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Does My Dog or Cat Need Supplements? What to Give and Common Mistakes to Avoid! An Essential Guide to Pet Supplements!

Updated: May 9


Preview: A lot of dog and cat owners have questions about supplements! And understandably so, the market is HUGE! It can become very overwhelming to sift through millions of supplements, research articles, and other people's suggestions. This one of the most common inquiries I receive regarding pet health. And as you could probably guess: there is not a perfect answer! Are you wondering if your pet needs supplements? Questioning whether it may all just be a marketing hype? Already giving supplements, but not sure if they're a good fit for your pet's individual needs? Coconut oil, probiotics, glucosamine, turmeric, multivitamins, and fish oil are the top supplement I see people using. But what's the downside to these?! If you are curious about using supplements to promote better health (and want to know what to avoid): this post is for you!


natural dog and cat supplements, fish oil, multivitamins, probiotics, glucosamine. Best supplements for dogs and cats


 


What Are Supplements?


A dietary supplement is a substance which is ingested, such as a pill, tincture, or powder that is either natural or synthetic, and is used to correct a deficiency and/ or strengthen the body as a whole.


Examples of this would include:


Supplement use has become very popular over the last few years, and unfortunately most people have turned to them to replace deficient diets and unhealthy lifestyle choices. To be clear, they are meant to compliment a healthy diet and lifestyle, not replace it!


Remember:

Supplements = support!


Supporting normal body functions, or supporting the body through a difficult situation.



 


What Are Supplements Used For?



There is practically no end to using supplements for wellness. But remember, we must supplement with purpose.


They can assist the body in carrying out many processes, such as:


  • Providing relief from medical conditions (urinary infection)

  • Help reduce excess histamine (seasonal allergies)

  • Restoration from trauma or damage to the body (wounds, injury, surgical recovery)

  • Bringing more balance to certain disease states

  • Supporting the normal aging process (joint pain and stiffness)

 


Types of Supplements


When choosing a supplement, not only do you need to be aware of the quality of the product... But you also need to take into account how your pet will take the supplement. With so many different varieties and styles of supplements, there are also many ways to give them. Most supplements can easily be mixed into your pet's daily meal, while others may have to be administered orally by hand.


  • Liquid/ tinctures

These can easily be mixed in to dry food. Liquids are also great for dogs who don't care what's squirted in their mouth (Maddie doesn't mind at all).


  • Powder

Can be sprinkled over wet food and stirred, and often masked fairly easy.


  • Chewables

May be best for a really food motivated dog who will readily eat anything. These can often contain fillers, flavors, and even preservatives. So it's really important to read the label!

*Be careful, as I've known many dogs to get into chewables and eat the whole bottle! Children may also see them as a treat and attempt to get into the bottle.


  • Capsules

Can be wrapped in cheese or lunch meat if needed, or hidden in wet food if.



No matter what type of supplement you choose, ALWAYS keep them out of reach of pets and children. Even those that have difficult to open caps/ packaging.


 


Should I Give My Pet Supplements?


Well, that depends!


While supplements can be great when done correctly... You need to supplement with purpose and intention. Not because someone else blindly recommends something and tells you it's the best.

*cough, cough- social media*


Some supplements (especially if too many are used) can actually just cover up symptoms and be in a very similar band-aid similar as western medications. I've even seen supplements suppress symptoms and mask serious disease process! Yes, this can happen just as traditional medications can do! If your pet cannot get by without supplements, something deeper needs to be addressed!


If you're wanting to be proactive in your pet's health:

Adding supplements just to add supplements is not beneficial, can be a waste of money and may actually be harmful to your beloved dog or cat.


First off, age is a huge factor! Puppies & kittens don't generally need supplements. With a great diet, they do well and don't need much support as opposed to an adult or aging pet. I'd say the biggest thing for puppies and kittens is adding fresh whole foods for the most health benefit!


When I hear that someone wants to start giving supplements to their animal, I begin to wonder about a few things, and I'll usually begin with asking:

"What are you currently feeding?"


This, a long with your pets individual health history and lifestyle, will ultimately determine what you should potentially be using.


This is very important information to know! The main diet should always be the core focus, as it will set the foundation to great overall health.


