Wednesday, Jan. 13th 2021

Selecting Good Pet Supplements

Hey, how are you all doing in this New Year?  Yeah, we’re tired of the pandemic as well.  However, we continue to do business and help your pets to a healthier life!  We are continuing mostly curbside care and find most pets are actually more relaxed when they come inside.  We are perhaps a little sillier and cuddle them a bit more than if their people were watching?  If the pet has a complex case that needs an extended consult, or is sincerely much easier to handle with the owner present, we are allowing clients inside under these conditions.  First, they MUST wear a cloth or paper mask covering nose and mouth the entire time they are inside.  Second, we either do the visit in our waiting room (larger space), or have the client stand or sit outside the door of the exam room while we examine the pet since our exam room is small. Third, we may do the exam as a curbside visit, then have the client come inside to discuss, view x-rays, etc.  Depending on winter weather, we may be having more clients come inside for consults, or use our cell phones, if weather is particularly nasty.  We have decided that since this curbside approach has gone so well, we may continue to offer it even after the pandemic has passed.  Certain clients with mobility issues, young children, or even just some work to do or calls to make may find this a convenience. 

What makes a good supplement for pets?  Our topic this month explores how to select good pet supplements. 

  1. It serves a real need. Don’t just use supplements because they are trendy. Too many additions to a pet’s diet can actually create imbalances, and some supplements may actually work against or interact unfavorably with others, or with a pet’s medications.  You should never choose supplements just because you think they would be a good idea.  A holistic veterinarian can help you decide if any are needed, and if so which ones.  While most dogs, especially larger ones, can benefit from a joint supplement of some kind, most other supplements should be need-based.
  2. It is NASC certified. The National Animal Supplement Council certification verifies that the ingredients in the supplement are present in the amounts labeled and meet quality standards.  This is a non-profit organization so is not influenced by any companies. 
  3. It is designed by a veterinary nutritionist or veterinarian. This helps to ensure the ingredients should not be toxic and that they serve a therapeutic need.  It should also help you feel comfortable that the ingredients are present in an appropriate amount and will not interact badly with each other.
  4. It has a lot number and expiration date. If a product does not have these, we can’t be sure how long it will remain effective.  Lot numbers help in case a recall is needed.  These labels are another way to be sure a product is safe and effective and properly manufactured.
  5. It has a guaranteed analysis of ingredients (especially CBD). If a product does not have a label indicating exactly how much of each active ingredient is present, it is impossible to determine if there is enough to be effective or what the proper dose for your pet should be.  Without this information, we also can’t be sure it has any of the claimed ingredients at all.  This analysis on the label is another indication of a scientifically prepared and properly researched product.
  6. Research supports the ingredients for treatment efficacy. While there isn’t as much research as we might like on animal supplements, often because of lack of funding for such research, there is often at least some.  Sometimes human research is applied to animals as well.  In any case, many common supplements, such as Omega 3 fatty acids and glucosamine, DO have research studies supporting their use for particular medical issues.  Such research should be done by scientific organizations.  You can’t always trust random articles in pet industry magazines. 
  7. It has enough of the active ingredient to be useful. This goes along with the guaranteed analysis.  Some products, such as “joint support” foods or treats, do not contain enough of the ingredients said to be useful to really have a therapeutic effect.  Your holistic veterinarian can help you determine how much is needed for your pet’s specific issues.  Dose matters! 
  8. There is a dosage on the container to indicate how much you pet should receive according to their body weight. Again, this labeling item is crucial to determine if the active ingredient will be provided at an appropriate level for the pet.

Some of our favorite supplements:Example of good supplements

Dr Leonard has supplements for many different health issues, and some Chinese herbal formulas as well.  Many of these are for specific health issues such as kidney failure, liver disease, immune support, and gut healing and will only be recommended on that basis.  However, here are a few that can be used for general purposes even if your pet doesn’t have serious medical issues.  Several of these supplements are available through our online pharmacy  ( ), and all in our office.

Missing Link Plus Veterinary Strength: this supplement is flax seed based for gut-healthy fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory.  It also contains a moderate dose of glucosamine for pets that don’t yet have significant joint disease that just need a protective level because of their breed, size, or age.  It contains many other micro-nutrients.  It is most helpful to protect joints, help with dry skin or minor skin issues, and provide nutrients to pets being maintained on kibble or other more processed or lower quality diets. It will help provide more energy, a shinier coat with less shedding, and a healthier pet overall.  Dr Leonard uses this product in her dogs from puppy-hood on. It is a palatable powder that is sprinkled on their food.

Rx Vitamins Mega Flex: this is our favorite joint supplement for pets that have been diagnosed with joint issues like arthritis, hip dysplasia, or cruciate ligament injury.  It improves joint lubrication and can reduce arthritis pain.  It comes in a powder form to be mixed with food, or capsule form, and contains no extra ingredients that pets with allergies might react to.  It is an easier way to reach a true therapeutic level of glucosamine than treat formulas, and also contains MSM which has been shown to work better in tandem with glucosamine in dogs than chondroitin (though it also contains this).

Pentagenesis: Dr Leonard often reaches for this supplement for pets with serious tissue damage such as dogs paralyzed from Intervertebral Disc disease, or those with torn cruciate ligaments or other “surgical diseases”.  It contains deer velvet in an easily absorbable formula, and other ingredients that support tissue healing and immune support.  It can be used for pets with severe anemia, immune suppression, and tissue injury.  However, it has also shown to be helpful in pets with dementia to improve their alertness and mental function, and for pets with general joint pain.  It is a well-accepted chewable tablet.

Rx Vitamins Nutricalm: This supplement comes as a flavored liquid or a capsule form.  It is an herbal and amino acid formula to help pets with anxiety or fear.  We sell a lot of this around the Fourth of July and thunderstorm season, but it can also help pets with travel anxiety, prior to a veterinary visit, or when there is disruption in the home like visitors or workmen. It can be used in cats or dogs, and even a double dose is safe on occasion if needed.

Composure Pro: These chewable treats have different ingredients but act in a similar way to the Nutricalm.  They are sized better for medium to large dogs but are labeled for cats and smaller dogs as well.  Sensitive pets may get some GI upset from them, however, since they are a soft-treat formula.  This supplement also works well for the same issues as Nutricalm, and is also safe at a double dose if your pet tolerates it well.  We find some pets respond to one of these better than the other.

APF Pro: this is a liquid formula intended to support muscle strength and building.  Many older pets have weak or atrophied muscles that make it harder for them to get around.  This formula can help them to build new muscle and give them more strength.  This formula can also be useful when a pet has suffered an injury that has caused muscle loss during recovery. 

Rx Vitamins Ultra EFA:  This liquid formula should be shaken well and kept refrigerated.  It is an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement useful for dry itchy skin, chronic ear infections, inflammation, arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions.



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18011 E St. Rte 58
Raymore, MO 64083

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