What are the pros/cons of giving nutraceuticals to my dog?

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Nutraceuticals come from various animal and vegetable sources. They include fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins, herbs, minerals and antioxidants.

Nutraceutical medicine uses these nutrients as therapeutic agents, which are rarely known to cause side effects. The most commonly known example of nutraceutical use is with canine arthritis.

The pros are:

• Expense. This is both a pro and a con. On one hand, special foods and supplements might be less expensive than prescription medications and veterinary visits. On the other, they can still be pricey, especially considering that some items work best when used in combination with another item or food. Also, there are numerous Science Diet prescription Diets, even one formulated for joint problems—this could end up costing more.
• Highly palatable. They usually taste and smell appealing to animals.
• Easy to administer.

The cons are:

• Expense: Can still be pricey, especially if used in conjunction with another supplement or food.
• Drug interaction: Just because something is natural doesn’t mean we can all be 100 percent sure it won’t react with another medication or supplement—prescription or over-the-counter
• Postponement of necessary treatment: Natural products are great—but there’s still a place for traditional Western medicine. Your dog may have a severe problem, such as cancer, that requires more detailed treatment and surgery—and precious time can be lost while the natural remedies are experimented with.
• Allergic reactions. While side effects are few, there is still a possibility of an allergic reaction, especially since there may be a food component to which your dog is allergic. And please do keep in mind that products should always be tested by independent, third-party auditors, especially in the case of fish oils, which could contain toxins or other harmful substances.
• As always, the best policy for you is to discuss this thoroughly with your veterinarian, and to be sure that you report every medication and supplement.

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