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Pet Supplements

You want the very best for your pet. You want her to be as healthy and happy as can be, right? We try to feed them the best food and give them back as much as they provide for us. What else can I do for my pet? What about supplements?


If that’s a question you have asked yourself, you are not alone. Preliminary findings from the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) show that 77% of adults in America use supplements. The American Veterinary Medical Association reports approximately one-third of dogs and one-fifth of cats receive supplements; an amount that results in over $600 million spent, by pet owners, on supplements. These numbers continue to rise with the increased online presence and reach of the pet food industry.


Pet supplements can cover a wide range of uses, the most common of which are multivitamins, joint supplements and fatty acids. When considering adding a supplement of any kind to your pet’s health regimen, we need to also consider the what, where and why—an issue as important for our pets as it is for people in order to avoid the possible pitfalls of the supplement industry. A large portion of this is simply due to low levels of regulation surrounding supplements, particularly with respect to companion animals. Supplements are not under the jurisdiction of the Federal Drug Administration, and as companion animal supplements do not fall under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, they become, essentially, unapproved drugs; this also raises concerns for safety, quality, and efficacy of products. The supplement you’re purchasing could have the ingredients stated, but could also have more, less, or none at all!


Compounding the issue, supplements are often available to consumers with limited, if any backing by scientific data or studies. Many pet supplements tout therapeutic benefits based only on hypothetical or subjective information, or with information taken from unrelated species. It is important to apply evidence-based medicine for any therapy; the same care you may take in understanding the treatment for diseases such as diabetes should be taken in considering supplements for your pet.


Now, you may be feeling overwhelmed. You may even be wondering if you should use supplements for your pet at all. The answer is … maybe. That is why your pet’s health care team is here to help you. Speaking with your veterinarian should be the first step in determining if any supplements are appropriate for your pet. You and your veterinarian will discuss specific considerations such as age, diet, health status, and current medications your pet may be taking. Based on your conversation, if a supplement is recommended, your veterinarian will guide you through the process, including making recommendations for trusted and studied supplements, as well as which brand names and dosages of those products.

If you’re interested in reading further information on supplements and how to make informed decisions is available at the websites listed below:

  • https://nasc.cc/ -- National Animal Supplement Council. An independent organization that audits companies to become members based on quality control

  • Consumerlab.com -- Site with a small subscription fee that independently evaluates, primarily human but also some pet supplements, 

  • https://www.fda.gov/food/dietary-supplements -- Food and Drug Administration. Regulatory and safety issues, as well as adverse event reporting of supplements

  • www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements -- Mayo Clinic. Searchable database with information/fact sheets on human supplements

  • www.quality-supplements.org -- United States Pharmacopeia Dietary Supplement Verification Program—Independent testing of human supplements. Products with the USP certification seal have met the most rigorous standards for safety and quality of product.

  • https://ods.od.nih.gov/ -- National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements. Fact sheets, safety notices, resources on how to evaluate supplements and how to evaluate online health information

  • www.nal.usda.gov/topics/dietary-supplements -- Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Information Center—General supplement and nutrition information with links to a variety of supplement websites

  • https://wsava.org/global-guidelines/global-nutrition-guidelines/ -- World Small Animal Veterinary Association. Nutrition toolkit, including tools for pet owners on selecting the best diet for a pet and tools for veterinarians on taking a pet’s diet history

(sources of sites: Assessing pet supplements. JAVMA News, Jan 4, 2017; Dietary Supplements for Pets: Harmful or Helpful? Petfoodology, Mar 6, 2017)

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We provide the quality care our clients expect and their pets deserve, by relying on the expertise and
compassion of each team member.


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Westgate Pet Clinic
4345 France Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55410
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