Many of today’s most prevalent health conditions have been directly linked to improper nutrition and poor lifestyle habits. Even small nutritional deficiencies can compromise immunity, vitality, and damage health. Taking care of your own core nutritional needs creates a strong foundation for your body and helps establish a strong foundation to help rebuild, restore and repair your body if needed. So wouldn’t it make sense that taking care of our furry friends in the same way would be just as important? Here are some thoughts on pet supplements.
According to Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PHD, it is important to supplement dogs’ and cats’ diets with certain nutrients because “unfortunately, these nutrients are often inadequately represented even in fresh foods today because of loss during storage and cooking, soil depletion, and forced growing methods.” (Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, 2005)
So how do you choose what supplements to give your pet? Fortunately, research into natural health products for our animal companions is ongoing and shows that many nutritional and herbal products helpful to humans are also good for your beloved canine. Though not everything that is good for us is good for our pets (so you should still use some caution here), picking a supplement for your furry friend can be easier that it sounds.
The following three core nutrients will support your pet’s health and give you peace of mind that you are doing the best for them, as well.
Multi-vitamin-mineral: Even the best diet and the best dog or cat food cannot guarantee optimal nutrient levels due to reasons mentioned above. A multivitamin and mineral supplement can be helpful to fill in nutrient gaps. A good multivitamin/mineral provides a comprehensive selection of nutrients important for your pet’s health. A multivitamin/mineral that contains B vitamins, calcium and phosphorous can correct nutrient deficiencies, the first and most important step in preventative healthcare.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs): Good fats provide more than twice as much energy as other food sources, and a certain amount of fat in a cat or dog’s diet is natural and important. Omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids are necessary and deficiencies can result in a dull, dry coat, itchy skin, hair loss, increased susceptibility of infections, heart and circulatory problems, weakness, vision impairment, arthritis and more. EFAs also tend to naturally reduce inflammation, especially important for pets that suffer from allergies or immune diseases. One excellent product for omega-3s is Nordic Naturals Pet Cod Liver Oil, especially formulated for dogs and cats. Another option is Halo Dream Coat, the perfect balance of omegas 3 and 6, easily mixed with wet food. My little Shih Tzu, loved to lick it right off a plate.
Digestive Aids: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that inhabit the entire digestive, urinary, and reproductive tracts. Healthy bacteria aid in the absorption of nutrients, discourage bad bacterial growth, and act as part of the immune system. Imbalances in beneficial bacteria can occur from taking various medications (such as antibiotics), illness and poor diet. Taking probiotics can enhance digestion, immune function, and coat and skin health. Digestive enzymes are necessary for digestion and absorption of food. Adding more enzymes to your pet’s diet is beneficial due to the destruction of enzymes in the cooking and/or processing of foods, and is especially helpful if your pooch is a bit gassy. PetGuard Digestive Enzymes contain the probiotics acidophilus and bifidus, and human grade plant source enzymes that are completely free of wheat, soy, dairy, corn, sugars, artificial color and preservatives.
If you want something a little simpler for your cat or dog, or you have never given your pet a supplement, Flora Udo’s Choice Pet Essential for Dogs or Cats is a super food for your furry buddy. Rich in fiber, essential fatty acids, detoxifying herbs, trace minerals, digestive enzymes and greens, this supplement supports the digestive system, cardiovascular system and promotes healthy skin and a glossy coat. I pack this one when we travel.
A natural health approach to pet care should be the same as for human health care. Prevent illness and disease before they occur and don’t just treat the symptoms of illness; get to the source of what may be making your pet ill. Maintenance of good health and prevention of disease will ensure that you and your beloved animal companion will enjoy a higher quality of life together, and perhaps for a much longer period of time.
Photo from here, with thanks.