Q. Our veterinarian recommends adding a supplement to our dog’s diet to help with his arthritis. The supplement is not by prescription and it's not a medication. Is there any value to this advice?

A. Yes, your veterinarian is giving you great advice with regard to what are called “nutraceuticals,” a word that’s  a combination of "nutrition" and "pharmaceutical," and refers to products, supplements and dietary ingredients known or believed to have some kind of specific medical benefit.

While not as well-tested or strictly regulated as drugs, nutraceuticals such as omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, antioxidants and many other supplements and herbs have found their way into the world of veterinary medicine. Conditions that can be helped by these kinds of supplements include age-related cognitive dysfunction, arthritis, side effects from prescribed medications, and many kinds of skin and digestive problems.

Do some of these work? Yes, and I’ve seen results, which is why I’ve used and recommended them for years. Of course, you should never give your pet any supplement without consulting your veterinarian first.