A quality dog food contains the essential vitamins and minerals your canine companion needs to thrive.
While many commercial dog food brands advertise the phrase “complete and balanced diet” on their labels, cooking or heat processing the food loses some of its natural nutrients (ie synthetic vitamins are sprayed on to add nutrients). Homemade dog food, on the other hand, can lack sufficient vitamins and other nutrients as it can be difficult to prepare a well-balanced meal.
To ensure your puppy is getting the vital vitamins your dog’s body needs, we’ve compiled an extensive list of the top essential vitamins for dogs, their nutritional benefits, and how to infuse them properly into your dog’s daily diet.
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What are Vitamins?
Vitamins are organic compounds that every organism needs to stay healthy. Most of the vitamins a body needs come from food, as the body either produces very little or nothing at all. Different vitamins help with different roles in the body.
Six Vitamins Dogs Need Are:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B family
- vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E.
- Vitamin K
In addition to these six vitamins, your pooch will need adequate amounts of choline, essential minerals, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and water every day to stay healthy and fight off disease.
Let’s take a closer look at the six vitamins your dog needs.
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble (meaning it can be stored in adipose tissue) vitamin that supports bone growth, eyesight, reproduction, cell function, and immunity in dogs. This vitamin helps in weight loss, promotes skin and eye health, and fights certain diseases.
If your pet is not getting enough vitamin A, it may suffer from vitamin A deficiency, which can lead to serious health problems including corneal disease, skin lesions, respiratory problems, and an increased susceptibility to infection.
Too much vitamin A can lead to joint pain, dehydration, and blood vessel problems.
Good sources of vitamin A for dogs are fish oil, eggs, carrots, and spinach.
2. Vitamin B family
The vitamin B family plays a vital role in your dog’s health. The B vitamin group includes:
- B6: Responsible for the functioning of the nervous system and red blood cells, hormone regulation and the immune response
- Folic acids: Helps with mitochondrial protein synthesis
- Pantothenic acid: Supports the energy metabolism
- Riboflavin, niacin and B12: Increases enzyme function
- Thiamine: Regulates energy
Vitamin B deficiency in dogs can lead to a variety of problems, including weight loss, diarrhea, nervous system damage, anemia, and seizures.
Vitamin B is found in whole grain products like brown rice, green vegetables, and beans.
Related: The Top Dog Health Problems – And How To Treat Them
3. Vitamin C
As an important antioxidant, vitamin C removes harmful free radicals in your dog’s body, helping to reduce inflammation. It can also help boost the immune system to fight off disease.
Although dogs produce vitamin C in their livers, supplements may be needed in certain circumstances. Vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D strengthens bones and teeth and helps balance minerals like calcium. Without enough vitamin D, dogs cannot maintain healthy bones and lose muscle tone. Puppies can also suffer from rickets and exhaustion.
Dogs who consume certain pesticides or human vitamin D supplements can become poisoned. Signs of vitamin D intoxication include loss of appetite, excessive drooling, and more than normal drinking and urination. Call your veterinarian right away if you think your dog has vitamin D poisoning.
Good sources of vitamin D for dogs are egg yolks, cottage cheese, beef, fish oil, and lots of sunshine. However, excessive amounts of this vitamin can be toxic.
5. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and protects your dog from oxidative damage. It’s also important for lipid metabolism, cell function, and skin and eye health.
Deficiency can cause muscle, skeletal and eye damage, as well as reproductive problems.
Vitamin E is found in kale and other leafy grains, whole grains, and chia seeds.
6. Vitamin K
This vitamin helps in proper blood clotting that keeps bones strong. Deficiency can lead to excessive bleeding and death. The fat-soluble vitamin is found in leafy vegetables and fish.
Should I give my dog vitamin supplements?
While your dog gets most of its vitamins from their regular dog foods (and some dog-friendly human foods), some pets can benefit from dog vitamin supplements. For example, nervous dogs can benefit from supplemental thiamine, a B-complex vitamin known as the “anti-stress vitamin” for its calming effects on the central nervous system. Or dogs with itchy skin may need an extra vitamin E boost to help neutralize free radicals that could damage the skin. And for those who suffer from joint and hip problems, vitamin C can support a healthy immune and inflammatory response.
Always consult your veterinarian before putting your dog on a supplement plan.
From healthy bones to good eyesight, vitamins are essential to a happy, healthy dog.
Related: The Facts About Your Dog’s Itchy Skin and Dry Coat