Many of us take supplements to help augment the nutrition provided by our diets. New research seems to find new ways in which our diets are lacking in nutrients almost daily. Given this fact alone it would make sense that pets would benefit from supplements as well. If you explored our nutrition section, however, you may have discovered that supplements are likely even more important for pets.
Our dogs and cats are designed to eat fresh, raw foods; generally we are too, but humans have been eating (and adapting to) cooked food for a much longer period. Because pets rely heavily (often exclusively) on processed foods, pets can easily suffer from serious nutritional deficiencies.
Here are a few kinds of supplements that can help your pets live happier and healthier:
- Hip and Joint
This is probably the most recognized and popular category of supplements. Many dogs develop arthritis later in life or even earlier as a result of genetic defects.
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Just like humans, as pets age the natural lubricants in the joints and cartilage degenerate and break down. Anything that can slow this degeneration, or even help rebuild and repair the joint system, can be beneficial to your pet's health and quality of life.
Because the vast majority of pets eat dry kibble foods that are predominantly made up of grains and carbohydrates, they are not eating the organs, entrails, and other scraps that they would otherwise consume in a more natural setting. For example, beef trachea is a great source of natural glucosamine.
In that vein, glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are now widely popular, as they are both building blocks of cartiledge. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is now a common addition to the aforementioned glucosamine and chondrotin in many hip and joint products. MSM provides sulfur, which is another vital building block of joints and cartiledge, and serves a host of other health functions as well.
Glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM represent the three major ingredients in most joint supplements, but different treatment methods are surfacing all the time. One example is cetyl myristoleate (or Cetyl-M), which has been found to have significant anti-inflammatory properties. Some of our customers have reported that Cetyl-M has worked on more advanced cases of arthritis when other supplements have not.
- Digestive and Dental Health
This may seem like an awkward pairing, but in terms of supplements these are two peas in a pod. As we touched on in the Nutrition section, natural enzymes and probiotics are altered or destroyed by heat processing.
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Digestive enzymes that aid in breaking down food, and good bacteria that compete for survival with (and thus kill off) bad bacteria, are found in fresh, raw foods. Because heat processing kills these vital organisms, many pets (and humans for that matter) are sorely lacking in these areas.
Also, both humans and pets are prescribed antibiotics at a very high frequency. Antibiotics kill all the bacteria in your body: good and bad. When there are no good bacteria to break down food, diarrhea is the wonderful result. Shortly after a round of antibiotics, most people's stomachs do not feel very well for a few days. Diarrhea is also one of the body's natural responses to having too much bad bacteria in the digestive system; the goal being to flush those bacteria out. Thus, more good bacteria in the system to out-compete bad bacteria for survival means better digestive health.
Probiotics have the same effect on dental health; as they compete with bad bacteria (plaque) in the mouth for survival. The less plaque in the mouth, and obviously the better dental health will be. And poor dental health leads to a whole host of problems for both pets and humans: including heart disease, heart attack, stroke, cancer, and the list of findings keeps growing.
If switching your pet to a completely fresh, raw, and unprocessed diet is not feasible, supplements can help immensely. There are many over-the-counter probiotic and digestive enzyme supplements available to help counter the aforementioned issues. Do your research, consult your veterinarian, and of course we're always happy to help you here at Joey's.
- Skin and Coat
Nobody likes their dog or cat to have a dull or rough coat. Pets are supposed to be soft and cuddly, right? Soft coats, however, aren't just nice to snuggle with; a luminous, soft, and resilient coat is a sign of a healthy pet as well. Depending on the cause of the issues, there are supplements that can help.
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One of the most common types of skin and coat supplements are those focused on providing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The most common form of these are fish oils such as salmon oil: usually in either a liquid pump form or a capsule.
Recent research on the potential benefits of fatty acids, in particular bringing up the levels of omega-3's (the Western diet is heavily deficient in omega-3's), has been astounding. The list of potential applications is exhaustive: from heart health, to mental health and depression, from growth for children (and puppies and kittens for the purposes of our discussion) to heart disease and circulatory health, fatty acids are extremely important to the health of both humans and their pets.
The benefits are numerous, and your pet's skin and coat are no exception. Fatty acids lubricate and moisturize skin and hair, and provide the soft, glossy look we all love. Omega-3's are also particularly effective as anti-inflammatories, and therefore these supplements can help reduce the symptoms of allergies. Immune function also seems to be regulated by fatty acids, so they may also help prevent the adverse immune response to potential allergens.
Along with fatty acids, vitamins E and A (vitamin A deficiency is reportedly the most common cause of dry skin in dogs), selenium, copper, and even glucosamine (usually noted for its joint benefits) are just a few examples of ingredients to look for in skin and coat supplements. ENP's Skin & Coat liquid supplement is a particularly good choice for dogs.