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Nutraceuticals in veterinary medicine

Abigail Lerman and Brian Lockwood are from the Manchester University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Correspondence to:
Dr G. B. Lockwood
School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PT


An animal's well-being can be improved by a diet containg nutraceutical

An animal’s well-being can be improved by a diet containg nutraceutical

Nutraceuticals are becoming increasingly popular within the veterinary profession. They have been described by the North American Veterinary Nutraceutical Council as a “non-drug substance that is produced in a purified or extracted form and administered orally to provide agents required for normal body structure and function with the intent of improving the health and well-being of animals”.

These products are widely available and can be purchased in many forms, including capsules, tablets and powders, and are often included in animal feeds. A number of nutraceuticals are currently being used in the prevention and treatment of common diseases in animals including cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, periodontal disease, cognitive dysfunction and cancer, with clinical trials providing evidence of their efficacy in a variety of animal species.

The main suppliers of veterinary nutraceuticals are pet shops, veterinary practices, pharmacies and the internet. Although a number of nutraceuticals are specifically formulated for the animal market, there is increasing use of entities formulated for humans being used by owners for their animals. This situation is occurring because of the high price of veterinary nutraceuticals sold specifically for animals, the wide availability of nutraceuticals for human use and the availability of information on the internet; it places the pharmacist in an ideal situation to give advice to owners of pets and animals.

The nutraceuticals discussed in this article are available either unclassified as medicines or as general sale list products. Veterinary medicinal products are legally defined as products having properties for treating or preventing disease in animals, and those making specific health claims require a marketing authorisation from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate; these products are then classed as GSL. None requires veterinary prescriptions, but best practice for pharmacists is to ask whether veterinary diagnosis has triggered the request for supply for animal use.

Nutraceuticals legally classified as prescription-only medicines (none of which is discussed in this article) will require veterinary prescriptions for supply for animals. Before using any of the products outlined in this article, a veterinary surgeon should be consulted, as vets can assess the animal and evaluate the nutraceuticals available.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10003000

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