You are not alone if you are wondering whether you should give your dog vitamins.
According to Packaged Facts, a market research company, pet supplement sales are set to exceed $697 million in 2019.
Most notably, the areas of organic supplements, weight loss supplements, and vitamins for older dogs are of great interest to consumers.
With vitamins for pregnant dogs to vitamins for dogs with arthritis available these days, there is a formulation for just about any situation your furry friend faces.
This can be confusing, as you could easily be led to believe your dog needs to take a fistful of supplements every day to be healthy and happy.
Aside from the potential health implications of giving your dog unnecessary supplements, feeding your dog endless vitamins for no good reason is going to leave a huge hole in your hip pocket.
So is there any merit to supplementing your dog’s diet with vitamins?
What are the best dog vitamins?
And, if you have a stash of vitamins for yourself already, you might be wondering, “Can I give my dog human vitamins?”
Let’s have a look at the answer to these questions.
Dog Vitamins – Are They Necessary?
If you have a happy, healthy dog with no preexisting health conditions who is fed a nutritionally complete diet, then there is really no need to give them vitamins and supplements at all.
While most dogs will likely fall into this category, there are times that you may need to give your dog some supplementary vitamins, even if they do not seem sick.
A good example of this is if you feed your dog a homemade diet.
Commercially available dog foods usually include a vitamin mix specific to the type of dog they are marketed to.
However, if you make your own dog food it is possible that there will be some deficiencies in their diet.
There are plenty of doggie multivitamins available, however a word of caution is needed.
Determining what supplement your dog needs if they are on a homemade diet is something that is best done in consultation with your vet.
Dr. John Bauer, a professor at Texas A&M University, says this about adding vitamins to a homemade diet:
“The amount will vary based on the size and breed of your dog so if you are formulating your own diet make sure to check with your veterinarian before for dosage guidelines.”
Cases when Dog Vitamins Might be Required
There are times when your dog may need to take some vitamins.
Maybe they need to get through a condition that has either been caused by or has led to a vitamin deficiency.
Of course, you would need to have your dog examined by your vet to be sure of the issue.
After a proper diagnosis, your vet may advise you to give your dog a vitamin supplement.
Let’s have a quick look at some common vitamins and what the symptoms of a deficiency are.
Vitamin D – An Important Vitamin for Dogs
According to the MSD Veterinary Manual, an imbalance between Vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus can cause problems for your dog.
Vitamin D has an important role in the body, as it aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus.
Dogs obtain Vitamin D through the diet and exposure to sunlight.
If your dog suffers from this imbalance, they are at risk of developing problems which include:
- rickets both in puppies and adult dogs
- rubber jaw syndrome, a condition generally seen in older dogs where their bones become weak and break easily
- hypoparathyroidism, a condition that tends to affect smaller dogs which makes them restless, nervous, and unable to control their muscle movements
Vitamin C for Stressed Dogs
Dr. Bauer also mentions that vitamin C levels can become low when dogs are under stress and may need to be supplemented at these times.
Vitamins for Dogs Eyes
A study conducted in 1998 found that a diet without enough vitamin E led to progressive loss of vision.
Again, it is important to note that the dogs that experienced this vision loss were fed on a diet of table scraps and worked as hunting dogs.
Dogs that are fed a nutritionally adequate diet are not likely to experience such deficiencies.
Vitamins for Dogs Skin and Coat
Vitamin A has an important role to play in healthy skin and hair.
Interestingly, however, both a deficiency and an excess of vitamin A can cause issues of the skin and hair.
Therefore, it is important that you have a deficiency confirmed before you give your dog vitamin A.
We will talk more about vitamin toxicity later in this article.
Generally, any vitamin A deficiency is the result of an inadequate diet.
We have already established that this rare if you feed your dog with commercially available dog food.
However, Cocker Spaniels can develop dermatitis even when they are fed a diet with sufficient levels of vitamin A.
If your Cocker Spaniel has this condition, their skin will be nasty indeed: scaly, greasy, flaky, and itchy.
If vitamin A-responsive dermatitis is the culprit, your pooch may well have to take vitamins for dogs coat to keep the condition at bay.
Dog Vitamins and Toxicity – What You Need to Know
As is often the case in life, there can be too much of a good thing. And vitamins are no exception.
There are many studies available that outline the dangers and side effects of Vitamin D toxicity.
Large doses of Vitamin D are thought to cause permanent damage to the kidneys.
Abnormal deposits of calcium in the organs and in the blood were also found in dogs that had been given large doses of this vitamin.
As we touched on earlier in this article, while vitamin A can be a savior in some cases of dermatitis, too much in a dog’s system can cause many of the same symptoms as the deficiency.
You may have read something about the benefits of vitamin A and are looking for dog vitamins for shedding, for instance.
Clearly, you cannot assume that vitamin A will do the trick.
In fact, it could actually end up causing your pooch more grief.
There has also been evidence of neuropathy, or weakness and numbness, in beagles that had been given excessive doses of vitamin B6.
Even after the dosages were stopped, the condition didn’t fully regress.
So What About Supplementing with Dog Vitamins for General Health?
The trend among humans is to take supplements to help us through our different life stages.
Concerned pet owners may wonder if there is any merit in senior dog vitamins, prenatal vitamins for dogs, or dog vitamins for immune system health.
As we have seen through this article, vitamins are really only of any use to your dog if they are suffering with a deficiency.
While at certain stages of life, the chances of your dog becoming deficient increase, the only way to be sure they need a supplement is to check with your vet.
Is It All Right to Use Supplements Made for Humans as Dog Vitamins?
Needless to say, giving your dog some human vitamins that you have found in the back of your medicine cabinet is not the best idea.
In fact, the dosages and combinations of vitamins specially formulated for human consumption could even be dangerous for your dog.
Always consult with your vet before you start giving your dog vitamins so you can be sure you are giving them the appropriate dosage.
Dog Vitamins – Conclusion
To be fair, there are good vitamins for dogs out there.
However, the selection of dog vitamins and supplements available is ever expanding.
Working out which ones are actually going to be of benefit to your furry friend can be confusing.
There are health concerns associated with giving your dog too many vitamins.
Finding the right vitamin for your dog, or if they need to be taking one at all, can be hard.
Be sure to discuss this with your vet.
Have you ever had to give your pooch dog vitamins?
What was the outcome?
Do you have any experiences you would like to share, or further questions that were not covered in this article?
Be sure to mention them in the comments section below.
And if you found this article helpful, please share it.
Davidson, MG et al Retinal degeneration associated with vitamin E deficiency in hunting dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 1998
Watson, TDG Diet and Skin Disease in Dogs and Cats The Journal of Nutrition, 1998
Dale, Sir H,. Marble, A., Marks, HP The effects on dogs of large doses of calciferol (vitamin D) The Royal Society Biological Sciences, 1932
Spangler, WL., Gribble, DH., Lee, TC., Vitamin D intoxication and the pathogenesis of vitamin D nephropathy in the dog. American Journal of Veterinary Research, 1979
Schaeppi,U., Krinke, G., Pyridoxine neuropathy: Correlation of functional tests and neuropathology in beagle dogs treated with large doses of vitamin B6 Agents and Actions, 1982
MSD Veterinary Manual – Disorders Associated with Calcium, Phosphorus, and Vitamin D in Dogs
Texas A&M University – The Importance of Supplements for Your Pets