Do pets need vitamins? You bet. The results of a recent study that estimated disease prevalence among dogs and cats in the United States and Australia and proportions of dogs and cats that receive therapeutic diets or dietary supplements showed that most dogs and cats with a health problem were not on a therapeutic diet, and the rate of dietary supplement they used was lower than used by humans1. Indeed, nutritional management of medical and surgical animal patients has gained increasing currency since the 1980s2.
Part of the concept of therapeutic dietary management, changing diets meant to give pets an optimal health, involves manipulating the nature and amount of their dietary ingredients and supplements. Yet, nutritional supplements can unbalance an animal’s diet hence need used cautiously. Over-supplementation with calcipotriene, a synthetic Vitamin D derivative has been known to cause renal failure and death in dogs for example3, 4.
The effects of selenium and vitamin E on the resistance of animals to a variety of infections and that their deficiencies could compromise the immune system are well known5. In a recent study, 15 healthy dogs had a basal diet supplemented with either 12.4 g of sunflower oil, 0.6 g of sunflower oil and 7 g of menhaden fish oil, or 0.6 g of sunflower oil and 7 g of menhaden fish oil plus 0.18 g of alpha-tocopherol acetate for twelve weeks6.
The researchers found no significant diet effect on platelet aggregation, lipid peroxidation, or standard hematologic and biochemical parameters, but noted decreased triglycerides in dogs supplemented with fish oil. They concluded that this level of fish oil supplementation in dogs does not call for vitamin E supplementation over recommended dosage and could be valuable in treating hyperlipidemia in dogs.
Whereas, not all animals with cardiac disease respond to nutritional supplementation, such supplements for examples L-carnitine and taurine are known to benefit dogs and cats with certain cardiac diseases7.
In fact, taurine and carnitine deficiencies are known to cause cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs8, some breed of dogs showing a remarkable improvement in myocardial function after being given one, if carnitine turned out to be too costly for some pet owners, or both nutrients. Even when the dog diagnosed with DCM does not have a documented taurine or carnitine deficiency, as is often the case it may still be benefit from being given these nutrients8.
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