Are Supplements Necessary In a Pet’s Diet?

September 27, 2013

Selling supplements is big business in the retail pet supplies business.  Concerned pet owners are spending a lot of money on vitamins and antioxidants, probiotics and prebiotics to enhance the health and well-being of their four-legged friends.

The general feeling seems to be that spending money on these preventive supplements will save money at the veterinarian’s office in the long run.

Supplements help with digestion, reduce bad breath and reduce gas (Pet Age, May, 2013).  Some say they help dogs and cats to detoxify their bodies.

Breaking down supplements, let’s begin with vitamins.  Vitamins include antioxidants for free radical removal; fatty acids to help prevent illness; anti-inflammatory properties to aid in healing; calcium and phosphorous for strong bones and teeth and more.

Probiotics aid in processing food and digestion.

If a dog or cat eats an AAFCO-approved, commercial pet food, does it need the supplement added to it?  The answer is complicated.  Certainly, any animal needing extra nutritional assistance, such as pregnant or lactating dogs or cats, elderly pets, or those with compromised immune systems, would benefit from the addition of extra supplements in their food.

Dogs and cats that eat a diet of cheap, low-quality pet food may need supplements to get the necessary vitamins and antioxidants needed to thrive.  For example, foods that use only meat meal as a single protein source may lack the nutrients found in fresh meat.  The same could be true of a animal eating a pet food that uses corn or corn gluten meal as the single protein source.

A healthy dog or cat eating a food containing high-quality fresh, named meat, vegetables and fruits and is itself supplemented with Vitamins and antioxidants should not need the addition of more supplements to the food.

If you are considering supplementing your pet’s diet, talk to your veterinarian first.  Overdose of certain vitamins can be fatal.  Don’t take chances with Fido’s and Fluffy’s health.

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