Many owners who want to keep their dogs healthy give their pets daily vitamins, but this practice can actually do more harm than good. Few canines actually need extra dog vitamins, and giving unnecessary supplements can cause medical problems in otherwise healthy dogs.
How Can Dog Vitamins Be Dangerous?
Certain dog vitamins and minerals, including fat-soluble vitamins, have the potential to build to toxic levels in a dog’s body. This occurs in healthy dogs as well as sick ones, but the process is accelerated in animals with certain diseases, like kidney disease, that slow excretion.
The following are some examples of issues caused by excessive levels of dog vitamins and minerals:
- Dehydration, joint pain and damaged blood vessels from excessive vitamin A.
- Loss of appetite, kidney damage, seizures and bone and muscle damage from excessive vitamin D.
- Calcium deficiency and kidney damage from excessive phosphorus intake.
- Diarrhea and gas from excessive magnesium.
- Skeletal problems, especially in large-breed puppies, due to high calcium intake.
Which Dogs Need Vitamins?
Vitamin supplements are necessary or helpful for certain dogs. These dogs are either fed diets deficient in specific nutrients or have health conditions that increase their vitamin requirements or decrease their ability to absorb vitamins. Conditions and circumstances that could cause a dog to require vitamin or mineral supplementation include the following:
- Intestinal disorders that prevent normal vitamin absorption.
- Eating an incomplete commercial diet or a homemade diet.
- Other chronic diseases, including some skin problems.
While supplement manufacturers often claim that their products can relieve a variety of problems, including skin and joint issues, it is safest to avoid supplementation unless an animal has been diagnosed with a specific condition by a veterinarian. Many different conditions have similar symptoms, so the vitamin you choose based on your pet’s symptoms may do nothing for your dog’s actual condition. Adding a supplement could even worsen your pet’s problem or cause a new one.
Mineral Supplements or Vitamins for Dogs
How Do You Choose the Right Vitamin or Mineral Supplement for Your Dog? If after discussing your pet’s diet and health with your veterinarian, you decide to use a supplement, you need to find a high-quality product. There are many ineffective and potentially dangerous products on the market, so to ensure your pet’s safety, you should do some research before buying a particular supplement.
The Best Supplements for Your Dog
Use the tips below to choose the best supplement for your pet:
- Ask your veterinarian. He or she can point you in the right direction, and in many cases, he or she will be able to recommend a brand or product.
- Avoid products with labels that make inflated claims.
- Make sure to choose a product from a company with a good reputation.
- Choose dog vitamins with certification from an independent testing lab.
- Only buy supplements from your veterinarian or a certified pet pharmacy.
- Choose a supplement that only contains the vitamins and minerals your pet actually needs. This will reduce the risk of your dog developing a problem.
When used correctly, vitamin supplements can benefit dogs, but they can also do quite a bit of damage if used incorrectly. To keep your dog safe, be sure to talk to a trusted veterinarian before giving your dog any type of supplement.