Many people have a daily regimen of vitamins and supplements. And more and more people are also giving vitamins and supplements to their dogs. Does your dog also need to take vitamins and supplements? Is it safe to give vitamins to dogs? The answers depend on the dog and the types of supplements in question.

Essential vitamins and minerals for dogs

All dogs need certain vitamins and minerals to maintain their health, which they usually get through food, through a complete and balanced diet. If you are feeding your dog a certified and regulated commercial diet (look for the ANFAAC label), then the food should contain all the vitamins and minerals needed to keep your dog healthy. You can even go a step further and choose a diet made with high quality natural ingredients customized for your furry one. Many experts agree that the vitamins and minerals in diets made with high-quality ingredients are more easily absorbed and utilized by your dog’s body.

If you choose to feed your dog a home-prepared diet (as the BARF diet usually is), you may need to add vitamins and minerals to make the food complete and balanced. You should work with your veterinarian and specialists to find the right recipes and obtain the appropriate vitamins, minerals and supplements.

If you are feeding your dog a complete and balanced diet, there is usually no reason to supplement with vitamins and minerals. Adding supplements can cause problems if your dog is getting too much of something. For example, an adequate amount of vitamin A is important for a dog’s metabolism and immune system, but too much can cause serious toxicity. Vitamin A overdose can cause loss of appetite, lethargy, nausea, skin peeling, weakness, tremors, seizures, paralysis and death.

You should only give your dog vitamins, minerals or supplements in the following situations:

  • Your veterinarian prescribes specific vitamins/minerals after diagnosing your dog with a deficiency.
  • Your veterinarian recommends adding certain vitamins, minerals or supplements to help treat a health condition or help a dog with a poor appetite.
  • Your veterinarian recommends certain vitamins, minerals or supplements because you want to feed him a home-prepared diet.
  • Your veterinarian approves the use of certain supplements for your dog after you ask about them.

In any case, there is never a reason to start giving your dog vitamins at random. Always act under the supervision of a veterinarian. It is also important to verify dosage information with your veterinarian before starting any supplement.

Specific supplements for dogs

Many different types of vitamins and supplements can be used for dogs. Some of the most common are multivitamins, fatty acids, joint supplements, fiber and probiotics.

  • Multivitamins: Never give human multivitamins to dogs. If your veterinarian recommends a daily multivitamin for your furry one, ask for product recommendations. You should choose a multivitamin that is made especially for dogs. In some cases, you can choose a multivitamin made for dogs with special needs, such as joint support or advanced age.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: these supplements can be beneficial for dogs with joint, heart or kidney disease. The oil in a regular can of sardines may not be enough. So be sure to choose a formula with the right concentration of EPA and DHA as recommended by a veterinarian.
  • Glucosamine/Chondroitin/MSM: These joint supplements can be very beneficial for dogs with orthopedic issues such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, cross injuries, etc. They can reduce inflammation in the body and help provide more lubrication to the joints.
  • Fiber: your veterinarian may recommend adding fiber to your dog’s diet in some cases. This may happen to increase stool bulk and prevent anal gland problems. It may also be to help with constipation or other gastrointestinal problems.
  • Probiotics: these are nutritional supplements designed to restore healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal system. Many veterinarians recommend probiotics for dogs with chronic gastrointestinal problems or to combat the side effects of antibiotics.

There are many vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements. Some can be very helpful for certain dogs. Others can cause harm. Just remember that healthy pets on a complete and balanced diet don’t need supplements. But if your pet really needs to take vitamins and supplements, be sure to follow a veterinarian’s recommendations. Contact our Hospital Veterinari Glòries in Barcelona and we will give you an appointment to analyze if your dog really needs to take some kind of food supplement.