How to Choose the Best Supplement for Your Pets
Updated: Aug 17, 2020
We are bombarded daily online and through TV ads on how supplements are essential to our health and for our pets. However, when you are walking down the supplement aisle in the store or browsing online, it can be quite overwhelming.
How do you know which supplement is best for your pet, especially when they all look like they will help?
Quality is MOST important when you are choosing a supplement. The supplement industry is not well-regulated, and there are a lot of products out there that are full of fillers and could do harm or more than likely just do nothing other than waste a ton of money for you.
First, let's discuss why your pet may need a supplement. You may be wondering why they even need a supplement if your pet is on a "balanced" diet.
Many pets are on a processed diet, which is typically kibble, canned or a combination of both. These diets have added synthetic vitamins and minerals added to them to ensure your pet receives the minimum amount necessary to live. This is NOT the ideal amount. It is better than nothing, but there is definitely room for improvement. Learn more about other things that may be in your pet's food here.
Also, these types of diets can have extra chemicals that come from the way the diets are processed. Supplements can be utilized to fill in the gaps that may be missing in your pet's diet or if they need extra support when they have diseases like cancer or osteoarthritis.
Do you know what could be lurking in your pet's supplement?
One of the main issues with the supplement industry is the lack of regulation compared with prescription drugs. Supplement manufacturers in general are responsible for ensuring their product is safe and the dosages are correct to be beneficial and effective. However, many of these supplements do not contain the ingredients they are supposed to at the right amounts, and there can be contaminants present that could harm your pet's health (1).
Studies have shown that many low-grade supplements can (2,3):
Be contaminated with common allergens like gluten, soy, or corn
Contain potentially harmful contaminants or even remnants of other drugs
Have inaccurate and/or inconsistent dosage
Not even have the listed active ingredients
However, don't fear. There are a lot of great quality supplements out there in companies that are doing everything right!
Here are some of the areas you can assess to find those amazing companies.
How to Pick Quality Supplements
When it comes to picking your pets' supplements, there are several things I recommend looking for including:
The quality of ingredients
Independent testing has been done
Transparency in labeling
Hope I still have you listening! Let’s discuss each of these components of a quality supplement a little further.
Does the supplement have lots of fillers and additives?
We want supplements that have minimal and pure ingredients (just like our food). We need to avoid common allergens that can create health issues in your pets. The environment is already toxic enough; we don't need to be adding more problems in through supplements into our pet's bodies.
Make sure you are reading the ingredient label, and not buying off of just the marketing. If there are ingredients that are difficult to read or pronounce, do some research to see what it is and why it may be present in the supplement. Remember there can be false ingredient labeling, so let's discuss this issue.
Ingredient Labeling and Independent Testing
Unfortunately, many companies will cut corners to save money and end up producing inferior products. However, there are independent testing labs that vigorously inspect and evaluate the quality of supplements.
An important one to be aware of in the pet industry is the National Animal Supplement Council or NASC.
Companies that are a part of this regulatory body apply to show that they will follow certain regulations to ensure their products are high quality. Companies that are a part of the NASC will have this label on their products.
You can also look for a seal of approval from respected third-party labs such as:
We discuss bioavailability when we are talking about food and how it can help your pets. If the food they are eating is not being absorbed in their bodies, then it is not being utilized to help them achieve optimal health. The same thing is important for our pet's supplements.
If your pet is not absorbing and utilizing the supplement, than why give it?
Vitamins and minerals come in many different forms, which are utilized and absorbed differently in the body. Have you ever noticed the different forms of vitamin E? Vitamin E is available in various forms, including d- or dl-alpha tocopheryl acetate, d- or dl-alpha tocopherol, and d- or dl-alpha tocopheryl acid succinate. So which one is best for your pet?
This is why it's so important to be working with a functional veterinarian to ensure that you are not wasting money on supplements before purchasing a form that may not help your pet.
Quality supplement labels should list every single ingredient which includes both active and inactive. Manufacturers who list vague ingredients like “proprietary blend” or “natural flavors” are more than likely hiding less than ideal ingredients. These typically include cheaper fillers that have no health benefits for your pets. Avoid any products from manufacturers who lack transparency in their labeling.
Choosing High Quality Brands
Choose supplements that come from reputable companies with positive reviews. Usually if there are numerous positive reviews and you have ticked off the other factors above, the supplement will be high quality.
Of course, if you are still uncertain, make sure you are working with a functional veterinarian who can guide you to the brands they love and trust.
Brands I love include:
There are many more, but these are a great place to start. You can access many of my favorite and most trusted supplement brands through my FullScript online store by clicking right here to create an account. And you can even get 10% off MSRP price!
Supplements are one of the most powerful tools we can use to help our pets thrive. I personally use supplements and recommend them to my patients all the time. They fill nutrient gaps, can help resolve disease, and help your pet's overall health.
But when it comes to choosing supplements, quality is key. Use the simple tips in this article to ensure you’re choosing only the best products but also avoid wasting a lot of money and potentially causing harm to your pets.
Learn more about Choosing the Best Supplements in Part 2.
I'd love to hear what you thought! Were you surprised to learn that there’s so much variation in the quality of supplements? What brands are you using in your pets? Leave your questions and thoughts in the comments below!
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*Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian or doctor. The product mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Dr. Katie Woodley cannot answer specific questions about your pet's medical issues or make medical recommendations for your pet without first establishing a veterinarian-client-patient relationship. Please review references sited at end of article for scientific support of any claims made.