If your dog is suddenly less active or shows a distinct change in eating patterns, a vitamin imbalance may be the cause. Most commercial dog food brands include vitamins, but they may not be enough, especially for overly active breeds. Usually, dogs that eat a proper diet do not need additional vitamins, and only your vet can prescribe them. Never give your dog human vitamins, as dog’s bodies are not equipped to process them. Giving your dog over-the-counter vitamins is also not recommended. While in most cases they will not be helpful, they may also cause harm.
A good way to ensure that your dog gets a proper vitamin intake is to give them a multivitamin chew. These are a safe option. But if you are thinking of giving your dog a specific vitamin, you should understand that there are risks associated. Excess calcium, for example, can cause skeletal problems. Excess in vitamin A can cause dehydration or harm to blood vessels. Some vitamin supplements may interact with certain medications, and others can trigger allergies.
A Proper Nutrition Plan
The best way to ensure that your dog is getting all the nutrients he needs is to establish a proper nutrition plan. Consider the following factors:
- Lifestyle: is your dog very active or does it spend most of its time indoors? Is it in contact with other dogs? (this is especially important because in some cases, diseases can rapidly spread if your dog’s immune system is not strong).
- Breed: Each dog breed requires a different diet. Some of them lack fatty acids and some of them may be more prone to autoimmune disease. Ask a professional for the best diet options for your specific breed.
- Size and Age: puppies should not be fed in the same way as adult dogs. Bigger dogs require feeding formulas that are rich in certain nutrients that can be harmful to small dogs. Senior dogs may require more supplements, as they face more health problems.
Additional vitamins may be needed if you have chosen to feed your dog homemade food. Essentially, dogs need six types of nutrients: carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, water, protein, and fats. Most commercial brands provide a good balance. If you choose homemade food, it is important to make sure that you are not leaving any nutrients out.
How to Know if Your Dog Lacks Vitamins
Paying attention to your dog’s behavior, mood and eating patterns is the only way to determine if they are lacking specific nutrients. Sudden behavior changes can signal important health issues and they should always be discussed with your veterinary. If a dog suddenly stops eating, or if it seems way hungrier, there might be a problem with their diet. While in some cases they may need a specific supplement, it can also mean that they have developed a food allergy. If this is the case, it is important to change their diet.
Dogs that seem overly tired may be suffering from lack of nutrients, and anxious behaviors can also signal a problem with nutrient balance. A healthy dog is normally active and responsive so if there are changes in these two aspects, it is important to consult with their vet.
When Can Vitamins be Prescribed?
A vet may prescribe a vitamin supplement in specific cases. Usually, these are: while recovering from surgery or disease; or to help senior dogs with certain conditions. If vitamins or other supplements have been prescribed for your dog, it is a good idea to keep a journal of important changes and reactions and let your vet know if you believe that there is any cause for concern. Ask your vet for a list of what to observe when introducing a new supplement or when changing your dog’s diet. Some symptoms may be easily confused or overlooked, and cause a potentially life-threatening problem.
A dog that has dealt with parasite infestation may need supplements because parasites feed on their blood and can cause imbalances. Keeping your dog groomed and clean is the best way to prevent parasites. There are several types of parasite prevention products that help keep your dog healthy and happy.
If you have any reason to believe that your dog needs a vitamin supplement, talk to your vet and determine the best course of action.