Healthy adult dogs eating a high-quality dog food will not need additional vitamins because they will already get it from their food, according to “Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook” (Howell Book House; 2007.) However, very few dogs fall into this category. But before giving any dog or puppy additional vitamin supplements, always get your vets advice first, especially if your dog is taking medication. Some vitamins with counteract with certain medications. For example, Vitamin K can interact badly with blood-thinning medications for dogs.
When should you have the vitamin talk with your vet? If you are feeding a home-cooked diet to your dog, if you have orphan puppies to feed, if your female dog is pregnant, or if your dog is exhibiting any of the signs that they are deficient in a certain mineral or vitamin. If you read something in a magazine or the internet about a certain vitamin helping a condition your dog may have, please talk to your vet first before giving supplements.
Feeding Quality Food
Grocery store brands of dog food will not have the nutrition necessary to keep a dog healthy. In fact, the University of California at Davis Veterinary College even has a term for sick dogs fed on only cheap food – generic dog food disease, according to “KISS Guide to Raising a Puppy” (DK Publishing; 2002.) Quality dog food will have meat and not meat or bone meal, animal digest or questionable protein sources in the first five ingredients.
The pet food recall of 2007, where many dogs and cats died eating tainted food, has made many dog owners make their own dog food. Although dogs love this, you will need to talk with your vet and do considerable research before knowing what vitamins to add and how much. Dogs having to eat a strict diet of bland foods to test for food allergies may also need vitamin supplements.
Dangers of Overdosing
More is not better when it comes to giving vitamins to dogs. Dogs can easily overdose on Vitamins A, B-6, C and D, in particular. Remember that dogs can make Vitamin C in their bodies (unlike people and guinea pigs.) A healthy dog will need very little Vitamin C.
Symptoms of vitamin overdoses in dogs include diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, bloating of the abdomen, coordination problems, a sudden sensitivity to light, sudden fatigue, sudden limping and constipation. Dogs will not have all of these symptoms, depending on what vitamin is affecting them. But contact a vet immediately if a dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms
Keep in mind that all human vitamin pills need to be kept out of reach of the dog’s mouth. Dogs eat first and ask questions later, much like small children. If they discover a bottle of human vitamins, especially chewable vitamins, they may much through a bottle in the mistaken belief that they have discovered a treat.
“Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook.” Debra M. Eldredge, DVM, et al. Howell Book House; 2007.
“KISS Guide to Raising a Puppy.” Liz Palika. DK Publishing; 2002.
Studio One Networks. “Does Your Dog Need Vitamins?” Anne Black. http://www.nbc-2.com/Global/story.asp?S=7069048
MSNBC. “A vitamin a day may do more harm than good.” Jacqueline Stenson. Jan. 19, 2007. (For people and dogs) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16655168/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/