With the vast array of supplements available on the market today, it isn’t difficult to get overwhelmed and confused as to which supplements are best for your dog. With all the vitamins, oils, herbs and digestion aids to choose from, which will provide the best results? There are magazine articles with provocative headlines that make the most tried and true supplements sound deadly and we are bombarded with advertisements for exotic oils and herbs that promise to cure cancer, viruses, bacteria and every ailment that medical research has somehow missed. We read on the Internet on how a single nutrient helped someone’s dog recover from cancer, renal disease, and parvovirus and liver problems with just a few doses. The information is so overwhelming, yet also so convincing, that we find ourselves dosing our dogs with 10-20 different supplements each day, hoping we have found just the right combination to cure their health issue or to keep one from happening.
There are supplements that offer ‘miracle cures’ that include a long list of what ‘this’ supplement can accomplish. In many cases, you have to search the product or the packaging for the ingredient list and many of the claims are only anecdotal backed by reports from clients and testimonials from customers. There is no solid research, sources, or other data provided to show or prove effectiveness. We want to believe such remedies can ‘cure’ the variety of ailments, but the truth is if they could, it would be common knowledge and manufacturers would not have to convince anyone of their effectiveness.
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Over the years I have read, researched and written about canine nutrition and supplements, I have seen a lot of supplement fads come and go. Each of them create a lot of excitement and I have heard the news about them spread by word-of-mouth among dog owners. Most of these fads die a quick, natural death and disappear. A few hang on stubbornly and new ones pop up each year. Most get introduced by small companies and occasionally we will see some big money behind a few of the new ones.
When you are looking for supplements and remedies for your dog, it makes sense to use common sense! Below are a few things to avoid and be aware of:
- Products that claim to cure, or help, multiple problems, especially those health issues that traditional medicine hasn’t been able to fix. These can include cancer, asthma, viruses, renal issues, allergies, skin issues, etc. If the product sounds too good to be true, it probably is! If these products worked, every store, pharmacy and hospital would be using them!
- Beware of supplements and remedies sold through multi-level marketing schemes. If you have to buy into a ‘membership’ to buy the product, or you are expected to buy into the company so you can sell the product, proceed with caution! If a product is effective, it would be easily assessable, sold in stores and pharmacies and be flying off the shelves.
- Know what you are buying! Be cautious of products sold that do not list the ingredients or, they contain language that states ‘proprietary blend’ (which means it is trademarked). I turn away from these immediately because I want to know every ingredient in every supplement I give my dog. This way I know if there could be side effects and if I am duplicating any ingredients with other supplements I might be using.
Products that claim to cure or help with difficult health issues, but list no outside research that has been done to justify the claims is a red flag! We love to read about something that works, but it is important to know the claims are valid. Make sure the company selling the product knows ‘why’ it works and has the back-up research to show proof of the products effectiveness!
When investigating the research done, make sure it wasn’t the company itself that funded the research and that the research was done using double blind trials. This removes any researcher bias and shows the most honest results. Recently, I researched a popular product that advertises it helps cure allergies, kill viruses and bacteria, kill yeast, and helps with numerous other difficult-to-treat ailments. When I went to the extensive research the company bragged about, I found it was the company of the product that financed most of the research and what they stated this product could do were gross exaggerations of the findings that their ‘paid for’ studies concluded.
Another product I looked into several years ago claimed to cure cancer and studies and research were provided. The product was sold as a powder and capsule product and the research showed this product has promise IF certain components were removed in a laboratory and mixed with ingredients in the laboratory, and given intravenously.
To conclude, I want to say there are several very good supplements and remedies on the market. There is good research on most vitamins, several herbs, one of which is milk thistle for the liver, probiotics, animal based digestive enzymes for pre-digesting fats in the stomach, omega 3 fatty acids (fish oils) for the immune system, and skin and coat, and amino acids such as l-glutamine for healing the digestive tract lining, that are very effective. Just make sure to do your research when you discover a new supplement that sounds like it will be best for your dog. If it just sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Additionally, check the labels on the product. You want to know what is in it and you want to make sure you are not doubling up on something you are already giving your dog. Lastly, companies frequently use new names for products that are commonly used. This is a common marketing tactic in business and does not mean the ‘newly named’ product is any better than the existing products.
There are some good resources where you can go to ask questions and get good information and feedback. Two of these include the K9Nutrition Facebook page or the K9Nutrition yahoo group. These groups are large and are comprised of many knowledgeable and helpful list members that are always happy to share their knowledge and experiences.
This newsletter is not to warn you or scare you away from using supplements as they are important to your dog’s health. This information is to provide you with a common sense approach to researching supplements so you know what to look for. When you do make supplement choices for your dog, you will know that what you are choosing will indeed be helpful!
B-Naturals wishes each of you a wonderful Holiday Season!
Keep all your pets safe, happy, warm and well feed!
We will see you again next year!