Petfood supplements : are you offering your pet what’s best for him?

Since we launched Vita Nutrition Animale, we are often asked if someday we plan on launching a full range of animal food for dogs and cats. And every time the answer is the same: nope. Here’s why.

We believe in the relevance and benefits of food supplements for animals. However, we also strongly believe in the importance to choose these food supplements well and to be properly aware of the important pet feeding principles to make sure your selection is wise.

Because we know it’s not always easy to find reliable information on the internet, and that is particularly true when it comes to animal diet, we have written this article to help you find and give the best pet food supplements to your dog and/or cat.

In this article:

  • The myth of complete formulas
  • The best supplements to have
  • When and how to give food supplements to your animal

The myth of complete formulas

We know that there are excellent companies that offer many interesting products, wether it’s kibbles or raw, when it comes to complete formulas. But we also believe that each individual has different needs. That’s why we think that a particular formula can never really be complete for all pets.

Indeed, some formulas are more complete than others in a sense that they contain a wider variety of ingredients.

But it’s always possible to improve the recipe by adding to it supplements according to your pet’s needs. No two dogs nor two cats are the same. And even then, your animal’s needs will vary during his lifespan.

Choosing variety

As a human, if you don’t have any specific health issues and if you eat a wide variety of minimally transformed foods, you shouldn’t need to supplement yourself with vitamins.

Well, this is also true for dogs and cats. Varying their food allows them to find all the essentials ingredients they need in the appropriate proportion. Therefore, the more variety you offer them while respecting their regimen needs, the more you are making sure they get all the goodies for an optimal health.

Even more importantly, variety will reinforce their digestive system by allowing them to get used to different foods. Your animal will have less risks of developing a food intolerance.

Ok, we agree, this looks pretty good on a sheet of paper since when it comes to pet feeding, variety is not much into our usages. And that is without considering all the restraints we are confronted to (ex.: a dog that does not digest different kibbles, a picky cat that refuses to eat just about everything, an animal with food intolerances, etc).

All the more that simply varying the nature of the proteins you feed your animal is often insufficient. For example, if you alternate between a chicken formula and a lamb formula kibbles from the same company, then the formula or the mix of added vitamins and minerals is often the same and your animal is not better served.

It’s to say that variety is more complex than it seems. This is where food supplements become useful…but be wary…not any food supplement.

Animal supplements or animal complements?

A supplement is NOT compulsory. It will improve your animal’s condition and health depending on the benefits you’re expecting.

For example, if your dog suffers from osteoarthritis, adding a good quality bone broth daily is great. But the broth does not become his meal nor does it replace his food. The broth is only an addition.

In other words, if a formula must contain supplements for it to be called “complete”, there’s room to question the basic recipe. In this case, we would be talking of complements : ingredients that complete the recipe, making it a recipe that is not really complete without these ingredients.

Pay attention and read the labels.

It’s a fact that many formulas add supplements to their recipes. However, you should be wary of what’s on the label since you ideally want to offer to your pet the most natural supplements as possible.

The best way to find out if a food is natural or not, is to read the label. The list of ingredients says a lot. If you find terms such as “palmitate”, “ascorbic acid” or other words that seem unusual to you, then you can bet that these vitamins are chemically processed which places them at the opposite range to natural vitamins.

Contrary to synthetic supplements, supplements that come from fresh foods (i.e. green lip mussels, kelp, etc.) are easily recognized by the body and since they contain a many vitamins that interact in synergy, the body has lesser risks to suffer from a deficit or a surplus. These could be at the cause of a metabolic disequilibrium and by ricochet health issues.

The best supplements to have at hand

Before we draft the list of the best supplements to have at hand, it’s important that we stress out the properties that differentiate a good from an average food supplement for dogs and cats.

Supplement processing

A supplement can originate from a natural source, but it can be inefficient because of the processing method. As an example, you can find added probiotics to various kibble formulas. Since kibbles are cooked at high temperatures, this addition is practically useless.

Why is that? Simply because good micro-organisms cannot survive the extreme temperature at which kibbles are cooked. Nor can they survive low temp freezing in raw formulas.

The same can be said for the enzymes that are added to the said “complete” formulas.

So, be aware of the processing that is applied to the supplements that are said to be in your favorite pet food. They were added, but they might have been altered by the production of the recipe.

As natural as possible…but be cautious

Another issue with natural food supplement for pets rests in their conservation method.

Beware of all the artificial preservatives (some pets may have allergic reactions). In fact, beware of any preservative. Salt is often used as a preservative. A small quantity is okay, but to be used as a preservative, the quantity needed exceeds the recommended daily ration for pets.

Moreover, it’s not because a supplement is said to be natural that it’s necessarily recommended or good for your pet. This designation is a broad category. You should also find out how the supplement is processed because it may have withstand too much transformation in order to facilitate preservation.

Therefore, it’s important that you consult your veterinarian or an agronomist specialized in domestic cats and dogs nutrition to make sure your pet will benefit from a supplement.

When and how should you supplement your pet

Now that we’ve covered the origin, the processing and the nature of food supplements, let’s have a look at the posology.

We are often asked this question about to our products.

Each supplement has its benefits

Before finding out what quantity and frequency you should feed a supplement to your pet, you have to ask yourself what are the benefits that you wish for your animal by adding this supplement to his diet.

It’s obvious that you wish the best for your pet. But what does that really imply, more precisely?

If you don’t question yourself, your pet’s bowl may end up having more supplements than needed. Remember that if your pet’s diet is well balanced and sustains his metabolism, then you shouldn’t need to add that many supplements in it.

A specific supplement, if it’s not synthetic nor denatured, will offer various benefits.

This is the case of our bone broths for example. For a pet presenting a joints problem such as osteoarthritis, we recommend supplementing him daily with bone broth. However, for a pet that doesn’t have any joints issue but is very active, we would then recommend that you add bone broth after the activity to assist him in his recuperation and hydration.

In both situations, it’s the same supplement, but since the desired benefits aren’t the same, the posology varies.

If you seek answers regarding the company’s recommendations for its supplement, never hesitate to contact them for more informations.

Are there any contra-indications?

Generally, if the supplements are given in their most natural form (for example: kefir or fermented vegetables), there are no particular contra-indications. However, for certain pets, even if the supplement is natural, it might not suit them and it would not be recommended.

If your pet suffers from a particular health issue, it is always best to seek advice with your veterinarian or an agronomist specialized in animal nutrition as the first step to food supplementation.

There are also some general contra-indications. Let’s say that you were recommended to add vegetables to your pet’s diet, it’s not all vegetables that are good to give and these vegetables have to be grounded since the animal’s digestive tract does not have the enzymes needed to break down cellulose.

Some warnings also apply to the conservation of certain supplements since they can become inefficient or even harmful. For instance, fish oil’s quality varies greatly from one brand to another and if it’s left on the shelf it may become rancid and lose its proprieties.

Once again, we emphasize the importance to contact the company behind the product if you want to learn more on their supplements. Should it be their origine and/or their production processes and conservation.

At the end of the day, although it is a good thing to add supplements to your pet’s bowl, it’s important to do it wisely and to remember that it’s not because the virtues of a “super-food” are praised every where, that it is recommended for your pet.

In summary:

  • No complete formula is always complete for all individuals
  • Every animal is unique and therefore has different needs
  • It’s important to select a supplement for the benefits you are seeking
  • It’s not because a product is labeled as a supplement that it is necessarily recommended for your pet. Always seek appropriate advice before.

One last thing, always beware of the “last new trend” and make sure that the supplements you are using are natural and have been minimally processed in order to take advantage of all of its benefits .

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