My husband and I love to watch The Big Bang Theory on TV and Sheldon went to the grocery store with Penny. He was berating her for her purchase of a multivitamin, saying that all she would get was “expensive urine”. Does he have a point?
As our population ages and our knowledge grows, more and more people are taking vitamins and supplements and giving them to their pets. But are they necessary?
Most commercially available pet foods are balanced for all stages of life for pets and do not require supplementation, at least not for survival. Is survival enough? Not to me, it isn’t. I want more from my life and for my pets.
There are areas where I think we can do a little better for our pets. I suggest premium prescription diets for many of my patients because they already contain some substances that are thought to be beneficial in certain disease conditions.
If I find on examination that a pet has a high likelihood of developing osteoarthritis, for example, I might suggest joint supplements. I saw a Great Dane mix today with very poor rear leg conformation and I suggested joint supplements for her. Her owner elected to try a prescription diet with additives already present so she could minimize the mixing and remembering and because our diets are palatability guaranteed. In her case, the supplements (if given the way I suggest) won’t hurt and might help, so it was a gamble she is willing to take.
Beware, joint supplements designed for human patients may or may not be beneficial for pets. Also noteworthy is the fact that supplements or “neutroceuticals” are not regulated by the FDA and can be an area where a consumer could be taken advantage of. It seems that there are always fads and trends that wax and wane on the internet. These types of things have been around since the traveling “snake oil” peddlers in olden days. Ask your vet if he or she has seen legitimate studies for the supplement you are considering. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Your veterinary team is an excellent resource to help you wade through the info.
Do I think that some supplements are like lighting piles of money on fire? Yes. Do I think that there are charlatans and snake oil salesmen that will capitalize on our love of our pets? Yes. Do I think that there is a place for certain supplements? Yes
The answer lies in the partnership with your veterinary team. It is my job to read all the studies and sort through all the information to be able to help my clients find the perfect balance between reality and hope. The supplements that we carry and recommend have already passed my own personal standards evaluation. I do give select supplements to my pets. I do take select supplements myself, but I tailor these choices to personal needs and I balance cost and safety with the potential benefit. Feel free to comment about your experiences or ask me about mine.