While you may think of the main diet as either kibble, or canned food, there are many types of food choices that dog and cat owners are feeding:



Following a conversation about diet, next I ask:

"What do you ultimately want to use supplements for?"


Targeted support is great. When giving supplements: you need to know what you're looking to accomplish.


  • Immune support?

  • Skin & coat?

  • Digestion?

  • Joint health?

  • Growth & development?

  • Senior/ aging?

  • Behavior modification?

  • Detox?


There are obviously MANY reasons that we could be giving supplements, and I'd say that the most common mistake I see pet owners make is giving a supplement for every single concern, symptom, body part, and life stage.


*I would stay clear of most multivitamins. If your dog needs a multivitamin, it means their main diet is deficient and that should be addressed right away! This does not apply to multivitamin mixes that are used to balance a homemade diet.



Examples of Inappropriate Supplement Use:

To offer some perspective, I'd like to share a case study example of supplement use.

These are 2 scenarios that I saw on social media recently.


Case #1

A middle aged dog who is eating a grocery store brand kibble, has some tummy troubles, mild itching, becomes sore after running, and is a bit nervous around guests in the home, the owner does a bit of research for each ailment and begins to give:


  • Digestive enzymes (gut health)

  • Fish oil (skin)

  • Multivitamin (skin/ overall wellness)

  • Glucosamine (joint health)

  • Turmeric (inflammation)

  • CBD oil (behavior, pain, allergies & inflammation)

  • Herbal blend (behavior & anxiety)

  • Probiotic (skin & gut health)

  • Pumpkin (gut health)


The dog owner is here is trying to address pain, inflammation, skin issues, digestion, anxious behaviors, and general wellness with 9 different supplements.


This is what I call the kitchen sink of wellness!

A smorgasbord of supplements.

A buffet of powders and pills, with no end in sight.


New concern: new supplement.

New research: new supplement.

New questions: more answers on social media than one knows what to do with.


I've seen pet owners give over 13 supplements PER DAY! Some of those being combination supplements with multiple different herbs and other nutrients.


This is NOT a tailored approach.

This is an at-home guessing game.

A waste of time and money.

This is dangerous for your pet's health!!


What would be needed here instead?

  • Diet change (can address skin/ itching, behavior, and reduce inflammation)

  • Gut health testing (to address tummy troubles, potential gut imbalance and anxiety)

  • Reduce overall toxicity (promote overall wellness & better mobility)


When we focus on on a few key factors and understand the body as a whole, a LOT can be addressed with very little. The body can actually begin to help itself! And its such an incredibly beautiful thing to witness!


There are 3 main supplements that I would recommend to address all the needs listed above.


One big thing to remember:

Less is always more!


When we over-supplement, we most commonly see digestive issues (diarrhea, constipation, vomiting), and skin issues. Giving too many supplements causes metabolic burden, taxes organs, disturbs blood values, and can often trigger an unwanted detox effect. Because each and every thing on earth has its own energy... we can quite literally create an energetic crisis within the body when adding too much.


When giving multivitamins, hypervitaminosis can occur (vitamin toxicity). This can happen with fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) as well as some minerals.


Plus:

We do not know what may be causing problems (making symptoms worse), or even helping certain ailments when SO much is given daily.


*If you feed a kibble diet, and are looking to add extra support, this link explains how to properly feed kibble and add whole foods, plus what supplements to consider giving your pet to create the healthiest diet possible.



Case #2


A Facebook group post by a new puppy owner:

  • 15 week old puppy

  • DIY homemade diet

  • Itching

  • Watery eyes

  • Vomiting


Owner wants to begin a detox and is asking for brand recommendations to start giving milk thistle, probiotics, and a multivitamin.


Here's the scoop-

People need to stop asking for such specific health advice on social media, especially for such young animals and ESPECIALLY when they are symptomatic!!!


I cannot stress the importance enough:

PLEASE WORK WITH A PROFESSIONAL.


Do not attempt detoxing any pet, especially a puppy or kitten, without guidance from someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in this.

*Detox post coming soon!


Also, puppies and kittens have very specific nutrition requirements and DIY diets with multivitamins will likely not meet their needs and lead to further health issues.


