Paw's Corner: Do pets really need vitamins?

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There’s even a vitamin pets can take to make their coat shiny./Submitted There’s even a vitamin pets can take to make their coat shiny./Submitted

Q: My neighbor insists that giving vitamin supplements and homeopathic treatments to her dog Gracie is key to her health. I disagree that a pet needs so much extra help. Doesn't pet food provide enough nutrients?

-- Les in San Diego

A: That answer really depends on the pet and the type of food it's eating, and partly on the disposition of the owner. Dogs are living beings just like us, and need regular feeding, exercise and medications when they're sick.

Owners naturally want their pet to be as healthy as possible, which is why the pet supplement market continues to grow. Want your dog to have a shiny coat? There's a vitamin for that. Vitamin and mineral supplements for pets are as varied as supplements for adults and should be given after an owner has done his or her homework on the best vitamins for their pet.

Veterinarians often recommend specific supplements to help pets stay healthy or recover after an illness or injury. Senior pets also frequently are given certain supplements to help with sore joints and other health problems that accompany aging.

Homeopathic remedies also are popular. Many owners swear by off-the-shelf general treatments like Rescue Remedy, which helps calm anxious pets.

Pet foods, while providing all-around nutrition for dogs of different sizes, increasingly have added supplements to their formulas. Owners should be aware of which specific supplements are in their pet's food, to avoid giving too much of a particular vitamin or mineral. And of course, check with your veterinarian about whether supplements are needed, what kind and how much.

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c. 2014 King Features Syndicate Inc.

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