What is the purpose of complementary feed in a balanced diet? Cats and dogs, like us, maintain their health through a diet that meets their nutritional needs. Complementary feed is designed to help make the dog’s diet perfectly balanced at every stage of his life.
Improving the diets of dogs and cats is now a widespread practice among pet owners. Attention to their nutrition and, more generally, to their health has grown over the years and today if we talk about supplements for dogs and cats and we no longer meet with scepticism. On the contrary, searches for “dog supplements” and “vitamins for cats” abound on the web, and as the subject can be confusing, this article was written with the intention of clarifying things a bit.
We all know that at certain stages of life, at certain times of the year, and in the case of conditions that require more support, our dogs and cats need specific attention and care on our part. But the question may come up: What is the role of complementary feed in a balanced diet?
Complementary feed for cats and dogs: allies in health
First of all, it is necessary to clarify the function that complementary feeds – what in the human division are called “food supplements” – perform within a balanced diet. Food is responsible for meeting the animal’s energy needs and providing the correct supply of nutrients to preserve its health; it is appropriate to clear the field of a possible misunderstanding immediately: complementary feed does not serve to compensate for the deficiencies of an unbalanced diet or poor feed.
Complementary feed is used, if anything, to meet specific needs related to particular health conditions or activities and at certain specific stages of the animal’s life.
Complementary feed supports biological functions
The purpose of complementary feed is to exert a positive influence on the health of the animal, enhancing a specific biological function or supporting and preparing the organism to cope with stressful moments.
That’s why we hear more about, for example, complementary feed for elderly dogs or puppies, or to strengthen the immune system. Supporting the health of an elderly dog or cat requires a great deal of attention, as does ensuring the proper development of a puppy or helping an animal get back into shape after surgery or illness.
But complementary feeds can also help in day-to-day management of the animal, to cope with small problems that do not require medical therapy for their resolution. Think, for example, of the need to better manage a cat’s seasonal shedding, or to protect the health of a dog’s teeth and gums over the years.
The immune system, a center of defence
A healthy immune system is the key to a lifetime of well-being. This applies as much to us as to our pets. Supplements play a key role in maintaining a healthy immune system, especially in the case of dogs and cats that often may not have a sufficiently varied diet.
One of the basic principles of an efficient defense system is precisely to vary frequently what you eat: in this way we manage to consume all the necessary micronutrients, and to use supplements only in cases of increased need.
As for pets, while it is true that their diet is naturally less varied than ours – cats are obligatory carnivores, meat-eating dogs are more adaptable but still carnivorous – it is equally true that a certain variety is also recommended for them in their diet, to consume all the micronutrients they need.
The modern formulation of pet feed ensures a balanced meal, but by its very nature it cannot cope with every situation in which the animal faces an increased requirement of certain substances.
That is why there are complementary feeds for each stage of life of the animal – puppy, young, adult, elderly – and medicated feed formulated specifically for pathological conditions: they are useful to integrate the necessary substances in these stages or conditions.
What about homemade diets? A home-cooked diet, based on raw or cooked meat, certainly allows more variation in the diet of the dog or cat, but cannot omit targeted and specific supplements to ensure that the animal does not lack anything and does not encounter nutritional deficiencies.
Whether you use a complete feed or personally prepare meals for your dog or cat, complementary feeds remain an essential tool to cope with various situations in which our animals may need extra support.
To promote the proper development of muscles and joints during growth, to keep the intestinal tract healthy, to have a healthy coat and skin, to support the immune system in case of small or large needs: without replacing medical therapies, the function of complementary feed is to complement the diet, ensuring a pool of nutrients able to support the biological functions of the animal.
How and why did complimentary animal feed come about? In this article we will see how we move from identifying the needs of pets to formulating a complementary feed that is pleasing and effective.
Entering any pet shop, perhaps a store that is part of one of those franchise chains for the sale of pet food that is fast conquering small and large cities, it is increasingly common to come across the corner dedicated to “therapies and supplements”. The conscious and attentive owner may have a more than legitimate doubt: but shouldn’t these products be sold in pharmacies? Are they safe? And most importantly, does my pet really need it?
To answer these questions, one must first clarify a misunderstanding: it is not correct to speak of “food supplements” for dogs and cats, since this term is reserved exclusively for the human sphere. Those that can be found for sale in specialized pet product stores are complementary feed, that is, specific preparations that are intended to supplement the diet of the animal and meet a certain need that arises from a momentary deficiency.
Focus on the needs of the animal
But how did complimentary animal feed come about? Do the products we find for sale in specialty stores or on the internet arise from commercial needs or are they based on the real needs of our pets? With the flourishing of proposals and products for pets seen in recent years, this last question is by no means out of place.
To answer these questions, we analyse the production process that Suppleo puts in place for the development and implementation of its complementary feeds.
The animal comes first: the dog, or cat, with its specific and particular needs. How can these be identified? Suppleo relies on collection of data from veterinarians and the sales network. By analyzing this information we can identify the most common problems that pet owners face in the care and management of their dog or cat.
The animal, therefore, is the starting point and the final destination: everything starts from its needs, everything must converge in the direction of their satisfaction.
Synergy: unity is strength
Once the specific need to be addressed has been identified, the next step in the process of formulating a complementary feed is to identify the ingredients that can make a difference in terms of product effectiveness. Simple to say, but… in practice?
For Suppleo, the “secret” is its collaboration with first-class suppliers, long-standing and carefully selected partners who, based on scientific and published data, select ingredients for the benefit of feed producers. Their work is to study combinations and synergies between substances in order to identify those “groupings” that can add value to and enhance ingredients that, taken alone, would not be so effective. This is the case with the prebiotic Yang included in Suppleo Immune System: a synergistic alliance of specific inactivated yeast strains
carefully chosen to amplify and reinforce the immune response and
improve the balance of the intestinal microflora.
This research is complex and involves universities, veterinary offices, and animal owners for the necessary tests; but in the end it makes the difference between a really effective product and a product that on paper promises a lot, and maybe also works well at the marketing level, but then in practice is not able to provide a concrete result to the animal and its owner.
Fc-Cubes®, an ace up our sleeve
Now that we have a list of ingredients we need to turn it into the finished product. Let us remember, however, that we are talking about animal foods, not supplements for humans; The essential requirement, as any dog or cat owner knows well, is that the complementary feed is easily administered. This is also thanks to its palatability, the characteristic that makes the difference between a tablet which is spit out – or an animal that escapes just at the sight of the box – and one that is eaten voraciously without loss of the functional ingredient.
How can this be achieved?
Suppleo takes advantage of the patented Fc-Cubes® technology, a production system developed by Friulchem that has many advantages, as it operates at low pressure and at low temperature, preserving the sensory properties of the ingredients and avoiding mechanical stress on the excipients. The result is a highly palatable chewable tablet, obtained by direct compression – unlike almost all products on the market that are obtained by extrusion, a process that involves high pressure and high temperatures, with relative degradation of the sensitive part of the ingredients. This process therefore allows for less use of flavoring agents, usually oils that are sprayed on the surface of the feed to make it palatable.