Which food supplement should I choose for my pet?

Normally, a good diet based on kibbles or paté is enough to cover your pet’s daily needs. On the other hand, in certain cases, it is necessary to administer food supplements to your dog or cat. However, they must be used with care, because an excess of these can be much more disastrous than a deficiency!

In which cases should food supplements be used?

Supplements of a household ration

Food supplements are indispensable if you prepare your dog’s ration yourself. Indeed, minerals and vitamins are not sufficiently present in the food you choose (usually meat, vegetables and starchy foods for a dog). It is important to prepare the ration with the help of a veterinary nutritionist, so that your dog or cat does not lack anything. If you don’t feel ready to prepare a balanced meal for your pet every day, it is better to opt for an industrial food, croquettes or pâtée, which will cover all your pet’s needs.

Food supplements for growing animals

A correct supply of minerals and vitamins is essential during the growth of an animal, especially for large dogs. Thus, some large breed puppies grow in 1 year as much as a man does in 15 years. In less than 10 days, the puppy sees its weight double. Giant breeds (Bernese Mountain Dogs, Saint Bernard, Great Dane, etc…) are particularly at risk. Their prolonged and intense growth must be particularly monitored, to limit the development of osteo-articular disorders, while taking into account their poor digestive tolerance. Up to 8 months, the first phase of growth is exponential and extremely rapid. From 8 to 18-24 months, a much slower growth phase begins and the musculature develops. During these two phases, vitamins (especially vitamin D) and minerals (especially calcium) may be required. However, excess calcium and excess vitamin D are just as harmful as deficiencies! Intakes must therefore be strictly calculated and readjusted as the animal grows. It is essential to ration a giant breed puppy with the help of a veterinarian. Puppies of “classic” breeds do not require the administration of a mineral-vitamin supplement. A “special puppy food” will suffice to cover his needs. Similarly, for cats, a “kitten” food is generally sufficient to ensure the animal’s proper growth.

Dietary supplements for pregnant and lactating bitches and cats

During gestation and lactation, the mother’s energy needs are pumped up by the fetuses and then the newborns. Similarly, calcium is exported in the milk and the mother may be deficient. In case of severe deficiency, the mother may be prone to a syndrome called eclampsia: these are tetanus nervous disorders caused by calcium deficiency. To avoid this kind of disorder (which can frequently prove fatal), it is important to adapt the bitch/cat’s ration during gestation and lactation, and mineral-vitamin supplements are often necessary. It is essential to consult a veterinarian and calculate the ration with him. Here again, “maternity” foods are commercially available and may be quite suitable for your pet.

Food supplements for old dogs and cats

Dietary supplements are also often prescribed to combat disorders associated with old age. Supplements acting on the general tone of the dog exist. Supplements to delay the appearance of vision problems are also marketed. Some supplements are also very useful in the management of joint disorders, such as osteoarthritis. These food supplements are generally part of a global therapy aimed at improving the comfort of the aging animal. Under no circumstances should they be considered alone, and a veterinary consultation should be associated with them.

Food supplements for sporting dogs

It is necessary to provide an energy-rich diet for sporting dogs, such as show dogs, sled dogs or hunting dogs. The administration of food supplements must be carried out at least 1 month before the beginning of the exercise season. The composition of the food supplements must be adapted according to the type of effort required from the dog, according to its morphology, metabolism, etc…

Anti-stress food supplement

Some nutritional supplements can act on the anxiety state of your dogs or cats and soothe them. This is particularly the case with Zylkene, which contains milk proteins with anti-stress properties. These supplements can be used to prevent a stress episode (moving house, fireworks…) or to try to treat a stress episode. They are obviously only supplements, and sometimes real medication is necessary for certain anxiety-related behavioural disorders. Your veterinarian will be able to give you advice about the use of such supplements.

Dietary supplements for coat maintenance

Some food supplements can be used to increase the shine of the coat, especially for long-haired dogs and cats. These are often essential fatty acids. They can also be useful in the case of proven dermatological problems (kerato-seborrheic condition, etc…) and must then be prescribed by your attending veterinarian.

How to use dietary supplements?

Dietary supplements come in several forms:

The powders: this form is very practical since it makes it possible to mix the supplement with the food. It is especially useful for recalcitrant cats.

Drops: this form is also practical, especially for puppies, since the supplement can be administered into the dog’s mouth with a syringe, or even simply put it on the chops, which the dog will then lick.

Tablets: they can be given to the dog or cat in a “forced” manner, forcing it to swallow the tablet. It is also possible to mix it with food (for easy pets) or with a food that the animal likes.

Cures generally last 1 to 2 months, except in specific cases (8 to 10 months for growth, several months for gestation and lactation, 3 to 4 times a year for older animals). Be very careful where you buy the supplements, prefer your veterinarian, a pet shop or a trusted website. Indeed, not all supplements are equivalent in quality. Don’t forget that a so-called dietetic food (special kitten croquettes, special lactation, etc…) may be sufficient to cover your pet’s needs. The dosage of supplements is crucial and must be done with the help of a veterinarian: vitamins and minerals are not harmless and an excess can be very quickly toxic for your pet.