Dear Porky & Buddy,
I read all the time about supplements that I can give my cat, Cindy Lou, and my dog, Herman, that will make them generally healthier, or have nicer coats, or less joint pain or whatever. How can I find out whether any of them are actually worth buying?
Cindy Lou and Herman . . . Whatever happened to Fluffy and Spot? Any way, thanks for an interesting question. Go into any pet store or pick up any pet supply catalog and you will find endless bottles of capsules, softgels, liquids and chews that are supposed to have wonderful health benefits for your pets. Much like the market for human supplements, we suspect that there is more hype than reality with many of them. But we checked some reports from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University to find out more and it turns out that there is real science about some of them.
A few small studies and a lot of anecdotal reports verily that high quality glucosamine/chondroitin supplements help both cats and dogs suffering from problems with arthritis. You need to make sure that the brand you are buying really has the ingredients it claims in the amounts it claims, but it will not hurt your pet and it may be worth trying for a period of time to see if it helps.
Fish oils and other oils containing omega-3 fatty acids can act as anti-inflammatory agents and promote skin and joint health. Once again, they are safe for both dogs and cats and are probably worth trying if your pet is having those kinds of problems.
Brewer’s yeast and brewer’s yeast with garlic are sometimes touted to promote healthy skin and prevent shedding. There is no evidence that they actually prevent shedding, but they are good sources of B vitamins, which are important for healthy skin and coats and probably do no harm. (But don’t give the garlic version to a cat. Garlic is part of the onion family, which is toxic to cats.)
What about vitamins in general? They are probably not necessary unless you are preparing a homemade diet for your pet, as good quality commercial pet food contains the nutrients and vitamins that each species needs.
As always, you need to talk to your own veterinarian before you embark on a trial of any of these supplements. That will prevent you from inadvertently giving something to your pet that may turn out to be harmful, and, just as important in our opinion, from wasting money that could better be spent on more toys!
The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. Our office is located at 265 West First Street, Oswego, New York. Phone (315) 207-1070. Email:[email protected] Website: www.oswegohumane.org.