Context that is extremely important to know in cases like this:

  • Breed

  • Weight

  • Health history

  • Medical conditions (past or present)

  • Test results from the veterinarian (itching may require skin scraping, watering eyes could be viral or bacterial, vomiting could be acute poisoning/ illness, or medical condition, and any of these symptoms could be allergies to food or environment).


There were 60+ comments listing dozens and dozens of different supplements... None of which take into account this animal's individual needs.


What would be needed here instead?

  • Vet visit first and foremost!

  • A balanced diet suited for optimal growth and development

  • Evaluate environmental factors

  • Possibly address overall gut health


If this puppy's body is not given proper nutrients FIRST, prior to any type of detox regimen:

A cascade of unwanted/ worsening symptoms could arise.


This puppy may not even need a detox protocol. He needs to see a medical professional to rule out any serious health conditions.

*I require all vet records and/ or even certain testing be done with some pets prior to working with clients.



Supplementing with purpose is crucial for success.

I see a lot of people recklessly supplementing with anything and everything they can get their hands on.

I will repeat:

This is not only a waste of money, but can also be quite dangerous!


Over-supplementation, and blindly giving any product on the market can create more problems than we are trying to solve!


But I totally get it. I've been there.

For both myself, and my pets.


When faced with a health challenge, we may become desperate and start doing research, asking questions, etc. Then we see a story or a study online that says a certain supplement helps with XYZ and we buy it immediately, thinking:

"Well, what's the harm?! I've tried everything already!"

"It's all natural, so it's safe."

"It's great for XYZ, and my pet is dealing with that. So it should work."


When I talk about targeted support, I'm referring to the previously mentioned purpose:

Why are we supplementing?

What are we trying to accomplish?

What is the underlying cause for the symptoms/ imbalance we are seeing?


Sure, giving a probiotic can provide benefit to loose stools, but why are the loose stool happening in the first place? Is the food low-quality and creating inflammation? Is the pet intolerant to certain ingredients in their food? Does the dog or cat have a parasitic infection?

A probiotic will not correct a poor diet or parasites!


Some of the biggest health concerns I see pet owners wanting to use supplements for are:



 


Choosing a High Quality Pet Supplement


It's no secret that the supplement aisles are seemingly never ending and obviously very confusing!


Just as I talk about the importance of researching the food you feed, you also need to research the supplements you give! And no, I'm not just talking about what's on the label. I'm talking about the sourcing of the ingredients, manufacturing practices, testing standards, certifications, and the company values and reputation as a whole. Unfortunately there is little oversight and regulatory standards that companies must adhere to when producing supplements. Labels and marketing tactics can often be misleading, and undoubtedly confusing! Since supplements for animals (and humans) do not require FDA approval, it's really important to do some investigating!


One way to assess a pet supplement is to look for the NASC (National Animal Supplement Council) Quality Seal on the packaging.



high quality pet supplement for dog and cat health


The NASC ensures that companies are held to high standards when producing animals supplements. From supplying raw materials, to laboratory testing, advocacy and leadership with regulatory agencies, and even in providing training resources for retailers.


"Regulation of pet supplements is done voluntarily through the NASC (National Animal Supplement Council). Companies that produce pet health supplement products can be members of the NASC, which means they follow the council’s guidelines for quality control, good manufacturing practices, and follow certain claim requirements."


While you may be tempted to use a human supplement for your pets, I advise using caution. Human supplements can vary greatly in quality, and are often too high of potency for our beloved pets. They may also contain harmful ingredients/ additives that are not safe for dogs and cats.


"The NASC seal on a pet supplement provides you with the assurance that the formula was produced in a facility that has undergone a rigorous and independent audit, and follows the NASC Good Manufacturing Practice Quality Standards."

Although the NASC is a wonderful organization, it doesn't mean that every product which holds the NASC seal is a good fit for your individual animal. Some companies that have supplements with the NASC seal on them, I personally do not prefer or recommend. This is partially due to certain ingredients, and also because I may not trust that particular company as a whole.


*You can also check this website to see if your brand is certified for safety and purity.


