Your pup may just benefit from a dog nutritional supplement, but choosing one isn’t always easy. Ask your vet for advice and understand the ACCLAIM system they use to assess them.

It’s a safe bet that your dog gets excellent nutrition from his top-of-line food. But, just like with us, it’s not a bad idea to consider adding supplements to his diet too, especially to ward off or treat a chronic condition. And from the growing nutritional supplement industry, it’s clear that pet people agree, and are looking for natural ways to care for their dog’s health.

For example, Dr. Nancy Kay, DVM, Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine explains, “a person might be inclined to try glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate for their dog’s arthritis pain rather than a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (the equivalent of doggie Advil).”

Supplement Confusion

But choosing a supplement isn’t always easy. Pet supplements are not reviewed and approved for use by the FDA and no manufacturer restrictions exist that require consistent formulation strengths or concentrations. The result? A marketplace packed with hundreds of vitamin and supplement choices, many of poor quality or containing active ingredient levels that are simply too high or too low. It’s been reported that some supplements have even been contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides, and other nasty ingredients.

What’s a pet parent to do? Dr. Kay recommends asking your vet for supplement recommendations for your pup. They’re trained to use the ACCLAIM system below to assess veterinary supplements. Read on for details and you can too.


A = A name you recognize. Choose an established company that provides educational materials for veterinarians and other consumers. Is it a company that is well established?

C = Clinical experience. Companies that support clinical research and have their products used in clinical trials that are published in peer-reviewed journals to which veterinarians have access are more likely to have a quality product.

C = Contents. All ingredients should be clearly indicated on the product label.

L = Label claims. Label claims that sound too good to be true likely are. Choose products with realistic label claims.

A = Administration recommendations.  Dosing instructions should be accurate and easy to follow. It should be easy to calculate the amount of active ingredient administered per dose per day.

I = Identification of lot. A lot identification number indicates that a surveillance system exists to ensure product quality.

M = Manufacturer information. Basic company information should be clearly stated on the label including a website (that is up and running) or some other means of contacting customer support.


The Scoop:

Thank you to Nancy Kay, DVM, Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award for the tip.

See Dr. Kay’s site for news, her blog and to purchase her highly acclaimed (and Woof Report favorite) book, Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life.
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