What role do supplements play in a cat’s nutritional needs?

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If you feed your cat a balanced diet, and if he is in good health, you probably won’t need a supplement.

You really need to discuss this thoroughly with your vet, because some supplements can have the reverse effect of your goal. For instance, garlic is widely used in many human supplements, but it can cause a type of anemia in cats.

Additionally, a supplement, vitamin, or even a food, can interfere with the efficacy of any medication your pet may be taking, so be sure to report everything you use to your veterinarian.

There may be a few instances when supplements are suggested. These might include:

 

  • Essential fatty acids, such as fish oil or taurine: Cats with allergic dermatitis, dry skin and dull hair often benefit from fish oil. It contains Omega-3 fatty acids and these substances have been proven to aid cardiovascular disease, food allergies, dermatitis, kidney disease, arthritis and autoimmune disorders.

Cats must have taurine to survive. If your vet determines that the diet doesn’t include adequate amounts, he or she may suggest a supplement.

  • Probiotics and digestive enzymes: Probiotics contain live microorganisms that improve intestinal microbial balance. If your cat suffers from chronic diarrhea, your vet may suggest it. Similarly, digestive enzyme supplements are often recommended to ensure complete digestion.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Some vitamins, like E and A, are natural antioxidants and antioxidants are what help to keep us all healthy. They kill off free radicals which can harm our cells. Especially if you feed your cat a homemade diet, or if your cat is ill, your vet might suggest a vitamin/mineral supplement.

It’s important to note that some vitamins, like E and A, are also fat-soluble, which means they absorb and cannot be excreted. This can unfortunately result in toxicity, so be cautious of giving your cat too much of these.

Never make the decision on your own as to dosage, and never mix supplements together, unless your vet prescribes it.

  • Glucosamine and chondroitin: These joint supplements can aid arthritis so your vet may suggest them, especially if your cat is older.

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