Vitamins are essential to our nutritional needs. The same goes for dog vitamins and cat vitamins. No matter how hard we try, there may be times when our pets need some supplemental nutrients to keep their diets balanced and healthy.
So which vitamins and nutrients do dogs and cats need? Keep reading to learn if your pet needs supplements and which ones are the most beneficial.
We Take Vitamins, Should Our Pets?
One could infer that since we take vitamins to supplement our basic nutritional needs, pets should take them, too. In some cases, that’s true. For humans, some of the most common vitamins used – often found in a multivitamin pill – are vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium. A couple of others are B-12 and iron.
While vitamins can give us our needed dose of nutritional value, the best way to get what our bodies need to function properly is through our diet. The same goes for pets. Their best bet to meet nutritional needs for their health is through their food.
How Do I Know If My Pet Is Deficient in Vitamins?
But there are times when humans and pets can’t get enough nutrients solely from diet alone. That’s where supplements come into play. So how do you know if your pet is deficient in vitamins?
The first thing you will want to consider is your pet’s behavior. Do you notice digestion issues, eating problems, increased tiredness, or excessive thirst? How about more drooling than usual or a sudden weight loss? Is your pet recovering from an injury and may need some dietary help?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions, it may be a good idea to book an appointment with your vet. They can examine your dog or cat and determine the best path to proceed. That path may be dog vitamins or cat vitamins, but it might just be that your pet needs a change of food.
Pro Tip: Find out if you should test your pet for food sensitivity, too.
Should I Give My Dog Any Vitamins?
While it might seem perfectly safe to give your dog the vitamins you think he will need without consulting a vet, pet vitamins aren’t as closely regulated as vitamins for humans. There’s no federal agency like the FDA to regulate what actually goes into dog vitamins and supplements.
And simply giving your dog a human supplement because it works for you isn’t a good idea either. Pets have different needs than we do. So while you think giving your pet any vitamin on the market might be a good idea, you might want to think again.
Dr. Lisa M. Freeman from the American College of Veterinary Nutrition has this to say about pet supplements in general, “The big picture about dietary supplements is, while there are ones that hold promise, however, there are many more that have absolutely no effect or have potential harm.”
What Vitamins Does My Dog Need Daily?
Unless you have spoken with your vet about your dog’s vitamin needs, according to the American College of Veterinary Nutrition, your dog doesn’t need daily vitamins outside of what they get in their dog food. “If your pet is eating a complete and balanced commercially available pet food, supplements are not recommended unless specifically prescribed by your veterinarian.”
The vitamins dogs receive from their food daily include vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and B-complex vitamins. Your furry friend will also get calcium and phosphorus. Again, your dog’s food gives him exactly what he needs on a daily basis.
Just like humans, vitamins play a crucial role in keeping your dog happy and warding off more dangerous illnesses as they grow old or gets sick. And according to the American Kennel Club, these are 6 of the most important vitamins all dogs need:
Vitamin A, found in carrots, helps promote healthy vision. For dogs starting to age, this vitamin proves essential for healthy eyesight. Aside from vision, Vitamin A promotes growth and immune system health.
Vitamin B falls into a variety of types, but each provides a different function. For example, Thiamine can regulate metabolism, while vitamin B6 promotes a healthy nervous system.
Vitamin C acts as a vital antioxidant while detecting harmful particles in the body to destroy. Vitamin C also helps inflammation in older dogs as well.
Vitamin D promotes healthy bones while keeping a good balance of minerals in the body. This is why you’ll catch your dog sunbathing!
Vitamin E provides the body with a boost in fat burning, and if your dog is gaining a bit of weight, can help shed some pounds.
Vitamin K helps blood clot properly.
When Should Dogs Start Taking Vitamins?
If Fido’s vet has told you to start giving him dog vitamins, it doesn’t matter how old he is. It’s time. However, many times, it’s when he is getting older. Your vet may recommend nutritional supplements that help with joint mobility and help prevent other possible age-related issues.
