To Supplement or Not to Supplement….That is the Question

23 Sep




Pet owners often ask my opinion about whether nutritional supplements are beneficial or unnecessary for pets. After all, since processed pet foods already contain essential vitamins and minerals, why would you add more?
I believe supplements are necessary, because the vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are added to packaged pet foods are often destroyed or compromised during the cooking process. To make matters worse, the fillers (such as corn, soy and wheat) in cheap pet foods can weaken your pet’s immune system.
Immune stressors are not limited to the food bowl. Around the house and neighborhood, pets can be exposed to free radicals, disease-causing agents, pesticides, weed killers and chemicals in common cleaners and air fresheners. Switching to a raw diet is a huge nutritional improvement, but the animals that provided the meat may themselves have been exposed to environmental immune stressors, which are then passed along to your pet.
Nutritional supplements help protect your pet against all that by supplying nutritional elements that cannot be produced by the body.


Here are just a few ingredients to look for in a good supplement:
The essential amino acid L Methionine is a powerful antioxidant and a good source of sulfur, which neutralizes free radicals and helps prevent skin, coat and nail problems. It detoxified harmful agents such as lead and other heavy metals in airborne pollutants, and can delay age-related cataracts. It’s also essential for the absorption, transportation and bioavailability of selenium and zinc in the body, and prevents fat buildup in the liver, which can cause fatigue. It’s even useful against some allergies, because it minimizes histamine release. A deficiency of L Methionine can slow growth, restrain essential proteins in the blood, and cause edema, liver damage, loss of muscle and fat, skin lesions and weakness.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral that blocks the oxidation of lipids (fats) and prevents the formation of free radicals and certain types of tumors. Selenium and Vitamin E work together to produce antibodies and protect the heart and liver – in fact, selenium deficiency has been linked to cancer and heart disease, as well as exhaustion, growth impairment, high cholesterol levels, infections, liver impairment, pancreatic insufficiency, and sterility.
For proper food digestion and absorption, look for a supplement that contains enzymes such as papain and alpha amylase. Alfalfa is an ingredient that increases appetite, helps poor digestion and can alleviate certain allergies – and in conjunction with blue green algae, alfalfa helps heal intestinal ulcers, liver disorders, high blood pressure, anemia and cancer. Blue green algae is extremely rich in chlorophyll, which strengthens the immune system, helps heal wounds faster and purifies the blood. Vitamins A, B, C and E help oxygenate the red blood cells, and zinc helps with wound healing.


Pets of all ages can benefit from supplements – newly weaned and/or vaccinated puppies and kittens, elderly pets who need extra bone support and active adult pets, including dogs with stressful jobs like police work, guarding or hunting. 3Canine90wafersx-330My own dogs take a human grade supplement that contains vitamins, minerals, enzymes and herbs. And it’s water-soluble, so it’s suitable for any size dog – whatever is not utilized is just eliminated.  You can order it directly online

I choose my pets’ supplements the same way I choose my family’s supplements – by reading the label and looking for natural, high-quality ingredients. And they don’t have to be expensive – the one I use for my dogs costs about fifty cents per day.  As Benjamin Franklin said, “ An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”


Written by:  Brenda M. Tobin-Flood, Cert. C.N.

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