Today, many dog food manufacturers are trying to make their products from high-quality ingredients and enhance them with all the necessary vitamins and minerals. These include premium, super-premium, and holistic dog food brands – you can click here to check the best puppy foods. However, just feeding your dog alone might not be enough for it to receive the necessary amount of nutrients.
Your veterinarian may suggest you to start giving your pet supplements. They will select the correct vitamin combination and the duration of their intake based on your dog’s individual needs. However, it is crucial to learn more about the essential vitamins your pet needs to be able to timely detect possible vitamin deficiencies and introduce supplements in its regimen.
In this article, you will find the necessary information about essential vitamins and their effect on your pet’s well-being, as well as when to give your dog vitamin supplements and how to choose high-quality supplements. Read on!
List of Necessary Vitamins to Pay Attention to
For dogs, vitamin A plays a vital role in the development and support of vision; it is especially important for rapid adaptation to darkness. It participates in the synthesis of protein and reproductive hormones and regulates skin cells’ growth and the functioning of the sebaceous glands.
Good sources of vitamin A are liver, fish, and eggs, but you can also add fish oil to the diet to supply your pet with vitamin A.
Group B Vitamins
These vitamins are involved in metabolism and normalize the activity of the central nervous system. For example, vitamin B6 is responsible for fat and amino acid metabolism, while vitamin B12 is involved in the process of hematopoiesis – the formation of blood cellular components.
Vitamin C is primarily responsible for the pet’s immunity and metabolism regulation. Receiving vitamin C in sufficient amounts might be challenging because dogs almost do not receive ascorbic acid from food since they do not eat raw vegetables and fruits, and vitamin C is destroyed in the process of heat treatment.
Vitamin D plays a vital role in regulating the metabolism of calcium and phosphorus – it increases intestinal absorption of both minerals, optimizing the incorporation of calcium into bone tissue and reducing the loss of calcium and phosphorus in the urine.
There is practically no vitamin D in red meat and vegetables – the primary sources are fatty fish (sardines, tuna) and liver – so it is one of the most common deficiencies that require giving supplements to your pet. However, it is essential to consult your vet and determine the correct dosage to avoid vitamin D toxicity.
Vitamin E is essential for dogs – it protects cells from free radicals and strengthens the immune system. Free radicals damage and destroy cells, contributing to the aging process. They are a result of metabolism and external factors such as physical activity, pollution, and exposure to the sun.
The most important sources of vitamin E are vegetable products that contain oils, grains, and cereals but can also be found in some animal products, such as the liver.
The vitamin K group is a cofactor for many enzymes. Thus, it plays an essential role in blood clotting processes and protein metabolism, as well as promotes the incorporation of calcium into bone tissue.
In dogs, vitamin K is produced by intestinal bacteria. However, this process, in any case, does not provide its daily norm, so vitamin K must be provided in the form of food or supplements. Its primary sources are liver, meat, and vegetables such as spinach.
Which Dogs Need Vitamin Supplements?
There are certain stages of dogs’ lives when they need support in the form of supplements due to the increased need for particular vitamins and minerals. Here is what you should be aware of:
Puppies have accelerated metabolism compared to adult dogs, so you should definitely consult introducing a vitamin complex into your pet’s diet. During this period, they need vitamins A, D, E, and group B.
Starting from the age of six months, large breed puppies’ need for vitamins D, B1, B6, B12, C sharply increases as muscle mass and the load on the bones rapidly increase up to a year.
During the period of pregnancy and nursing, the dog has very specific nutritional needs and a higher demand for vitamins E, A, B1, B9, D. Even when feeding it special food for pregnant and nursing dogs, it is essential to consult your veterinarian on introducing supplements to support your pet’s well-being during this period.
Vitamins A, D, and B12 are especially important to prevent osteoarthritis and anemia from developing at this age.
How to Understand Your Dog Lacks Vitamins
Being aware of vitamin deficiencies and their adverse effects will allow you to pay due attention to your dog’s well-being and timely detect if there’s a need for supplemental support. Here are symptoms and results of vitamin deficiencies you should watch out for:
Due to vitamin A deficiency, the dog’s eyesight may deteriorate, dry skin may become an issue. It often leads to reproductive disorders, pulmonary pathology, and increased susceptibility to infections.
Lack of vitamin B1 causes damage to the nervous, muscular tissue, and digestive tract; vitamin B2 deficiency may result in changes in the dog’s hair growth. Lack of vitamin B3 affects the work of the endocrine glands, causes dermatitis and changes in the central nervous system, and vitamin B9 deficiency in puppies causes a slowdown in overall growth.
If your dog eats little, gets tired quickly, and is constantly sluggish, it most likely lacks vitamin C.
Vitamin D deficiency leads to weight loss and softening of bones, leading to pain in muscles and joints, bone fractures. It can also cause rickets in puppies and osteoporosis in adult dogs, which happens rarely but shouldn’t be neglected.
The lack of Vitamin E can contribute to the development of several diseases in dogs – muscle weakness, impaired reproductive function, loss of vision, and a decrease in neurological function.
Vitamin K deficiency leads to disruption of blood clotting processes and, consequently,
hemorrhages in various organs and tissues. Anemia in dogs can be a consequence of such minor hemorrhages.
How to Choose Quality Vitamin Supplements for Your Dog
Remember that supplements should only be prescribed by a veterinarian – they will select the most suitable and balanced vitamins for your dog’s individual needs after conducting the necessary tests. As you already know, supplements can be prescribed considering either your dog’s age or dealing with particular issues (e.g., improving digestion, supporting the musculoskeletal system, or skin and hair problems).
Choosing vitamin supplements for your dog might be challenging as there are lots of brands and complexes available on the market today. For ease of use, vitamins come in the form of tablets and powders, capsules, injections, pastes, and gels. However, here are some tips to help you choose high-quality supplements:
- Always read the composition. To get a quick and long-term effect, it is better to buy vitamins with a high content of the necessary elements.
- Choose brands that have proven themselves as reputable manufacturers of vitamins for dogs, such as Thorne Vet, Nordic Naturals, Nutramax Laboratories.
- Keep in mind that the cost of vitamins directly depends on their quality – high-quality ingredients require appropriate expenses.
- Vitamin supplements at affordable prices can be enough for maintaining daily balance – you can consider brands like 8in1 or Beaphar.
Receiving a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals is vital for your pet to grow and develop properly, so you, as a pet owner, must keep an eye on possible vitamin deficiencies and try to avoid them altogether. This will allow you to prevent different health issues from evolving into severe diseases and take care of your dog’s overall well-being.
And while feeding it a balanced diet is essential, some vitamins, as you already know, cannot be delivered from food only, meaning that you should consult with your vet introducing supplemental support for your dog. Remember to stick to your vet’s recommendations and choose high-quality supplements to help your pup live a long and happy life.