A Guide to Natural Pet Supplements

Pet supplements can be of great benefit to your dog or cat's health. But which supplements are good for which conditions? Are the supplements you take yourself safe for your pets? Here are some answers to your questions about pet dietary supplements.

Risks and Benefits of Pet Supplements

A supplement for your dog or cat can help keep him healthy, or help him recover from an illness. Glucosamine and chondroitin, for instance, have been used to great effect in the treatment and reversal of arthritis symptoms. However, just because a supplement is all-natural or made from herbs, doesn't mean it is safe. Here are some things to keep in mind about pet supplements:

  • Traditional medications are synthesized from chemical compounds found in herbs that have been used to treat illness for thousands of years. This means that herbal supplements and traditional medicines carry the same active ingredients, and therefore the same risks.
  • Not much study has been done into the side effects and long-term effects of herbal supplements.
  • Because their chemical makeups are more complex, natural supplements may cause different side effects than the traditional medicines used to treat the same condition.
  • It's hard to tell what consitutes a safe dosage when using herbal supplements, especially since many products contain varying amounts of the active ingredient.
  • Remember that what might be safe for a dog isn't necessarily safe for a cat; white willow supplements, for instance, might relieve your dog's pain, but they contain salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin, which is toxic to cats. Also, supplements safe for humans aren't necessarily safe for animals. Garlic, for example, is toxic to dogs. However, when used carefully and correctly, vitamins and supplements can be great for your dog or cat's health.

Vitamins for Good Health

Vitamins are one of the best supplements you can use to enhance the health of your dog or cat. Most animals won't need additional vitamin supplements, but those who have been fed poor diets could benefit. Vitamins that could be good for your pet's health include:

  • Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It's antibiotic and antiviral. It can help your cat or dog fight of illness and can prevent diseases associated with aging, such as arthritis and cancer.
  • Vitamin D is essential for the health of your cat's bones.
  • Vitamin A is good for your cat's eyesight.

Nutraceuticals for Dogs and Cats

Nutraceuticals are supplements that form a part of your dog or cat's diet. Two of the most popular are glucosamine and chondroitin, which are used in the treatment of arthritis symptoms. These supplements can even reverse the course of the disease.

Other nutraceuticals used to treat specific conditions include:

  • Milk thistle, an herbal remedy used to treat liver dysfunction, including hepatitis.
  • Ginko is used to treat senile dementia in dogs.
  • St. John's Wort can be of benefit in the treatment of neural disorders.

Some nutraceuticals that can be used on a more temporary basis, to treat acute problems, include:

  • Ginger is good for digestive upsets, including gas.
  • Aloe is good for rashes and sunburns; it soothes itches and helps heal cuts.