Do Dogs Need Vitamins?

Waste of money or healthier pup? 💊

dog with zesty paws supplement
Zesty Paws

Sponsored by Zesty Paws

There are a ton of different varieties of vitamins on the market for people — but if you want your dog to be the healthiest he can be (which as an obsessed dog parent, you definitely do), have you ever thought about whether your dog should be taking vitamins?

The answer’s a bit complicated. Your dog probably doesn’t need vitamins to make up for nutritional deficiencies, since healthy dogs usually get all their needs met by a balanced dog food — but there are definitely some cases when your dog can benefit from vitamins or supplements that target specific health issues.

The Dodo spoke to Dr. Linda Simon, a veterinary surgeon and a veterinary consultant for FiveBarks, to find out everything you need to know about when you should give your dog vitamins.

Should I give my dog vitamins?

Just like humans, healthy dogs don’t necessarily need vitamins because their food will ideally contain all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need.

“We are very lucky when it comes to the regulation of dog food sold to the general public,” Dr. Simon told The Dodo. “Bodies have been set up to ensure these diets are appropriate and meet all of the pet’s nutritional requirements. So when a dog eats a ‘complete’ dog food, it will contain all of the micronutrients needed to maintain good health and to prevent nutritional deficiencies.”

But there are lots of times where that might not be the case. For starters, you should make sure that you’re buying the right type of food for your dog so he’s getting the nutrients he needs. Dog foods are formulated for different types of dogs based on age, activity level, size, breed and more because they all have different nutritional needs.

“An owner must be sure that they are buying the right diet for their dog,” Dr. Simon said. “While a complete dog food made for senior small dogs will be perfectly balanced for a 12-year-old West Highland white terrier, a young Great Dane would not have their nutritional needs met.”

You should also make sure your dog is eating all of his food. If your dog is a picky eater and isn’t eating his food, he won’t be getting all the nutrients included, even if the food itself makes up a completely balanced diet.

“Owners do need to make sure their dogs are eating enough food to get all of the nutrients they need,” Dr. Simon said. “No more than 10 percent of the diet should consist of treats and chews. Ninety percent or more should comprise the dog’s kibble or canned food.”

Another way that vitamins are used is to supplement homemade dog diets. Some people who make a homemade diet for their dogs will add a dog vitamin as well to make sure their dogs are getting all their nutrients. But it can be difficult to incorporate all of the nutrients needed into a homemade dog diet, and you may not be creating a balanced meal for your pup, Dr. Simon said.

“Homemade diets are hard to get right and should always be created alongside a canine nutritionist,” Dr. Simon said.

Can vitamins be bad for dogs?

Even though vitamins are typically thought of as being healthy, too many vitamins can actually be dangerous for dogs (the same as with people).

“While some assume that you can’t overdose on vitamins, this is not the case for fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A or vitamin D,” Dr. Simon said. “Vitamin A poisoning can cause signs including weakness, constipation and excessive bone development. Very high doses of vitamin D can cause elevated calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood, leading to acute kidney failure.”

So if you do want to give your dog extra vitamins, make sure you follow the dosing instructions on the packaging exactly and only use vitamins designed specifically for dogs.

Can dogs take human vitamins?

Never give your dog your own vitamins! Even if you have the same type of vitamins in your supplements, they won’t present in the correct amounts to give to your dog, which could be very dangerous for your pup.

“Human vitamins should never be used, as they are not suitable and will not contain vitamins in the right amount for your canine companion,” Dr. Simon said.

When should I give my dog vitamins?

While you should avoid giving your dog too many vitamins, there are certain times when your dog might need vitamin supplements.

“Certain medical conditions will mean that your dog requires vitamin supplementation, but this will be on the advice of your vet,” Dr. Simon said. “For example, B12 may be supplemented in those with SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). Vitamin K supplements are the antidote for several rat poisons.”

Should I Give My Dog Supplements?

While most dogs won’t need a traditional vitamin (like a designated vitamin B12 or D supplement), there are many different supplements available that are beneficial for dogs who have chronic conditions, such as joint pain, skin or digestive problems or anxiety. Many of these also include natural supplements (like chamomile for calming anxiety symptoms).

Supplements can be used to aid and treat many conditions, including the ones below:

  • Joint issues
  • Digestive issues
  • Skin and coat health
  • Heart health
  • Allergies
  • Immune system support
  • Anxiety

If you’re looking for a dog-friendly supplement to address a health or behavioral concern, here are some of The Dodo’s favorites:

Allergies: Zesty Paws Aller-Immune Bites

These allergy bites received The Dodo’s Paw of Approval for helping with our dogs’ allergy symptoms. They’re made with apple cider vinegar, salmon oil and probiotics to help with seasonal allergies, immune support, skin health and histamine levels.

Joints: Zesty Paws Mobility Bites

These multipurpose bites contain glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and yucca root, which help reduce inflammation and increase joint and hip function. They’re great for older dogs who are starting to slow down, or for younger pups as a preventative aid.

Overall Health: Zesty Paws 8-in-1 Multifunctional Bites

If you don’t want to worry about keeping track of individual supplements, these combined treats support skin, hip and joint, immune, heart and liver health — basically everything you need to give your dog a health boost.

Anxiety: Zesty Paws Calming Bites Soft Chews

You can also try out calming supplements for your dog if he has anxiety. These chews contain Suntheanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation, as well as chamomile, valerian root, L-tryptophan and sensoril ashwagandha.

Digestive System: Zesty Paws Probiotic Bites Soft Chews

These bites are made with six strains of probiotics to support your dog’s digestive system.

Skin Health: Zesty Paws Salmon Bites Soft Chews for Skin Health

These salmon bites feature DHAgold®, an essential algae-derived source of DHA, which provides support for your dog’s skin. They also contain biotin and vitamin E to help with dry skin and to strengthen your pup’s fur.

And remember — if you have any questions about what’s right for your individual dog, you should talk to your vet before giving your dog any vitamins or supplements to make sure you set up a regimen that will be safe and effective.

“Mention it to your vet first,” Dr. Simon said. “They will be happy to discuss the potential risks and help you to determine the best dose.”

So to recap, if your dog eats all of his dog food regularly, he probably doesn’t need any vitamin supplements designed to address nutrient deficiencies.

But there are many conditions that can benefit from more general supplements — just make sure the ones you buy are made for dogs by a reliable, dog-friendly company, and ask your vet if you have any questions!

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