Avoid supplements with:

  • Fillers (grains, brans, hulls, etc.)

  • Artificial colors

  • Metals (titanium dioxide)

  • Synthetic preservatives

  • Hydrolyzed protein (chicken liver, soy)

  • Artificial flavors

  • Hydrogenated oils

  • Carageenan

  • Sweeteners (sorbitol is a common one- it can have a laxative effect)


Be aware that when looking online at supplements, some companies do not disclose all of the ingredients. You'll often see just the 'Active Ingredients' listed (the main ingredient(s) advertised like fish oil or glucosamine). You also need to look for the other part of the label 'Inactive Ingredients' (fillers and processing agents). That's where you would find any of the unwanted things listed above, or some really healthy ingredients!


how to choose the best supplements for dogs and cats pet nutritionist

This is what I love to see. Functional foods and ingredients that all provide great health benefits.

*This product is explained in my blog post about anxiety.


No matter if you decide to give supplements or not, please remember:

There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Diet and lifestyle always need to come first, and supplements are a supportive measure that should only be used temporarily, or on an as needed basis (unless a chronic issue is present, such as on-going disease process, arthritis, etc).


 

Best Supplements to Give Dogs & Cats


I know you've been waiting for it! A guide to which supplements I recommend and why... and which ones to avoid! The key is knowing what will work for your individual dog or cat! just because something is recommended here (or by others) does not mean it's suitable for your pet! I'm not going to go super in-depth with a ton of supplements, but I'm going to touch on the most common ones I get asked about and that I see people using & recommending to others on a frequent basis.



Whole Foods


While targeted supplements can offer many health benefits, we must remember where supplements originate from: Whole foods and plants!


Adding real, whole foods to your pet's dish is the best way to promote overall wellness! When we give isolated nutrients, it loses bioavailability. Vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients all work together in synergy, as they are found in nature!


Whole foods are best approach to supplemental nutrition, especially with processed food diet (like kibble).






Safe Whole Foods to Give Dogs & Cats:


  • Apple

  • Berries (blueberries, raspberries)

  • Broccoli

  • Cucumber

  • Green beans

  • Sardines

  • Watermelon



*I prefer organic produce, but I am fully aware not everyone can afford organic... especially when it is not in season! I, at the very least, advise you to be aware of the Clean 15 & Dirty Dozen! A good rule of thumbs is that apples, berries and leafy greens should be organic.


When adding whole foods, be careful not to overdue it. I see many unbalanced bowls with far too many fruits and veggies, and very little meat/ kibble (main diet). Remember: dogs and cats should have a meat-based diet!



Universal Supplements


I consider universal supplements those that can generally be given to any dog or cat because they are beneficial on many levels for a variety of ailments and health concerns, or even as proactive care!


  • Green-Lipped Mussel (GLM)

GLM is a wonderful food for joint pain, shedding, immune support, and more! You can read this post that goes more in-depth with information on GLM!



  • Omegas

A touchy subject, as many will have a different view point. Most dogs and cats (and even humans) could benefit from more omega fatty acids in their diet. Especially when the main diet contains a moderate to high amount of processed foods. I prefer using plant-based omegas such as algae oil!

*More on fish oil is listed below. Be sure you are using a sustainable product that is 3rd party tested for contaminants, like heavy metals and pesticides.



  • Raw Goat's Milk

A great source of naturally occurring probiotics, fat, enzymes, protein, vitamins/ minerals, and more! A fantastic addition, for most pets! I often recommend frozen raw goat's milk to clients, but not everyone has access to it as it's mostly carried by smaller pet stores. Kept frozen, it's great to keep on hand! Once thawed and opened, it needs to be used within a few days to weeks.


The second best option is to use dehydrated raw goat's milk! This is a shelf stable option that I love to have on hand for occasional tummy troubles! Just add water to the mixture!

*My favorite dehydrated Raw Goat's Milk can be found here.


Goat's milk adds a nice boost of hydration to the bowl, along with essential nutrients.



Tailored Supplements


I consider tailored supplements those that are generally given to dogs or cats who need extra bodily support for certain conditions that need to be addressed. These supplements should be used with some caution and may not be suitable for every pet or situation.


