Vitamins for Dogs

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Vitamins for Dogs


Vitamins for dogs are as essential as they are for people. Vitamins play an important role in the health of a dog and should be considered as a dietary supplement according to the age, size and physical condition of the dog, as well as the type of food he consumes.

Vitamins are present in trace amounts in most foods and they are essential for numerous functions performed in the body. For example:

  • some vitamins act as antioxidants which protect the body from harmful toxins;
  • they help digestion and nutrient absorption by breaking down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats;
  • they aid growth of muscles and bones;
  • they keep the skin and hair healthy;
  • they also help ensure normal reproduction.

This article takes a look at:

Water Soluble and Fat Soluble Vitamins

There are two types of vitamins: water soluble vitamins (group B's and C) and fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K).

The difference of these two types of vitamins is on how they are being stored in the body.

Fat soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and fatty tissue, whereas water soluble vitamins are stored in only minute amounts by the body. Therefore, water soluble vitamins need to be replenished daily, since any excesses are excreted by the body every day.

Vitamin A for Dogs

Vitamin A is abundant in the yellow pigment (carotene) in plants. Dogs can easily convert carotene into Vitamin A in their bodies, and the vitamin is stored in fat cells, mainly in the liver.

Vitamin A is very important to ensure the proper growth and development of puppies and it is essential for healthy hair and skin, strong muscles, as well as good night vision.

Deficiency in vitamin A can cause female dogs to have irregular ovulation and male dogs to become sterile.

Vitamin A is also an important antioxidant which may protect against certain forms of cancer in dogs.

The optimal dosages to be given to dogs should be about 2225 UI per pound of food consumed daily. Overdoses of Vitamin A could cause weakness in the muscles and abnormal formation of bones.

However, unless a dog is given excessively high doses of vitamin A over a long period of time, toxicity is very rare.

Vitamin B Complex for Dogs

B group vitamins can be found in meat, milk, vegetables and fruit.

B vitamins are important in maintaining a positive environment for neural regeneration. B vitamins are also essential for growth.

Deficiency of B vitamins will result in a loss of reflexes and nerve control; poor growth; appetite loss; diarrhea; hair loss; eye abnormalities; and heart failure.

B-complex (in particular B2 and B6) is also essential for the prevention of bladder stone formation in dogs.

B complex is a balanced form of vitamin B supplementation, which is the only way B vitamins should be given, unless instructed otherwise by your veterinarian. Since they are water soluble, any excess can be eliminated in the urine.

The optimal dosages of B complex supplements to be given to dogs should be:

  • For small dogs - regular B complex (twice a day)
  • For medium size dogs - high potency B complex (B 50s, twice a day)
  • For large dogs - high potency stress formula B complex (B 100s, twice a day)

Vitamin C for Dogs

Dogs can produce Vitamin C in their bodies under normal situations, but when a dog is under stress (either physically due to, say, an illness, or mentally due to for example boarding at a kennel), he may need vitamin C in excess of his manufacturing capacity.

Visit this page to learn more about the benefits of vitamin C to dogs, the best form of vitamin C to use, and the dosages to give to dogs.

Vitamin D for Dogs

Dogs get Vitamin D mainly from foods.

Vitamin D helps the body to retain calcium and is therefore important in bone and skeletal formation, as well as nerve and muscle control.

Recent studies have also found associations between low serum vitamin D levels and higher risks of certain cancer types.

Visit Vitamin D for Dogs to learn more about this vitamin and see whether your dog needs supplementation.

Vitamin E

The main sources of Vitamin E are from cold pressed vegetable oils, such as safflower oil and wheat germ, meats, nuts, and green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin E is an important nutrient and plays an important role in cell respiration and the formation of cell membranes. It is also a powerful antioxidant which facilitates fat oxidation and increases the production of HDL (good) cholesterol.

Vitamin E is useful in preventing and slowing the development of cataracts, heart conditions and other muscle disorders.

At higher doses, it has anti-inflammatory properties as well, and can prevent and improve chronic skin problems and immune mediated disorders. For dogs with skin and coat problems, adding Vitamin E to their diets will also help greatly.

Deficiencies of Vitamin E will cause cell damage, reproductive failure, and a host of other problems, such as skin problems, inflammatory problems, etc.

There is no known side-effects to vitamin E at levels less than 4000-6000 IU per day.

According to the Handbook of Veterinary Drugs, optimal dosages of Vitamin E for healthy dogs range from 100-400 IU once or twice daily depending on size.

Dosage for unhealthy dogs will of course depend on the size, extent of definiency, medical condition, other drugs administered, etc., and should be administered under veterinary supervision. Immune-mediated skin disease often requires 400-600 IU twice daily.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is found mainly in some green and leafy vegetables, and egg yolk.

This vitamin is important for normal blood functions. Without Vitamin K, blood cannot clot. In normal circumstances, it is very rare that a dog suffers from Vitamin K deficiency.

The importance of this vitamin lies more in its ability to treat poisoning in dogs.

Rat poison contains an ingredient called coumarin that can deplete the body of Vitamin K. As a result, rats that have ingested the poison will suffer from internal hemorrhage and die.

Dogs tend to like eating rat poison! As such, dogs that have accidentally ingested rat poison can also meet with the same fate - bleeding to death.

Symptoms of poisoning, which take up to 3 to 4 days to show up, include:

  • depression;
  • weakness;
  • breathing difficulty;
  • bruising;
  • bleeding from any part of the body.

A blood test will show that the blood is not clotting properly. If the poison has only recently been ingested (within 2 to 3 hours), vomit should be induced by giving the dog hydrogen peroxide.

Activated charcoal can also be given to absorb any remaining poison in the digestive system. Then the dog is given Vitamin K supplements for 3 to 4 weeks.

Supplementation of Vitamins to Dogs

Are vitamin supplements necessary for dogs? You may ask. Many veterinarians and dog care providers strongly feel that they are necessary.

For puppies, vitamin supplementation may help ensure that they get the vitamins needed for healthy tissues, strong bones and teeth, and overall good health.

For adult dogs, vitamin supplementation can help make sure that they are always healthy and in top form.

For aging dogs who tend to eat less and as a result absorb fewer nutrients including vitamins and minerals, and at the same time, lose more of them through the kidneys and urinary tract, vitamin supplementation becomes essential.

Antioxidants such as Vitamins A, C, and E can also help eliminate free radicals and toxicities from the body. This may help slow the aging process and may prevent diseases such as cancer.

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A Good Natural Supplement of Vitamins for Dogs

This supplement contains not only all the essential vitamins, but also digestive enzymes and Omega-3 fatty acids. It is an excellent supplement for all dogs.

C.J. Puotinen, Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats (Keats Publishing, 1999).
C. Schwartz, Four Paws, Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs (Celestial Arts Publishing, 1996).
S. Messonnier, The Natural Vet's Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs (New World Library, 2006).
R.H. Pitcairn, The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats (Rodale, 2005).
W.J. Dodds, D.R. Laverdue, Canine Nutrigenomics - The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health (Dogwise Publishing, 2015).

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