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Vitamins and Nutrition: Does my dog need supplements?

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“Does my dog need supplements? Does my dog need vitamins? Should I feed calcium to my puppy?”

Dog parents are asking these questions to veterinarians more often. And that’s great. It shows that most people have accepted the transition from pet ownership to pet parenting!

Hence the concerns and questions are all justified. 

So, let’s find out if your pupper needs any health supplements. 

Why do puppies and dogs need supplements?

Fully white fluffy toy dog on the left. side profile of the dog visible. could be a Bichon Frise. Two hands visible on the right. The person is holding an unlabeled medicine bottle in their right hand and a spoon on the left, ready to pour the med.

 

A puppy eating packaged food specifically formulated for their age and breed should not have any deficiencies. If you are feeding your puppy home-cooked meals as per the guidance of a veterinarian they should receive all the nutrients in the correct quantity. 

Sadly, just like humans, dogs do not receive all micronutrients and vitamins from food. Many may have some deficiencies in the vitamins and minerals absorption and utilisation pathways. 

Sometimes, the presence of worms can also cause nutritional deficiencies in your pup.

In such cases, they will require vitamin and other supplements to fulfil their nutritional needs. For example, if your puppy isn’t receiving enough calcium and Vitamin D, they may have long-term bone and joint problems. 

What are some signs that your puppy/dog needs supplements?

Left hand of a person and the close-up of a dog with short coat. the hand is holding loose hair. If your dog is losing fur your dog needs supplements as per the vet's recommendation.

It is difficult to understand if your puppy has nutritional deficiencies without proper blood tests. However, you can watch out for these signs in your pup or dog –

  • A dull coat
  • Excessive shedding
  • Irritated skin
  • Pressure sores
  • Inconsistent bowel movements
  • Digestion issues

Other common signs of dog nutrition deficiency include excessive weight loss, lethargy and joint weakness. 

Your puppy might eat or chew walls, soil and inorganic objects if they have multiple vitamin and mineral deficiencies. 

Do I need to talk to my veterinarian before giving my dog vitamins and supplements?

AI edited image of a person wearing a white lab coat. holding out both hands in blue gloves with medicines in them. Names of trace minerals and vitamins are superimposed on the image and tagged to the pills at random. your dog needs supplements, but each supplement can be a combination of a number of such minerals and vitamins.

Absolutely yes! 

What if your dog needs Vitamin A but you end up giving them Vitamin D3? Vitamin A is critical for visual function and immunity. However, Vitamin D3 plays a key role in calcium metabolism, bone and gut health. 

Each vitamin is a complex molecule with multiple functions inside the body. The deficiency of one vitamin cannot be made up by another! 

A veterinarian can assess the health of a puppy or dog to determine if they have any particular deficiencies.

Similarly, giving too much of almost all vitamins can interfere with your pup’s liver and kidney health. 

Only your vet can decide how long a supplement can continue for your pup. 

When unsure, always opt for a nutrition panel test where the level of all necessary vitamins and minerals are determined through simple blood tests. 

It is best when veterinarians prescribe supplements based on vitamin deficiency and nutrition test reports. Take your pup to the veterinary clinic near you for evaluation. 

Are human supplements and vitamins safe for your dog?

A number of bottles of medicines and supplements. Some blue and translucent yellow pills on the ground. Could be supplements for dogs or vitamins.

Dogs can process a number of supplements and vitamins meant for human consumption. However, the concentration of the vitamins and the doses of the meds are NEVER the same. 

Steer clear of herbal supplements meant for human beings. A number of plants and plant products that are beneficial for humans can harm your dog’s health. 

It is always safer to opt for veterinary supplements and medication for your dog. 

In case you absolutely cannot find a particular medication ask your veterinarian about replacing it with human meds. Show them the composition of the human medication so they can adjust the dose for your dog accordingly. 

The take-home message

Most puppies and dogs require vitamin, mineral, amino acid and fatty-acid supplements. It is not a waste of money. Even the most carefully formulated packaged food or lovingly cooked home-food can’t meet the nutritional needs of many puppies. 

It is not a fault of the brand of food or type of home-cooked meal you are feeding. Each dog has a different genetic makeup that may cause some metabolism differences between two pups from the same litter. 

Just to be sure, speak to an experienced veterinarian near you and get your puppy checked out for vitamin deficiencies and nutrition requirements. A simple blood and biochemistry test can reveal exactly which vitamins and minerals your pupper needs for proper growth. 

Investing in a course of vitamins and supplements can contribute to the long-term good health of your dog!

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