With more than 85,000 dietary supplements on the market, you’d think these products would undergo rigorous testing and strict quality control measures before being placed on the shelves. However, unlike medications, no government agency oversees the safety, efficacy, or claims the supplement manufacturers make. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) typically monitors and evaluates medications for safe use, but does no such thing for supplements, which essentially means that any supplement may not actually contain the ingredients listed, or be safe or effective for you or your pet. Because of this troubling thought, here are five ways to use supplements and over-the-counter (OTC) medications—also commonly misused products—safely in your pet:

#1: Avoid giving your pet your multivitamin supplements

People tend to take daily multivitamin supplements because typical diets may not meet their nutritional needs. However, pet diets that meet the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards are designed to include all necessary vitamins and minerals for a healthy pet. Therefore, most pet multivitamins contain only a portion of the daily requirement—typically about 20%—whereas human multivitamins can contain 100% of the daily requirement.

If your pet is on a strict weight-loss regimen, we may recommend a pet-formulated multivitamin, to ensure they receive proper nutrition. However, a human multivitamin can cause your pet to suffer from a nutrient overdose, and experience organ dysfunction or toxicity. Speak with our veterinarians before starting your pet on a multivitamin, because there’s a good chance it will do more harm than good. 

#2: Choose safe supplements backed by scientific research

Since supplements are not overseen by any regulatory body, we recommend choosing manufacturers who put time, money, and effort into generating research and studies on their product safety and efficacy. For example, only a few joint supplements are available for pets that meet these criteria, but supplements designed to reduce joint inflammation and arthritis pain are one of the most popular products given to pets. Speak with our Burlington Veterinary Center veterinarians, to see which products undergo rigorous testing, have strict quality control measures, and can prove their claims, before you purchase a supplement for your furry pal. 

#3: Refrain from giving your pet OTC medications

If your furry pal is suffering from a muscle sprain or runny nose over the weekend, an OTC medication until you can schedule a Monday veterinary appointment may seem like a good idea. However, these medications are formulated for human use, and cannot always be safely metabolized by pets. Cats in particular are highly sensitive to OTC medications—a tiny dose of Tylenol can kill them.  

However, you may remember our veterinarians advising you to give your pooch pre-vaccination Benadryl, if they’ve had vaccine reactions in the past, and to follow up with a second dose in the evening. But, when we recommend OTC medications in this particular case, we could first look at your pet’s records, see the medications they are currently taking, and calculate the correct dose for their weight. Almost all OTC medications suitable for pets require a different dose than is used for people, plus there’s a great risk for drug interactions, if your pet is already taking a veterinary-approved medication. For example, if your dog is currently taking a steroid such as Prednisone, but developed a slight limp over the weekend, so you gave them aspirin, they could develop a severe bleeding gastric ulcer. 

We understand the stipulations regarding OTC medications may be confusing, so before you give your pet any additional product—whether a supplement, OTC medication, or herbal concoction—please contact your Burlington Veterinary Center veterinarian. Nothing is more heartbreaking than a pet suffering because of an improperly administered OTC medication, when an owner was simply trying to help their beloved companion.

#4: Shop for trusted products through our online pharmacy

In the age of Amazon Prime, we all love the convenience of items shipped straight to our door. And, as the number of pet owners continues to skyrocket, people are turning to online shopping for their furry pal’s needs, including prescription medications and OTC supplements. However, the source of any online product may not be the most reputable. With the plethora of online pet pharmacies, choosing a legitimate company can be tough. So, forgo trying to find a reputable online pet pharmacy, and stick with one you know has high standards, stringent quality control measures, and—best of all—is backed by your Burlington Veterinary Center. We’ve partnered with Vetsource to provide our pet owners with an online pharmacy stocked only with brands and products we trust. With our own online pharmacy, we can ensure your beloved companion receives only the best products that have been manufactured, packaged, shipped, and stored correctly. All too often, we hear of pet owners giving incorrect or ineffective medication because of incorrect packaging or storage. Keep your best friend safe by shopping only through a reputable, trusted online pharmacy for all their product needs. 

#5: When in doubt, speak to our veterinarian

Your Burlington Veterinary Center veterinarian always has your pet’s best interest in mind. We want to keep your beloved companion happy and healthy for many years by your side, so we would be delighted to discuss potential health supplements. We’re always here for you and your pet, to help you make the optimal choices regarding your furry pal’s health and well-being.

Before giving your pet a supplement designed for achy joints or cognitive decline, schedule an appointment with our veterinarians, to discuss the supplements that will help keep your best friend safe, and in tip-top shape.