Supplemental niacinamide mononucleotide (NMN) may improve heart health, cognition, fertility, and diabetes control, according to human research. Should you offer this supplement to your dog to boost its health and well-being if it may benefit people? We want to improve our dogs’ health to maintain a strong human-animal bond and its health advantages. However, dogs are not humans.
Research in people suggests that niacinamide mononucleotide (NMN) may improve health outcomes. But this research is in its infancy, and sufficient scientific evidence doesn’t yet support supplementation.
Supplements for people may or may not be appropriate for your pets. Animals metabolize drugs, supplements, and foods differently than humans, and what may be a safe ingredient for a person could kill a dog or cat.
Research studies for animals with NMN are few and far between, and there isn’t sufficient medical evidence to support supplementation. Further, no animal-approved products are available for use.
The U.S. supplement market is not subject to stringent regulations like the over-the-counter and prescription drug industries. Therefore, it is wise to use caution when taking supplements or administering them to your pets.
NMN is no longer permitted as a feed additive as a supplement because it is now being researched for use as a pharmaceutical prescription medication. Thus, while products are still on the shelves, they may not be available much longer.
Consult a veterinarian before giving animals human products. A pet's medications and underlying conditions may make products potentially hazardous, ineffective, or contraindicated. In this article, we discuss using NMN as a supplement for dogs.
NMN supplements in dogs: yes or no?
The human-animal bond is a powerful thing. People love their pets and want to provide them with a long and healthy life. However, we must consider the variations between dogs and humans, such as their differing aging rates, daily needs, and other characteristics, while considering how to safeguard our loved ones. Quality of life (QOL) over quantity is key.
Dogs mature at different rates than humans, have distinct metabolic processes, and need different ratios of nutrients, so what is good for you may be bad for your pet. Further, dogs on fully-balanced diets probably eat better than many of us. When fed high-quality food with scientific research and veterinary nutritionists supporting the formulations, dog food is ideally properly balanced and contains all the necessary nutrients a pet needs to live a healthy life.
As a rule, people generally don’t always eat 100% well-balanced meals, and we may require supplementation with essential vitamins and minerals to remain healthy as we age. So, supplements in humans make a bit more sense than in our four-legged friends.
Possible NMN supplementation benefits
Human studies suggest that there may be some benefit in the use of niacinamide mononucleotide (NMN) when taken as an oral supplement.
What is NMN?
NMN is the precursor for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), a key factor in our body’s daily processes that keep our body functioning. By increasing our body’s supply of NAD+, we may improve:
- Brain health
- Heart health
- Diabetes health
- Skin aging outcomes
When taken by humans, are generally well tolerated. But studies are still in their infancy, and proper dosages, time of day to take the supplement, best formulation, and more variables have yet to be clearly established. Still, it shows potential and promise as a supplement to support health.
Species differences: dogs aren’t people
Given the potential benefits in humans, it is reasonable to assume the health benefits may be similar for our furry companions. However, ingredients safe for humans aren’t always safe for dogs.
Not all foods/ingredients are dog-friendly
There are many things that humans eat that aren't safe for dogs or other species. These foods vary across species and the amount that will be toxic varies with the species, the animal's weight, and the overall health of the animal.
Common ingredients/foods that are safe for people yet toxic or dangerous to dogs include the following:
- Macadamia nuts
- Yeast products
And these are just a few things humans can safely metabolize while dogs cannot. The amount of ingredient toxic to your dog depends on the dog’s size, body weight, age, and how it was ingested, when, and how soon treatment is initiated.
Resveratrol in dogs?
If you have heard of NMN, you likely have heard of resveratrol. Often these two are combined, theoretically improving longevity. Resveratrol, a naturally occurring polyphenol in grapes — which are toxic to dogs — and other foods, may offer numerous important health advantages. These characteristics may range from anti-inflammatory benefits to anti-tumor effects, heart-protective effects, and more.
However, dose-dependent side effects are seen with its use, and it can have negative hormonal effects due to its estrogen-like activity. It is not easily available once ingested, making absorption questionable. Further, it is known for drug interactions and having negative functions on the body’s clotting ability.
Only a single study on resveratrol and NMN is currently available and is an early animal study. Animal studies are not generalizable to the overall human population and usually don’t have sufficient patient numbers to make them useful for our animal populations. They are traditionally safety-type studies used before embarking on human trials.
Thus, there is the potential to do harm by giving resveratrol or resveratrol/NMN combinations, and supplementation is not currently recommended to our canine friends by veterinary professionals to date.
Factors to help guide canine supplement use
So, given that not all things human are safe for pets, we need to evaluate supplements closely. Factors to consider when thinking about giving your pet a supplement include:
- Research. Is there sufficient scientific research (not just testimonials) demonstrating benefit and no harm?
- Ingredients. Are the ingredients in the supplement safe for your pet?
- Interactions. Could any ingredients negatively interact with your pet’s medications, preventatives, or other supplements?
- Contraindications. Is a supplement contraindicated because of an underlying medical condition?
- Regulation. What type of oversight does the supplement have? Not all supplements are created equally, and many do not perform research to determine benefits relative to harm. Supplements are not a well-regulated industry, and the government evaluates supplements after they have been manufactured for safety, not before approval.
- Other considerations. Why offer your pet supplements without much research? Some animals are fussy eaters, hard to treat, or on other health and longevity supplements, why complicate matters more?
Each supplement will have different dosages based on age, weight, ingredients, and other factors. If human products are being used, obtain the proper dosage from a licensed veterinarian. Bottle doses may be for people or have no scientific support to back them up. Some supplements, like probiotics, are simply per pet. In contrast, others require knowledge of the pet’s weight and concentration of ingredients within the product (mg/kg dose) to determine what may be beneficial accurately. Veterinary-specific products may have dosing charts to help make this a bit easier.
Pet supplement considerations
Whether we are talking about NMN, vitamins, or the millions of other supplements available for pets and humans, think twice before simply giving your pet something because a friend told you it saved their dog or a coworker uses it in their dogs, making the coat shinier.
If you choose to give a supplement, use veterinary-approved products when feasible. Use products with a USP-verified mark or ConsumerLab seal, which at least supports a high-quality product and is less likely to be spoiled or contaminated.
Before reaching for a supplement for your pet, consider a few things.
- Check. Check with a veterinarian before giving any supplement, even those approved for animal use before giving them to your pet.
- Medications. When the veterinarian asks whether your pet is on any medications, include them so they don’t prescribe anything that might interfere with the supplement. Even supplements can negatively interact with drugs and may be contraindicated.
- Ease of dosing. Consider the ease of administering a product and palatability — is it chewable, will they take it willingly, or will you have to shove it down their throat daily.
- Identify the aim. What is your end goal? Remember, a dog’s life relative to a human’s is much shorter — will you see a benefit?
Science says some dog supplements help improve QOL
We are not suggesting that supplements may not benefit people or animals. However, care is needed before selecting supplements for your pets.
Just because they are supplements doesn’t mean they can do no harm. There are a few animal-approved supplements with research behind them. Most notably those with liver-protectant properties, those that support or lessen osteoarthritis's negative effects, or those that improve behavioral issues. But many of the supplements on the market are produced by companies trying to sell a product and earn a buck.
Don’t be taken by testimonials. Please talk with a veterinary professional to obtain educated, well-researched, and medically sound information before reaching for a supplement for your pet.
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Potentially dangerous items for your pet.
- ASPCA: Animal Poison Control. People foods to avoid feeding your pets.
- Biomolecules. Nicotinamide mononucleotide: exploration of diverse therapeutic applications of a potential molecule.