Learn About Supplements for Animals & Cooper Complete Vitamins

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DallasZooCooper Complete vitamins and supplements are shipped to customers all over the United States, but one unique customer is not typical at all. Since 2009, Dallas Zoo has been using three specific Cooper Complete products to help treat special needs of a few animals. Kerri Slifka, MS, Dallas Zoo’s Curator of Nutrition, explains how specific supplements, in addition to a nutrient-rich diet, help support the health of a handful of Dallas Zoo’s beloved creatures.

As the Curator of Nutrition, what is your role at Dallas Zoo?

As a full-time, on-site nutritionist, I formulate and evaluate the diets for the animals at Dallas Zoo. I  consider physiological state (pregnancy, growth, lactation, egg laying, etc.), activity level, body condition/weight, medical conditions, social dynamics, information about ‘wild’ diet, the digestive system of the animal and if there are any known nutrient requirements for a specific species or a similar domestic animal. I customize and formulate each species’ diet so additional nutrient-rich supplementation is not required.

I also oversee the Animal Nutrition Center and the food budget that accompanies it. The Nutrition staff orders and receives food items and prepares and delivers diets for 2000 animals every day.

Dallas Zoo is also involved beyond our own collection of animals. I serve as Nutrition Advisor to three species survival plans, sit on the steering committee for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Nutrition Advisory Group and am a member of the Comparative Nutrition Society, which includes individuals from zoos, field researchers, industry, and academia.

Which animals receive supplements, what do they receive, and why?

Ideally, the diet I have formulated will not require additional supplementation. However, a few special needs for egg-laying animals, geriatric animals and those with skin conditions are being met with Cooper Complete supplements.

  • Animals that are laying eggs receive Cooper Complete Calcium Citrate prior to and during egg laying to ensure proper shell thickness and chick health. Chicks from long-legged bird species may receive additional calcium on a case-by-case basis.
  • Fish-eating animals must be supplemented with vitamin E and Thiamin to counteract losses of these nutrients during storage of fish over time. There are now commercial products that address this specific combination of nutrients.
  • All of our primates receive a human multivitamin and mineral supplement daily.
  • Some of our geriatric animals receive Cooper Complete Joint Health, as prescribed by our veterinary staff.
  • Cooper Complete Advanced Omega-3 has been used for skin conditions of various animals. This is also prescribed by our veterinary staff.

What benefits have you seen in the animals that take the supplements?

We have seen improvement of mobility in the great apes that take Cooper Complete Joint Health. Cooper Complete Advanced Omega-3 supplement is given for skin conditions, and the conditions appear to resolve themselves while the animals are on the supplement. Cooper Complete Calcium Citrate ensures our birds lay eggs with good quality shells and produce chicks with strong bones.

Why do you choose to purchase Cooper Complete products?

We first heard of Cooper Complete when Cooper Complete Joint Health was recommended to one of our veterinarians for the treatment of his own joint issue and found it to be very effective. When we needed a joint supplement for one of our elderly gorillas, we tried what had worked well for our staff! Cooper Complete Calcium Citrate is also more bioavailable than plain calcium carbonate and is in a form that can be easily administered to our animals.

Do you have any nutrition suggestions for people with pets?

Feed a high quality, nutritionally balanced product to your pets and make sure they see a veterinarian as needed.

Any other interesting information about zoo animal nutrition that you would like us to share?

There are only 16 zoos in North America that employ a full-time nutritionist for their collections. Unlike human nutritionists, this field has only been around for about 25 years, so we are always learning new things!

When most people think about supplements for animals, they tend to think of products they might purchase from their veterinarian that have been formulated specifically for animals. However, many human supplements are wonderful supplements for animals and perfect solutions to conditions that dogs, cats, or pet birds might have.

Article provided by Cooper Complete team.

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