Nutraceuticals and Nutritional Therapies

fish oil capsulesNutraceuticals and nutritional therapies can play an important role in keeping your pet well. A nutraceutical is a combination of a nutrient and pharmaceutical.  Basically, it is a food extract that claims to have a medicinal effect.

An example is broccoli, which is thought to have an anti cancer effect. In fact, research in 2005 suggested that eating yellow/orange or green leafy vegetables three times a week helped reduce the risk of developing bladder cancer in Scottish Terrier dogs.

Because veterinary nutraceuticals don’t need any food safety or drug safety testing, not much is known about many aspects of this treatment modality. It can be hard to find reliable information on dose rates, side effects, and how effective these treatments are.

A well known nutraceutical is Vitamin E. It can help the immune system, and improve conditions such as asthma and arthritis.

People are well aware of how important Essential Fatty Acids are in their own health, and it’s now well known that they are also very good for animals. They not only improve the and coat, but boost brain development in young animals, and strengthen the immune system. In high doses, Omega 3 fatty acids are anti inflammatory, and can help with skin inflammation in allergic dermatitis, and reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Nutriceuticals may also have an effect on disease in a more indirect way. Vitamin C has been found to help slow the growth of cancer tumors, but not through any effect on the tumor itself. Instead, it affects a protein on the tumor cell surface which helps the tumor grow when there is no oxygen. Because tumors tend to grow rapidly and outgrow their oxygen supply, they need this protein to keep growing.

Spirulina is another well known nutriceutical. It is derived from algae, and is thought to be one of the world’s best “super foods”. It contains protein, anti oxidants, many vitamins and minerals, and essential fatty acids.  It’s an excellent supplement to not only help to support an unwell animal, but to keep a healthy animal in good condition.

Nutritional therapy relates to the management of an animal’s diet to improve its response to treatment of a disease. For example, animals with kidney disease recover better if they are fed a diet which controls the amount of protein, salt and minerals they eat.

Nutriceuticals and nutritional therapies aren’t often sufficient on their own to treat illness in animals, but they do play an important role in helping your pet get the most benefit from its other treatments.

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