Best Dog Vitamins For Homemade Dog Food
Have a particularly picky pup that’s not a fan of kibble?
Maybe your four-legged friend needs a super special homemade diet for their allergies. Or maybe you’ve decided to turn your underappreciated culinary skills toward Fido’s food. After all, he works hard warming up the couch and protecting the house from Amazon deliveries. He deserves a home-cooked meal once in a while too!
First things first: always consult your vet
Whatever your reason for preparing homemade food for your dog, the most important thing is to make sure your pup’s meals are healthy, complete, and balanced.
To ensure you won’t be accidentally depriving your dog of vital nutrients, consult your veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary nutritionist before switching to a homemade dog food recipe diet. Most dog owners will need to supplement their home-prepped meals with a quality vitamin product.
Let’s take a deep dive into the world of homemade food for dogs and explore what you can do to make sure Fido is getting his fill of necessary nutrients!
The nutritional risks of homemade dog food
While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to feed your furry friend the freshest food, dogs have unique nutritional needs. Unfortunately, it’s easy to leave out crucial vitamins and minerals from a homemade diet. This is especially true with some of the homemade dog food recipes circulating online.
Pet owners need to be very careful when navigating online nutrition advice. Long-term effects from an improper diet can range from minor ailments like dry skin to more serious conditions like diet-associated heart disease. Of course, no one wants that!
In one study where veterinary nutritionists evaluated online homemade dog food recipes, they found that many were deficient in several key nutrients, including zinc, copper, and choline. They also found some recipes exceeded recommendations for crude protein, arginine, and pyridoxine, as well as surpassed what’s considered safe upper limits for vitamin D. That’s a pretty big oopsie!
👆 I know, I know. Most dogs are happy to scarf down random chicken bones they find on the street. Who knew their nutrition could be so complicated.
But just because dogs can survive on certain foods doesn’t mean they thrive on those foods. Domestic dogs have much longer lifespans than their wild cousins due mainly to the care they receive from humans. This includes proper nutrition (and, according to our sources, lots of belly rubs).
Determined to feed homemade? Get some support
So what’s a dedicated dog owner to do? If you want to feed homemade, start by consulting your veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary nutritionist.
Many veterinary nutritionists work at universities, but thanks to the wonders of telemedicine, you can easily consult with one online. They can help create recipes for your dog’s individual nutritional needs, based on:
- Activity level
- Medical history
- Other things in their diet (ahem, street chicken)
Why work with an expert? Because, for instance, a big dog like a German shepherd or pitbull mix who runs every day will have vastly different nutritional needs than a bulldog or basset hound who spends most days on the couch. (You can’t blame them. Basset hounds don’t choose the couch potato lifestyle. The couch potato lifestyle chooses them.)
Now that we know where to find the right homemade dog food recipes, let’s talk supplements!
What vitamins do I need to add to homeade dog food?
Just like us humans, our dogs need a complete and balanced diet containing proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Of course, the ratio of these items is different for our four-legged friends.
But unlike humans, dogs pretty much eat the same food every day — usually in the form of kibble. Imagine if humans ate kibble every day. I guess breakfast cereals come pretty darn close! Well, just like Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Puffs come with vitamins and minerals added, so does your dog’s kibble.
When stepping outside of the realm of kibble, which all undergoes regulatory review to ensure its safety and efficacy for dogs, you’ll most likely need to supplement your dog’s food. Again, be sure to talk to your vet first.
What to add to homeade dog food?
