A Guide to Natural Pet Health Supplements

Natural pet health supplements can be of great benefit to your dog or cat. But it's important what treatments are available and how they should be used. Here are some of the natural pet remedies in use today, as well as some things to keep in mind when using natural supplements for pet care.

Benefits of Natural Pet Supplements

The gap between natural treatments and traditional medications isn't as big as you think. Traditional medications are synthesized from herbal compounds used to treat the same disease for thousands of years.

One advantage of using herbal supplements rather than traditional medications is that herbal supplements use the whole plant. They contain valuable nutrients, such as sugars, minerals, proteins, and other chemicals, that may interact with the active chemical in valuable ways. They may make the supplement easier to absorb, or perhaps lessen harmful or uncomfortable side effects. In any case, nutraceuticals add nutrition to your pet's diet, as well as helping treat medical conditions.

Risks of Nutraceutical Pet Remedies

Just because a supplement is "natural" or "herbal," that doesn't mean it's completely safe. Natural pet remedies are often just as dangerous as traditional medicines; remember that both contain the same chemicals. Some veterinarians advise against the use of natural pet supplements in the care of medical conditions. Here are some of the arguments against natural pet supplements:

  • Not much is known about their overall safety or long-term side effects
  • Evidence for their efficacy is anecdotal rather than scientific
  • No guidelines exist for the regulation of safe dosages, and most owners don't have the necessary training to recognize negative side effects or even positive results
  • Natural pet remedies are complex; they contain more than one chemical, so their effects are hard to predict
  • Different products contain different amounts of the active ingredient
  • Owners might not realize which supplements are actually toxic to their pets

Popular Supplements and Their Uses

Here are some of the natural pet care supplements used today, and their uses:

  • Glucosamine and chondroitin are some of the most commonly used natural health supplements for pets. They are not herbal in nature, but derived from animals products. They are used, with great effectiveness, to treat the symptoms of arthritis
  • Echinacea stimulates the immune system
  • Aloe is applied to the skin to relieve itchy rashes, sunburns, and dry skin. It helps heal cuts and prevent their infection
  • Ginger is used as an anti-inflammatory, and aids in stomach upsets. It's good for car sickness in pets. It's also good for digestive problems, including upset stomach, gas, and diarrhea
  • Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It helps prevent and fight off infections and illness. It can also help prevent illnesses brought on by old age, such as arthritis; some even claim it prevents cancer
  • Milk thistle is used in the treatment of liver disorders
  • St. John's Wort is used to treat viral infections and neural disorders in pets
  • Ginko is used to treat cognitive dysfunction, and what amounts to senile dementia in pets
  • Slippery elm is a digestive aid that is good for upset stomach and constipation in pets