From Pet Health Learning Center
Dog Vitamins (Canine Supplements)
Signs and Symptoms
In order to be healthy, all dogs require exercise and proper nutrition. A healthy, balanced diet can go a long way toward ensuring health and happiness for your pet. However, just as with humans, a proper diet may not always be enough to ensure optimal nutrition. Generally, vitamins and supplements are required in order to meet all of one's nutritional needs and to boost physiological function. This is why dog vitamins are important; they augment a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle to provide your pet with the best level of health attainable.
While almost all dogs will benefit from some form of vitamin or nutritional supplement, there are situations where dog vitamins are actually required in order to prevent or treat ill health. If your pet is suffering from malnutrition, or at least isn't quite receiving the optimal amounts of vitamins and minerals, its health could be in jeopardy. Malnutrition weakens your dog's system and makes it more susceptible to illness and disease. For this reason, it's important for pet owners to be aware of potential signs of improper nutrition so the situation can be dealt with quickly, before your dog suffers from too many consequences.
While deficiencies of different vitamins may manifest themselves through various sets of symptoms, there are some general warning signs that pet owners can watch out for. For example, a common effect of poor nutrition in canines is lethargy and listlessness. If your dog seems more tired than usual and does not display its usual interest in exercise and daily activities, this could be a sign that he or she is not receiving sufficient vitamins. Dogs suffering from poor nutrition also often develop skin problems and experience changes in their coats. Fur may lose its usual shine, appearing dull and lifeless. It may also take on a dry, coarse texture.
If your pet is displaying any of the above symptoms, it may be suffering from a lack of vitamins and proper nutrition. If you observe any of these warning signs, contact your veterinarian immediately. This is vital because these symptoms are also characteristic of several canine illnesses and, even if vitamin deficiency is the problem, there may be an underlying illness that is causing the deficiency. Therefore, it's important that your pet be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
When examining a dog displaying any of the above symptoms, a veterinarian will need to speak to you, as the pet owner, about the animal's home life. Providing information about the warning signs and behaviors you have observed at home as well as your pet's diet and eating habits will help the veterinary doctor to determine what is going on with your dog. The practitioner will then conduct a physical exam, checking for any additional signs or symptoms that could point to vitamin deficiency or another condition that gives rise to similar symptoms and behaviors.
Blood tests can be helpful with regards to identifying the specific vitamin or substance that is deficient in your dog's system. For example, where vitamin D deficiency is suspected, the patient's blood can be tested for levels of vitamin D by-products. Similarly, other vitamin deficiencies can be identified by low levels of the actual vitamin in the blood or by reduced amounts of the vitamin's by-products in the blood or urine.
Many illnesses and medical conditions that plague canines can cause vitamin and other nutritional deficiencies that further harm your pet's health and well-being. As a result, it's important to rule out any such medical conditions through clinical signs and testing. If an underlying condition is identified, this will need to be treated in addition to the vitamin deficiency. In circumstances where the problem is purely nutritional, your veterinarian can help you develop a treatment plan that will quickly and effectively address the particular deficiency that is affecting your pet.
Vitamins are organic nutrients that are required by a canine's body in order for its physiological functions to be properly and effectively carried out. In fact, there are fourteen different vitamins that are essential to the body's function. While vitamins do not share any particular chemical structure, they can be classified into two categories -- water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins. This first category includes nutrients such as the B vitamins, vitamin C, niacin, and folic acid. The latter category, on the other hand, is made up of vitamins A, D, E, and K. These categorizations have an effect on what happens to these substances when large amounts are ingested.
For instance, in the case of water-soluble vitamins, when the amount of such vitamins in the body increases, so do the amounts removed from the body through the urine. As a result, this type of vitamin generally will not accumulate in the body except in a very limited fashion. Contrary to this category of nutrients, fat-soluble vitamins are not well excreted by the kidneys and therefore are able to build up in a dog's system. This is important to note because excessive levels of fat-soluble vitamins can actually have a detrimental and toxic effect upon the canine's body.
All fourteen nutrients have important roles to play with respect to a dog's physiology. Different vitamins are involved in different functions and pathways. Some water-soluble vitamins act as coenzymes and participate in chemical reactions, some of which result in the release of energy from molecules. Vitamin D, a fat-soluble nutrient, plays an important role in the absorption of calcium in the intestines while vitamin E is an antioxidant and combats free radicals which have a toxic effect upon a dog's system. As result, it's clear that vitamins are an essential component of many physiological pathways and functions. Yet, it's important to remember that excessive amounts of some vitamins can actually have a very detrimental effect upon your pet's health.
Canine vitamin deficiencies can be caused by a variety of factors. One of the most simple and common causes is a poor or unbalanced diet. Dogs that are not properly cared for and that do not receive sufficient amounts or proper types of food often suffer from malnutrition and a lack of essential vitamins. However, even dogs that live with caring and well-intentioned families can suffer from vitamin deficiencies resulting from dietary problems. Homemade diets that are not accompanied by nutritional supplements can often lead to deficiencies, as can diets that draw mostly from one source of food. For instance, diets based on only beef and rice may not provide sufficient nutrition for your pet. Furthermore, while many pet foods contain extra vitamins, these substances are not always present in the most readily absorbable forms and, therefore, your pet may not enjoy as much benefit from these foods as you might think.
Other factors that can contribute to vitamin deficiencies include your dog's age, genetics, and breed. Puppies and elderly dogs may require different amounts of different vitamins, and if their diets do not fulfill these needs, a deficiency may arise. Furthermore, some breeds require higher levels of certain vitamins and minerals that may not be easy to obtain through a typical balanced diet. For example, Huskies often require higher levels of zinc than other types of dogs. As result, a dog's diet needs to take into account food sources, the dog's age and size, and the dog's breed.
In addition to the contributing factors listed above, other medical conditions can cause vitamin deficiencies. For instance, an infection of parasitic worms, such as hookworms, can cause malnutrition by disrupting a dog's ability to absorb nutrients through the intestines. Other illnesses and conditions can also give rise to vitamin deficiencies and need to be identified and treated along with the nutritional problem in order to restore your pet to health.
Obviously, if a dog's vitamin deficiency is the result of an underlying medical condition or illness, this problem will need to be treated in a way specific to that condition and the dog's circumstances. However, in addition to such treatments, or in cases where diet is the sole contributing factor to the deficiency, dietary adjustments and supplements can be very effective treatment options. If you feed your dog an unbalanced diet that comes from limited food sources, simply providing more balanced meals may be all that is required to boost your dog's health and nutrition. However, in situations where a decent diet is not enough to address your pet's nutritional problems, supplements can be very beneficial.
A number of different nutritional supplements are available specifically for canines. Products made of natural ingredients contain substances that are rich in beneficial vitamins. For example, such a product may contain parsley, nettle, kelp, and oat straw. These ingredients are nutritionally beneficial to dogs as they contain many vitamins, proteins, and minerals. Natural supplements may also include substances such as dandelion, chickweed, and ginseng, which are both nutritious and enhance and improve digestion. Through a combination of these types of ingredients, natural supplements can provide great nutritional support for your beloved pet.
However, since excessive amounts of certain vitamins can be toxic to your dog's system, it's always important to consult a veterinarian before administering supplements to your dog. Taking this step will help you to ensure your canine companion's health and well-being. Moreover, input from a veterinarian can help you to achieve optimal treatment and nutrition for your pet, resulting in a happier and healthier dog.