Veterinary Pet Supplements and Nutraceuticals
– Carrie J. Finno, DVM, PhD
반려동물에게 안전한 보충제/영양제를 주기 위해선 관련 규제, 품질관리, 안정성, 유효성을 각각 따져보자!
In dogs and cats, the most popular supplements include joint and digestive health supplements, followed by supplements to aid with cognition, skin/coat, and heart health. In cats, hairball control supplements remain high in demand, followed by cat-specific supplements for urinary tract infections and kidney disease.
Despite the widespread use of veterinary pet supplements and nutraceuticals, oversight and regulation remain limited as compared with human dietary supplement regulations. (Pet supplements should not carry a “Supplement Facts” panel as they are unable to comply with the labeling regulations, specifically the declaration of nutrients with Daily Values.)
So what is pet supplement/nutraceutical exactly?
- The definition “Dietary supplement” is not for animals.
The term “dietary supplement” is defined by DSHE in 1994, as a product taken by mouth in humans that contains a dietary ingredient(vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, organ tissues, and metabolites), therefore, the term “dietary supplement” should only be applied to products intended for human use.
- We shall use “Nutraceutical” (or pet supplement) for animals.
“Nutraceuticals” were defined as a food that provides medical or health benefits, including the prevention and/or treatment of disease. This is, however, not a regulatory definition through FDA.
Is there any regulation yet?
- FDA CVM is taking action on violations, but no more than that.
CVM(Center for Veterinary Medicine) is responsible for the regulation of animal food products. CVM regulates that the nutraceutical labeling should bear no disease prevention of therapeutic. Companies can, however, incorporate claims of improving “health” on the labeling. Although there exists a mechanism through the FDA CVM to regulate pet supplements if there is an adverse event, there is no regulatory mechanism to ensure that a manufacturer is accountable for the labeling of ingredients.
Then how can we feel safe about pet supplements?
- You can check manufacturing quality control at least
GMP(Good Manufacturing Practices) is one way for manufacturers’ to prove their product quality.
Consumer Laboratory offers a seal of “validation” for pet and dietary supplements sold in the United States that are appropriately labeled.
NRC(National Research Council) defined a pet supplement as “a substance for oral consumption by horses, dogs, and cats, whether in or on feed or offered separately, intended for specific benefit to the animal by means other than provision of nutrients recognized as essential or for provision of essential nutrients for intended effect on the animal beyond normal nutritional needs, but not including legally defined drugs.”
AAFCO only regulates labeling of “food-type” supplements, and monitors ingredient misrepresentation.
NAVNC(North American Veterinary Nutraceutical Council) defined a nutraceutical as a “nondrug substance that is produced in a purified or extracted form and administered orally to provide agents required for normal body structure and function with the intent of improving the health and well-being of animals.”
NASC(National Animal Supplement Council) quality seal program awards a seal to those manufacturers that meet the organization’s standards, which do not include the efficacy.
AVMA(American Veterinary Medical Association) encourages the veterinarians to be aware of the ingredients and content and their benefits, bioavailability, efficacy, and safety.
ACVN(American College of Veterinary Nutrition) states “If your pet is eating a complete and balanced commercially available pet food, supplements are not recommended unless specifically prescribed by your veterinarian.”
Dr. Nacho’s comment
There are several ways to check whether the supplement for you pet is safe or not. Among them, regulation, quality control, safety, and efficacy are the key factors. If there is no concern of violation detected from CVM(regulation), with good manufacturing quality reviewed(GMP or ConsumberLab), you are half-way to go. You should confirm with your veterinarian regarding on safety and efficacy of each supplement at this moment. (And veterinarians, we ought to be ready to look for each nutraceutical’s scientific data.)