Based on guidelines from The American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN) and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), dogs need the following essential vitamins and minerals in their diet:
|Vitamin or Mineral Name||Function||Deficiency Effects||Oversupplementation Effects|
|Vitamin A||Supports healthy vision, skin, and immune system function||Poor eyesight, poor immune function, and skin problems||Weight loss, gastrointestinal problems, lethargy, abnormal bone growth, and skin problems|
|Vitamin D||Essential for bone health, balances the absorption of calcium and phosphorus||Bone and muscle weakness, hair loss, poor immune function, and heart failure||Weight loss, gastrointestinal problems, lethargy, seizures, kidney failure, and hypercalcemia (too much calcium in the blood)|
|Vitamin E||Supports skin and coat health, cell function, and immune system||Muscle weakness, skin problems, and poor vision||Gastrointestinal upset, weakness, and may interfere with blood clotting|
|Vitamin K||Essential for strong bones and healthy blood coagulation||Weakness, bruising, and bleeding||In rare cases, can cause anemia, jaundice, weakness, and gastrointestinal upset|
B-Complex Vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, & B12
|Supports energy, metabolism, brain function, cellular health, and hormone regulation||Lethargy, weakness, weight loss, muscle loss, and disorientation||Very rare since B-vitamins are water-soluble, but an overdose can cause gastrointestinal upset|
|Choline||Supports brain and liver health, and nerve function||Gastrointestinal problems and poor liver function||Rare, but can cause gastrointestinal upset and anemia|
|Calcium||Essential for bone, teeth, and muscle health||Gastrointestinal problems, musculoskeletal issues, and hypocalcemia (not enough calcium in the blood)||Rare unless the pet ingests a large quantity, then can lead to toxicity and hypercalcemia (too much calcium in the blood)|
|Phosphorus||Works with calcium to support bone health||Calcium imbalances and weakness||Rare from supplementation, high phosphate levels are typically caused by renal disease|
|Potassium||Essential for maintaining electrolyte balance, supports nerve function||Gastrointestinal problems, weakness, musculoskeletal issues, and dehydration||Irregular heartbeat, lethargy, and weakness|
|Sodium||Supports proper fluid balance and nerve function||Electrolyte imbalances, gastrointestinal issues, and organ failure||Rare from supplementation but too much sodium ingested can lead to fatal toxicity|
|Chloride||Supports proper fluid balance and nerve function||Electrolyte imbalances (usually occur in correlation with low sodium)||Gastrointestinal problems, lethargy, and weight loss|
|Magnesium||Supports metabolism, bone health, and nerve and muscle function||Irregular heartbeat, lethargy, and weakness||Gastrointestinal problems, weakness, low blood pressure, and cardiac arrest|
|Iron||Essential for blood cell function and oxygenation||Anemia, lethargy, weight loss, heart and respiratory problems||Gastrointestinal upset, lethargy, seizures, and toxicity|
|Copper||Aids in iron absorption and red blood cell formation||Anemia, lethargy, weight loss, musculoskeletal problems, and poor coat||Gastrointestinal problems, poor liver function, and toxicity|
|Zinc||Supports healthy vision, skin, and immune system function||Weakened immune system, slow wound healing, weight loss, and hair loss||Gastrointestinal upset, irregular heartbeat, and liver or kidney damage|
|Iodine||Essential for thyroid function||Hypothyroidism, skin issues, lethargy, weight gain, and behavioral changes||Hyperthyroidism, weight loss, swelling of the thyroid gland, and electrolyte imbalances|
|Selenium||Supports metabolism and thyroid function||Weakness, lethargy, hair loss, and kidney stones||Anemia, gastrointestinal problems, muscle degeneration, and toxicity|
(This chart was created based on information from leading veterinary nutrition organizations. Read more here on the 11 essential vitamins for dogs)
😳Whoa, how am I supposed to make sure my dog gets all that?? And are these vitamins safe for dogs??
Don’t worry! We make it easy. Our Liquid Vitamins For Dogs help you cover all your bases and then some.
What vitamins should I add to my dogs food?
Our vet-recommended multivitamin formula contains all the essential vitamins and minerals your dog needs, plus the added benefits of…
- Omega Fatty Acids — to support brain, vision, and heart health, plus healthy skin and coat
- Amino Acids — for protein synthesis, and bone, muscle, and organ health
- Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM — for healthy, less painful joints and lower inflammation
- Coenzyme Q10 — to support heart health and cognitive function
- Astaxanthin and Lutein — for vision health and prevention of age-related eye disease
- Prebiotics & Probiotics — to support gut health and immune system function
Want to know the best part? It’s liquid! That means no more mushy, half-eaten pills getting spit out, and no messy powders gunking up your pet bowls.
Our liquid formulation makes it easy to customize your dog’s dose by weight. It’s also super tasty — most pups lick the bowl clean once they get a whiff of the bacon aroma. (And if you’re tempted yourself, know that our supplements are human-grade… so you can drink it too, if you really want to.)
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