Nutritional supplements are collectively a multi-billion dollar industry. While the majority of these supplements are oriented towards human health and wellness, companies are starting to divert more of their products towards pet health.
While the concept of pet supplements is promising, there are some finer points to consider before you start feeding your dog, cat, hamster, horse, bird, or any other animal a dietary supplement. This is especially true if you intend on treating your pet’s debilitating health conditions, such as arthritis or hormonal imbalance, with a pet supplement.
As a disclaimer, you should always seek the professional guidance of a licensed veterinarian or pet pharmacist before you invest in a pet supplement for treating a disease, dysfunction, or disorder.
Even if you only plan to buy a pet supplement as a means of improving the general health and longevity of your pet, it’s imperative to do plenty of research on what the ingredients are, how they work, and if they are safe for your specific pet.
On that note, let’s take a deeper look at what pet supplements are, the role they can play in your pet’s wellness, and tips for making better decisions when buying them.
“These claims have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or medical condition.”
What Are Pet Supplements?
Frankly speaking, many of us care just as much about our furry companions as we do about other humans. It’s no surprise, then, that pet supplements are a booming sub-niche in the world of dietary supplements. After all, having a healthy pet around the house can make all the difference.
When the health of your pet starts to suffer, it can be not only heartbreaking but also frustrating. Since animals generally have much shorter lifespans than humans, there is less “room for error”, so to speak, in their diet. Yes, even cats, dogs, horses, and other higher mammals can suffer from conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease – two of the leading causes of death of humans across the globe.
However, since we live longer and are ultimately the ones who control what we do and don’t use in the way of nutritional supplements, we can generally “bounce back” from health issues. Pets, on the other hand, may not be as resilient, especially if they aren’t being nourished properly.
Benefits of Pet Supplements
The benefits of pet supplements may be myriad in certain circumstances. For example, a popular anti-inflammatory herbal ingredient known as turmeric extract has promise for helping reduce arthritic pain in both humans and pets, especially canines. As such, many dog supplements contain turmeric extract as a general anti-inflammatory ingredient.
Other pet supplements may help improve breath odor, reduce the risk of bacterial infection, and improve the hair/fur coat and skin of your pet.
So yes, there are plenty of potential benefits of pet supplements. Just remember that pet supplements are meant to serve as an adjunct, not a replacement, to your pet’s healthy lifestyle and diet.
Just as essential as it is for us humans to exercise regularly, eat healthily, and maintain good hygiene, the same goes for your pet.
Are Pet Supplements Regulated?
Sadly, pet supplements are even less regulated than supplements for humans. In either case, the regulation is minimal since the Food and Drug Administration does not have any direct involvement with nutritional supplements. In fact, if you look at the label of any dietary supplement, there’s an explicit statement that absolves any health claims from having to be substantiated by scientific and clinical evidence.
The statement reads: “These claims have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or medical condition.”
In other words, the health benefit claims that you read or hear about any nutritional supplement, whether it’s for humans or pets, are not moderated by the FDA. This gives supplement companies pretty much free reign to say things that are a bit farfetched, particularly if they sell products with ingredients that have no compelling research behind them.
What Goes Into Pet Supplements?
As a consumer and devoted lover of your pet, it behooves you to do plenty of research before buying a pet supplement. Be sure to read the label and see what ingredients go into each serving and whether or not those ingredients are backed by concrete evidence (e.g. clinical studies and trials).
Moreover, pet supplements might not always be as transparent as they seem. Given the somewhat iffy track record of dietary supplements for humans meeting label claims for potency and purity, having independent third-party lab testing for pet supplements is prudent.