We all want the best for our pet’s health and overall well-being, but it’s difficult to know where to start. Many of us take supplements for our own health, but it’s not as simple as giving your pet a multi-vitamin every day. It’s important to discover what your pet needs and doesn’t need to maintain a well-balanced life.
This article will focus on supplements for aging cats and dogs and how to ensure they have enough, without overdoing it.
GETTING TO KNOW PET SUPPLEMENTS
Supplements are concentrated ingredients that are added to a diet for nutritional or medicinal purposes. Ingredients such as amino acids, vitamins, botanicals, minerals, herbs, and enzymes are examples of supplements.
We find there’s a fair amount of misunderstanding around food additive terminology, and phrases are occasionally used interchangeably. To ensure clarity we’d like to offer the following terminology:
- Dietary supplements/nutrients are substances added to food to ensure it’s nutritionally complete.
- Therapeutic supplements/nutraceuticals are foods taken orally, providing a health benefit or disease prevention. To meet the therapeutic effect, these ingredients are taken in a larger dose than the daily requirement of that particular ingredient.
BENEFITS OF SUPPLEMENTS FOR OLDER PETS
Aging typically causes degenerative changes that occur in many organ systems after maturity. This results in a decline in the organ’s ability to meet the challenges of its environment. The musculoskeletal system (muscles and bones), skin, heart, lungs, gastrointestinal tract (including the teeth), kidneys, liver, neurological system, and specialized sense organs are all affected by degenerative disorders (especially hearing and sight). In geriatric dogs and cats, complaints stemming from deterioration of the liver, musculoskeletal system, kidneys, eyes, and nervous system are particularly common.
By taking the right vitamins, you might be able to help slow down the progression of degeneration.
Patient considerations, such as the organ system in need of support, and product aspects, such as dosage, safety, efficacy, and balance, must all be considered when using supplements effectively. Although age is not an illness in and of itself, aged pets may have a diminished ability to digest nutrients due to changed metabolism and a weakened immune system, as well as a decreased ability to combat diseases.
Activity level, individual digestive track, and ability to remove by-products and toxins all influence dietary requirements. Protein, fat, carbohydrate, fiber, and mineral levels in the diet may need to be changed depending on the patient.
BEST SUPPLEMENTS TO CONSIDER FOR OLDER CATS AND DOGS
It’s important to determine what your pets need before adding any of the following. Additionally, speak to your vet about using digestive enzymes and probiotics. These typically enhance the absorption of dietary nutrients.
- VITAMIN B COMPLEX: the B’s are important for supplying energy, facilitating enzyme function, and more. B1, B2, B6, and B12 can become essential. The risk of toxicity is low because any amount above what they need is peed out.
- VITAMINE E: an important antioxidant that also helps with inflammatory skin disorders.
- COENZYME Q-10: can help improve the strength of the heart muscle.
- ALPHA LIPOIC ACID: often recommended for eye health and can help slow degenerative neurological conditions.
- OMEGA FATTY ACIDS: these fatty acids help maintain healthy skin and help inflammatory reactions.
- GLUCOSAMINE: improves mobility and can delay degenerative joint disease.
- MILK THISTLE: often recommended for chronic liver problems.
HOW TO TELL IF SUPPLEMENTS ARE WORKING FOR YOUR PET
Few vitamins and herbs, especially in animals, have been subjected to scientific testing to establish their efficacy. Much of the information about supplement use is based on anecdotal or testimonial data (sharing personal experiences, describing the perceived results). Supplements are also frequently used as a result of human or laboratory research. Although this information may be useful, it is partial and may not provide a fair picture of your pet’s possible benefits.
You may notice, however, improvements in your pet’s skin and coat, as well as greater mobility, and increased activity levels. These are the most common improvements pet parents see from supplementation.
HOW TO GET STARTED WITH SUPPLEMENTS
The first step is to discuss your concerns with your vet. Is he slowing down more or struggling on walks, going up and down the stairs? These are signs your pet is aging and could benefit from supplementation. Vets have received training in animal anatomy and physiology, and they are educated about the therapies they prescribe. Your vet may even notice signs of aging in your pet during his annual physical.
The CGVC team really is the best source of information on the safety of supplements in pets. Additionally, Country Grove believes a proactive approach to our pet’s health and wellbeing is best. Dr. Wolfe will tailor treatments, as well as supplement recommendations, to help provide the best personalized, individual care for your pet.