Do I Need to Supplement My Pet’s Diet? 

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We humans like to take supplements to help improve our health. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. The same can be said for your fur babies. Just as the research conducted on supplements for humans is sparse, so is animal research for supplements. But, vets will try supplementation for pets when nothing else seems to work, and some pet parents claim relief, so it can often be worth trying on a case-by-case basis depending on the problem.

Failure to Thrive

Sometimes a pet will suffer from a failure to thrive no matter what type of food the pet parent is providing. When this happens, veterinarians will look to supplement a pet on the types of nutrients they need. If this happens, you will have to manually provide vitamins, minerals, and calories to the animal to prevent deficiencies.

Cat Herpes (FHV-1)

The feline herpes virus is very common in shelter pets, although most pets have no symptoms and need no treatment. Some cats will have symptoms such as respiratory issues, runny eyes, nose, and even bronchial issues. The vaccine can help lessen symptoms, but it will not cure it and doesn’t even prevent the disease. In this case, cats are often prescribed eye drops, daily eye washing, and the supplement lysine. Lysine is thought to inhibit the replication of the FHV-1 virus to reduce symptoms. You must be careful about how much you give your pet and follow the vet’s recommendation, because it can cause other deficiencies.

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Digestive Issues

Like humans, pets can experience an imbalance in their digestive tracts which can cause runny stools or constipation. When this happens, often vets will change the food recommendations and ask that you include short-term probiotic supplementation to try to bring the animal’s body back into alignment. It can be very effective when given in the right amounts for the type of pet you have.

Blood Tests Showing Shortages

When your animal gets their annual physical, most vets do regular blood, stool, and urine testing. These tests will sometimes show that your animal is deficient in a specific vitamin, mineral or amino acid. If that happens, the vet will prescribe just the right supplement to make up for the shortage and try to determine why there is a problem in the first place.

Old-Age Issues

Just like humans, animals experience issues with old age such as problems with their joints. If your pet displays issues with their joints, most veterinarians will prescribe glucosamine to help with the inflammation pain. It can take a few weeks to notice if the supplement is working for your pet or not. If it’s not, other alternatives may need to be explored. It’s especially difficult with cats, because cats can’t even take NSAIDS which are often used to treat joint problems in dogs and humans.

Most veterinarians want you to have a happy, healthy pet. When you have any problems with your pet, the best person to go to is your vet. The vet is up on all the studies and can honestly let you know what may or may not work, based on your pet’s age, condition, and type.

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