We consider our pets to be members of our families, mostly because their “welcome home, I missed you” wags, licks and purrs can erase the stress of even the worst of days. So of course we want what’s best for them.
We take them on hikes with new scenery, buy them sweaters to wear during colder weather and scan the supplement aisles at the pet store or the pet aisle at our local supermarket in search of products to boost their health.
According to estimates, as many as a third of the dogs and cats in the United States are taking supplements, including multivitamins for overall health, glucosamine for arthritic joints, probiotics for digestive issues and Omega-3s for a shiny coat.
Consumers spend approximately $2 billion per annum on pet supplements, analysts say.
Pet products under the microscope
Glucosamine/chondroitin is a common recommendation for older pets suffering from arthritis or other joint pain.
A study from the National Animal Supplement Council also found pet products lacking . Its study revealed that 25 percent of companies marketing joint support products for animals were offering supplements that didn’t meet label claims.
Pet products also carry the same concerns as most standard supplements for humans; because they are often synthetic versions of the natural nutrient, the body may not recognize it or absorb it, which only exacerbates the problem.
“The quality of these products is a major, major concern,” said Dawn M. Boothe, director of the clinical pharmacology lab at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Given the questions surrounding pet products, are human-grade options a better choice?
Vitamin overload a risk for dogs
According to the experts, pets too can get too much of a good thing, maybe not with belly rubs, but absolutely when it comes to vitamins.
Too much calcium can cause skeletal problems, especially in large-breed dogs, vitamin A in high levels can damage blood vessels and too much vitamin D can trigger a dog to stop eating, among other health risks.
Many experts recommend that our pets get their nutrients primarily from pet food, supplemented with fruits and veggies to ensure that they take in a wide range of nutrients.
But given that many pet foods are lacking when it comes to essential nutrients, and are made with questionable products under questionable circumstances, our pets still may not be getting the nutrients they need for optimum health.
Are human-grade options a better choice?
Because there is more regulation of human-grade supplements, they are essentially safer than pet-grade products, but there are still plenty of questions.
As we’ve mentioned, many of the supplements on the market not only don’t do much good – studies have shown that supplement users often show no signs of having consumed nutrients when tested – they often do a little bit of harm. Even though synthetic versions of vitamins look the same under a microscope, they aren’t structurally identical and may be missing a key micronutrient required for our bodies to absorb them. To make up for the missing micronutrient, they take it from elsewhere in the body, potentially creating a nutritional deficit.
Natural options are best for humans and pets, and omega-3 fish oil – including Xtend-Life’s four Omega-3/DHA options – is an especially a good option for our furry friends, who often are at risk for joint pain as they age.
“The fish oil is certainly OK,” says Nicolien De Vries, former medical herbalist at Xtend-Life. “I would not give one daily but every now and again one squeezed soft gel in food, or just by itself. The same health benefits from Omega 3 apply for cats [and dogs] as well as for us. It is very good for the immune system, cardiovascular health and joint disorders, or simply as a preventative supplement.”
“Both cats and dogs benefit greatly from frequent squeezing of the contents of our Omega 3 DHA out of soft gels on to their meal. This can help keep their coats nice and shiny and healthy looking,” said Xtend-Life founder and chairman Warren Matthews.
Warren also suggests Kiwi-Klenz could very well benefit your pet’s digestive system too.
Dogs with joint pain may also benefit from our Green Lipped Mussel Powder, designed to ease joint pain and ease movement. Just open the capsule and add to food.