Friday, December 11, 2015

Does Your Dog Need Vitamins?

Often times my friend and their acquaintances who get introduced to me ask this question: "Does my dog need vitamins?"

Most of the times it becomes really difficult  for me to answer such questions. As a matter of fact, dogs that are on balanced diet should not be needing additional supplements of minerals and vitamins. So if your dog is on balanced diet he is most likely to be getting all necessary vitamins and minerals from his food.

Does your dog get complete and balanced diet?  

Well, most of the dog owners who have been asked this question, have said that they tend to keep their pooches only on premium dog foods. It confuses me the most when they talk about premium and super premium dog food.  It is really not easy to find a properly balanced and complete food for your dog. However, dogs fed only on home made diet are more prone to suffer a lack of vitamins and minerals. Even though your dog is getting a correctly complete diet, it is important to check if his system can actually absorb the nutrition from the food. Dog with hepatic and/or pancreatic problems may not be able to absorb the full nutritional value of the food he eats. In such conditions the dog may require additional supplements of vitamins, alongside digestive and pancreatic enzyme supplements.

Do not give your dog just any multi-vitamins and multi-mineral supplements because he is thin.

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

General Rule of Thumb:  You should not give your dog any single vitamin or any multi-vitamins and multi-mineral supplement because you think your dog is thin and he needs vitamins. Only a registered veterinarian can correctly recommend you any specific nutriceutical and/or dietary supplements or any single vitamin based on the diagnosis. Your veterinarian may require you to get some biochemical analysis and serum concentrations done too before he/she would like to prescribe a specific vitamin supplement and the dosage.

Hypovitaminosis in Dogs 

Deficiency of different vitamins can pose different symptoms. Hypovitaminosis are more common in dogs that are kept on single type of home made food. Home made food is good - probably better than those commercial foods available out there, as long as it contains all ingredients to make the diet complete and balanced.

Certain conditions like Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI), in which the pancreas fails to produce insulin (which regulates the body's blood sugar levels) and digestive enzymes (which helps to digest the food and gets the nutritional value of the food)  may leave your dog exposed to the risk of hypovitaminosis. Dogs with EPI cannot digest the food and derive the food's nutritional values. This enhances the chance of deficiency of vitamins, minerals, fats and protein. EPI dogs also suffer from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Deficiency of Vitamin D

A study published in Veterinary and Comparative Oncology examined the range of sufficiency of vitamin D in dogs. The study proved a link between low vitamin D levels and chances of cancer in dogs. Vitamin D deficiency in dogs reduces the ability to absorb calcium from the diet, thereby leaves your dog exposed to the risk of lack of calcium.

Most common signs of vitamin D deficiency in dogs are:

Poor mineralization of bone and lameness
Loss of muscle mass
Locomotion turns slower or inability to move in sever cases
Swellings at the growth plates on the bones

Deficiency of Vitamin B12

B12 vitamin is an one of the most essential vitamins for dogs. Vitamin B12, in conjugation with iron and folic acid, helps the dog's nervous system functions well. B12 vitamin is also important for normal cell growth. When your dog is deficient in vitamin B12, he may become inactive, slow-moving, depressed, lacking energy and alertness, lethargic.

Most common signs of vitamin B12 deficiency in dogs are:

Gastrointestinal malfunction
Nervous system malfunction
Lethargy and fatigueness
Loss of appetite
Unsteady gait and disorientation
Weakness on muscle
Weight loss

 Hypervitaminosis in dogs

Overdosing of vitamins and minerals can hurt your dog. The most common ingredients in a multivitamin includes: Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12), folic acid, thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), biotin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B6), calcium, phosphorus, iodine, iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, potassium and vitamins A, D, and E. Among these excess of calcium, iron and Vitamin D are commonly found.

Among these ingredients, toxicosis is commonly seen for iron and vitamin D in dogs.

Vitamin-induced toxicosis in dogs is common in dogs that are given too much of any specific vitamins or multi-vitamins. Vitamins in excess is as dangerous as the conditions when your dog suffers a deficiency of vitamins. Although toxicity is not too common in dogs, but excess of any specific vitamin(s) and/or mineral(s) can bring in harm to your dogs.

Chances of Toxicity of Vitamins in dogs

An overload of vitamins and/or minerals can have a bad impact on his/her health. Excess of different vitamins poses different problems. Primary vitamins are required by a dog are vitamins B complex, A, C, D, E and K. While the vitamins C and B complex, among these are water soluble, the rest are fat soluble vitamins. Among all the fat soluble vitamins, only A and D shows potential toxicity in dogs, if administered in excess.

The water soluble vitamins - B-complex and C are comparatively safe. The tissues of a dog's body cannot store these vitamins, when administered in excess. Vitamins B-complex and C are eliminated through the urine.

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