Are Vitamins Safe for Dogs? 3 Facts You Should Read Today
We won’t bury the lede: Yes, when dosed correctly, vitamins are safe for your dog.
In fact, vitamins aren’t just safe — they’re, well, vital for supporting your dog’s overall health, growth, and development!
Vitamins can help in the following scenarios:
- When your dog’s homemade diet doesn’t provide all the essential nutrients he needs to thrive
- To keep mother dogs healthy, especially during pregnancy and lactation
- To help older dogs navigate aging and age with minimal discomfort
- When your dog’s digestive tract can’t absorb enough nutrients, and a supplement provides more bioavailable vitamins and minerals
- When a dog is on a highly restricted diet due to food intolerances and allergies, and that diet is deficient in some vitamins
- To prevent and combat certain medical conditions like allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, cancer, arthritis, or joint problems
Naturally, just as with humans, too much of a good thing can be harmful. Here’s what to avoid when choosing and giving your dog vitamins:
- Giving your dog human vitamins — Never do this! Dogs metabolize human vitamins differently, and human dosages and ingredients can be extremely harmful to dogs
- Supplements with poor quality control — Look for a dog vitamin that undergoes strict quality testing, and/or is certified for quality, like Good Manufacturing Practice certification
- Using a supplement in combination with medications, or administering multiple supplements — Because some medications and supplements may interact and cause unintended or dangerous effects, it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian in these cases
Want to educate yourself so you can avoid any vitamin-related issues? We thought so!
Here are three important facts to know about how key vitamins work inside your dog’s body (and the roles they play in keeping your pup healthy and happy).
Fact #1: Vitamins Play a Key Role in the Basic Functions of Your Dog’s Body
Without the right balance of vitamins, your dog’s body can’t grow, develop, or repair itself properly. Vitamins assist in the processing of other nutrients, in energy metabolism, in fighting disease, and in the production of healthy red blood cells… and that’s just a few of the roles they play!
When a dog's diet doesn’t provide enough nutrients, this can lead to vitamin or nutritional deficiencies that may cause serious and long-lasting health problems.
Factors that may contribute to vitamin and mineral deficiencies in your dog include:
- An imbalanced homemade diet — For example, feeding “raw” but failing to include key minerals
- A short-term restricted diet — For example, when your dog is recovering from a procedure or you’re working with a vet to pinpoint any food sensitivities
- Picky eating — When your pup simply won’t eat anything but their favorite food!
In these circumstances, you can supplement your dog’s diet with vitamins to ensure he’s getting everything he needs.
Regarding what vitamins to give dogs, you’ll want to make sure he’s getting enough nutrients from two main categories:
- Fat-soluble vitamins consisting of vitamins A, E, D, and K
- Water-soluble vitamins consisting of vitamin C, and B vitamins
At the risk of getting waaaayy too deep into the science… here’s a breakdown of the main families of vitamins, basic daily dietary requirements of each, and how to tell if your pup is deficient.
This information comes from two reputable sources: the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the National Research Council (NRC).
|Type of Vitamin||Good For||Dietary Requirement (AAFCO/NRC)||Signs of Deficiency|
|Vitamin B complex||
Before supplementing your dog's diet with any vitamin, be sure to consult your veterinarian.
These additional tips will also help you determine what vitamins are safe for dogs or which vitamins are best for dogs:
- Consider brands that are backed by scientific and veterinary research.
- Read labels carefully to ensure quality and safety — when in doubt, look for vitamins packaged in an FDA- and GMP-compliant facility.
- Choose brands with confirmed expertise.
- DON’T buy human supplements, as they contain ingredients harmful to dogs.
- Choose a multivitamin that is easy to administer — for instance, a multivitamin in liquid form is easy to administer and is one of the best dog vitamins to mix into food. Read more about the best way to give your pet their supplements and why liquid form is the best.
- If your goal is to increase the nutrient content of your dog’s diet, consider supplementing with a vitamin that contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
Fact #2: Administering Dog Vitamins in Excess of Recommended Levels Can Lead To Vitamin Toxicity
While not having enough of a vitamin can be an issue, giving your dog an excessive amount of some vitamins can lead to vitamin toxicity.
With fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K, any excess amount is stored in the liver and fat cells. Because these substances are not readily excreted from the dog’s body, too much of them can cause toxicity — especially if your dog is already getting adequate amounts of these vitamins from their current diet.
Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, excess water-soluble vitamins are often excreted in urine. That means water-soluble vitamins are much less likely to cause adverse effects or toxicity if consumed in larger doses.
How can you recognize the signs of vitamin toxicity in your dog?
Vitamin D Toxicity
High levels of vitamin D can be poisonous for your dog. Depending on how much your dog is exposed to and for how long, symptoms can range from:
- Loss of appetite
- Muscular atrophy
- Increased thirst and urination
- Excessive drooling
- Joint problems
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Kidney failure and even death
An excess of vitamin D can also increase the level of calcium and phosphorus in your dog’s body, resulting in the hardening of body tissues, which can damage the heart, arteries, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract.
Vitamin A Toxicity
Vitamin A toxicity can occur due to excessive consumption of bear's liver, fish oil, and other vitamin A-rich supplements over several weeks to months.
Symptoms associated with vitamin A toxicity include:
- General malaise
- Peeling skin
Fact #3: Dogs on a Complete and Balanced Diet Don’t Need Vitamins
If your dog eats a commercially prepared, complete and balanced diet, he’s more than likely getting the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients he requires from his food.
In this case, additional supplementation with vitamins isn’t necessary except when recommended by a veterinarian. You may also supplement if your dog has a medical condition that’s likely to interfere with proper nutrient absorption.
Just read the label and ingredients on your dog’s food to ensure it’s complete and balanced. Feed high-grade, quality-checked dog food that’s life-stage appropriate — e.g. puppy, adolescent, adult, pregnancy, or senior.
If your dog has been eating mainly raw, homemade, or vegan, he may not be getting enough nutrients. Consult with your veterinarian to determine which vitamins are best for dogs, or which dog vitamins to mix into food.
Alternatively, you can supplement your dog's raw or homemade diet with a well-balanced multivitamin. This ensures that he doesn’t miss out on certain vitamins and minerals.
Did you know? The B complex vitamins in commercial dog food often get destroyed by heat, light and air. Supplementing will make sure your dog is getting the proper amount of B vitamins.
Need a Daily Multivitamin for Your Growing Canine?
Your dog needs a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients as she grows. The Paramount Pet Health Liquid Vitamins for Dogs formula contains the essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids required to promote your dog’s long-term health.
Other essential ingredients in our vitamins for dogs include:
- Chondroitin, glucosamine, and methylsulfonylmethane: These three nutrients help to maintain joint health and decrease inflammation in and around the joints.
- Probiotics and prebiotics: These cultures aid in the maintenance of a healthy gut and normal, regular digestion.
Made in the USA, our easy-to-dose liquid multivitamin for dogs is formulated with the highest quality ingredients in an FDA- and GMP-compliant facility.
With recommended dosage by weight right on the bottle, it’s a snap to make sure your pup is getting all the nutrients they need — for life.
Visit our website for more information about other essential dog supplements.
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