If a dog eats a healthy amount of commercial dog food, is a multivitamin necessary? Most experts say no. However, if a dog suffers from reduced appetite, food allergies, or other problems that interfere with the ability to take in or use vitamins and minerals, a supplement may be beneficial.
Healthy Dogs and Multivitamins
Because today’s dog foods are designed to provide healthy dogs with everything necessary for ideal growth and health (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and the proper amounts of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and calories), most adult dogs do just fine without supplemental vitamins. Taking in too much of certain vitamins or minerals can negatively affect absorption or utilization of other nutrients, which in turn can actually lead to a deficiency. Plus, excessive intake of some nutrients, such as calcium and vitamins A and D, can lead to serious health complications or death.
For these reasons, healthy dogs that eat regular meals and have no known absorption disorders should avoid multivitamins unless they are prescribed by a veterinarian for a specific concern. Dogs currently taking vitamin supplement that experience an improvement or worsening in health may require a dosage adjustment or may need to discontinue taking multivitamins entirely.
When Are Multivitamins Beneficial?
A dog that suffers from food allergies or a medical disorder that interferes with nutrient absorption may benefit from a daily multivitamin. This is true whether the dog eats commercial or homemade dog food. Unfortunately, dogs most in need of supplements are those at greatest risk of health complications caused by too high of intake of vitamins. For this reason, a consultation with a veterinarian is essential before starting any dog on a vitamin or mineral supplement, especially if the dog has a pre-existing health condition, is taking any other supplements or medications, or consumes a significant amount of table food.
Choosing a Vitamin and Mineral Supplement
If your veterinarian gives you the go-ahead, look for a supplement with a clear, easy-to-read label that includes the manufacturer’s contact number, the product lot number, and a certification that the contents of the package are correctly identified. Only buy supplements from your veterinarian’s office or from trusted retailers, and consult your veterinarian immediately with any questions or concerns.
Additionally, monitor your dog’s health closely while supplementing his diet with vitamins or other substances. Your dog’s general behavior, mood, appetite, energy level, and overall appearance are essential clues to his nutritional status. If your dog shows no improvement after several months of taking a multivitamin, speak with your veterinarian. Also, if your dog appears lethargic, depressed, or has a dull coat or other symptoms of potential deficiency, mention these symptoms to your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Information provdided by VetDepot.com, a trusted retailer of pet medications and supplements.