Vitamins and supplements for dogs

The idea of giving your pet vitamins and health supplements might seem strange and unnecessary. Dogs, cats, and other family pets rely on their owners for their food. Sometimes the type of food used might lack the necessary vitamins and minerals. It could also be that it wouldn’t cover the daily amount a pet needs for its body to function properly.


Why do dogs need vitamins and minerals?


In some cases, after a routine check, the vet specialist might initiate a discussion about a specific vitamin deficiency or a need to improve your pet’s general health condition. Dogs need vitamins and minerals to improve :

  • The joints
  • Certain skin conditions
  • Sustain a healthy coat
  • Relieve the signs of aging (muscle pain, cramps)
  • Stronger bones and dentition
  • To treat anemia

Can you give your dog human vitamins?


Dogs may seem to need the same vitamins as humans. Saying this, giving a pet a supplement made for human consumption is not a good idea. There is a risk of overdosing and a risk of ingesting added ingredients that may be harmful to an animal.


Vet recommended vitamins


Before taking the decision to add any vitamins into your dog’s diet, a short visit to the local vet clinic is highly recommended. The vet might want to run some tests to check if there is a real need for a higher vitamin and mineral intake.

Dogs need an adequate intake of vitamins like:

  • Vitamin A - improves cellular functions, eye conditions
  • Vitamin B-6 - takes care of the nervous system, immunity, and hormonal activity
  • Vitamin B-12 - improving energy levels, increasing the appetite
  • Riboflavin - sustains the function of enzymes
  • Thiamine - helps the metabolism
  • Biotin - takes care of skin and hair
  • Vitamin C - it’s antioxidant functions helps with the aging process
  • Vitamin D - supports the development of bones and muscles
  • Vitamin E - benefits cellular functions
  • Vitamin K - fights against hemorrhagic accidents (helps to stop the blood flowing from a wound - clots the blood)
  • Choline - for a healthy liver and a fully functional brain

These vitamins are mostly found in vegetables, fruits, and meat. However, a poor diet can result in poor vitamin apport. In other cases, the body will not retain the necessary nutrients long enough to support a good bodily function.

The vet will decide on the dosage needed as much as the type of vitamin your pet might lack or need in an extra quantity. The specialist doctor might recommend a particular brand, but owners can check other brands and decide on buying something similar, with the same dosage needed.


Supplements for dogs


There is a difference between vitamins and supplements. Vitamins are contained in the body, being naturally produced. Animals and humans need to replenish these when the body fails to produce or retain vitamins that come from the food ingested.

Supplements might contain vitamins in addition to other beneficial ingredients :

  • Minerals - Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium
  • Plant extracts - Chamomile, Marigold, Seaweed
  • Fruit extracts
  • Oils (fish oil) - Omega 3
  • Probiotics

Natural supplements for dogs


Dog owners can buy supplements from pet shops, specialized pharmacies, directly from the veterinary clinic, or online from manufacturers’ shops.

The most commonly bought supplements are:

Probiotics for dogs - help against constipation or diarrhea by improving the intestinal flora. Probiotics are recommended to relieve abdominal pain, flatulence, and indigestion. It is a gentle treatment for the irritable bowel in dogs.

Omega 3 - is recommended for stronger bones, healthy skin, and a shiny coat of fur. It also supports immunity.

Melatonin - used to relax and calm both body and mind. Treats anxiety in dogs, and it also seems that it reduces unnecessary barking.

Multivitamins - containing a mix of essential vitamins and nutrients that will support the immune system

Glucosamine - offers better protection and support for joints, muscles, and bones. It also improves flexibility and alleviates the pain associated with dog arthritis.

All of these supplements can be found in packages addressed for different sized dogs, depending on their stage in life (puppy, junior, adult, mature). The dosage is formulated according to each life stage, size, and sometimes breed.


What are the risks of taking supplements and vitamins?


Dog owners should treat vitamins and health supplements for dogs as medicines. Giving the dog more vitamins and minerals than the daily intake can harm and endanger the pet’s life. That is why people should discuss with the vet before deciding to treat their dogs by adding any type of supplements in their diet.

Depending on the supplements taken and the excess in dosage, or simply the body adjusting to something new, there might be some side effects noticed by owners:

  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Oily hair
  • Rash on skin
  • Irritability

Checking the label for any added ingredients is essential. Some extracts could be dangerous for dogs, resulting in long term side effects. Owners should avoid any supplements containing:

  • Green tea
  • Guarana
  • Synephrine
  • Fluoride
  • Xylitol

Reputable manufacturers have excellent quality checks to avoid cross-contamination between different ingredients when producing a batch of supplements for dogs. It is worth then to check the background and the ‘about us’ information on the manufacturer’s website.


How to give a dog vitamins or supplements


The way an owner will feed the dog health supplements relies on the type of product given.

For example, some vitamins and supplements for dogs are intended to look like little treats and can come in a chewable form (kind of like the gummy bears for children). Other vitamins come in the form of capsules or pills. In this case, the owners might require some creativity - add the supplement in a food piece that the dog always enjoys.

Some supplements are packed as powder. Dog owners carefully measure the dosage and add it to a liquid or dog’s food.

Alternatives to vitamins and supplements for dogs


Vitamins and minerals are found in foods like red meat, vegetables, and fruits. Dog owners could increase the quantity of the needed ingredients when feeding their pets with homemade food.

Commercial dog food is already enriched with vitamins and other supplements.

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