By Linda Bren
Just as dietary supplements for people are growing in popularity, so are animal food supplements for pets. "Many people treat their dogs and cats like replacement children," says Jennifer Kvamme, D.V.M., associate editor of Petfood Industry magazine. "They want the best for them, and want to give them the types of food and supplements that they would eat themselves."
The FDA considers animal food supplements that are not approved nutrients or GRAS to be unapproved food additives or unapproved new animal drugs. As such, they are not permitted in pet food. Nevertheless, consumers will see on some cat and dog food labels ingredients such as glucosamine and chondroitin, which are claimed to alleviate joint stiffness and pain, and St. John's wort, purported to treat depression and relieve stress.
Neither the FDA nor state feed control officials have the number of employees required to monitor every supplement and food manufacturer and prevent those using unapproved ingredients from selling their products, says Burkholder. "It's a matter of profit incentive versus likelihood of getting caught. The same forces apply for why police cannot write speeding tickets to everyone driving over the speed limit. That doesn't make speeding legal."
Burkholder cautions people to check with their veterinarians before giving their pets supplements, whether alone or in a food product. "Many persons do not appreciate that dogs and cats are not small furry people. They often think that a supplement that they may take themselves is good for their pet, but that may not be the case."
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