Are multi-vitamins for dogs necessary?  Even though humans use multi-vitamins on a daily basis, dog owners may ask why they should give vitamins to their dog, especially if they are found in commercial dog food.

If you feed a quality dog food, there may not be need to give your pet a vitamin supplement unless it is suffering from some disease that prevents it from absorbing these vitamins normally.  However, if the dog is ill, or if it is feed table scraps, or eating a poor quality dog food, then vitamin supplementation is a good idea.

Ill or recovering pets that may have a poor appetite should also be given a good vitamin/mineral supplement since they are not receiving their daily requirements through the food they eat.

Other situations for dogs like stress from travel, showing, training, hunting, breeding, lactation can also utilize vitamin supplementation.

Vitamins are necessary for literally tens of thousands of different chemical reactions in the body.  They often work in conjunction with minerals and enzymes to assure normal digestion, reproduction, muscle and bone growth and function, healthy skin and hair, clotting of blood and the use of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates by the body.

Older animals tend to absorb fewer vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes through the intestinal tract, and lose more of them through the kidneys and urinary tract.  In addition, some older animals eat less (due to conditions such as oral disease) and may not receive their daily needs of vitamins and minerals.

Another issue is whether the commercial dog food actually has the vitamins still present in them after manufacturing and storage.  Manufacturing of dog food usually involves a heating process that can destroy vitamins.  Storage conditions can also reduce the vitamin levels in dog foods.

Organic dog foods are also susceptible to these issues and unfortunately, the fresh foods that we eat today do not have the same nutritional benefits as the foods grown 50 years ago.  This may be partially because the soils on North American farms and free range have been depleted of over 85 percent of their natural minerals.

While there are many multi-vitamins on the market, it may be difficult to choose one.  Talk with your veterinarian to determine which vitamins may be beneficial for your dog.  It is important for multi-vitamins to contain essential vitamins including Vitamin A, B-complex, D, and E.  The vitamin should also be palatable.  Adult Maintenance Plus by VetsPrefer is a great example of a scientifically balanced formula of essential vitamins, chelated minerals, and fatty acids which also includes Probios.  They are also very palatable, making it easy for the dog to get its required vitamins. You should also consider using an oral health supplement such as Greenies Dental Chews to combat things such as bad dog breath and plaque build up.  Whatever your dog’s age or condition, the right vitamin supplementation will help him or her to live the best quality life possible.

When to Use Multi-Vitamins
Older Dog
Poor Quality Commercial Food
Eating Table Scraps

Dr. Dan DuBourdieu

Dr. Dan holds a Ph.D. and M.S. degree from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. from Macalester College.  He has been involved in basic cell biology, biochemistry and immunology research at Hoffmann La Roche Inc., ImmuCell Inc. and other research companies.  He has worked with Bomac Vet-Plus Inc for a number of years doing animal nutrition product research and development.