Ask these 5 important questions when selecting quality animal supplements for your practice.
As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we are finding that more and more consumers are becoming interested in supporting their immune and gut health to help support overall well-being. For many, this means including supplements in their regimen. A recent consumer survey by Cargill found that immune support has become more important to 64% of US consumers since the start of the pandemic, and 43% said they will take an immune health supplement in the next six months.
PEOPLE WANT THE SAME FOR THEIR PETS
Since we know that many pet owners who feel they benefit from taking supplements also want their pets to experience the same advantages, you can assume some of your clients will come to you with questions about immune health supplements for their animals. Offering these types of products through your practice enables you to coordinate care and make proper recommendations to your clients, which may encompass complementary natural products in conjunction with mainstream modalities. These may include:
• Daily multivitamin supplements — Even if a dog or cat is being fed a top quality pet food, it’s likely he or she can benefit from a multivitamin supplement to help optimize nutrition. “Complete and balanced” pet food means the food has adequate macronutrients (fat, protein, fiber, moisture, fatty acids) and other required micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) to sustain life. But there’s so much more an animal can benefit from that goes beyond adequate nutrition, and these missing pieces are an absolute necessity when supporting health and wellness. A daily multivitamin supplement is one way to help bridge the gap and provide essential micronutrients a pet may be missing.
• Antioxidant supplements — Free radicals are unstable molecules produced by the body during normal metabolic and immune system activity, as well as by external factors such as dietary deficiencies, ongoing stress or exposure to environmental toxins. When too many free radicals accumulate and cannot be managed by the body’s own natural antioxidants, the result is oxidative stress, which over time may account for the degenerative changes associated with aging and many related diseases. Antioxidants can play an important role in helping neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals and their build-up, and support cellular health and normal cell function.
• Digestive support supplements — The digestive tract is the largest immune-supporting organ in the body and home to the gut microbiome, a unique collection of bacteria and other microorganisms (microbes) crucial for digesting food, utilizing nutrients, and shaping immune health. We often only give thought to the harmful microbes that cause illness but it’s important to also remember and care for the beneficial microbes that keep a dog or cat’s GI tract healthy. Supplements such as digestive enzymes, prebiotics and probiotics may help support a healthy gut microbiome, which is essential to overall wellness and maintaining a strong immune system.
MAKING SURE YOU RECOMMEND QUALITY PRODUCTS
As you evaluate supplements to recommend to your clients, we suggest you reach out to manufacturers for answers to the following questions around quality, and how the products are made:
1. Who formulates the product?
Select products formulated by a veterinarian or qualified professionals with knowledge and expertise in pet supplements, and with a solid track record of producing animal nutritional or health supplements.
2. What quality standards does the company follow?
It’s not enough for a company to say they follow quality standards. They should specifically be following Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) modelled after the FDA’s cGMPs for human dietary supplements as defined in 21 CFR Part 111, and for animal food defined in 21 CFR Part 507 of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
3. Is the product independently tested by an analytical lab?
Independent testing consists of a third-party analytical lab that tests a finished product purchased from the marketplace (not provided by the manufacturer) and verifies that the product meets label claims.
4. Is the product labeled properly?
If a product label or marketing materials overtly claim — or even imply —the product will treat, prevent, mitigate or cure any disease, the supplier is violating the law and misleading consumers. The label should also have a lot number, which tells you the manufacturer likely complies with some type of quality standards requiring product traceability.
5. Does the product have the NASC Quality Seal?
The NASC Quality Program and audit verification are widely recognized as the “gold standard” in the industry. The NASC Quality Seal indicates a product comes from a responsible supplier that has passed a comprehensive third-party audit and maintains ongoing compliance with rigorous NASC quality requirements.
It is important to establish faith in the companies that supply pet supplements to your practice. Don’t be afraid to question manufacturers and suppliers until you find those who welcome your questions and are eager to gain your trust!