Vitamins are imperative to a healthy life. These organic compounds supply our bodies with the essential nutrients that we need for normal cell growth, development and function. But humans aren’t the only ones that need to balance their diets with vitamins – so do dogs.
However, since they can’t decide for themselves, it’s important that you, as a pet owner, make the right decisions regarding what vitamins are essential to your furry friend’s diet.
Different dogs require different nutrients depending on a variety of factors, from breed to age, so it’s vital that you know what’s best for your dog.
Ideally, you should strike the perfect balance of water, protein, carbohydrates, minerals, fats and vitamins in your dog’s diet. While some commercial pet food is adequately formulated to serve the required amount of these nutrients, there are other factors to be considered before feeding your dog any quantity of any vitamins.
- Dog's Age: The specific diet and amount of nutrients that a puppy needs to grow up healthy and strong is completely different from that of an adult dog. Since puppies are still developing, they need a vitamin-rich diet to encourage healthy growth.
- Medical Conditions - If your pet suffers from any genetic disabilities or other medical issues, then you may need to tailor the vitamins and supplements to assist in or not interfere with those specific issues.
- Dog's Diet - Different pets can have varying diet needs, ranging from low-calorie foods to kibble designed for kidney care. It’s important to understand what vitamins and nutrients your dog is already getting from their normal diet before you decide on what extra supplements you’d like to add.
Once these situational factors are taken into consideration, along with veterinarian consultation, you next need to understand the role that each vitamin plays in your dog’s body to be able to chart what their adequate vitamin intake should be.
This is essential because your dog not only needs the right type of vitamin but also the right amount – adding too much of a certain vitamin to your dog’s diet may not be healthy in the long run.
Different vitamins and multivitamins play different parts in the growth and development of a dog’s body and health. So, let’s dive into the most common types of vitamins and how to choose the best vitamin for your dog.
6 Best Dog Vitamins for Your Pet
1) Vitamin A For Dogs
Vitamin A is comprised of various nutritional compounds and is a common vitamin for dogs to be deficient in. This vitamin contributes to the proper function of growth and development in your dog’s skin, fur and eyes. If your dog is deficient in vitamin A, then you may notice the following symptoms:
· Unhealthy skin and coat
· Night blindness
· Weak or deteriorating muscles
· Neurological issues
Since vitamin A plays a huge role in growth and development, it’s an important vitamin for pregnant female dogs and puppies to have in their diets. You can add vitamin A into your dog’s diet via canine vitamins, or by mixing in liver, carrots, sweet potato, kale, or egg yolks into their food.
2) Vitamin B For Dogs
Vitamin B is a complex group of vitamins that work together to encourage good health in the body, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, biotin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, and cobalamin This diversified group of vitamins help to regulate energy and metabolism, facilitate proper enzyme function, assists in various nervous system functions, promotes glucose and red blood cell generation, balances hormones and improves the immune response.
If your dog is deficient in B vitamins, it may exhibit the following symptoms:
· Excessive shedding
· Weight gain and constipation
· Decaying or dirty teeth
· Hair loss and premature greying
· Flea/skin allergies
Because B vitamins are not found in any natural food sources, you’ll need to add a vitamin supplement to your dog’s diet to ensure they have the right amount of vitamin B.
3) Vitamin C For Dogs
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant for dogs just like it is for humans. By clearing out harmful substances from the body, vitamin C can help reduce inflammation and prevent cognitive aging. However, it should be noted that, unlike humans, dogs can produce vitamin C in their bodies naturally through synthesis in the liver. So, unless your veterinarian recommends vitamin C supplements for a specific condition, you may not need to add it to their diet.
4) Vitamin D For Dogs
Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” for humans, but this isn’t necessarily true for dogs. In fact, dogs get almost no vitamin D from sunlight exposure to their skin, meaning they must get almost all of the vitamin from what they eat. Ensuring the growth and maintenance of strong bones and controlling inflammation, vitamin D plays an important role in your dog’s nutritional needs.
If your dog isn’t getting enough vitamin D, they may develop weak bones as puppies. However, vitamin D toxicity is much more of a danger to dogs than deficiency because it’s not as easy to excrete it rapidly like water-soluble vitamins, being a fat-soluble vitamin itself. An excess amount of vitamin D can lead to kidney failure, so be sure to consult with your veterinarian on what’s right for your dog.
5) Vitamin E for Dogs
Vitamin E is an essential vitamin for a balanced dog diet, acting as a powerful antioxidant that protects the body’s skin and other cells. This fat-soluble vitamin is important for keeping your pet’s heart, liver, muscles, nerve cells, immune system, skin and coat healthy.
Most balanced pet foods will provide enough vitamin E to your dog to stay healthy, meaning that you won’t need to supplement it in most cases. However, if you have consulted with your veterinarian and your dog displays signs of deficiency, such as muscle weakness, then you may need to supplement.
6) Vitamin K for Dogs
Vitamin K plays an important role in the body by helping with blood clotting and the calcium-binding of bones. Typically, vitamin K is used in severe medical situations, such as treatment of warfarin toxicity or overdose.
If your dog has ingested too much warfarin, which is a medication that prevents blood clots, they may bleed easier and end up losing too much blood. If you suspect that your dog has ingested warfarin, found in some rat poison, then you should consult with your veterinarian immediately for vitamin K treatment.
Choosing a Healthier Path
Although most dog foods do provide the right amount of balanced nutrients and vitamins that your dog needs in its diet, there may be instances where supplementing that diet with vitamins is beneficial.
Just like you need vitamins to stay healthy, so too does your canine companion. If you feel that your dog is displaying any abnormal or unhealthy behavior, be sure to consult your veterinarian to see if vitamin supplements are the best course of treatment.