Dear readers: If you've been following our discussion the last few weeks, you know that we are now on Week 4 of our eight-week health plan for pets. Today, the topic is nutritional supplements.
Supplements help balance your pet's diet. Also, some supplements such as fatty acids, enzymes and antioxidants can be part of the treatment for various diseases. Finally, supplements (such as choline) may help delay or prevent the onset of certain problems.
Here are some of the most commonly recommended supplements. Keep in mind that no supplement can turn a bad diet into a good one. If you're not already feeding your pet the best diet possible, go back to week three of the program and work on diet before adding supplements.
Enzymes help increase the digestion and absorption of nutrients from your pet's food. This means less food is wasted and your pet gets nutrition from each bite of food. Enzymes are also a part of my treatment protocol for bowel disorders; they can also help pets with allergies, arthritis and cancer.
Fatty acids, such as flax oil and fish oil, can improve the quality of the coat and skin of your pet. Additionally, fatty acids (especially fish oil) have anti-inflammatory properties that help pets with arthritis, allergies, cancer, kidney disease and heart disease. I believe that as we learn more about fatty acids we will find that they are useful for just about every medical problem.
Antioxidants are potent vitamins and minerals that decrease cell damage (inflammation, cell death and cancer) that results from oxidation that occurs in every cell of the body. I use antioxidants for just about every medical condition as part of my holistic therapy. They are especially useful for allergies, arthritis and cancer. And since oxidative damage to cells increases as we and our pets age (because of decreased levels of natural antioxidants), antioxidants are especially useful supplements for older pets. To prevent vitamin and mineral imbalances, don't simply add vitamins C and E to your pet's diet. This is something I see too often. Rather, work with your veterinarian to find the best product that maintains a good nutritional balance.
Cholodin has been useful in treating cognitive disorder (Alzheimer's) in dogs and cats. I believe all pets 7 years of age and older can benefit from Cholodin, as it may delay, and possibly prevent, the onset of cognitive disorder.
- Dr. Shawn P. Messonnier, author of the "8 Weeks to a Healthy Dog" and "The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats," is a veterinarian and pet care advocate.