Chromium Picolinate

By Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is chromium picolinate?

Chromium picolinate is a trace metal, over the counter supplement used as an adjunctive treatment for diabetes mellitus and obesity in cats.

Dietary supplements are substances that can be used to supplement the diet, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, botanicals, enzymes, and probiotics. While many supplements are sold over the counter, they still contain ingredients that have biological effects that should be managed by your veterinarian. Follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions very carefully as their directions may be significantly different from those on the label.

There are differences in how countries regulate supplements. In the United States, these substances are not as vigorously regulated by the FDA as other medications, which means they can be sold without the manufacturer proving their effectiveness, safety, and without a guarantee of consistent or accurately reported ingredients. In Canada, products that have been evaluated for quality, safety, and effectiveness by Health Canada and authorized for sale will have a license number on the label.

How effective is chromium picolinate?

There is controversy whether this treatment is beneficial. Therefore, a clinical trial is the only way to determine its effectiveness on a case by case basis.

How is chromium picolinate given?

Chromium picolinate is given by mouth in the form of a tablet.

What if I miss giving my pet the medication?

If you miss a dose, give it when you remember, but if it is close to the time for the next dose, skip the dose you missed and give it at the next scheduled time, and return to the regular dosing schedule. Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.

Are there any potential side effects?

Side effects are uncommon; however, studies are limited for this supplement and therefore information regarding side effects is also limited. In humans, neurological effects have been noted (such as incoordination). Serious side effects may include increased drinking, increased urination, decreased appetite, and vomiting.

Are there any risk factors for this medication?

Chromium picolinate should not be used in pets that are allergic to it. It should be used cautiously in pets with kidney disease, pets that are pregnant, or in pets receiving behavioral therapies such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Studies are limited for this supplement and therefore information regarding risk factors is also limited.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

The following medications should be used with caution when given with chromium picolinate: corticosteroids, H2-blockers, proton pump inhibitors, levothyroxine, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or zinc.

Vitamins, herbal therapies, and supplements have the potential to interact with each other, as well as with prescription and over the counter medications. It is important to tell your veterinarian about any medications (including all vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) that your pet is taking.

Is there any monitoring that needs to be done with this medication?

There is no specific monitoring that needs to be done while your pet is taking this medication. Your veterinarian may monitor your pet to be sure that the medication is working by monitoring your pet’s weight and diabetic status.

How do I store chromium picolinate?

Store this medication in a tight container. Refer to the label for further storage instructions as each product may be different.

What should I do in case of emergency?

If you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately. If they are not available, follow their directions in contacting an emergency facility.

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