Evaluating Supplements: What’s Safe and What’s Not
Everywhere you look these days you see advertisements and news articles about supplements for people and for pets. The market is saturated with new products and it’s becoming more and more difficult to discern fact from fiction. As veterinarians, we feel it’s our job to help pet parents find the most effective and safest supplements for their pets.
When assessing a supplement, it’s important to focus on evidence based research and clinical experience within the veterinary community. What were the case studies? How can they prove what they are claiming about the product? Have other patients used it and to what success?
It’s also important to go to the source and contact the manufacturer for product information. If the manufacturer is claiming something then they should be able to easily prove and back up what they’re saying. If they can’t or the case study they cite has concerns, this could be a red flag for the product overall.
There are also resources you can use to evaluate different supplement products. The National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) focuses on the quality of ingredients, the production process, and evaluates overall product claims. They also evaluate where the different elements originate since many supplements contain ingredients from other countries that have different regulations regarding quality. Look for their seal on their approved product or read their full list here
Another helpful resource is Consumerlab.com which evaluates supplement, product and food claims for humans and pets. While there is a small fee to join the site, it’s an all-inclusive resource to evaluate everything from which olive oil has the purest ingredients to what’s really in your cat’s joint supplements. They focus on the quality and integrity of the ingredients used, check for heavy metal toxicities, and even offer price comparisons.
So why is all of this important? It may not work, but is it really going to hurt?
The short answer is that it actually could hurt. Supplements and other products have been found to contain heavy metals, ingredients not listed, lower percentages of what it claims, and even trace amounts of prescription medications. It is also extremely important that when using a human supplement for your pet that it has been evaluated for potentially toxic ingredients. What may not be toxic to us, may be toxic to your pet.
This is certainly not meant to deter you from seeking out supplements for your cat. Supplements can absolutely be beneficial to your cat’s health care plan. We just want to make sure the products you use are safe and effective. Never start a new product for your cat without talking to your vet. Let us help you chose the right supplement and the best brand. If you have questions about supplements for your cat, call us. We’re here to help you make the best decisions for your furry family member!