The Story About Supplements for Pets like Cats

6. April 2021
Niels C. Pedersen, DVM PhD
Original article: The Story About Supplements for Pets like Cats

The use of supplements for dogs and cats is becoming more common, which reflects the trend of using supplements for humans. I have also noticed that many cat owners use numerous supplements to support the treatment of FIP with GS-441524. I strongly feel that these supplements have no effect and cost the owners a huge amount of money. Some owners decide to take the supplements themselves, but in some cases they use them on the advice of their veterinarians. People also rely on supplements in those parts of the world where there is a lack of veterinary care. In many cases, they are "prescribed" to prevent, slow down or reverse specific medical conditions. In fact, they are often used just to do something, and even if they don't work, at least they don't hurt. In some cases, it is sufficient to indicate that a particular authority "needs some form of assistance". A significant proportion of test panels performed even in healthy animals will show one or more suspicious values, especially in the blood, liver or kidneys. Such values should not be used as a reason for prescribing or selling supplements. As a person who believes in scientific methods and clinical trials aimed at ensuring safety and efficacy, I cannot in good conscience recommend owners to use untested over-the-counter supplements that they claim to prevent, alleviate or treat diseases.

I am aware of the many testimonies that exist on the web that prove the effectiveness of a wide range of products. However, there are also many articles from reputable sources that support my beliefs. I quote excerpts from such articles below.

McKenzie B. Top Ten Pet Supplements: Do They Work? Science Based Medicine, May 19, 2011.

The torment of the rich

"Much has been written about the nutritional supplements business, the billions of dollars-long industry with strong political ties, and the deplorable inadequacy of regulation, which allows for extensive marketing of supplements without a solid scientific basis or scientific evidence. …………. . The marketing used to promote these supplements, of course, goes beyond anything justified by real scientific evidence and is almost generally unreliable. Likewise, testimonies and anecdotes about their effects, whether from patients, pet owners, veterinarians or Nobel laureates, are just stories that have almost no probative value. And since most good medical ideas will not eventually become a real and effective clinical therapy, it is likely that many of these even more attractive products will prove ineffective or cover unknown risks. Without adequate supporting evidence and effective quality control, regulation and post-market surveillance, we can never be sure that by using them, we are helping and not harming our patients. "

Finno CJ. Veterinary supplements for animals and nutraceuticals. Nutr. today. 2020; 55 (2): 97-101. doi: 10.1097 / nt, 0000000000000399.

"Claims about the effectiveness of many pet supplements and nutraceuticals are often based on subjective evaluation methods, including owner reviews, when they have not been rigorously tested in well-designed clinical trials and published in professional journals and should therefore be viewed with skepticism. Although the results extrapolated from studies performed in humans or rodent models are valuable for interspecies comparisons, they do not take into account the different pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of different species. Furthermore, many pet supplements and nutraceuticals are consumed orally, and the bioavailability of orally administered drugs varies greatly between species. Consumers should also be advised to be skeptical of in vitro test-based marketing claims. For example, many of the declared benefits of joint supplements for pets are based on in vitro tests, which often rely on very high doses applied directly to cartilage explants or cultured chondrocytes. "

Pet Nutrition Alliance. How are animal nutritional supplements regulated?


  • As far as animals are concerned, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) in the United States, regulates two classes of products: food and medicine. Depending on the intended use, the animal nutritional supplement is considered to be a food or medicine. There is no separate category for "supplements" for animals.
  • The Health Supplements Act (DSHEA) of 1994 defined the term 'food supplement', but did not specify whether the definition applied to humans, animals or both. The main benefit of DSHEA has been the reclassification of certain regulated food ingredients into food additives that require approval before being placed on the market.
  • In 1996, CVM published a notice in the Federal Register explaining that DSHEA did not apply to animal products.
  • Federal laws and regulations simply do not know the category of animal products called "nutritional supplements." Depending on the intended use, the product is either a food or a drug regulated by the FDA.
  • Many owners buy products for their pets for human use. It is important to know that manufacturers of human nutritional supplements may not provide the FDA with evidence that their supplements are effective or safe. However, they are not allowed (knowingly) to place dangerous or ineffective products on the market.
  • As soon as a nutritional supplement is placed on the market, the FDA must prove that the product is not safe in order to limit or withdraw it from the market.
  • On the contrary, before manufacturers can get a drug on the market, they must obtain FDA approval by providing convincing evidence that it is safe and effective.
  • Some supplements that are safe for humans can be toxic to dogs or cats. Therefore, it is essential that pet owners consult their veterinarians before administering the supplement to their pet.