Supplements are something that have been around for some time, but are gaining popularity in humans and pets. But, do you really know what you are giving yourself or pet? How do you know which brand is best and that you are actually getting what you pay for?
Most supplements have preventative properties or mild healing properties. “The use of micronutrients, macronutrients, and other nutritional supplements as therapeutic agents” defines nutraceutical medicine according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Supplements have been placed into the “food” category according to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. This means they are not subject to the FDA regulations. “Dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbal products, and substance that supplement the diet by increasing total dietary intake”, according to the act. The label must state that the FDA has not evaluated their claims.
Dr. Gruhler has done the research on the supplements he recommends and sells at Angel Oak Animal Hospital. If you need to search on your own for a supplement, there are a few things to look for. The first is, what studies have been done on the product and are the published in a reputable journal? Second, what is the bioavailability and does it actually contain the said product? Next, is the label easy to understand and are the ingredients listed with the same measuring units? Does the label also give you dosing instructions that are easy to follow? Is the product following good manufacturing practices and free of contaminants? Is the United States Pharmacopeia label on the product? And is the manufacturer part of the National Animal Supplement Council? Is there an expiration and lot number on the package? And do they rely on testaments or evidence for validation? All of these are important in the research of supplements for yourself and pets. Consumers may use the ConsumerLab and USP websites for information.
Examples of supplements for your pets are glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, fatty acids, s-adenosylmethionine, superoxide dismutase, and coenzyme Q. Glucosamine/chondroitin are for joint health, fatty acids (fish oils) are good for dermatological, anti-inflammatory (arthritis), and heart health. S-adenosylmethionine is for liver health. Superoxide dismutase is used as an anti-inflammatory. And Coenzyme Q is used in cardiovascular problems.
If you are considering supplements for your pet please do your research and call AOAH to ask us about the product. This is a new field and does not have a lot of regulation so it is important to pick a reputable product. The two big products we carry are from Nutramax (Dasuquin, Denamarin) and Aller G-3 (fish oils). Just because it is sold in a pet store or was expensive does not necessarily mean it is the best product for your pet.
Information obtained from “applied pharmacology for veterinary technicians” by Wanamaker and Massey.