Every pet owner wants their furry friend to lead a long, happy and healthy life. While a healthy diet can help promote good health as well as help fight chronic and acute illnesses, they are; however, not immune to health issues. Hence, you might wonder: “Are daily vitamins and supplements for pets necessary?”
Needless to say, an optimal diet for both cats and dogs would include fresh and high quality food. However, this is only if your canine or feline pal are digesting and absorbing the nutrients from these foods.
In this article we will discuss the benefits of daily vitamins and supplements for pets that will help support their immune system and promote good health.
Vitamins & Supplements for Pets
Every pet has different needs for a healthy development
Essential Fatty Acids
Both cats and dogs need Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in their daily diet. Omega-6 fatty acids are found to be contained in most animal fats and vegetable oils that are used to manufacture most pet foods. However, Omega-3 fatty acids are not.
There are 3 types of Omega-3 fatty acid fats. They are namely:
- EPA fats
EPA fats are necessary due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They are also crucial for their role in cell membrane development.
- DHA fats
DHA fats are important for brain and retina development.
- ALA (alpha-linoleic acid)
A type of plant-sourced Omega-3 fatty acid. It is limited in their conversion to beneficial EPA and DHA fats. Hence they are stored or used as energy.
Supplemental oil contains precise forms of EPA and DHA that are necessary for your pet’s health. Hence, it is recommended to add vitamins and supplements into your pet’s diet. Some examples of supplemental oils include cod liver, sardine, anchovies and salmon oil.
While joint inflammation is a common symptom of arthritis, consuming supplemental oils that contain both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids will be effective at helping to reduce those symptoms.
It is important to keep in mind to only feed pet supplements that are formulated specially for pets. Additionally, choose supplemental oils that are free of contaminants, toxic heavy metals and added flavourings.
Here are some of the benefits of fish oil for pets:
- Reduce inflammation
- Support overall immune health
- Improve gastrointestinal health
- Promote joints health
- Cardiovascular health
- Brain and eye development
Digestive enzymes plays an important role in the process of digestion. It is important to ensure that ingested food are broken down into smaller particles before it reaches the small intestines.
If the particles were to be too large, it would result in a failure for the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream. Hence, leading to gastrointestinal issues in your pets.
Natural enzymes are only present in some types of food such as fruits and vegetables. However, these enzymes are denatured during cooking due to the presence of high heat and temperature. It is the pancreas which produces most of the digestive enzymes needed for proper digestion.
Digestive enzymes are essential for your pet’s digestive system. Not only do they aid in the digestive process of ingested food, they are important in ensuring an overall good skin and gut health.
It is important to supplement digestive vitamins and supplements for pets into your pet’s diet to aid digestion.
As the first and best line of defense against pathogens in your pet’s digestive system, probiotics play a crucial role in ensuring their overall health. When the amount of harmful bacteria populates their digestive tract, illnesses associated with digestive health may arise.
Vitamins and supplements for pets like probiotics are important to help prevent flatulence, diarrhoea and promote overall digestive and immune health.
These are especially important if your pet is taking medications such as antibiotics, as they can eliminate healthy gut flora present in the digestive system.
Furthermore, some studies have shown that pets with food allergies may experience reduced allergic reactions when consuming probiotic supplements.
Multivitamins are beneficial to both pets and humans. Although the highest quality pet food should contain the most nutrients, this is however, not true. Levels of nutrients decreases when exposed to air, light and during food processing.
While the levels of nutrients may be low in some pet food, pet foods may contain an excess of some minerals.
One such example is zinc, an overconsumption of zinc could result in zinc poisoning. Hence, pets on organic and natural pet food diets do not need to be on multivitamins.
Homemade recipes are increasingly common today, however, many do not know that these homemade recipes are often lacking in essential nutrients that your pet will need for a healthy development. Hence, it is important to take notice of this fact.
For instance, taurine is an essential amino acid that is beneficial for your pet’s heart health. Despite it being an important ingredient in most pet foods, it is absent in most homemade recipes.
Hence, it is important to check with your vets before putting your pets on a homemade food diet. This is to ensure that they are getting the essential nutrients to meet their specific health needs.
A basic pet multivitamin supplement is ideal for achieving optimal health or prevent health issues by boosting overall health. However, it is important to note that every pet is different in their needs — there is no one specific multivitamin that is suitable for every pet.
Your pet may need half or a full dose of multivitamins per day depending on the type of diet they are on. Hence, you should consult your veterinarian before introducing any vitamins or supplements into your pet’s daily regime.
Do kittens and puppies need vitamins & supplements?
Just like infants and babies, kittens and puppies also have special nutritional needs. They tend to have weaker immune systems in the early stages of life as they are still in the process of developing.
Additionally, kittens & puppies experience some level of stress when they are leaving the safety of their mothers to live in a new environment. Hence, vets recommend the addition of colostrum to boost your young pets immune systems for at least two months after they have weaned from their mothers.
They should only be fed foods that are formulated for kittens and puppies as they are made to contain the essential nutrients needed for healthy development.
What vitamins & supplements do senior pets need?
Like kittens and puppies, senior pets have special needs due to their aging bodies. Their nutritional needs will change, hence, it is important to adjust their diet as they age.
In addition to switching to foods specially formulated for senior pets, it is also important to visit your pet’s vet regularly to complete their blood test work.
You can also read on here to find out more about caring for your furry animals.
As your pet reaches their senior years, their cognitive abilities may start to decline. Omega-3 fish oils and antioxidant supplements may help support brain functions in aging pets.
Vitamins and Antioxidants
The addition of pet vitamins and antioxidants into your senior pet’s daily diet regime is advised. They help prevent further cell damage due to free radicals. This will help prevent degenerative issues and help boost their immune system.
While it helps to slow down degenerative issues and boost your pet’s immune system. Holistic vets recommend adding CoEnzyme Q10 as an antioxidant to support dental and heart health.
Holistic veterinarians recommend feeding joint health supplements for both cats and dogs. Older dogs and larger breeds are more prone to joint issues, hence; vets usually recommend pet owners to start their dogs on joint health supplements as early as 12 months old.
In contrast to dogs, it is more difficult to decide whether a cat has joint problems yourself and when to start your cats on joint supplements, they should be fed at first signs of joint pain or stiffness.
The recommended joint supplements should contain ingredients such as MSM, chondroitin and glucosamine. These are essential ingredients that will help provide pain relief, improved flexibility , strengthened joints and cartilage and reduced inflammation.
Herbs such as boswellia, chinese herbs, bromelain and turmeric aids in slowing down joint degeneration and minimise arthritis symptoms.
While you have your pet’s best interest at heart, it is important to keep a close eye on them. If you observe any symptoms such as sluggish, skin issues, cloudy eyes, you should always seek a consultation with your veterinarian.
There is no single health vitamin or supplement that fits all, hence; it is important to consult the vet before any adjustment, adding or removing any vitamins and supplements.