Pet Supplements: What You Should Know

With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in New York state, virtually every bodega is now selling CBD products — even for our pets, right next to the kibble and the cat litter! If you feel a natural wariness about the corner store CBD’s efficacy, you wouldn’t be wrong. CBD products — and veterinary supplements in general — exist in that gray area of medicine, where they should not be used without a doctor’s recommendation, but can still be purchased over the counter without a prescription. Because of this, and the lack of FDA regulation over pet supplements, there are virtually no guidelines or standards that manufacturers need to abide by in order to market or sell products labeled as pet supplements. So, how do pet owners ensure that products are safe, and that they’re getting their money’s worth?

What Makes a High-Quality Supplement?

First of all, for a veterinary supplement to be effective, the product must contain the scientifically recommended dosage of its particular active compound. Because there is so little oversight, many popular brands contain too small a dose to have any noticeable health benefits.

Secondly, the most reputable and reliable manufacturers are certified members of the National Animal Supplement Council, a voluntary organization that performs third-party, unbiased audits and efficacy testing. (NASC was formed in 2001 to act as a regulatory body for the animal supplement industry.) Even if you don’t see an NASC-certified seal on the packaging, you can check to see if a supplement is on the list of certified manufacturers here.

Despite the best efforts of NASC to regulate the animal supplement industry, manufacturers are not required to join, nor to have their products tested at all. The result is that countless brands are being sold in pet stores with potentially dangerous ingredients, or which contain the proper ingredients in insignificant doses that are ultimately ineffective. Purchasing supplements online further complicates this problem: A few years ago, we had a client report that Google’s search algorithm suggested cow tranquilizers when she was hunting for an anti-anxiety supplement for her dog! Not to mention the numerous reports of counterfeit or expired supplements being offered by third-party sellers on sites like Amazon.

Our Recommendations

Below is a list of commonly used pet supplements, including the specific brands that we recommend to our clients. Each of these products contains the scientifically recommended dosage of its particular active ingredient, and most are also certified by the National Animal Supplement Council.

Probiotics: Used for maintaining gastrointestinal health. We recommend FortiFlora, Visbiome Vet, and Entero Flora Pro Powder.

CBD: Used for anxiety and pain reduction. We recommend ElleVet.

Omega-369/Fish oil: Used for skin and joint health. We recommend Welactin and Nordic Naturals.

B12: Used for immune and intestinal health. We recommend Cobalequin as an oral supplement when injections are not an option. 

Glucosamine: Used for joint health. We recommend Dasuquin, Cosequin, and Glycoflex.

Denamarin: Used for liver health. We recommend Nutramax Denamarin.

Check in with Your Vet

Although veterinary supplements are easily obtainable and do not require a prescription for purchase, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should run out and put your pet on glucosamine or CBD after reading this article. Supplements are still medications, and should not be used without your veterinarian’s guidance. So, if you’re ever curious about putting your pet on a supplement, please give us a call — we’ll be happy to set up a consultation or have you speak with someone from our medical staff.