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By Juliana Weiss-Roessler

Do you take a daily multivitamin? You may wonder if your dog can benefit from one as well. In fact, some estimates say that around one third of dogs receive supplements.

Much like in humans, vitamins help a dog’s body to function properly, regulating everything from digestion to muscle growth. They’re crucial to maintaining your dog’s health, and a deficiency of a particular vitamin can cause health problems, which can sometimes have serious and long-lasting effects.

But here’s the good news: most pups are probably getting what they need from their dog food. Most pet food manufacturers who use high quality ingredients design their food to be well-balanced, providing the right amount of what your dog needs.

In fact, supplementing can actually be harmful. Why? Because while not having enough of a vitamin can be an issue, having too much of a vitamin can cause problems, too.

There are two main types of vitamins: water soluble and fat soluble. Excess water soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin C and Vitamin B1, are simply eliminated in urination, so they typically don’t cause long-lasting health issues.

But fat soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and fatty tissue, so too much of these can cause serious issues. For example, dogs, particularly large-breed puppies, can suffer from skeletal problems due to too much calcium. An excess of vitamin A can cause dehydration, joint discomfort, or damage to blood vessels. And high levels of vitamin D can cause a loss of appetite, bone damage, and muscle atrophy.

So how do you know if your dog could benefit from a vitamin supplement?

  1. Your dog is diagnosed with a vitamin or mineral deficiency
    If that’s the case, your veterinarian will recommend a single vitamin supplement, not a multivitamin.
  2. Your dog is diagnosed with a disease that can be treated with a supplement
    For example, a dog with dermatosis may respond to zinc. Again, you should consult with your veterinarian for recommendations, and only use such supplements upon your vet’s advice.
  3. You cook your dog’s meals
    Preparing fresh foods for your dog can be a wonderful way to provide nutritious, healthy meals, particularly if done with the help of a veterinary nutritionist, but it’s unlikely that you’re calculating exactly how much of each vitamin your dog is getting. A multivitamin can help fill any gaps that you may be unaware of.
  4. Your dog has joint discomfort
    Older dogs are prone to joint discomfort. If it sounds like your pooch, consult your vet for supplements that will support joint health.

In any situation, always consult with your veterinarian before beginning supplements. He or she can take into account your dog’s medical history and current physical state to point you in the right direction.

Does your dog take vitamins or nutritional supplements? Why? Tell us all about it in the comments.

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