Animal nutritional and health supplements can play an important role in keeping your pets healthy and happy, particularly when incorporated as an element of whole animal care that also includes a high-quality diet, plenty of exercise, regular checkups and a loving home.

As a pet owner, it is important to understand the types of supplements available to you:

When researching supplements to give to your pets, we suggest you answer the following questions:

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1) Who formulates the product?

It is important to select products formulated by qualified professionals with specific knowledge and expertise in formulating supplements for pets. You may also want to ask how long the company has been in business. While there are great startup companies offering innovative products, you may feel more comfortable with a company that has a solid track record of formulating and producing animal nutritional or health products.

2) What quality standards does the company follow?

Any company producing animal nutritional or health supplements should be able to identify the quality standards they follow.

3) Are the company’s products independently tested by a reputable analytical lab?

They should also have someone on staff that can confidently answer your questions about testing. Independent testing consists of a third-party analytical lab verifying products purchased from the marketplace, just as consumers would, to ensure the product meets label claim, and possibly to confirm there are no contamination issues.

4) Is the product labeled properly?

• Product claims: If a product label overtly claims—or even implies—the product will treat, prevent, mitigate or cure any disease, the supplier is breaking the law and misleading consumers. Outrageous product claims or any mention of a disease should be an immediate red flag.

• Lot number: While lot numbers do not guarantee quality, they do demonstrate that the manufacturer likely complies with some type of quality standards requiring product traceability.

• Ingredients listing: You should be able to easily determine the ingredients in a product and exactly how much of each ingredient is contained in a unit of administration.

5) Does the product have the NASC Quality Seal?

The NASC Quality Program provides strict guidelines for product quality assurance in production. To display the National Animal Supplement Council’s Quality Seal on their products, a supplier must pass a comprehensive facility audit every two years.

A great resource for vetted pet supplement suppliers is: nasc.cc/preferred-suppliers.

With new supplements on the market every day, it is important to establish faith in the companies you buy supplements from.

Dr. Andrew Frishman, Progressive Animal Hospital, 914-248-6220, Somers Town Center 268 Route 202, Somers, progressive-vet.com