By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

If you take a supplement or two because you care about your health, does it make sense to do the same for your dog or cat? Many pet parents and veterinarians are saying “yes” to functional and issue-targeted supplements. Lisa Sanford of Brandenton Florida is one of those pet parents. “My 13-year-old Catahoula (Boris, now retired from flyball) is acting like a puppy again because of Connectin joint supplement. He brings me toys again to throw for him and springs around. He is my ‘heart’ so this means the world to me!”

The primary categories of pet supplements include those for joint health, skin and coat health, GI tract health, dental health, weight control and UT health. Too often, pet parents think there is nothing they can do when their dog or cat shows signs of a health challenge. But, our pets don’t need to suffer, and discomfort does not have to be a part of the aging process. Supplements go a long way in helping pets feel better and stay healthy and active at all life stages. Even with complete diets, supplements serve an important role in maintaining health and wellness and managing health challenges.

Demand for supplements continues to rise. Simmons Market Research Bureau says approximately 17 percent of pet owners give their cats and dogs some type of supplement. These numbers are growing by more than 15 percent per year.

Four Things To Look For When Selecting a Pet Supplement

To be sure you are providing a high quality supplement for your fur kid, ensure they have these four characteristics and ask questions of your pet supplement manufacturer.

1. Quality. The product displays the NASC quality seal on the label. This shows an attention to quality systems and adherence to adverse event reporting. Manufacturers should also have standard operating procedures, lot numbers that offer full traceability of the product from creation to one year past the “best by” date and a complete catalog of retention samples of every product.

Contact the manufacturer about a product or consistency concern and ask them to compare the retention sample. The answer you get is telling.

2. Thoughtful Development. There is a toll-free phone number on the package and the product developer is available to you or your veterinarian to answer questions.

Ask why particular ingredients were included in the product.

3. Efficacy. The manufacturer should be able to supply scientific evidence to support their supplement.

Ask for white papers or abstracts on the product.

4. Safety. Above all, you want to ensure anything you give to your pet is safe. Supplement producers should adhere to strict policies and practices to do everything in their power to ensure a safe product.

Ask for an overview of your supplement company’s adverse event reporting procedure and all serious adverse events that have been reported on the product.