Don't Buy a Pet Supplement Until You've Read This!
Are you planning on starting your dog or cat on a dietary supplement for any reason?
It could be to tackle their arthritis, cystitis, liver disease, coat condition, intestinal disease or just to try and optimize their general body health.
Well, in this article I ask you one critical question you need to ask yourself and then give you 6 steps to help you choose the best supplement for your pet.
Before buying or starting your pet on any supplement, the question that you must answer is this:
Does your pet really need to take a supplement?
This might seem obvious but have you considered what the evidence is that they actually provide any benefit? Not all are harmless and a lot have little if any quality evidence to support their use. I've actually written a previous article all about natural products vs drugs discussing these facts in more detail that you should definitely check out if you're thinking of starting your pet on a dietary supplement.
The other consideration is that you need to answer if it is right for your pet as an individual. Their diets might already contain enough essential fatty acids or glucosamine, a medication they're on or condition they are suffering from might mean that the supplement has the potential to cause harm.
Finally, supplements are really poorly regulated and there have been plenty of investigations into the contents of supplements. These have found huge variations, in some cases, between the amount of product they claim to have included and the actual amount present.
In some cases, there was actually none, or virtually none, of the active ingredient that you are paying for!
6 tips for the best supplement for your pet
Right, let's jump into my six tips to help you buy the best supplement for your pet!
Don't shop based on price alone
Tip number one is simple. Don't shop based on price alone, and I imagine this won’t come as any surprise to hear. As with most things in life you generally get what you pay for!
In the case of certain supplements, actually extracting the main ingredient in the first place can be incredibly expensive. If you're choosing a cheap option then can you really expect it to have the active ingredient that it claims to have in a formulation that works? Can you really expect it to have been formulated properly or for any testing to have been done?
That's not to say that all cheap supplements are useless, that all expensive supplements are trustworthy or that all supplement groups should have expensive options. But it's definitely something to consider and simply don't shop based on price alone.
Ask your vet which products they recommend
My second tip is to ask your veterinarian which supplements they recommend for your dog or cat. They're in a great position to know what the evidence behind certain supplements is. They should also be able to give you an educated opinion about whether they think a supplement will actually benefit your pet. Is it actually something that they think is just going to be a complete waste of time and money?
This is a really big thing to consider. Even with a cheap supplement, if you're giving it every day for any length of time, the cost can really add up. It might even mean that you're actually then not able to afford to give a treatment that we know works.
So ask your vet which supplement they recommend, and if you're set on giving one regardless of whether your pet needs it or not then they're going to know the best quality supplements out there.
Just bear in mind that if you go in asking about a particular brand then it may well be that your vet doesn't know about that particular one. There are so many out there, it's impossible to know about them all.
But your vet will know which products they trust and you can use this information to help finalize your choice.
Stick to well-known brands you already trust
Tip number three would be to stick with well-known brands, or brands that you already know and trust. When new supplements get brought onto the market we get a whole slew of products from manufacturers we know nothing about. Who've got no experience in producing any kind of supplements, medications or pet products.
A classic example of this would be CBD oil. It's a bit like the wild west out there. There's so many different companies that are trying to jump on the CBD bandwagon. Do we really know their background? Do we know that they can be trusted?
So I would definitely say stick to brands that you already know and that you already trust.
Avoid online-only products
Tip number four goes along with sticking with well known brands, and that is to avoid online-only product. If the only way you can buy a certain brand of supplement is to go online and get it shipped from some far flung country then how can you possible know what you're giving your pet? You can’t.
That's not to say that you can't buy online. But if the only way to do it is to go onto a website of a company that you've never heard of and get it shipped to you then I just don't think you can trust that product. You've got no idea what's in it. It could be what you're paying for. It could be something that's completely harmless but of no benefit. It may even be that it's something that's going to harm your pet.
So if you're thinking of buying a product online then find out if you can get it from other sources. Are there multiple retailers that sell it? If so then this is likely to give some indication that it is a more trustworthy product.
Has any independent analysis been done?
This is a huge one. Has there been any independent analysis of the product that you can find? Has the supplement been sent to an independent laboratory or independent body for testing and what were the results? Has it been proven to have what it claims contains in it?
It's not necessarily going to be proven to be safe, but it's going to be proven to have the contents that the manufacturer claims it to be
This might, for example, be the FDA website. If you can't find anything like that then contact the manufacturer. Any reputable brand should be easily contactable and they should be more than happy, not only to receive queries, but to also give you information about any independent testing. In fact, if the supplement has been independently tested they should be more than willing to send you testing certification.
It’s one way of showing that their product has been verified by a third party, and that you don’t just have to rely on what they are telling you.
So checking to see if there's been any independent analysis of the dietary supplement or health supplement that you're thinking of giving your dog and cat is definitely something to seek out as a much better indication of the quality of that supplement.
Take care with human supplements
And finally, step number six is to be really careful with giving human supplements to your pet. In many cases, a pet supplement and a human supplement may be identical. The difference might be just the picture that's on the label.
But it could be that the human supplement has got extra things added to them that could be very dangerous. An example of this might be fish oil. Some human supplements contain sweeteners to make them more palatable for use. If that sweetener is something called Xylitol then this is incredibly toxic to our pets (and I've got an article all about the danger of xylitol poisoning to dogs and cats).
A human supplement could have extra quantities of vitamins that have the potential to build up to toxic levels in your pet.
Don't just think that because it's safe for us to take, because it's not something that we need a prescription for, that it will therefore be safe for your dog or a cat. This is definitely not always the case.
Again, speak to your vet about what they would recommend and don't be tempted to give your pet the supplement that you're taking yourself without double checking it’s not going to harm them.
The bottom line
So those are my six tips to help you choose the best supplements for your pet. Again, I'll go back to that first question. Do you really need to give it to your dog? Do you need to give it to your cat? Is there a proven benefit? Is there the potential for harm? Do we really know what's in it? Are they actually more likely to benefit more from a different treatment modality? Is there a better use for your money?
It's a difficult thing to consider and you may think that there's no harm in giving it a go. But if it denies your pet the treatment with something that we know works, or it stops you making a change that would otherwise be made, then we really need to consider what's in your pet's best interest. And this is something that’s going to vary for each individual.
If you’ve got any question then leave me a comment below. I’d also love to know what supplements you are considering or which products your pet is already receiving!
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