  • Colloidal Silver (CS)

Colloidal Silver is a staple to have on hand! But many seem to be confused by what it actually is, and does. The use of CS has been used since the 1800's! It's an ancient remedy with many amazing uses! From minor to major skin concerns, to acute illness and infections, and even cancer! IT can be used topically and orally. However, it must be used with respect! CS is considered to be a natural antibiotic, but just because its natural doesn't mean it should be overused! It can disrupt the delicate microbiome of the gut if given too much or too often. The skin also has its own microbiome that you must be cautious about.


Colloidal Silver should only use when absolutely needed. Not every day for long periods of time (as preventative).

*My favorite CS product is listed here.



  • Detox supplements

A hot topic that will be addressed in-depth in my next blog post (that is almost finished)! Detox should only be done if/when the body is ready. Many people just assume you can start a detox or cleanse at any time. To maybe even do it once, and all is well. This is the farthest thing from the truth!!


When there is any type of toxin exposure, especially chronic buildup which has led to unwanted symptoms and even disease: we must move toxins SLOWLY. We also must move them somewhat frequently. This means short intervals of detox a few times a year. Rather than one large dump every few years.


When we approach a detox, there are some important things to keep in mind:

Each pet's history, symptoms and therefore level of support: will be different.


While a big go-to in the detox world is milk thistle... It takes quite a bit more than that to cleanse the body as toxins can be stored in more than just the liver! Not only that, but other nutrients and/or supplements are needed first for the body to prepare for proper toxin elimination... others can help to bind and eliminate toxins that are subsequently dumped from the liver. While most will jump to supplements, what most people fail to realize (or often forget) is that our bodies are equipped with the innate ability to naturally detox themselves... When provided a solid foundation and needed resources, of course! Stay tuned to the upcoming post on all things detox!!



  • Digestive enzymes

Enzyme supplements can be very beneficial, if needed! The body should ideally be producing the proper enzymes for digestion on its own. If we are supplementing enzymes every day, with every meal, we can actually trick the body into not producing its own enzymes! Which isn't good! However, in cases of food switches/ rotation, compromised gut health, illness, and even age, adding digestive enzymes can be great! I wouldn't recommend giving them to a pet who is not displaying any need for them. My favorite digestive enzyme product for dogs and cats is listed here.



  • Herbs & Spices

I absolutely LOVE herbal supplements! But herbs need to be respected. Even though they are natural, many have contraindications and even possible side effects if misused or abused. Herbs can support digestion, mobility, allergies, illness, seasonal changes, and even behavior! Many can be given proactively as a tonic, but most herbal products will only be given on an as-needed basis for specific conditions. I primarily use herbal supplements for detox and digestive support. One of my favorites that I keep on hand can be found here!


Turmeric & garlic can be a great addition, but are not suitable for all pets.


Turmeric is often touted as a miracle cure for inflammation, but beware, it can cause unwanted side effects and put your pet's health in danger! Turmeric has a blood thinning effect, so pets who are prone to bleeding, or are going to have surgery probably shouldn't take it (unless directed by a veterinarian). Turmeric can also cause upset stomach, vomiting and constipation (especially when given at high doses and/ or for long periods). Another risk with turmeric is that it can increase the risk for (or aggravate existing) gallbladder and kidney issues. Turmeric can be very beneficial for overall health, but be aware of how and when to use it.


Garlic is not toxic for dogs! In fact, many pet food companies quietly use it in their food (check the last 3 ingredients on the label). Many dog owners like to use it for natural flea & tick prevention.



  • Omegas*

Some dogs could benefit from omega supplements, others may not need them. Omegas in some forms can be beneficial... while others may trigger or worsen histamine reactions, and even cause inflammation and toxicity. Adding whole food sources of omegas like wild caught sardines is a fantastic way to optimize your pet's diet!

*Rosemary extract is used in some algae oil products as a natural preservative, which can be contraindicated for pets with seizures.


