Six out of every 10 Americans consume vitamins or supplements on a daily basis, and spend anywhere from $11 billion to $20 billion annually. Vitamins are big business, and you may be surprised to learn that according to the APPA’s 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey, Americans also spend more than $600 million a year on vitamins and supplements for their four-legged family members.
Many of our pets’ diets may be lacking in essential nutrients—usually a result of the negative impact pesticides, insecticides, chemical fertilizers, hormones, over-processing, etc. have on their food supply. Nutritional deficiencies can often be remedied by adding vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and probiotics into your companion animal’s regimen. Supplement labels can be confusing and overwhelming to read, but if you know what to look for, they don’t have to be.
Read and Understand Labels
Vitamin packages contain nutritional panels on the backs of their boxes or bottles that list the percentages of each ingredient contained in that tablet or capsule. Some list these percentages per single tablet while others calculate the percentage for the whole recommended daily dosage, which could be multiple tablets. Some even list the active ingredients for the whole package, making it extremely difficult to determine what’s in a single serving. Make sure you are clear on what the dosage is before giving any supplement to your pet.
Check the Ingredients
Look for natural or organic designations. You would be amazed to learn what manufacturers can legally put into supplements in terms of additives and fillers, without having to list them on the label. Many of them utilize raw materials containing lactose, sodium benzoate, BHA, BHT, or hydrogenated oils as fillers and preservatives. Also, be aware that some tablets contain binders and glues, which may contain artificial coloring agents. These additives can cause allergic reactions, and may even impair your pet’s health.
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