Thursday, September 27, 2012

Nutritional supplements are not just for people these days. 

In fact, there are many supplements that will benefit your cat's health too.  First let me talk a bit about your choice in supplements.  Nutritional supplements, also called nutriceuticals, are not regulated by the FDA. What that means to you as a consumer is that you must be careful in your selection. Read the labels carefully. Understand the ingredients and their uses, or purchase these items from someone that you trust -i.e. your veterinarian. The supplements carried by the Fox Valley Cat Clinic are from sources that I have carefully researched, and that I use on my own pets. I explain to my clients how they work, and when they should be used -if you trust your veterinarian, then ask them BEFORE using over the counter medications. 

Next, lets look at some safe and very effective supplements that you may want to try for your cat.

 PROBIOTICS are a healthy addition to the diet of  any cat  that has gastrointestinal problems, be it vomiting, diarrhea, constipation or just a sensitive stomach.  Probiotics are given daily mixed into each meal.  Feline probiotics need to be specifically formulated for the carnivorous GI tract, so human formulations (like yogurt) are not an appropriate substitute.  Probiotics enable the healthy bacteria to function as they should, which leads to a normalization of food processing.  This is a simple way to keep the GI tract healthy and happy.

GLUCOSAMINE/CHONDROITIN is a commonly used supplement to maintain healthy joints.  These compounds  helps to keep the joint surfaces lubricated and therefore more functional and comfortable.  Research has shown that 50% of cats over 10 years of age, and > 80% of cats over 15 years of age are suffering from arthritis and/or  degenerative joint disease.  Adding this supplement daily to your older cat's diet may make it easier for them to jump up and down, maneuver stairs, get into the litterbox, and just feel better.  Please remember that senior cats won't show obvious signs of arthritis in its early stages.

ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS  are a fantastic addition to any feline diet.  In the form of Fish Oil, this high powered supplement is packed with antioxidants and other healthy compounds that benefit the heart, the liver, and the GI tract.  Research has shown a positive benefit when used in cats with heart disease, as well as certain  chronic diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, hypertension and arthritis.  It has a fishy taste and smell, so with this as with ALL supplements, start with a VERY small amount mixed well into the food and gradually work up to the appropriate amount.  Cats instinctively don't like anything that changes the smell of their food, be patient and persistent with any food additive.

The take-away message I want to leave you with is that nutritional supplements can be a safe and effective way to boost the nutritional power of your cat's diet.  And diet is often the key to a healthier cat.  Nutriceuticals do not require a prescription and are easily accessible.  So, at your next wellness visit, ask your veterinarian about nutritional supplements that would be of benefit for you cat.

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Dr. Maureen Flatley