  • Probiotics

As mentioned above, Raw Goat's Milk is a great source of natural probiotics. The ones I speak of here as tailored support are capsules and powders of concentrated multi-strain probiotics. While a balanced gut is important, and often achieved with the use of probiotics, we can actually create imbalance by giving the wrong type of bacteria strains, or giving them too often (especially in massive doses). You need to know the state of your pet's gut health before throwing in a bunch of other bacteria in. Testing your pet's microbiome is an effective tool at getting a look at what's going on inside their gut!



  • Vitamins/ Minerals

Ideally, we should all be getting the proper nutrients from the food we consume! But with modern farming practices, depleted soils, and so-on... That's hard to achieve nowadays! Vitamin and mineral supplements can be a good addition, but again: only if needed! A lot of the time we can take an educated guess at possible deficiencies, but it can also be very helpful to get those levels tested before blindly supplementing! Most multivitamin supplements for pets contain fillers and additives so be sure to read the label carefully!


A huge mistake I see dog and cat owners making is using a multivitamin for a homemade diet, with little knowledge on what that multivitamin is providing and what the nutrient levels are at in the food they are making. Unless the multivitamin is labeled to be a base for balancing a homemade diet, it likely be insufficient!


Be cautious of giving fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) on top of a commercial diet that already contains them, or if you are feeding organ meat. Fat-soluble vitamins get stored in the body and can become toxic! Some commercial kibbles have had recalls and lawsuits for their products containing extremely high levels of vitamin D.


Water soluble vitamins (B, C) support the body on many levels. C helps with immune function, bone health, joints, collagen production, skin, and much more! Dogs and cats can synthesize their own vitamin C, so it's generally not ever needed as an additional supplement or health issues could arise.

*You can read about vitamin B in this blog post. Water-soluble vitamins are excreted in the urine and do not accumulate in the body.


Minerals would include magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese, iron, copper, potassium, and so-on. Minerals play a vital role in the body for normal functioning. Some minerals are needed in larger quantities (macro-minerals), while others only need to be present in trace amounts (trace minerals). Hemp seeds are fantastic source of minerals! I always keep a big bag of hemp seeds on hand! I personally love adding them to my salads and giving some to the dogs!


Fresh produce is also a fantastic way to add vitamins and minerals in whole food form with all their co-factors to work in synergy within the body for maximum benefit! Try to get organic produce that is in season (hello, Farmer's Markets)!




  • Other/ Misc.

Coconut oil and apple cider vinegar are hot items in the holistic pet community!

These are two things I recommend to clients on a fairly regular basis. But for some pets: they are absolutely not fitting for their needs, and could trigger new or worsening symptoms (like allergies, itching, loose stools)!


It's important to know the benefits and risks of using any supplements, and not take a blind approach.


Check out these delicious Valentine's treats and read about the benefits of coconut oil!



Want to dive deeper into holistic modalities and read dozens of research articles/ studies on the benefits of the above listed items?!


holistic handbook pet care guide for dogs and cats


A convenient Holistic Handbook that is completely free!



 


Supplements to Avoid That Could Be Harming Your Pet's Health!


Most of these are debatable. As they could provide some benefit, but also may not be the best to use.


  • Fish oil

Fish oil is often seen as a highly regarded supplement for humans and pets. It can help joints, inflammation, and even improve cognitive function! There is a lot of researching proving the benefits of DHA and EPA that come from fish oil. However, there are some drawbacks!



dangers of fish oil for dogs and cats canine nutritionist


I rarely recommend fish oil to clients, as it can be extremely toxic and create more inflammation! But for some pets, alternatives are not an option or beneficial, and we can use fish oil if needed. But it's important to know what to look for in a product!


The first problem with most fish oil products is that it's destroying our oceans. Fish are being over-harvested, which is collapsing the ecosystem, and affecting the overall food chain (decreasing other species and also causing harsh algae blooms). PSA: farmed fish are not any healthier!


Top contaminants in fish oil products:

  • Toxic heavy metals (especially mercury in larger fish)

  • Microplastics (PCBs)

  • Residual pesticides (DDT)


Next, fish oil oxidizes quickly when exposed to air. So it's often rancid before it even hits store shelves! The worst is when fish oil is packaged in plastic bottles, and even worse yet: a clear plastic bottle with a cap or pump! Light and air will create fast rancidity! I've seen fish oil come in 1gallon plastic jugs, and I just CRINGE!


