Take a stroll in any pharmacy or grocery store, and you will observe countless rows of human vitamins.
Since there are numerous vitamin options for humans, you may be left wondering if there are some for our loyal furry friends.
That being said, do canines even need vitamins? Will they boost a dog’s immunity? Which vitamins can you give your mutt? And are there any side effects?
Below are some answers; let’s get to it.
What are Vitamins
Vitamins are natural compounds required to sustain life. Most vitamins are obtained from the food we eat.
These compounds supply both animal and human bodies with primary nutrients for regular cell function, growth, and development.
Some of the vitamins animals and humans need to be healthy include:
- Vitamin A
- B vitamins (folate, thiamine, niacin, biotin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and riboflavin)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Unlike humans, dogs don’t know which vitamins to take and what amounts. Hence, it’s up to you, the pet parent, to decide on the vitamins your mutt should take.
Apart from vitamins, you will also need to provide adequate quantities of carbohydrates, water, proteins, fats, and minerals in your canine’s diet for him to have strong immunity.
Let’s look at the vitamins your mutt requires
Vitamin A for canines
Remember as a child; your parents insisted you eat all your carrots, that they would improve your vision? They didn’t lie.
Carrots contain vitamin A, which is fat-soluble and is responsible for immune function, fetal development, cell function, and growth.
Dogs with a vitamin A deficiency tend to display symptoms like:
- Night blindness
- Weak muscles
- Neurological issues
- Unhealthy coat and skin
B vitamins for canines
B vitamins are a set of essential compounds which play different roles in your furry friend’s health.
It regulates carbohydrate metabolism and energy production and triggers ion channels inside neural tissues.
Furthermore, thiamine ensures optimal performance of a dog’s brain.
This vitamin supports the healing and regeneration of worn-out tissues.
Additionally, numerous enzymes in a dog’s gut need riboflavin to digest fats and carbohydrates and convert them to energy.
B12 facilitates proper nervous system and brain functioning. It also supports the growth and formation of white and red blood cells. Meaning it helps strengthen your canine’s immunity.
Niacin aids microflora in a dog’s gut in digesting fatty acids. When your canine’s system properly breaks down fatty acids, he develops healthy glowing skin.
Dog nutritionists regard it as the power vitamin responsible for hormone regulation, gene activation, niacin synthesis, glucose generation, and red blood cell formation.
Pantothenic acid aids energy metabolism and hormone regulation.
Folic acids participate in canine synthesizing mitochondrial proteins and nucleotide metabolism.
Mutts lacking sufficient B vitamins may exhibit
- Excessive shedding
- Weight gain
- Skin allergies
- Decaying teeth
- Premature greying
Vitamin C for Canines
Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant. It moves through a dog’s body, looking for free radicals, which neutralize and aid in reducing inflammation. Vitamin C can slow down cognitive aging.
Normally dogs can make vitamin C using their livers, but when the liver is sickly or has too many toxins, you will have to supplement the vitamin.
Vitamin D for canines
Vitamin D enables your mutts body balance minerals such as calcium and phosphorous, thereby leading to strong, healthy bones. It also helps ease inflammation.
Without adequate vitamin D, dogs may experience stunted growth and will be unable to maintain healthy bones and muscle tissues.
Vitamin E for canines
Vitamin E plays the role of protector against different forms of oxidative damage in a dog’s body.
Being a fat-soluble vitamin, it keeps your furry friends’ muscles, liver, heart, nerve cells, skin, and immunity working optimally.
Vitamin E shortages are seriously detrimental as they may lead to eye degeneration, reproductive issues, and the weakening of muscles.
Vitamin K for canines
Vitamin K is another fat-soluble vitamin that enables calcium to bind to bones and initiates blood clotting when your dog gets injured.
Studies have indicated that if a dog ingests mouse or rat poisons, its body won’t be able to utilize the vitamin K, which will lead to serious bleeding and, ultimately, death.
Therefore, you should keep such poisons out of your dog’s reach, particularly if you have puppies. They will swallow anything they come across.
Choline for canines
Choline is a critical phospholipid cell membrane component that supports proper liver and brain functioning.
Some vet doctors also use choline while treating epileptic dogs.
Do canines require vitamin supplements?
Dogs usually obtain vitamins from canine food. For instance, commercial dog foods tagged “whole or balanced” contain all the essential minerals, nutrients, and vitamins your dog requires.
Furthermore, dog foods designed for varying life stages, such as senior food, puppy dog food, and adult dog food, have different amounts of particular vitamins.
The vitamin amounts differ because dogs have varying needs when they are young and old.
An example is large dog breed puppies; they will develop serious conditions like hip dysplasia if they eat food containing a lot of vitamin C, as it will fasten their growth.
If your dog is on a commercial diet, you won’t need to use vitamin supplements except when your vet says otherwise.
However, canines on a homemade diet will require vitamin supplements to prevent them from having vitamin deficiencies.
You will also have to consult a vet nutritionist on the specific amounts to offer your canine. Feeding the vitamins in your canine’s food once or twice may not be enough.
Risks of canines taking vitamins
Even though vitamins are essential in a dog’s body and help boost its immunity, giving excessive amounts to your canine can result in severe health issues.
For example, too much vitamin A may cause joint pain, dehydration, and evening thinning of your canine’s blood vessels. Abnormal amounts of vitamin B will result in soreness on the skin and liver damage.
That being said, some studies suggest vitamin supplements contain ingredients like herbs that may interact with particular medications.
Your veterinarian can draw a nutritional plan for your mutt to help you avoid such risks.
How to choose a canine vitamin
Firstly, you shouldn’t offer your dog vitamin supplements because it seems the right thing to do; it could lead to health issues.
Take your canine to see a vet and let him decide whether or not your pup needs a vitamin supplement.
If your veterinary doctor determines the dog requires a particular vitamin supplement due to a health condition or homemade diet, he will tell you which ones to buy.
Additionally, experts advise against giving your dog vitamins meant for humans, for they have higher concentrations, and some contain additives toxic to dogs. This means pet parents should only use supplements made specifically for canines.
Other ways to supplement vitamins
The foods below will provide your canine with all the essential vitamins without artificial supplements’ potential side effects.
Kelp contains trace minerals and up to 13 essential vitamins, including vitamins B1, B2, K, E, D, and C.
The seaweed’s iron content will also improve your dog’s blood, enhance digestion and reduce skin dryness.
Kelp also has iodine that will aid the functioning of the pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands.
You can give your furry friend a quarter tablespoon of kelp once or twice a day.
Dandelions are a vitamin powerhouse; they contain vitamins C, D, B, and A, plus these vegetables have calcium, iron, and potassium.
Whatsmore, you can utilize all parts of the plant. The roots help your dog’s liver, and the leaves improve digestion.
Stinging nettle is not only an ideal vitamin source; the herb also helps relieve joint pain, particularly in dogs with arthritis.
Some studies show that stinging nettle can fasten digestion and prevent your mutt from experiencing constipation.
Burdock root will provide your puppy with vitamins A, D, and E. The root also enhances digestion by increasing the secretion of digestive juices.
Vitamins lay the foundation for your dogs’ immunity. A deficiency in any vitamin will make your dog susceptible to illnesses.
Hence you must ensure your canine’s diet contains adequate quantities of the required vitamins.
There are also other supplements you can use to toughen your canine’s immunity, particularly Northern Cascades Immunity Defense.
Immunity Defense contains medicinal mushrooms, which will speed up your canine’s digestion while providing the needed vitamins.
Furthermore, Immunity Defense will reduce your dog’s allergic reactions and lessen cases of yeast infections.