STEP THREE: SE­LECT A PROD­UCT

EQUUS - - Eq Tack& Gear -

Once you’re fa­mil­iar with the in­gre­di­ents com­mon in a sup­ple­ment cat­e­gory, it’s time to se­lect a spe­cific prod­uct. The Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion does not reg­u­late sup­ple­ments as strictly as it does med­i­ca­tions---the ef­fi­cacy of sup­ple­ments does not have to be proven--so you’ll need to be a savvy shop­per to iden­tify the prod­ucts likely to be more worth­while than oth­ers.

Start by in­spect­ing the la­bels of po­ten­tial pur­chases. Look for one that lists in­gre­di­ents clearly, along with amounts of each. There is no re­quire­ment for sup­ple­ments to dis­play this in­for­ma­tion, but rep­utable com­pa­nies will. Also look for a lot num­ber, which al­lows com­pa­nies to keep track of each batch; it’s a sign of qual­ity con­trol. Fi­nally, look for a phone num­ber. A re­li­able sup­ple­ment man­u­fac­turer will make it easy for con­sumers to get their ques­tions an­swered.

Also look for the Na­tional An­i­mal Sup­ple­ment Coun­cil (NASC) Seal of Qual­ity. A non­profit cor­po­ra­tion, the NASC al­lows only man­u­fac­tur­ers who meet cer­tain stan­dards to dis­play the NASC Seal on their la­bels. Among the re­quire­ments are an in­de­pen­dent qual­ity au­dit, an ad­verse-event re­port­ing sys­tem and la­bels that are con­sis­tent with the re­quire­ments for nu­tri­tional or health prod­ucts.

The next step takes some work but is cru­cial: Com­pare the in­gre­di­ents in the prod­uct you’ve se­lected to the nu­tri­tional makeup of the rest of your horse’s diet. This means col­lect­ing all his other

sup­ple­ments and the la­bel off a bag of his feed and com­par­ing the in­gre­di­ents in each. You need to avoid over­load­ing your horse with any one nu­tri­ent, which could be dan­ger­ous. In many prod­ucts, grains are for­ti­fied with vi­ta­mins and other nu­tri­ents, so the chance of an over­lap is sig­nif­i­cant and in­creases with each ad­di­tional sup­ple­ment in your horse’s diet. This is where mul­ti­vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments can be help­ful. In­stead of feed­ing three sep­a­rate prod­ucts, which risks over­load­ing on some nu­tri­ents, you may be able to find one prod­uct that cov­ers all your nu­tri­tional bases safely. Your vet­eri­nar­ian or an equine nu­tri­tion­ist can of­fer you some guid­ance if you have a lot of vari­ables to con­sider.

Fi­nally, of course, price is a con­sid­er­a­tion. You don’t want to strain your bud­get with spend­ing on sup­ple­ments, but cheaper isn’t al­ways bet­ter, es­pe­cially if the prod­uct that saves you money lacks la­bel in­for­ma­tion, a method to con­tact the man­u­fac­turer or any ev­i­dence of qual­ity-con­trol mea­sures.

Most con­sci­en­tious horse own­ers are savvy shop­pers, ready to take on the mul­ti­fac­eted process in­volved in pur­chas­ing the right sup­ple­ment. It takes a bit of work, but the pay­off comes when you’ve se­lected a prod­uct that per­fectly rounds out your horse’s diet.

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