Please note:

I see many people advise the use of fish oil for itchy dogs/ cats, or those with dry skin and missing fur. The problem is that most of these pets are eating a grain-filled, low-quality diet that is deficient in many key nutrients. Fish oil is not going to correct this, but could very well make things worse by adding more inflammation and toxicity! Do not just jump to using fish oil to address skin issues, as there are many other contributing factors to consider!


Fish oil is not good for dogs who have:

  • Any type of bleeding risk

Fish oil thins the blood. Avoid if your pet is prone to bleeding, on blood thinners, or is going to have surgery or is recently recovering from surgery.


  • Sensitive stomachs

Dogs and cats who have (or are more susceptible to) diarrhea, vomiting, reflux, or other GI upset, probably shouldn't have fish oil. It can be too rich for their bellies!


Have you ever had fishy burps or a queasy stomach after taking fish oil? It can happen to our pets also! Especially with low-quality/ rancid products. Maddie got a really upset tummy every time I gave her fish oil when she was a puppy. So I stopped using it.


Another important thing to be aware of is that when you give large doses of fish oil, other nutrients in the body get depleted. Specifically Vitamin E. If you're going to give a fish oil supplement, be sure it has vitamin E added, as vitamin E also prevents oxidization of the oil. Rosemary extract is used in some (fish and algae oil) products, but this can be contraindicated for pets with seizures.


Giving whole fish a few times per week is a much better option. You can give dehydrated fish skins/ fillets, or canned sardines! These options also make meal times a lot more fun for your pet rather than just putting oil in their bowl.


I'll dive more into this subject at a later date with a separate post, but overall fish oil is not generally a supplement that I recommend as there are better alternatives. But if you feel strongly about the benefits of fish oil and want to use it (I have a few Clients who do), I suggest the products listed here!



  • Isolated nutrients

While there are some cases that are an exception, I do not prefer using isolated nutrients. An example of this would be glucosamine chews. Most simply contain glucosamine, and then a ton of fillers, flavors, preservatives and flavorings. A better source of naturally occurring glucosamine is eggshell membrane!



  • Synthetic products

If you're feeding a commercial diet that has synthetic vitamins/ minerals, and your pet is not doing well and it showing signs of needing more nutrients... Why add more synthetics? If the diet is not providing what they need, switch! While I'm not against food that contains vitamin/ minerals in synthetic form, it's important that you aren't just throwing more on top of that blindly. I also like to avoid any artificial additives in supplements as much as possible!



  • Too much


Massive doses of anything = not good! I've seen this happen with well-intentioned pet owners. Giving a large dose or amounts of any supplement can cause more harm than good. Our bodies have an innate ability to correct imbalances when given what they need. Sometimes it's just a little nudge to get things going. Some supplements require a loading dose initially, and then a lower dose for overall maintenance.


I recommend giving no more than 2-4 supplements per day!


Remember: less is more!



  • Too often


Some supplements should be given daily for best results, others a few times a week, and some just on an as-needed basis. This all depends on what product is being used, and what its being used for. Digestive support for an acute upset stomach wouldn't need long-term supplement use like an older dog with arthritis and pain would need. Breaks should still be given on occasion (even one day per week off). I give the dogs their supplements about 3-4 times per week.



 


When to Consult with a Professional


If you're at all considering supplements for your dog or cat, it's a good idea to consult with a professional so they can walk you through the basics, and help you provide tailored support to safeguard your pet's health, save you time, and ultimately save you money! This will give you the opportunity to dive deeper into understanding your pet's individual needs, and provide you with a personalized plan that is best for both of you! There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and what may be very beneficial to one pet, may be detrimental to another! Working with a qualified Nutritionist can offer you the support you need to make informed decision and help guide you with knowing what would be most beneficial for your individual dog or cat!



 


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**All Happy Trails Pets content is reviewed for accuracy at the time of publishing. At any time, the accuracy of such posts and content may change without notice due to the ever-changing dynamics of the pet industry, developments in/ and available research, practice laws and guidelines, and so-forth.
Posts will be updated as needed with the most current available information and/ or where time allows.

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