Many people give supplements or Nutraceuticals to their pets. You may be one of them – but do you really know how to tell one from the other or if their claims are true?
My name is Dr. Luisa Alvarez and I am a veterinarian at Royal York Animal Hospital in Etobicoke, Ontario. I am also a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist, Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist and I have a special interest in Pain Management.
The North American Veterinary Nutraceutical Council defines a veterinary nutraceutical as a “non-drug substance that is produced in a purified or extracted form and administered orally to provide agents required for normal body structure and function with the intent of improving the health and well being of animals.”
Veterinary nutraceuticals require neither food safety nor drug safety and efficacy testing by the FDA. There is very little information about safety, efficacy, purity, dosing, side effects, or adverse effects of most of these products.
Listed below are recommendations that assist with the selection of quality products:
- Buy from an established company
- Look for the North America Supplement Council (NASC) membership of companies you purchase supplements from. The NASC was formed as an industry group to set standards for manufacturing quality, for product labeling and to collect and analyze adverse event reports (AER) from the use of herbs and nutraceutical products in veterinary species. http://nasc.cc
- Request from the company certificates of analysis regarding the content of the formula and testing that has been done to measure the level of toxins, microflora and active herbal components in the formula. These tests cost the company money to run and will ultimately contribute to the increased cost of the supplement, but the peace of mind and increased clinical effectiveness are worth the cost. Beware of low-cost deals that are too good to be true. They probably are.
- Be sure that the label contains full disclosure of the contents of the formula, which means that the true weight of each of the components on the formula should be listed specifically; also look for information regarding the amount of standardized herb in the formula.
- Carefully read the label to see if it contains deceptive information.
- Buy from companies that provide you with technical data and support for the use of their products.
- Be sure to inform the company of any perceived side effects from the use of their products. The NASC has set up an “adverse event” reporting system on their website to compile adverse events from products manufactured by their member companies.
Royal York Animal Hospital (RYAH) has carefully researched each product that we recommend to be sure they are safe and effective.
Essential Fatty Acids:
Omegas 3 Fatty Acids (EPA-DHA) are essential because they are needed for development and normal function and we can only get them in food and supplements. They have anti-inflammatory effects and can also minimize the expression of some genes. They are beneficial in many acute and chronic conditions like atopic dermatitis (itchy skin), osteoarthritis, chronic kidney disease, etc
Glucosamine and Chondroitin:
Helps protect the cartilage, reduce pain and prevent the progression of osteoarthritis.
Methylsulfonylmethane or MSM:
Can have anti-inflammatory effects and are often used in combination with glucosamine and chondroitin in the management of osteoarthritis.
Green Lipped mussels:
Have anti-inflammatory effects similar to fatty acids and are use in the management of osteoarthritis.
Interferes with the uptake of the amino acid arginine in herpes viral replication, and therefore reduces viral load. It is currently used in cats with chronic herpes virus infections to reduce symptoms and duration of outbreaks. Treatment is life-long.
Antioxidant used in the treatment of acute or chronic liver disease.
This is a molecule found naturally during cell metabolism. It has several important roles in cell function as well as antioxidant effects. It is often use in the management of acute or chronic liver disease and in other conditions like cognitive disorders.
Are live (viable) beneficial bacteria, which upon ingestion in sufficient numbers exert health benefits to the host. The way probiotics act is not completely known, but it is believed that they enhance the immune system, have anti-inflammatory effects and regulates the pH and bacterial flora in the bowels. Probiotics can be used in gastrointestinal disorders as well as other inflammatory or immune mediated disease.
I hope this blog has been helpful. There is so much information out there that it can be very difficult to decipher and pick the right product for your pet or even if one is needed. The best source of information for supplements and nutraceuticals is your veterinarian. Questions are always welcome!
Dr. Luisa Alvarez