Every time you bring your pooch to the groomers or for a fun obedience class at the local PetSmart, you may sometimes see advertisements about dog supplements for health.
These nutraceuticals, or functional foods, are touted as beneficial additions to your dog’s diet and health. But is buying supplements for Fido and Fifi worth it? Or can you simply rely on the Kibble and Bits forever? Here is the weigh in.
The pros of dog supplements
Veterinarians sometimes are hesitant to agree to supplementation for a pet, because many believe that if you are feeding your pooch adequately with high-grade food, all nutritional needs should be met. Still, there may come a time when supplements can be used to decrease nutritional imbalances.
Here are the pros of dog supplements:
- Price compared to medication. Though it is never recommended to go to the pet store and purchase supplements without receiving a veterinarian’s opinion first, supplements may be cheaper than prescription animal drugs.
- Tasty. Dogs usually have no issue eating supplements because they taste and smell good. Some supplements can also be added to water if your dog is picky.
- Easy to use. Again, because the supplements are flavorful, they are much less troublesome to administer than a drug.
- Relief from symptoms. This is the big one. Sometimes, your dog just needs more of something that their wet and dry food are not giving them. For example, many vets recommend a fish oil pill for dry skin and alopecia, as well as joint inflammation. Or digestive enzymes if your furry pal has a sensitive stomach and needs help breaking down food properly. Lastly, glucosamine or chondroitin can help with arthritis.
The cons of dog supplements
Although you may think that adding supplements can help bridge the gap between missing nutrients, just remember that these medications are often like ones for people: pumped up on fillers, synthetic materials, and chemicals that can actually be harmful. Be sure to always read the ingredients on the carton to make sure nothing on the list is toxic.
Here are some other cons to think about:
- Expense. Supplementation can be pricey, especially if you are purchasing it for no reason and giving it to your dog all the time. Because most supplements have to be used in conjunction with other formulas, you may wind up spending more than estimated. Note that the cheaper the supplement, the more bad stuff it has in it.
- Denial. Not from your dog, from you. Many people opt to give their precious pets supplements in lieu of necessary medical treatment or prescriptions, thinking these nutraceuticals will work as they would for people. But that is not always the case, and you may end up overlooking signs of potentially fatal disease.
- Drug interaction. If your pup is on some kind of medication, even though the supplement is “100% natural,” it may still interact dangerously with other prescriptions.
- Allergic reaction. Although reactions of this type are not common, it does not mean it will not happen, especially if you are not wary of ingredients.
Supplements are never intended to be a replacement for a well-balanced diet, and they should never be used as a “treat.” However, in the case where your aging dog is showing signs of joint pain or your growing pup cannot keep his food down, supplements may provide relief to keep those tails wagging.
There are both pros and cons to weigh, so be sure to get in contact with a trustworthy veterinarian before deciding whether or not dog supplements are necessary.