How to discuss supplements with clients
How often do clients ask about nutritional supplements?
Dr. Wynn: My practice is unique because most of my clients come to me with questions about supplements, but I asked a general practitioner how often people asked her about them, and she said almost never! When I've worked in general practice, I've found that many clients give supplements to their pets, but veterinarians don't know unless they're proactive and ask. Some clients are surprised to find out there are doctors who are knowledgable about supplements and want to help them.What supplements do you recommend most often?
Dr. Wynn: I see many arthritis patients whose owners want to avoid NSAIDs. For these pets I recommend glycosaminoglycans, fish oil, antioxidants, and herbs. I also see atopic dermatitis almost daily (fatty acid supplements, herbs), cancer (fish oil, glutamine, herbs, or antioxidants, depending on the case), and odd immune-mediated diseases and other conditions not adequately treated by conventional medication. Supplements can correct basic physiologic imbalances and delay use of drugs that have more severe side effects. While we need our pharmacy to manage animal disease, nutrition can sometimes provide a "background" treatment that allows us to use lower doses and fewer drugs.
Do you offer clients any warnings?
Dr. Wynn: Yes, including these in my discharge instructions:
Do you stock products you recommend, refer clients elsewhere, or both?
Dr. Wynn: It's dangerous to send clients out for supplements unless you can give specific doses and brand names, because they may pick up a "similar" product that really isn't similar or, worse, take the health food store employee's opinion. So I stock what I recommend—fish oil, a probiotic, digestive enzymes, joint supplements, an antioxidant, a "liver" supplement, and, because I'm an herbalist, a large stock of tinctures.