When you change anything about your pet’s diet, including providing supplementation, the changes won’t happen overnight. Like with humans, it can sometimes take weeks to find out if a medication is working or not. Therefore, understand that although nutrition, supplements, and vitamins can sometimes help your pet, it’s not an overnight solution.

Glucosamine

This is a supplement given to pets to help with arthritis and joint pain. It can be purchased over the counter and some veterinarians will also stock it and give it to their patients for treating arthritis. While the evidence is not strong right now that it works, some people swear by it. Most vets say to give it at least six weeks before deciding if it’s working or not.

Fish Oil

Many people give their pets fish oil because they want them to have a nice coat and fewer skin allergies. Dogs and cats don’t have the same coronary issues that we have, so you don’t need to give fish oil to them for that reason. It’s normally a trial and error process to find out if adding fish oil will benefit the coat and skin. Most veterinarians want you to give it at least 12 weeks to determine if any supplement is working on the coat, depending on the breed and how fast their coat grows out.

Probiotics

These beneficial gut bacteria are often given to dogs and cats when they have issues with their bowel movements (typically runny bowels) even though they are otherwise healthy and eating right. The studies now are inconclusive, although are leaning toward them being beneficial for gastrointestinal disease for humans, dogs, and cats. Typically, it only takes about seven days to notice whether it’s going to benefit your pet. Quality control is poor, so buy a well-known brand and check the independent verification.

Multivitamins

One of the more controversial issues – there are no studies that show whether vitamins work for pets or not, nor whether they really need them. The main reason for this is that most commercial pet foods are nutritionally complete, making supplementation unnecessary for pets who can eat commercially prepared food.

However, if you feed your pet an alternative method, you may need to use multivitamins for pets to ensure they are getting balanced and proper nutrition. But once again, quality control is poor so check for independent verification and only get vitamins approved for your type of pet.

Lysine

Many cats are infected with the feline herpes virus (FHV-1). It’s very common for shelter cats as it’s very contagious. Most cats overcome it, but a few will not. The symptoms are runny eyes, respiratory issues, and a runny nose. Some cats act tired and unwell. There is an inoculation that cats can get that can lessen symptoms, but it will not prevent the virus.

The treatment right now is to wash the eyes, put in over-the-counter eye drops (ask your vet which kind) and supplement with lysine. It’s supposed to work by blocking the uptake of a certain amino acid, stopping the replication of the FHV-1 virus. One problem is that this supplement can cause arginine deficiency. If this supplement is going to work, you must try it for the long term over about six months.

As you can see, supplementation is not an overnight success and studies are sparse. But if it won’t hurt your animal and it might help, there is nothing wrong with giving it a try under veterinarian supervision.

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