals. Allergic skin conditions benefit from essential fatty acid supplementation, Vitamin E and sometimes Selenium. Urinary and behavioural problems can benefit from calming additions to diets, normally in capsule form. Omega three supplementation is indicated to promote cardiac health.

In my eyes, the benefits of using these products are clear – they promote health in pets and we don’t need to worry about side effects or monitoring tests. It is always best to seek veterinary advice to ensure you are using an appropriate product and dosage.

I am glad that I started my dog on extract of green-­lipped mussel tablets as she is almost 14 and needs no other pain relief medications for her arthritis – I might start taking them myself.

By CATRIONA GIBSON, Vet