If you’re like most pet guardians, you want your furry family members to be healthy and happy for as long as possible. You might even already be supplementing your dog or cat’s diet with a multivitamin, Omega 3 fatty acid or joint supplement. However, adding a probiotic to your pet’s diet is a great way to support your pet’s overall health. Read More
One of the most recent advances in veterinary nutritional medicine is the development of the use of probiotics both as a therapeutic, as well as preventative, treatment in managing our cases. The digestive tract of pets is under constant stress, not only from emotional and physical factors, but also the increasing use of commonly prescribed drugs both orally and topically in veterinary medicine. Many of these medicines seem to disrupt the healthy flora and bacterial populations of a healthy digestive tract, which when imbalanced, may lead to all sorts of clinical problems.
Not only do we see increases in digestive upset including gas, bloating, diarrhea and vomiting, but also other systemic allergic reactions, including increased tendency to joint, skin/coat problems, as well as increases in allergic respiratory diseases. By supplementing with a good quality probiotic with multiple healthy strains of particularly lactobacillus and bifidus, we are able to increase the immune function of the digestive tract in helping prevent these unwanted chronic diseases. Many good quality probiotics will also include what are called prebiotics, as well as nutrients for the healthy bacteria, including fructo-oligosaccharides, which can help promote the growth of healthy bacteria.
This is especially important when pets are under any sort of stress or on any chronic antibiotic therapy or anti-inflammatory therapy, which often kill of the healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. Some of my favorite probiotics include Fast Balance G.I., as well as Mitomax made by the Imagilin Company.
|There are many things an animal guardian can do in building a healthy immune system in our animal companions. By far the most important thing is to feed a healthy diet. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was quoted as saying “Let food be thy medicine.”|
My favorite diets are proper and balanced fresh home-made diets, such as those described in the book, Dr. Pitcairn’s Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, by Richard Pitcairn, DVM, Ph.D. No matter how old the pet, I have seen some amazing changes in pet health, vigor and activity in pets that are fed such wonderful balanced recipes. Donald Strombeck, Ph.D., also has a wonderful book full of healthy recipes that many of my clients have found very helpful.
If it is not possible to feed such diets, my next choice will be minimally processed commercial diets that are made with fresh whole meats, as well as preserved naturally with no fillers or artificial flavors. My favorite diets here include Wysong, Pet Guard, Halo, and Nature’s Variety.
In addition to feeding a healthy diet, I also recommend certain supplements as well to help promote proper immune system health. Probiotics and enzymes, such as NatureVet Enzymes and Fast Balance GI, help promote a healthy digestive tract, which is the cornerstone of a healthy immune system. Antioxidants, including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, DMG and Proanthozone are critical in decreasing free radical inflammation involved with so many chronic diseases and cancer in our pets.
Finally, Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation is critical in any mammalian species to help promote a healthy digestive tract, heart, joints, kidneys and brain. My favorite Omega 3 fatty acid supplements include Super Pure Omega 3, and Nordic Naturals Pet Omega 3 fatty acids. By feeding a healthy diet and with proper supplementation, our animal companions are more likely to live long and happy lives.
|Fatty acids are specific types of unsaturated fats that are often needed to be supplemented to pets for optimal health because animals can produce some of the fatty acids but not all of them. The two main classes of fatty acids are the Omega-3 fatty acids and the Omega-6 fatty acids. The difference between between Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are based on molecular structure. Research is ongoing about what the proper ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids should be consumed for optimal benefits.
Current recommendations for pets suggest an Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of approximately 10:1 to 5:1 be consumed. Since most pet foods contain much more Omega-6 fatty acids than Omega-3 fatty acids, many pet food companies have added Omega-3 fatty acids to try and compensate for this difference. However, the cooking and processing of most commercial pet foods does destroy some of the fatty acid content. Also in many allergic and inflammatory conditions of the body, adding supplemental fatty acids can help in the management/prevention of many disease conditions. Examples of Omega-3 fatty acids include ALA, EPA and DHA. Examples of Omega-6 fatty acids include LA, GLA, DGLA, and Arachidonic acid.
