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Q:  “Does my pet need vitamins or supplements?” 

A:  Healthy dogs and cats have a requirement for various nutrients such as protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals such as calcium.  Dogs and cats have different dietary requirements than humans. For example, dogs and cats have a higher protein requirement compared to humans, and cats have some very unique requirements such as a dietary requirement for the amino acid taurine.  Nutrients must be present in the diet above the minimal requirement to prevent a deficiency but certain nutrients can cause medical problems if provided in excess.  More detail about your pet’s nutritional needs can be found on the National Research Council’s website for dog owners (http://dels-old.nas.edu/banr/dogs.html) or for cat owners (http://dels.old.nas.edu/banr/cats.html). Healthy pets on a properly formulated diet (either a commercial pet food or a home prepared diet formulated by a veterinary nutritionist) do not require additional vitamin or mineral supplementation. Your veterinarian can advise you on selecting an appropriate diet for you pet.  Please let your veterinarian know if you are giving your pet any additional vitamins or dietary supplements.  Pets with certain medical conditions may benefit from certain specific supplements in specific amounts, but this should be discussed with your veterinarian to ensure the supplement is safe, effective, and not potentially harmful to your dog or cat.  Many owners are interested in providing dietary supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin or omega-3 fatty acids.  Several websites geared to human dietary supplements such the National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (http://ods.od.nih.gov/) provide useful information including “how to evaluate information on the internet”. These sites are only a starting point to provide you with some background information. It is critical to remember some sites discuss supplements used for human health which may not help or can potentially harm your pet, so always discuss any specific products with your veterinarian before giving them to your pet.

Laura Eirmann, DVM, Diplomate ACVN (Nutrition)

Dr. Eirmann graduated from Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine and completed an internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. She then practiced at Cornell University Companion Animal Hospital where she focused on preventative medicine and routine healthcare. She joined the general medicine staff at Oradell Animal Hospital in 1998 and developed a strong interest in veterinary nutrition. She completed a residency in clinical nutrition under the supervision of veterinary nutritionists at University of Pennsylvania, Tufts University, and Angell Memorial Animal Hospital and became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. She is responsible for overseeing the nutritional support of hospitalized patients at Oradell, consults with Oradell clinicians regarding the nutritional needs of their patients, and provides out patient consultation appointments for clients seeking dietary recommendatons for their healthy or ill pets. Dr. Eirmann also works for Nestle Purina in addition to her part-time clinical appointments at Oradell Animal Hospital. Dinallo GK, Poplarski JA, Van Deventer GM, Eirmann LA, Wakshlag JJ. A Survey of feeding, activity, supplement use and energy consumption in North American agility dogs. J Nutr Sci 2017 6 e45. Eirmann L. Nutritional Assessment. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 2016 :46(5) :855-867. Whitehead K, Cortes Y, Eirmann L. Gastrointestinal dysmotility disorders in critically ill dogs and cats. J Vet Emerg Crit Care 2016 26(2) :234-253. Eirmann L. Esophagostomy feeding tubes in dogs and cats. In Chan, DL., editor : Nutritional Management of Hospitalized Small Animals. 2015. West Sussex, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Eirmann LA. Diet- or patient-induced adverse reaction to food. In Cote, E., editor: Clinical Veterinary Advisor Dogs & Cats, 3rd ed. 2015. St. Louis, Elsevier. Eirmann LA. Food allergy, gastrointestinal. In Cote, E., editor: Clinical Veterinary Advisor Dogs & Cats, 3rd ed. 2015. St. Louis, Elsevier. Eirmann LA, Michel KE: Enteral nutrition. In Silverstein DC, Hopper, K., editors: Small Animal Critical Care Medicine, 2nd ed. 2014. St. Louis, Elsevier. Michel KE, Eirmann LA: Parenteral nutrition. In Silverstein DC, Hopper, K., editors: Small Animal Critical Care Medicine, 2nd ed. 2014. St. Louis, Elsevier. Peterson ME, Eirmann L. Dietary Management of Feline Endocrine Disease. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 2014 :44(4) :775-788. Laflamme DP, Izquierdo O, Eirmann L, Binder S. Myths and Misperceptions about Ingredients Used in Commercial Pet Foods. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 2014 :44(4) :689-698. Eirmann L, Cowell C, Thompson L. Pet food safety : The roles of government, manufacturers, and veterinarians. Compend Contin Educ Vet 2012 ; 34(1) : E1-3. Eirmann LA, Freeman, LM, Laflamme DP, Michel KE, Satyaraj E. Comparison of adipokine concentrations and markers of inflammation in obese versus lean dogs. Int J Appl Res Vet Med 2009 ;7(4):196-205. Eirmann LA, Michel KE: Enteral nutrition. In Silverstein DC, Hopper, K., editors: Small Animal Critical Care Medicine. 2008. St. Louis, Elsevier. Michel KE, Eirmann LA: Parenteral nutrition. In Silverstein DC, Hopper, K., editors: Small Animal Critical Care Medicine, 2008. St. Louis, Elsevier.