Pharmacies and even grocery stores are stacked with rows of vitamins for humans. Most of us don’t get the recommended intake of vitamins a day, and that’s mostly true for our pets as well. That being said, vitamin dog supplements can play an important role in helping our pets stay healthy and energetic. However, most owners are skeptical when it comes to dog vitamins, and that’s completely understandable – you don’t want to give your pet anything harmful, or something that hasn’t gone through extensive testing and shows positive results. A little information can go a long way in boosting the health of your furry pal. For that very reason, let’s take a look at the basics and go deeper into the world of health supplements for dogs so that you can decide whether getting some for your pet is a good idea.
First and foremost, let’s talk about what vitamins are. Vitamins are organic compounds that are essential for sustaining life. Most can be found naturally in foods, and animals, just like us, need them for proper growth and maintenance. The most important vitamins for humans and dogs are vitamin A, B vitamins (B-6, B-12, biotin, niacin, folate, riboflavin, thiamine, and pantothenic acid), vitamin C, D, E, K, and choline. While both humans and dogs need these vitamins, dogs need them in different amounts since their bodies are significantly smaller than ours.
So what do all of these vitamins do? Vitamin A, for instance, is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s responsible for immune and cell function, as well as growth and fetal development. The group of B vitamins plays a few important roles in your dog’s health. These dog supplements can be bought individually, or as B-complex, which contains a dosage of all the B vitamins. B-6 is one of the most vital in this group and it’s responsible for the nervous system and red blood cell function, glucose generation, immune response, niacin synthesis, hormone regulation, and gene activation. Thiamine helps regulate carbohydrate metabolism and the regulation of energy, and it helps activate ion channels in neural tissue. Riboflavin, niacin and B12 help facilitate enzyme function, while pantothenic acid assists energy metabolism. Folic acid plays a crucial role in nucleotide and amino acid metabolism, as well as mitochondrial protein synthesis.
Vitamin C is a very important antioxidant that helps scavenge potentially harmful free radicals, and it can help reduce cognitive aging and inflammation. While dogs can synthesize vitamin C by themselves in their livers, there are cases when supplementation of vitamin C can offer health benefits. Further, vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, allows the dog’s body to balance minerals such as calcium and phosphorus for healthy bone growth. This vitamin is especially important for larger breeds who may suffer from hip dysplasia. Vitamin E helps your dog’s system fight against oxidative damage. Vitamin E is fat-soluble and is essential for fat metabolism and cell function. A vitamin E deficiency can lead to reproductive problems, as well as muscle and eye degeneration.
And while your dog will get most of his vitamins from his food, there are many cases when giving him extra vitamins using dog supplements is necessary. Most quality commercial dog foods are specially formulated to contain all of the nutrients, minerals, and vitamins your dog may need. There are foods that are also catered toward dogs of different life stages, like adult food, puppy food, and senior food, and all of them contain different levels of vitamins, depending on the requirements of the dog’s life stage. However, many people who feed their dogs a homemade diet should definitely consider supplementing their dogs with vitamins to ensure they’re getting enough.
Keep in mind that balance is key. Vitamins are absolutely necessary to live, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise that something so essential can also be dangerous if taken in large quantities. For instance, too much calcium can cause skeletal issues in large breed dogs, and vitamins are no different. Too much vitamin A, for instance, can cause joint pain, dehydration and it can even damage your dog’s blood vessels. In order to avoid giving your dog too many vitamins, consult a veterinarian and work out a nutritional plan. While most people give their dogs vitamins because they want to, and not because they’re necessary, there are exceptions to this rule.
If your dog needs vitamin supplementation, to either complement their diet or due to deficiency or a medical condition, then you need to ensure it gets the right vitamin supplement. Talk to your vet about the right dosage. Most human vitamins have different concentrations than vitamins made for dogs, and in some case, human vitamins may contain additives which are harmful to the dog. This means you should stick with vitamins that are specifically made for dogs. In some cases, it may be better to supplement your dog’s diet with vegetables and fruits instead of vitamins, but some dogs may not be too fond of them.