If you feed your dog a healthy, balanced diet, then s/he should not need any multivitamin supplements. Homemade dog food is also great but unknowingly you might skip certain nutrients. Insufficient nutrients will eventually lead to deficiency. Mild inadequacies might not be seen immediately but over a period of time, you will start noticing signs like dull coat and eyes, hair loss and a host of other health issues. So today we will discuss the best vitamins for dogs, some of which have been recommended by vets.
Do dogs need vitamin supplements?
Dogs usually get all the vitamins they need from a healthy diet. Certain circumstances require your dog to be supplemented. These are:
- Pregnancy and lactation
- Illness; when the food intake is down.
- Aging dogs
- Dogs with diabetes or kidney failure
- During periods of emotional or physical stress
- When taking antibiotics
- While undergoing chemotherapy
Unlike humans, dogs are capable of producing their own vitamin C. Therefore, dog vitamin supplements do not contain too much of this antioxidant. However, dogs undergoing stress need to be supplemented with vitamin C as physical and emotional stress can reduce its production.
Important vitamins for dogs and signs of deficiency
Food sources– Vitamin A is found in eggs, carrots, liver, fish oil, cod liver oil, dairy products etc. However food sources can contain variable amounts of Vitamin A. In breeds like Cocker Spaniel, mega doses are needed to prevent and treat skin issues.
Deficiency– Low levels of vitamin A can cause vision problems like night blindness, dry eyes as well as skin diseases. Never over supplement your pet with Vitamin A, as it could lead to signs of toxicity.
Food sources- Fish oil, seafood, egg yolks, dairy, beef and liver.
Deficiency– Low levels of vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis and problems with bones and growth. In excess levels too, vitamin D can be harmful and may also interfere with calcium levels.
Food sources- Wheat germ, seeds, bran, vegetable oils, grains
Deficiency- Skin issues, muscle problems and poor immunity are some signs of low vitamin E. This vitamin is an excellent antioxidant and necessary for older dogs.
Food sources– Alfalfa seeds, leafy greens and liver and fish.
Deficiency– One of the signs of deficiency in this vitamin is poor blood clotting. Dogs that ingest poison or mouse baits are often given mega doses of Vitamin K.
Vitamin B complex
Food sources– Spirulina, green vegetables, brewer’s yeast, dairy, whole grains, nuts. I will later give the recipe for a homemade dog multivitamin powder in this guide.
Deficiency– B-vitamins are important for dogs skin and coat. Low levels of vitamins like vitamin B6, vitamin B12, Biotin, choline, folic acid etc can lead to muscle and skin problems, stunted growth in puppies, appetite loss, diarrhea, as well as diseases of the mouth. Vitamin B12 is not present in plant sources so dogs that aren’t fed meat need supplements.
Food sources– Organ meats, fruits, vegetables.
Deficiency– Dogs usually produce this vitamin but diseases and stress can affect levels and your pet might need supplementation.
Dogs also need macro and micro minerals. Calcium and phosphorus should be balanced and given in correct proportions. The best dog supplements (discussed later in this guide) also contain trace minerals like iron, zinc and magnesium. Note that minerals interact with each other; too much calcium can interfere with zinc production and so on. Some breeds are genetically prone to mineral deficiencies. For example, bull terriers, malamutes and huskies could need zinc supplementation. Always speak with a vet before administering vitamins.
Can I give my dog human vitamins?
The FDA states that dogs fed good quality commercial dog food usually do not need supplements. Never feed human vitamins to dogs-they are not in the right balance. Minerals can interact with each other and interfere with each other’s functioning. Human vitamin supplements could contain large doses of Vitamin C which could cause loose stools or diarrhea in your dog. Only give vet recommended dog vitamins to your pet.
Homemade Dog Multivitamin Powder
Here is a recipe by Dr. Pitcairn-an expert well known for his work in the field of holistic veterinary science.
- 2 cups nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup bone meal or 5 tsp eggshell powder
- 1 cup lecithin granules
- ¼ cup kelp powder
- ¼ tsp sodium ascorbate (optional)
Mix all ingredients in a container and refrigerate. Sprinkle over your pet’s food as follows:
- Small breeds- 1-2 tsp per day
- Medium sized dogs-2-3 tsp per day
- Large breeds-1-2 tbsp per day
If your pet does not like smell and flavor of kelp, you can use ¼ cup of alfalfa powder instead.
Best multivitamins for dogs on homemade diet
If you feed your dog raw food (BARF) or homemade diet, use the following dog supplements to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
Zesty Paws 5-in-1 Multivitamin Soft Chews
Over 2000 satisfied dog owners have given Zesty Paws vitamins for dogs a 5-star rating on a popular retailer website. Zesty Paws vitamins for dogs contain COQ10 enzyme, MSM, chondroitin plus glucosamine for enhanced joint health. It also contains fish oil for superior skin and coat health. Trio of Vitamins A, C and E build immunity and boost body’s ability to fight free radical damage. (Free radicals cause tumors and accelerate aging). Zesty Paws multivitamin for dogs is voted one of the best dog vitamins for skin and coat.
This supplement contains Glucosamine and Chondroitin. I have already covered these supplements in detail in this article. Every dog, no matter the age, breed or health conditions present, can benefit from Glucosamine. Doggie Dailies has received hundreds of thousands of positive reviews. The best dog supplement has benefitted dogs with arthritis and joint pain. It also contains COQ10 enzyme, hyaluronic acid and other good stuff.
These multivitamin supplements for dogs cover all health issues ranging from dry and dull skin/coat, joint aches, anxiety etc. Apart from glucosamine and chondroitin, these pills contain probiotics, Omega 3 fatty acids, hemp oil for calming nerves and vitamin C for supporting immune system. These vitamins will do wonders for your pet’s skin, coat, joints and eyes. Please read my article on hemp oil or CBD oil for dogs.
NaturVet All In One Dog Multivitamin Supplement
These are vet recommended dog vitamins that contain balanced nutrients to support coat, joint, skin health and digestion. They contain healthy balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids along with glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support. The best part about these supplements is that they are manufactured in USA in a FDA approved, cGMP compliant facility.