Both types of fatty acids can help in many diseases, however, fatty acid supplementation rich in the Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA and the Omega-6 fatty acid GA seem to be the most effective for many of these conditions. Among the various diseases potentially helped by these acids include allergies and autoimmune conditions, heart disease, joint problems, coat and skin problems, central nervous system disorders, as well as many cancers.
There are numerous brands of fatty acid supplements with different quantities of vitamins, minerals and these fatty acids. Among the excellent products I have used include Nordic Natural Pet Omega-3 or Nordic Naturals Pet Cod Liver Oil supplement, as well as Be Well fatty acid supplement. It is suggested that for conditions such as allergic skin disease that a 2-3 month trial with a good fatty acid supplement that is rich in EPA, DHA, GLA, vitamin E and/or the Omega-6 fatty acid LA be used. Fatty acid supplements should also be fortified with Vitamin E as well. This ratio of fatty acids will differ from product to product, so if a trial with one fatty acid supplement does not work after an adequate period of time, it may be beneficial to try another one.
|With continued interest in the fast-growing industry of nutritional supplements for both people and pets, holistic vets are often asked, “Does my pet need additional nutritional supplements?” The answer depends on many factors, including age, medical condition and the drugs the pet may be taking, and/or prior drug reactions.|
However, even when using a minimally processed fresh and varied natural diet such as Halo or Nature’s Variety, there are some supplements I usually recommend. Combined with a good diet, these supplements can form the basis of an excellent nutritional and preventative program for pets. One of the best supplements I recommend for pets of all ages is a good plant based digestive enzyme added to each meal. Not only do enzymes help with digestion of cooked foods in carnivorous species, but they also help absort critical nutrients essential in preventing and treating diseases.
- Assisting the growth and health of brains
- Lessening the risk of canine cognitive dysfunction (a common problem seen in geriatric pets)
- Decrease inflammation in degenerative joint disease and arthritis
- Lessening allergic reactions to inhalant/contact allergens.
Fatty acids such as Be Well and Super Pure Omega 3 can help manage certain types of heart and kidney disease. Not all Omega 3 fatty acids are created equal. The two mentioned above are wonderful supplements, as is Nordic Naturals. Antioxidants are also great for a pet of any age to help prevent free radical damage and inflammation involved with the development of most chronic diseases. A long term favorite of mine is Proanthozone by Animal Health Options. By incorporating some of my recommended supplements in this blog, I feel that animal guardians will be increasing their chances of having happy and healthy pets for years to come.
Do you feed your pet any supplements like those mentioned above or maybe others I didn’t mention? Have you found supplements to be something that has benefited your pet? Feel free to share your experience in the comments!
|One of the most wonderful products on the market for helping manage joint problems and for preventative joint health is Dasuquin. Considered to be the next generation Cosequin, this product includes not only the beneficial effects of glucosamine and chondroitin, but also avocado-soybean unsaponifiable (ASU). ASU is beneficial because it is believed to help produce new cartilage and prevent existing cartilage from deteriorating.
With this product I have not seen any significant side effects, and only have positive things to report about it. Common client concerns include the higher cost of this product relative to other glucosamine joint supplements. However, one can always be guaranteed quality and research behind this Nutramax product.
If using Dasuquin alone does not help with lameness or joint problems, then consider adding an omega 3 fatty acid such as Nordic Naturals, as well as the antioxidant Proanthozone. I have also found Yucca Intensive also wonderful to add to the treatment regimen when one supplement is not enough on its own to help with joint issues.
|From one of the most trustworthy nutritional supplement companies on the market, Denamarin is an excellent multifaceted supplements that can significantly improve liver function by increasing liver glutathione levels. The duel main ingredients of SAMe and Silybin (active ingredient of milk thistle) are potent antioxidants that protect liver cells and may even promote liver cell regeneration in dogs with active liver disease.
