We all know dogs need love, affection, attention, good food, fresh water, shelter, and dog walking and basic grooming. Many dogs also thrive at dog day care. But some canine requirements are not so clear. Does your dog need vitamins and supplements?
Taking vitamin and mineral supplements is de rigueur today for many people and many of us wonder if our dogs should also be given these dietary supplements.
In most cases, when the dog’s diet is good, the simple answer is “no”, and giving these can actually cause more harm than help.
Most dogs eat commercial pet foods, enjoying the same diet day to day. These commercial formulations include all nutrients a dog needs to thrive. While it is true that not all brands are equal, most offer what is needed to meet your dog’s basic needs.
Premium pet food companies formulate their foods from feeding trials, monitoring dogs’ responses when fed certain formulations. Each ingredient is mindfully added. Most pet foods, however, are created from a “one size fits all” policy.
So how do you choose the best pet food for your dog?
• Choose a reputable brand
• Look for a diet based on your dog’s life stage and lifestyle – a puppy has very different dietary needs than an adult or senior dog
• Choose a diet based on your dog’s basic size – feeding amounts suited to your dog’s size and energy level
• Discuss your dog’s diet with your veterinarian
It’s also important to be aware that there are some essential nutrients that can regardless be harmful to dogs if consumed in large amounts:
• Protein, while an important part of Fido’s diet, must come from a source that is easy to digest. Poor quality protein causes metabolic issues and can lead to gastrointestinal upsets.
• Sodium helps regulate blood pressure, aids nerve impulse transmission, and keeps the body in balance; it can in excessive amounts damage the heart, kidneys, and nervous system, as well as causing dehydration.
• Vitamin D is large amounts can increase blood calcium levels.
• Calcium and Phosphorus in excess can kill a dog, contribute to kidney disease, and impact bone formation.
• Magnesium in excess can impact poorly on the kidneys, bladder, heart, lungs, and nervous system.
Your vet may recommend certain supplements depending on your own individual dog, or they may prescribe a special diet. If so, it is important to follow their advice. For example, older dogs with arthritis are commonly prescribes supplements of glucosamine and chondroitin to help lubricate and protect the joints. Be guided by the professionals and your dog will enjoy a healthier life.