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Vitamins for Winter Pet Health

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Cheryl Lock for Pet360.com
While most commercial pet food is fortified with the proper amount of vitamins and minerals that your animal needs, there are certain health conditions or times of the year that may require you to include some additional supplements into your furry friends diet.

We spoke with Kendra Pope, DVM, veterinarian at Saint Francis Veterinary Center, to help us figure out just what extra vitamins and minerals we might want to consider for our pet's diet this winter, and why.



Joint Supplements

Just like humans, pets with arthritis and orthopedic disease can become more uncomfortable and stiff in the cold winter months, says Dr. Pope. Joint supplements are fairly well-tolerated in animals and are readily available, often through your veterinarian or local pet store, making a trial of these supplements potentially worthwhile. Just remember that it may take up to three months before you see the benefits to your pet.



Probiotics

'Colds' and 'flus' are uncommon in animals, although dogs and cats do have a large immune system. Our pets can often experience occasional diarrhea, loose stool or excessive flatulence for a variety of reasons, but bacterial dysbiosis (an imbalance) may be one, says Dr. Pope. Frequent use of antibiotics, ingestion of dead animals or the consumption of animal feces may also contribute to an overgrowth of 'bad' bacteria within the intestines. Probiotics can help restore the 'good' bacteria while promoting normal intestinal function. If you are going to consider the use of probiotics for your pet, remember to purchase canine or feline specific brands, as these strains of bacteria are very different from the strains available over the counter for humans.



Fish Oil

Fish oil has long been recommended for conditions ranging from itchy skin to kidney disease. The winter months may exacerbate your pet's dry hair coat, orthopedic disease or other chronic condition, and he could benefit from the anti-inflammatory, immune boosting and coat brightening effects of fish oil supplementation. Formulations that specifically contain EPA and list the milligram of EPA per serving are recommended to achieve the best results. High doses of fish oil can lead to diarrhea, as well as your pet having a 'fishy' odor.



Fruits and Veggies--Nature's Multivitamin

Many pets eat commercially prepared pet food, so there is no need to supplement with additional multivitamins. In fact, pets fed commercial diets along with high doses of multivitamins are at risk for certain vitamin toxicities that could cause skeletal problems, muscle atrophy or blood vessel disorders. However, dogs and cats that eat home cooked or raw diets may need daily multivitamins along with calcium supplementation to ensure all trace vitamins and minerals are accounted for, although these diets should be closely monitored by a veterinarian. Supplementation with fruits and vegetables are a safe way to provide your pet with additional nutrients during the winter months. Check with your veterinarian to make sure you are aware which foods are and are not safe for your pet before you feed him new things.



Warming Foods

Depending on where you live, winter can be extremely cold. Just like us, our pets could benefit from foods that warm them from the inside out, says Dr. Pope. For example, foods like venison, lamb, oats, ginger, squash, pumpkin, papaya, cinnamon and turmeric are all warming foods and spices that could be added to your pet's diet. Just remember to be conscious of the amount you give, since intestinal upset can occur if too much is added at once. Consult your veterinarian in cases where food allergies or inflammatory bowel conditions may exist.


The article Vitamins for Winter Pet Health was originally published on Pet360.com.


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