Should I Give My Dog A Vitamin Supplement?

By Ann Compton

A dog's need for vitamins depends on several factors, from the food he eats to his level of activity. Some dogs can benefit from the addition of certain vitamins to their diet, but consult your dog's veterinarian before choosing a vitamin supplement. It's also important to know that certain vitamins can cause toxic reactions if given in excess. Read on to learn more.

Food Quality

Your dog's food is the most important factor in his health. If you feed a high-quality prepared dog food, he is more than likely getting the nutrition he needs without an additional vitamin. Read the ingredients on the bag or can of dog food you use. Choose a food with no by-products, wheat, corn or soy fillers, and an appropriate protein level for your dog's activity level and life stage. If you feed a home-prepared diet, your dog will probably need vitamin supplements for complete nutrition. Depending on the ingredients in your dog's diet, he may need additional calcium, vitamins B, C, and E, because some foods don't provide enough to meet nutritional requirements. Consult a canine nutritionist to determine supplements needed in a home-prepared diet.

Canine Lifestyle

If your dog is especially active or competes in performance sports, he may benefit from a vitamin supplement if his food does not provide enough nutrition. Canine athletes need higher levels of fat, carbohydrates and protein. Ask your dog's vet if his food provides enough nutrition or whether a vitamin supplement made for performance dogs is needed.

Health Issues

Your vet may suggest supplementing certain vitamins for a dog with particular health issues. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements may help an arthritic dog. Fish oil is recommended for skin, coat and to reduce inflammation. Senior dogs may benefit from antioxidant supplements such as vitamin C or E. Vitamins for specific conditions should be administered with direction from your vet.

More Isn't Necessarily Better

Some vitamins can harm your dog if given in excess. Fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K, though healthful at the proper dose, are not easily eliminated from a dog's system and can build up to toxic levels. Excessive calcium can be bad for bone growth, especially in large-breed dogs. Some vitamins interfere with other nutrients. For example, phosphorus interferes with both calcium and sodium absorption. Other "competing" mineral pairs include copper and iron, and zinc and magnesium.

By Ann Compton

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About the Author
With more than 25 years in journalism, Ann Compton has written for national newspapers, magazines and websites. She has covered the equestrian events in five Olympics as well as the Westminster Dog Show and specializes in animal topics. She breeds, trains and shows Shetland Sheepdogs.