How to make the right choice, and do the best for your pet.
When it comes to canine and feline mobility supplements, making the right choice for your pet is often easier said than done. With so many new supplements available, the journey to working out what’s best for your dog or cat can be a confusing one.
It’s why we asked our Registered Veterinary Nurse Chloe to help you take the guesswork out of pet mobility supplementation, so you can make an informed decision about your dog and cat’s health and wellness.Read on to learn:
- What are the essential dog and cat health supplements?
- What is the difference between a vitamin and a supplement?
- What are the best supplements for canine and feline longevity?
DOES MY PET REALLY NEED A SUPPLEMENT?
When considering supplementation, the first two questions you should ask yourself are:
- What are your health goals for my pet?
- What do I ask of my pet?
The answers to the above two questions should help you decide whether your pet requires a supplement, and if they are willing to take it.
For example, on the surface, you may consider a competing agility dog to be in more need of mobility support than a young house cat. But if the young house cat is of a breed prone to mobility issues, they may be equally in need. As responsible pet owners, we have to assess each pet, based on their needs (now and in the future) and the particular circumstances.
Once you’ve identified what your pet’s need is (mobility support, skin and coat support etc.) it’s really important to dig into the ingredients within the supplement you’re considering because not all of them are made equally. Depending on the goal of the supplement, it’s vital to understand how effective the formulation is at achieving the goal. For example, you wouldn’t purchase a product that claims to improve skin and coat health, if it didn’t have the ingredients to physically make that happen.The most common forms of supplementation are focused around:
- Joint health
- Improving mobility
- Gut health
- Reducing anxiety
- Enhancing cognitive health
- Boosting immune strength
- Improving skin and coat
Some may target multiple areas within that list.
ARE PET VITAMINS THE SAME AS PET SUPPLEMENTS?
Whilst there are some crossovers between supplements and vitamins, they are largely different. Vitamins are organic compounds necessary to sustain life. Whilst vitamins have purposes to improve specific areas of health (eg. Vitamin A acts to improve retinal health), they are at their core essential. Cats and dogs each have specific nutrient requirements, and in most processed foods, the manufacturer will have used a synthetic vitamin and mineral mix to ensure those minimal requirements are met.
For those who feed home-made and fresh-food diets, there are whole food vitamin and mineral base mixes to fill nutritional gaps. These aim to achieve the same result as the synthetic mixes, except are made using real, whole foods. Finally, supplements are designed to be an additional support to a pet’s diet. It should enhance the diet, and not be confused with a pet’s essential vitamins and minerals they should receive through their daily food.
PROACTIVE VS REACTIVE SUPPLEMENTATION
Not all supplementation is designed to act in the same way. A lot of supplements aim to work in a proactive way, instead of being reactive. Proactive supplementation is designed to anticipate needs and challenges before they occur, and provide ways to avoid or overcome the challenges in the first place. Reactive supplementation tends to be once a problem or health challenge has occurred and is given to reduce symptoms.
MOBILITY SUPPLEMENTS - WHAT AM I ACTUALLY LOOKING FOR?!
There are a vast range of pet mobility supplements available today, most of them with different ingredient mixes and formulations. In mobility clinical trials, Omega 3 fatty acids consistently provide the best results. However, despite this, we understand that many owners wish to feed a range of ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin, turmeric and boswelia alongside their choice of omega 3 supplement.
So how as an owner can you make an informed decision about which supplement to choose for mobility?
In 2016 Dr Stephen Fox, former president of the Veterinary Orthopaedic Society, devised system for owners to objectively assess the quality of a supplement:
A - a company name that you recognise
C - clinical experience, i.e. companies that invest in clinical trials, and who publish data for respected journals and make these readily available
C - content, all ingredients should be clearly indicated on the label
L - label claims, i.e. if they sound too good to be true, they probably are. Reference to clinical trials is better than simple testimonials.
A - administration, the dose recommendation should be accurate and easy to calculate
I - a lot identification number to indicate some form of surveillance is possible to test product quality
M - manufacturer information and ideally a link to their website
If you would like to see how some of the most popular mobility supplements in the UK score against these factors, The Canine Fitness Centre have written an amazing blog post rating some of the products out there.
MANUFACTURING & SUSTAINABILITY
Another factor to consider when purchasing a mobility supplement is how it has been manufactured. Certain manufacturing processes can destroy the essential fatty acids, and exposure to air and oxygen over time can reduce potency. It’s not always the case that by the time a supplement has made it into your hand, it is at its highest potency. And even within a single purchase, the potency could vary from the first capsule to the last in the packet.
In a study conducted in 2019, only 43% of owners were aware of the process of oxidation in their pet’s supplement - and yet this single factor can be the difference between a supplement that works consistently or not. The other VERY important factor to consider when choosing a marine sourced supplement, is sustainability. Many contain green lipped mussel, which ideally should be farmed to ensure no damage to natural aquatic ecosystems. Krill based should be whale and penguin friendly as krill are an important source of food for these species.
THE FINAL THOUGHT
When it comes to selecting a cat or dog supplement, ask yourself what kind of approach you are taking to your pet’s longevity; reactive or proactive? It is always best to do your research, work with your veterinary team and ensure you are choosing quality over quantity. Needing some more support to help choose a mobility supplement, reach out to one of our team at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Dr Stephen Fox - “Multimodal Management of Osteoarthritis” 2016