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November 7, 2012

Nutritional supplements round out proper pet diet

By Brad D. Bates
C & G Staff Writer

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Jill Tack, owner and operator of Pet Beastro in Madison Heights, said a good multivitamin or digestive supplement can help address multiple common health problems that pets face.

Everyone knows how hard it can be to eat a well-balanced diet in today’s modern world.

Between trips to the salon, doctor visits and maybe even time to squeeze in a walk, it can be tough to get the necessary nutrition from meals alone.

That is why pet nutrition professionals like Jill Tack, owner and operator of Pet Beastro in Madison Heights, recommends today’s modern dogs and cats add nutritional supplements to their diets.

“Most pets need to be on a digestive supplement, and it’s not uncommon,” Tack said, noting that the need to ensure all your pet’s nutrients are from food-based sources that are easily assimilated into their systems. “Most pets have some issues that could be addressed with a multivitamin or a probiotic enzyme.”

Tack, who has an herbal certification from GAIA Center for Herbal Studies and has studied classical homeopathy under Dr. Glen Dupree, DVM, will graduate as a certified naturopath from the Naturopathic Institute of Therapies and Education in Mount Pleasant in 2015. She recommends pet owners start supplementation with a product similar to daily multivitamins.

“Dr. Harvey’s multivitamins. It’s all plant-based, and the body recognizes it and absorbs it really well,” Tack said of one of the baseline supplement products she sells.

“If they went with a good kelp supplement, it’s going to give you a pretty big array of vitamins and minerals,” Tack added of another option. “And I would go with human-quality, unless they really know what they’re looking for.”

Tack, who has offered alternative pet food and nutrition in her shop for more than six years, recommends that any supplements not specifically produced for pets be taken to a professional like herself or a veterinarian before being used.

“If you get into some herbs that aren’t pet-friendly, that’s walking a fine line,” Tack said. “Joe Blow goes to the health food store and health food staff give him something that cats can’t digest, then you have a dead cat.

“There is some stuff like kelp and flaxseed, but I wouldn’t get a general vitamin from a health food store for a cat or dog.”

Tack said she offers consultations on pet supplementation to start animals out, or pet owners can consult a veterinarian.

“If they have a vet who’s on the forefront of learning new things, that would be a good place to start,” Tack said. “Or go online and call companies themselves, and they can tell you what their products are and how they work.”

Tack began exploring alternative pet nutrition when her childhood dog, Max, developed cancer. Similarly, Ken Platt, who owns JP’s Pet Boutique and Grooming Spa and Maestros’ Dog Haus in Bloomfield Hills with his wife, Janet, delved into the business of pet nutrition because of his pets.

He and Janet first noticed the merit of proper pet nutrition when they switched their three cats to a raw-food diet, which improved coat color and reduced dandruff and fur mats.

“The two black cats almost look blue,” Platt said of the improvement in his cats’ coats. “One of the black cats, I called Jabba the Hutt because she was huge. But now that she’s on raw, she’s up moving about, and it’s amazing.”

They also switched their dog, a shtizu named Maestro, to a nontraditional diet.

“After getting (Maestro), and eight years in the dog-grooming business, we started doing research in different foods,” Platt said of how he initially got into alternative pet nutrition.

“My wife was making (Maestro’s) dinners, and one day I came home and there were four pots on the stove, and I asked, ‘What’s for dinner?’ She said, ‘I don’t know. You want pizza?’ It was all for Maestro,” Platt quipped of the moment he decided to find suitable premade dog food for Maestro.

“Doing all the research, we wanted to do this to get the best food in the dog’s belly around here that we could,” Platt added.

Platt still makes some homemade treats, like chicken jerky and “pup cakes” for Maestro, which he also sells at his shops, along with supplements such as glucosamine and Flying Basset oil, which he says has miraculous effects.

“Glucosamine, I’ve seen that do some amazing things for dogs,” Platt said. “And Flying Basset oil, it’s a bunch of different pressed oils and plant oils, and I’ve seen it do some great work, especially with black Labs.”

Along with the help glucosamine can offer to animals with joint problems and the way oils can help coats, Tack said other supplements help specific ailments.

“Arthritis, urinary issues,” Tack said of a couple of the common problems that can be addressed with supplements.

“Digestive problems is huge and a big category, but there are a lot of herbs and things you can use to help,” Tack added. “And skin and coat is another thing that can be helped by herbal supplements.”

One of the drawbacks some see to pet supplementation is cost, but Platt believes pet owners should see it as more of an investment rather than expenditure.

And it’s an investment he believes offers the best possible returns.

“You can pay me now or pay me later,” Platt said of the way he looks at it. “I’ve got dogs at the (grooming) shop with skin tags and lesions at 4 to 5 years old, and they have to get their teeth brushed.

“For me, I’d rather spend a little extra money (on nutrition) than pay a vet thousands of dollars to put my dog down and brush his teeth. And you might have your dog an extra five years.

“(Supplements are) not going to be for everybody because there are going to be people that are defiant, saying my dog lived for 12 years, but maybe they could have lived until 15,” Platt added. “To the people that really care and want to give the best to their dogs or cats, these are your options.

“We’re not the McDonald’s of the world. We just want the best.”

The Pet Beastro is located at 27637 John R Road in Madison Heights and can be reached at (248) 548-3448 or found at www.thepet beastro.com.

JP’s Pet Boutique and Grooming Spa and Maestros’ Dog Haus are located at 61 W. Long Lake Road in Bloomfield Hills and can be reached at (248) 203-9553 and (248) 341-3731.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brad D. Bates at bbates@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1029.