If your furry friend is a young pup, some vets may recommend starting him on a daily vitamin regimen to promote healthy growth and development. Whatever supplements you give, don’t simply guess. Do so because your vet recommended it, not because you think it’s a good idea.
Should I Give Fish Oil to My Dog?
And speaking of good ideas, how about fish oil? Is that a good supplement for your pet? According to the American Kennel Club, fish oil is a great supplement to add to your dog’s diet. It supports heart health, benefits your dog’s coat, and minimizes dry skin. Even more, if Fido has allergies and joint pain, fish oil is a way to combat both of those ailments. It’s even been known to strengthen your pup’s immune system.
So how much fish oil should you give your dog? Time to head to the vet. With each dog being different in breed, size, and weight, the proper amount of fish oil all depends on those factors. And your vet can help you determine how much fish oil and what kind to best benefit him.
Ever wonder? Is a raw cracked egg on your dog’s food good for them? Find out the truth of this hotly debated topic.
What Are the Best Vitamins for Cats?
Now that we’ve got Fido taken care of, what about cat vitamins? Are there specific ones that help promote Simba’s health and wellness?
The Cornell Feline Health Center follows along with what the American College of Veterinary Nutrition has to say about dogs and supplements. “Although your cat needs certain amounts of each specific nutrient to be healthy, more is not always better. This is particularly true of vitamins and minerals, so the use of supplements is usually not necessary if you are feeding a balanced and complete diet.”
The experts at Cornell go on even further to say that giving your cat vitamins and supplements without approval from your vet first could be dangerous. So, just as with your dog, if you are seeing behavioral or physical changes in your cat, make an appointment with your vet. Don’t just start giving your cat vitamins to see what happens.
If Simba eats a properly balanced diet, she should get all the vitamins she needs from her cat food. Those vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12. It should also have thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, folic acid, biotin, and choline. Those all provide a well-balanced diet for all cats.
Pro Tip: Special needs animals may benefit from taking extra vitamins as well.
What Supplements Should I Give My Indoor Cat?
Are you curious if all cats include indoor cats, as well? Don’t indoor cats need additional supplements if they don’t get outside? This is a logical question, especially if you’re thinking about access to the sun and Vitamin D.
However, cats don’t produce Vitamin D like humans do and therefore don’t need the sun like humans. Cats get vitamin D from their food. The main thing to think about when considering supplements for an outdoor cat is calories. Indoor cats don’t need as many calories as they’re not as active as outdoor cats.
While an indoor cat doesn’t necessarily need any supplements, you may want to consider changing its food to match its caloric needs. Just be careful not to give it food with increased vegetable content to decrease the calories. Cats are carnivores, not vegetarians.
Did you know? Indoor cats don’t require all the same vaccines as outdoor cats do.
When Should Cats Take Vitamins?
Knowing when your cat should take vitamins is the same as when your dog should take vitamins. Listen to what your vet has to say about the health of your kitty cat. If it turns out your cat needs to be on a daily vitamin regimen, do so under your vet’s advice.
Cats get older and lose some of their agility as dogs and humans do, but also, like dogs and humans, this isn’t an instant requirement for supplements. As long as you’re feeding Simba a well-balanced diet of all that she needs, and she has not been diagnosed with any problems requiring added nutrients, trust your vet. They only have your cat’s best interest in mind.
Pro Tip: If you’re inclined to feed your cat human foods, here’s why you might want to avoid giving it peanut butter.
Keep Your Pets Healthy With Vitamins and Nutrients
Tread lightly regarding dog and cat vitamins and other nutrients for your pets. Keeping them healthy and active throughout their lives is a must for any good pet parent. Sometimes that means giving them vet-recommended vitamins. Other times that means holding back and letting their food and exercise give them everything they need.
Add a lot of love to that equation, and you’ll have a healthy, happy Fido and Simba.
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