Being a pet parent means constantly learning about what's good for our furkids to keep them healthy and happy. When it comes to your pup's nutrition, do you know which vitamins your pup relies on to stay healthy and how best to incorporate these essential nutrients into your furkid's diet? Let’s take a closer look at all the vitamins your dog should be getting in order to maintain a healthy body.
Essential vitamins that our dogs need
Vitamins and minerals are essential components of dog nutrition. Vitamins are organic substances made by plants and animals. Our dogs are able to make some vitamins but they will need to consume the rest from their food. Minerals are inorganic elements that come from soil and water. Plants absorb minerals from the soil and dogs get their supply of minerals by eating these plants or other animals that ate the plants. These micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) help dogs maintain good energy levels, optimal immune function, and fight diseases. Regardless of the dog’s age, all dogs require vitamins and minerals to maintain a healthy body.
The actual amount of micronutrients needed varies depending on the dog’s age. It is highly recommended to feed your dog according to his life stage. An adult dog, puppy, and senior dog all have different vitamin and mineral requirements. Whether you are feeding your pup homemade dog food or commercially made dog food, always choose the right formula according to your dog’s age.
Here is the list of vitamins that your dog will need to maintain a healthy body.
This oil-soluble vitamin is found in liver, salmon, mackerel, herring, eggs, carrots, kale, spinach, beet greens, sweet potato, and pumpkin. Vitamin A helps with healthy eyesight, skin, and immune function. Signs of deficiencies include vision loss, skin disease, and growth retardation in puppies. A ‘superfood’ that is rich in both Vitamins A and D is cod liver oil. Cod liver oil is not just a fish oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it is also an excellent dietary source of Vitamins A and D for your pup.
When buying cod liver oil, please choose from a reputable source like Dom & Cleo Cod Liver Oil Supplements For Dogs & Cats to ensure that the oil is free from heavy metals and other ocean pollutants.
Vitamin B family
Vitamin B has a whole family of vitamins, consisting of Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenate), B6 (Pyridoxine), B7 (Biotin), B9 (Folate) and B12 (Cobalamin).
Each of these vitamins is found in different food sources. As a general rule, your dog should be able to get his Vitamin Bs from meat, organs, poultry, salmon, mackerel, spinach, broccoli, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and eggs. Vitamin Bs play an important role in our dog’s metabolism and energy production. Vitamin Bs help to maintain a healthy immune function, nervous system function, hormone regulation, growth, and regeneration. Deficiencies in different vitamin Bs can lead to various diseased conditions. However, early signs of deficiencies are often lethargy, muscle weakness, sleepiness, and weight loss.
Due to the wide variety of food required to get the full spectrum of Vitamin Bs, it is sometimes necessary to give your dog a doggy multivitamin like this NaturVet VitaPet (Adult) Daily Vitamins Plus Breath Aid Soft Chew Dog Supplement to prevent deficiencies. This can be true if you homemade your pup’s food. Homemade dog food can be deficient in specific nutrients if not formulated correctly. Please always confirm that the homemade recipe you are using is nutritionally balanced.
Apart from giving your dog a multivitamin, adding a nutrient booster to your homemade food like the Augustine Approved SuperBoost Original Powder for Dogs can help to mitigate vitamin deficiencies too. Do consult your vet if you are unsure how to balance your homemade dog food.
Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin, and it helps dogs to maintain healthy phosphorus and calcium balance for healthy bone and muscle growth.
Unlike humans, dogs cannot produce Vitamin D in the skin and must rely on their diet for adequate intake. Good dietary sources of this oil-soluble vitamin include egg, sardine, liver, kidney, salmon, tuna, and cod liver oil. Please take note that not all fish oil for dogs provides a significant level of Vitamin D that cod liver oil does. Dried sardines are another good dietary source of Vitamin D. You pup will love this Freeze Dry Australia Whole Sardines Freeze Dried Cat & Dog Treats which is high in Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.
Common signs of Vitamin D deficiency include lameness and poor mineralization of bone, rickets, lethargy, and loss of muscle mass.
When it comes to vitamin C, our pups have an advantage over us. They can make it themselves while we must get our Vitamin C from food. Even then, some dogs that are constantly exposed to stress; both physical and mental stress, will not be able to produce enough Vitamin C to sustain their health.
As an antioxidant, Vitamin C helps reduce inflammation and cognitive aging. Common signs of deficiency include bad breath, bleeding gums, and delayed wound healing. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. Dietary sources of Vitamin C for our dogs include spinach, kale, Swiss chard, watercress, broccoli, cauliflower, red bell pepper, blueberries, raspberries, Brussel sprouts, and even pineapple.
For dogs on a kibble diet, adding some fresh berries into your dogs’ meals can help to boost the Vitamin C level of their meals. Blueberries are especially good for dogs. Blueberries are low in calories and contain high amounts of vitamin C, fiber, and phytochemicals (naturally occurring anti-inflammatory compounds) that support your dog’s immune system.
An alternative to adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your dog’s kibble is to use a freeze-dried meal mixer containing organic fresh fruits and vegetables like this Stella & Chewy’s SuperBlends Meal Mixers - Cage-Free Duck Duck Goose Recipe Dog Food Mixer. Unlike the traditional hot-air dehydration process that will destroy most of the Vitamin C content, freeze-dried fruits and vegetables retain a good amount of Vitamin C.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant. It benefits cell function, eye and skin health. Deficiency in Vitamin E is manifested in many parts of our bodies. Signs of deficiencies are wide and varied. It includes muscle paralysis and weakness, increased sensitivity to pain, eye problems, impaired immune system, skin issues like itchy skin, dandruff, dull thin coat, and nerve problems. As such, Vitamin E deficiency is sometimes confused with other nutrient deficiencies. For our pups, good food sources of Vitamin E are egg, sardine, kidney, liver, brain, kelp, and spinach.
Another fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin K helps prevent bleeding problems and improves blood clotting. Vitamin K is found in leafy greens, cabbage, and fishes like halibut, haddock, and sardine. Kale is an excellent source of Vitamin K. Collard greens, spinach and broccoli are other good sources of Vitamin K. Deficiency in this vitamin will lead to impairment of blood coagulation, increased clotting time, and hemorrhaging.
Choline is a key nutrient for dogs and aids in important liver and brain functions. Choline is indicated as part of the therapy for dogs and cats with seizures (epilepsy). Choline deficiency may lead to fatty liver, liver cirrhosis, and canine cognitive disorder. Foods such as salmon, eggs (egg yolk), and liver are rich in choline.
To provide a healthy diet, you want to ensure your dog is given the proper amount of nutrients in their dog food. Most commercial dog foods are formulated to be nutritionally complete and balanced. However, pet parents making their own dog food, extra care must be taken to ensure that the meals are nutritionally balanced.
Remember that a dog's nutrient requirements will vary according to age, breed/size, activities, and health condition. Please consult your vet if you suspect your pup's diet to be deficient in nutrients and may require supplementation to rectify the deficiencies.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.