Are Over-the-Counter Supplements and Herbal Formulas Safe for Pets?

The over-the-counter (OTC) supplement market has boomed in recent years as consumers seek alternatives to traditional health care for both humans and animals. But how do we know that dietary supplements and herbal formulas bought over the counter are effective or safe?

Often, the manufacturer of these products is not overseen unless adverse results are reported. Studies show, however, that most consumers do not report such events. Even if they did, it may take years before the FDA received enough complaints to warrant an investigation of the product.

Prior to release into the market, the manufacturer is responsible for the safety and efficacy of each product. Can we trust every manufacturer? Some are trustworthy but, unfortunately, many are not.

Studies have repeatedly shown that many OTC products do not contain some of the ingredients listed on the label. Some do not contain any of the listed ingredients. Even more dangerous is the fact that fillers and adulterated products, such as metals or pesticides, are often sold to unsuspecting consumers. 

In a recent study done on popular supplement brands in the U.S, it was found that one third of the 44 supplements tested showed outright substititution, with no traces of the ingredient claimed to be in the supplement - an entirely different plant was used in place of the one advertised. 

In short, we simply do not know whether OTC supplements and herbal formulas are safe without a little analysis and study.

During vet visits, always let your veterinarian know which supplements, if any, your pet is taking and ask us for recommendations based on his/her condition.

Remember, there are many useful products available, but it is truly a “buyers beware” market. 

For more information about the safety of OTC supplements and herbal formulas, check out these resources:

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