What Are Vitamins?
Vitamins regulate several body processes, protect the body from environmental toxins, and break down nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats so the body can use them. Vitamins and minerals are needed for digestion, reproduction, muscle and bone growth, clotting of blood, and maintenance of healthy skin and hair coat. There are two types of vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, which are stored in the liver and fatty tissue and water-soluble vitamins, which are stored in only very small amounts by the body. Water-soluble vitamins should be consumed daily and any excesses are excreted by the body each day.
Should You Be Giving Your Pets Vitamins When They're A Puppy?
Puppies and adult dogs do not need vitamin supplements if they are eating a well-balanced and nutritionally complete diet. Most recognized pet food brands sell balanced diets that include the right amount of vitamins and minerals for pets. If you give additional vitamins, your dog’s body will either excrete them in the urine or store them. Excess water-soluble vitamins (Vitamins B and C) will be filtered by the kidneys and eliminated in the urine. In small amount this will not damage your dog’s health, but on the long term, excessive vitamins could contribute to the development of kidney disease. On the other hand, excess fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E, and K) will be stored in the liver and fatty tissues and high amounts could cause toxicity.
When Should You Give Vitamins To A Dog?
Supplements For Senior Dogs
Senior or geriatric dogs may benefit from certain dietary supplements. There are several commercial dog food specially designed for senior pets, however, not all senior dogs will benefit from the same food. Geriatric dogs often suffer from chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis and renal insufficiency, which can be managed with nutritional supplements and special diets.
Osteoarthritis is a common condition in geriatric dogs and there are certain supplements that can improve the quality of life of a dog who suffers from this disease. It has been proven that supplements with glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) and perna mussels can help in the management of pain related with canine osteoarthritis and act as chondroprotectants (substances that protect cartilage or promote its production).
Renal disease can be managed with a proper diet. Dogs that are diagnosed early and treated properly can have good quality of life for various years. A proper diet for this disease should include a small amount of high quality and easily digestible protein (cocked eggs, chicken, liver, among other), low amounts of phosphorus and sodium. In addition, it is thought that vitamin D and fatty acids can be beneficial for the management of this disease. The recommended concentrations of nutrients for a renal diet are: 30% of high quality protein, 0.5% of phosphorus, 0.24% of sodium and 0.33% of omega-3 fatty acids.
Once your dog reaches the age of 7 years he/she is a senior and you should ask your veterinarian which food and supplements you should provide. You dog’s veterinarian will recommend an appropriate diet based on your dog’s health status.
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About the author:
Dr. Stephanie Flansburg-Cruz practices mixed animal veterinary medicine and she has a special interest in shelter medicine and animal welfare. Stephanie enjoys volunteering at local animal shelters, reading, writing and traveling.
Bierer, T.L. and Biu, L.M. (2002). Improvement of arthritic signs in dogs fed green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus). J Nutr. 2002 Jun; 132(6 Suppl 2):1634S-6S.
Helio Am, (2005): Manejo De La Insuficiencia Renal Cronica: Viviendo Más Y Mejor. Rev. Navc, 8 (12): 1-3.