Are Vitamins Necessary for Dogs?
Canine vitamins have been the subject of much controversy. Are vitamins for dogs necessary or can dog supplements actually hurt your dog?
Nutritionists have made great advances when it comes to dog nutrition. They have done studies and they have a pretty good idea of what your pet needs to be healthy.
Veterinarians generally tell us that, if you choose a premium dog food or a dog food that says that it is “complete and balanced”, you are probably providing everything that your dog needs and your dog won’t need to take canine vitamins.
Keep in mind that you should never give human vitamin supplements to your dog, as she is a lot smaller than you, and her needs are different from yours.
You can hurt your dog by giving her human vitamins and minerals.
All that having been said, there are some occasions when you should supplement your dog’s diet with vitamins or a nutritional food topper. And this is especially true if you make your own dog food.
Sick Dogs may Need Vitamins
Dogs who have an illness may need extra canine vitamins and minerals.
If your dog has any of these illnesses, she may need to have vitamins for dogs:
- Kidney failure
- Heart problems
- Joint problems
- Digestive problems
- Or any number of unhealthy conditions
If your dog has been ill or no longer looks healthy, you might want to speak to your vet about whether you should be using canine vitamins or minerals like this immune system booster.
Vitamins for Senior Dogs
Senior dogs do have requirements that younger dogs do not have. They have a more difficult time absorbing the nutrients that they eat.
Many older dogs have health problems and need extra canine vitamins and minerals to overcome deficiencies that result from illness. The two most common issues with senior dogs are incontinence and joint pain and stiffness.
In addition, some senior dog supplements contain ingredients which can give your older dog extra energy.
If you have an older dog, the most important thing that you can do is to make sure that she is getting a balanced diet. Then, work with your veterinarian, and provide canine vitamins or minerals–if they are necessary.
Numerous studies have shown that good nutrition can definitely increase the life span of our dogs. As our pets get older, their needs do change. They require fewer calories and, at the same time, they need more vitamins and minerals—because they can’t absorb them as easily!
Dog vitamins and minerals can provide the extra nutrition that senior dogs need.
Canine Vitamins for Overweight Dogs
If your dog is overweight, you may have to put him on a diet. You have a couple of choices, of course.
You can buy special low calorie food or you can reduce the amount of food that you normally feed him.
If your dog is no longer eating the amount of food recommended for him, he may be falling short on nutrients.
In that case, you should consider giving him balanced adult canine vitamins.
Common Vitamin or Mineral Deficiencies in Dogs
My veterinary advisors tell me that there are a few dogs who have vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
Sometimes the problem is actually that your dog is getting too much of a particular vitamin–which then throws off the balance of nutrients in his body.
I’ll go over some of the problems that occur more commonly…
This is usually not a problem, except for older dogs with liver or bowel disease. In this case, your dog might be getting too much vitamin A.
On the other hand, if you have a puppy that isn’t growing fast enough, has trouble seeing (bumps into things or doesn’t seem to follow hand signals), or exhibits skin or bone problems, he may not be getting enough vitamin A. This puppy formula has the right balance for puppies.
If you feel that your dog is lacking vitamin A, you can provide extra vitamin A to your pet by giving him egg yolk (cooked), liver, or fish oils.
Make sure you consult with your veterinarian before doing this. It’s practically impossible for you to diagnose this on your own!
Aging dogs can benefit from these. B vitamins can improve appetite, help your pet gain weight, and help neurological or cardiac problems.
If your puppy is short on individual B vitamins, he can mature too slowly, have muscle weakness, skin and eye problems, red and ulcerated mouth, weakness or diarrhea.
Supplementing with individual B vitamins is not a good idea, though, because the B vitamins occur in nature as a B complex and you can easily get them out of balance. If you decide to supplement your pet’s diet with B vitamins, make sure the canine vitamins that you choose specify that they include “B complex”.
For B complex canine vitamins, I recommend using a product called Amino B-Plax. It has lots of healthy nutrients and the added benefit of preventing grass die-out where your pet urinates in your yard. It also aids digestion and reduces stool odor!
Some sources of B complex vitamins in foods, are meat, fish, liver, eggs, whole grains and rice.
Dogs synthesize their own vitamin C. However, elderly dogs with chronic diseases may need canine vitamins supplements with Vitamin C.
Not recommended as a dog supplement. Just as you can get vitamin D from the sun, your dog can too. It’s healthy to give her time out in the sunshine every day!
Getting vitamin D from sunshine is the healthiest and surest way of getting good quality vitamin D.
Food sources of vitamin D include fish oils and egg yolk.
The requirements for vitamin E increase with age. Supplementation with E usually improves coat appearance and energy levels.
Lack of vitamin E will cause bone and muscle disorders. Also, if you have a female who doesn’t get pregnant, consider whether she is getting enough vitamin E.
You can supplement your pet’s diet naturally for vitamin E by giving her egg yolk, milk, corn and whole grain cereals (without raisins–they can be harmful foods for your dog ).
Absorption may be diminished in older dogs. Your vet may test for this.
Calcium and Phosphorus
These two minerals prevent osteoporosis. Calcium is not absorbed as well in older dogs and excessive amounts may be excreted in the urine.
Vitamin K helps your dog’s blood clot. If she is deficient in Vitamin K, she may bleed too readily is she is scratched or cut.
Liver, fish, brewer’s yeast and soy beans contain vitamin K.
Zinc is often used as a dog supplement with senior dogs. Absorption of zinc is decreased as your pet gets older.
In younger dogs, zinc promotes growth and repair at the cellular level and also is needed for proper insulin use and for normal thyroid hormone levels. So it can help to prevent or lessen the effects of diabetes or thyroid problems.
Are Canine Vitamins Good or Bad?
Do you have a puppy, a healthy or sick dog, or an older dog? Is your dog active or lethargic? Is your dog overweight or underweight?
You need to make decisions about canine vitamins or mineral supplementation for your dog—based on your dog’s personal needs.
This is best done with the advice of your veterinarian, who, along with you, knows your dog best!
So, getting back to my original question—are canine vitamins good or bad for your dog? The answer, of course, is that it depends on your dog!