After all, there are a plethora of options on the market that claim to address a slew of issues. How can you know which supplement is right for your pet, and if your pet even needs one in the first place? “There are so many supplements on the market, it's easy to get overwhelmed,” Zay Satchu, DVM, chief veterinary officer of Bond Vet in Brooklyn, N.Y. tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Ultimately, it’s important to have a conversation with your veterinarian about your pet’s individual needs. But there are some supplements vets like so much, they give them to their own animals. Here are the ones that get the veterinarian stamp of approval — and why.
Probiotics have been popular with humans for years, but they also can work well for pets. “Probiotics have many benefits, including boosting your immune system, healing the gut after antibiotic use, providing anti inflammatory effects and normalizing the passing of stool — the list goes on,” Jane Karpowicz, VMD, of Veterinary Medical Center in Easton, Md., tells Yahoo Lifestyle. Her senior cat has a sensitive stomach and probiotics “help him stay regular,” says Karpowicz. If you’re interested in choosing a probiotic for your animal, Karpowicz recommends choosing one that contains a mixture of strains.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Karpowicz chooses this supplement for her 2-year-old Labrador, who is prone to dandruff and dry skin. “The omega-3s help keep his skin hydrated and his coat shiny,” she explains. (Omega-3s can also act as an anti-inflammatory, which may be helpful with pets who have allergies or osteoarthritis,” she adds.)
Feeding your pet the proper diet can go a long way toward making sure they meet their nutritional needs, but sometimes a combination supplement can help fill in nutritional gaps, according to Gary Richter, DVM, a veterinary health expert with Rover.com. Richter has a geriatric cat named Freida, who he says is “arthritic and sore,” and he gives her a supplement that contains medicinal mushrooms, probiotics, digestive enzymes and spirulina, along with a “multi-vitamin complex similar to something a person might take, but formulated for cats.”
Adam Christman, DVM, a veterinarian in New Jersey, says he gives each of his four dachshunds a multivitamin daily with their food. Christman tells Yahoo Lifestyle that he particularly like Pet-Tabs for its “high potency of nutrition and minerals,” noting that his dogs “love the taste of them.”
Sara Ochoa, DVM, a small animal and exotic veterinarian in Texas and a veterinary consultant for Doglab.com, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she also gives her older pet rabbit a multivitamin to help maintain her weight. “The multi-vitamin gives her extra nutrients that she may not have gotten enough of since she’s not eating as much food,” Ochoa explains.
Freida also takes a full spectrum cannabis oil to help with her soreness, which Richter says is “mostly” made of cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. “It works well to mitigate her soreness,” Richter says. It’s a good idea to check in with your vet before giving your pet cannabis oil, and especially so if you’re thinking of using a product with THC, the chemical in cannabis that can give you a high. “I would absolutely not suggest anyone give a product containing THC to their pet without veterinary guidance,” Richter says.
Milk thistle and SAMe
Milk thistle is a plant that contains silymarin, a flavonoid that is thought to have antioxidant properties, while SAMe is often used to treat osteoarthritis and liver disease. Ashley Rossman, DVM, a veterinarian based in Glenview, Ill., tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she gives both supplements to her dog, who has liver inflammation. “These supplements help to decrease the inflammation and help his liver to function better,” she says.
Cranberry has been used to treat and help prevent urinary tract infections in humans, and Rossman says she uses this supplement to treat one of her cats’ urinary issues. “Cranberry supplements help to maintain proper bladder health,” she explains.
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it a go-to for Billy, the 11-year-old dog of Amanda Nascimento, DVM, a Vancouver-area veterinarian and pathologist with an emphasis on pharmacology and toxicology. Billy suffers from arthritis and “the turmeric helps control the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, and also helps to protect his heart, liver and kidneys,” Nascimento tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is commonly used to treat anxiety. Ochoa’s dog Ruby receives a supplement containing L-tryptophan to help with her anxiety about thunderstorms and other loud noises. While Ruby usually gets the supplement daily, “I notice on days that she does not have the supplement, she is more anxious even if it has not been raining,” Ochoa says.
Glucosamine and chondroitin
Glucosamine and chondroitin are components of normal cartilage that are thought to help stimulate the body to make more cartilage and to help combat osteoarthritis pain. Satchu uses this on her dog, and also recommends it for her older patients. “For my older animals that are slowing down, or that have a history of joint, back or neck pain, I love glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate combinations in treat form,” she says.
Again, it’s a good idea to check in with your pet’s veterinarian before giving them a new supplement. But vets swear the right supplements can definitely help if your pet needs them.