Do an internet search for any symptom or disease and find a myriad of supplements with claims to help. The most important thing to remember here is that there is never a magic bullet for any condition. Conventional medicine uses pharmaceuticals to alleviate symptoms, and I often see a shift to more ‘natural’ supplements with the intent of doing the same thing, just with an herb rather than a drug.

The dictionary definition of a supplement reads: something that completes or enhances something else when added to it’

I break down supplements into the following categories:

  1. Dietary

These are supplements that supply nutrients that are missing in the diet. This approach is often used as a crutch when an inferior diet is being fed.  This is what the pet food industry does with the typical kibble or canned food – they over process to the point that many nutrients are eliminated, and then add synthetic vitamins and minerals to make up for the deficiencies.

The most important thing is to feed species-appropriate, whole-food nutrition, and a diet should be formulated to meet as many nutritional needs as possible without supplementation

    2. Symptomatic

These supplements are given to help your pet feel better when sick or hurt, usually for a brief period of time. This would include products such as joint supplements, anti-diarrheals, and pain relievers, among many others. While these products may be appropriate in some cases, they are often given without investigating the underlying cause of the symptoms, allowing the condition to persist, and possibly worsen over time.

   3. Treatment of disease

This includes longer-term supplementation for conditions such as itchy skin, arthritis, auto-immune disease, pancreatitis, seizures and cancer.

It is important to remember that there is never a one-size-fits-all supplement for any condition.  In order for a treatment plan to be effective, each pet must be treated as an individual.  Be very leery of the cure-all claims and they are often marketing, not medicine.

Remember that your pet’s body has an amazing ability to heal with proper support, but it is easy to over-supplement with too many supplements or those that have ingredients that are not applicable to your pet’s conditions or simply used as fillers. 

It is always best to start with a fresh, whole-food diet and only add those supplements that are a fit for your pet’s individual needs.