The product also can help with digestion and absorption of nutrients from the diet as well. There are no negative side effects seen with this product, and on the positive side, pets usually become more active and playful as liver function improves when taking this product.
It is certainly safe to use long term and even as a preventative in those pets who are also taking medications that may be toxic to the liver such as prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Previcox or Metacam. The only client concerns I have seen with this product revolve around the cost. However, because of the combination of wonderful synergistic liver supportive ingredients in this one product, it is certainly highly worth it in my opinion and experience.
|Animal guardians of toy breeds such as the Maltese or Poodle are often asking veterinarians what can they do about their pets’ tear-stained faces, which run from the corner of the eyes. While this is often due to clogged tear ducts or allergies and is not often a clinical health problem in dogs, many animal guardians want to rid their pets of these unsightly discharges for cosmetic reasons.|
The product Angels’ Eyes can offer exactly that relief. The main ingredient, tylosin, is an antibiotic that has a diluting effect on the pigment in the tears, thus decreasing the unsightly discharge. The only side effects I am concerned with are using an antibiotic like tylosin for strictly a cosmetic reason in our pets. I am concerned that with long term use this can result in antibiotic resistance in our pets, making it more difficult to treat infectious diseases when they do occur in our pets.
If Angels’ Eyes does not work, clients can sometimes ask their vets about flushing out clogged tear ducts. However, this is often only temporarily effective. Surgery would be another option as well. However, given the harmless nature of such eye discharges, I often recommend that clients simply live with this issue, should Angels’ Eyes not work. Another option is to change the pet’s diet. In previous instances, I have found that when clients change their pets to a superior home-prepared diet or natural commercial diet like Halo or Nature’s Variety, that often eye discharges lessen.
|There is nothing more frustrating for pet owners than to see their older pets have difficulty moving because of stiff arthritic joints or spinal disease. Even younger pets that develop arthritis secondary to ligament tears such as cruciate ligament tears or exposure to tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease, may develop signs of painful movement and lameness.
That is when great joint products such as Glyco-Flex by Vetriscience can dramatically alleviate symptoms in many pets. The main ingredient in this product, Perna, has been studied in human medicine for years, and can dramatically help pets with painful or swollen joints.
Perna is naturally high in glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate and is also combined with MSM in many of the Glyco-Flex lines for additional relief of joint discomfort. Depending upon the severity of joint issues, product options include Glyco-Flex I, II or III. Side effects are rare but may include diarrhea and/or vomiting.
Before giving any glucosamine product to a diabetic pet, the pet’s veterinarian should first be consulted. If Glyco-Flex alone does not help alleviate symptoms, than one can try other natural supplements like Proanthozone, Yucca Intensive, or prescription medications such as Tramadol or other nonsteroidal anti inflammatory medications such as Metacam or Rimadyl.
When giving this product to their pets a client may ask why the product has a strong fish smell. That’s because Perna is actually the green lipped sea mussel, but it certainly is a tasty mussel for most dogs, and one that can offer dramatic symptomatic relief in most pets.
|Even without the presence of fleas, some pets can develop chronic itchy skin which can potentially result in yeast or bacterial infections. While medicated shampoos such as ChlorhexiDerm or Keto Chlor shampoo can often help when used a few times a week, sometimes adding Omega 3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil can go a long way toward helping reducing skin inflammation and itching tendencies, especially when combined with oral antihistamines like Benadryl or Chlorphenirimine.|
While I recommend adding Omega 3 supplements into a pet’s diet, I also inform my clients that these supplements may sometimes take weeks to months to have a beneficial effect. Some of my favorite products include Be Well, missing link as well as Super Pure Omega 3 from 1800PetMeds. Clients should also consider having their pets checked at their veterinarian, as many pets with crusty skin may need prescription antibiotics or anti-fungal agents.