Healthy Pets: Supplements Offer Support for Dogs & Cats

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Many people rely on supplements to fill nutritional gaps or to prevent and treat various ailments. It might surprise you to learn that some of these same supplements are good for pets too! Read on to learn more about how you can boost the health of your furry friends.

Relief for Pets Aching Joints

As pets age, they can suffer from some of the same health problems that humans do. This is especially true when it comes to their joints. Although dogs and cats can be affected by several different types of arthritis, the most common is osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, which impacts up to 20 percent of adult dogs and 60 percent or more of older cats. Osteoarthritis can be caused by aging, injuries, or health conditions like diabetes and obesity.

Both dogs and cats may get relief from aching joints with collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin, or a combination of all three. One study found that dogs who were treated daily with type-II collagen, glucosamine hydrochloride, and chondroitin sulfate showed a marked reduction in arthritis-related pain, with a maximum improvement observed after 150 days.

Omegas are Essential for Pets

Omega-3 fatty acids may help ease osteoarthritis pain in companion animals. A recent study reported that omega 3s reduced inflammatory markers, cartilage degradation, and oxidative stress, as well as pain and dysfunction, in both cats and dogs. Another study found that cats whose diets were supplemented with omega 3s for 10 weeks had higher  activity levels—including more walking up and down stairs and less stiffness compared to those receiving a placebo.

In addition to easing arthritis pain, omega 3s have also been shown to help with some behavior disorders in dogs. A recent study found that dogs receiving a supplement containing omega 3s, magnesium, and zinc demonstrated a reduction in negative behaviors including fearfulness, destructiveness, and inappropriate elimination.

Another study found that a nutrient blend containing omega 3s from fish oil, antioxidants, B vitamins, and l-arginine was positively linked to improved cognition in aging dogs, especially for more complex tasks.

Pets & Probiotics

Probiotics help to ensure your pet has a healthy microbiome, which in turn supports GI health, immunity, and  more. Different strains of probiotics  offer different types of support. Research has shown that supplementation with probiotics can help prevent or treat everything from acute inflammation of the intestines (enteritis) to allergies in both dogs and cats.

One recent study found that a strain  of Bifidobacterium longum (delivered via queso blanco cheese) had positive effects on intestinal microbiota and metabolites in dogs. Another study from earlier this year found that dogs receiving a probiotic supplement experienced improvements in daily feed intake, weight, and beneficial bacteria; this was especially true of the oldest dogs whose gut microbiota shifted to a more youthful composition after two months of treatment.

CBD Shows Promise for Pets

Research into the use of cannabidiol (CBD) for pets is underway. One study found that dogs treated with 2 milligrams of CBD per kilogram of body weight, twice daily, experienced a significant decrease in osteoarthritis-related pain and an increase in activity. There were no side effects reported.

A new study found that dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy had a significant reduction in seizure frequency when treated with CBD-infused oil in addition to conventional anti-epileptic treatment.

Choose Pet Supplements Wisely

Not all supplements are created equal. Look for brands that specialize in one type of supplement or have research that supports the efficacy of their products. Read labels carefully and make sure the ingredients you want are actually in the product. Always use supplements formulated for pets—some products created for humans can be dangerous to animals.

Sources: 

“Arthritis and degenerative disease in cats,” International Cat Care, www.icatcare.org 

“Arthritis in senior dogs: Signs and treatment” by Stephanie Gibeault, American Kennel Club, www.AKC.org 

“Comparative therapeutic efficacy and safety of type-II collagen (UC-II), glucosamine and chondroitin in arthritic dogs...” by R.C. Gupta et al., 10/12; “The effect of dietary long-chain omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on owner’s perception of behavior and locomotion in cats with naturally occurring osteoarthritis” by R.J. Corbee et al., 10/13, J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl) 

“Effects of queso blanco cheese containing Bifidobacterium longum KACC 91563 on the intestinal microbiota and short chain fatty acid in healthy companion dogs” by H.E. Park et al., Korean J Food Sci Anim Resour, 12/18 

“Oral administration of compound probiotics improved canine feed intake, weight gain, immunity, and intestinal microbiota” by H. Xu et al., Front Immunol, 4/2/19 

“Pharmacokinetics, safety, and clinical efficacy of cannabidiol treatment in osteoarthritic dogs” by L.J. Gamble et al., Front Vet Sci, 7/23/18 

“Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy” by S. McGrath et al., J Am Vet Med Assoc, 6/1/19

Contributor: 

Kelli Ann Wilson

Kelli Ann Wilson is Assistant Editor at Taste for Life magazine. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, photography, gardening, and spending time with her husband and two kids.