Supplements and Vitamins for Dogs and Cats How Supplements Can Add to Your Pet's Healthy Diet

Vitamins for dogs
expert or vet photo
vet verified Dr. Joseph J. Wakshlag, DVM Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Ithaca, NY

Are supplements and vitamins for dogs and cats necessary for feline and canine health? Find out what they do and if your pet could benefit.

There is little doubt that supplements and vitamins are wonderful for people. So, what about supplements and vitamins for dogs and cats? Are they something that you, as a pet owner, should consider for your animals? Do they work for pets in the same way that they work for people?

Are Vitamins for Dogs and Cats Necessary?

These questions and many others probably put you in a situation where you might wonder why your cats or dogs need supplements. Animals experience many of the same diseases and ailments that people experience, especially as they age. Many pet parents wonder what ingredients should be in cat food and dog food, which not only provide required nutrition but also help in health development over the years. 

Vitamins like Vitamin C and Vitamin A are considered essential for helping to support a healthy immune system in a person. Are these vitamins requirements the same for an animal? The answer is probably yes. Vitamins impact the growth and development of animals in much the same way that they do in people.

A healthy diet, including good and nutritious pet food, will generally supply the vitamins necessary for a dog or cat as they grow. Though just like people, pets might require additional vitamins or supplements as they age or during pregnancy or catch any of the illnesses.

Most commonly recommended supplements for pets can help maintain good health throughout each stage of life. Pets that are fed an entirely homemade diet can lack essential nutrients, which are more readily available in commercial pet foods. Moreover, these vitamins and supplements are extremely beneficial for your pet’s overall health, especially the joints. With age, joints become weak and fragile, making it difficult for your pet to walk properly. Using Dasuquin for dogs and cats can help relieve this problem and enable them to stand on their feet firmly over the years. If you are among the pet parents who are hesitant to take medicines, then you can try joint supplements for dogs for stronger joints. 

These animals should be given multivitamins on a daily basis. Talk to your veterinarian about finding the right multivitamin. Many pet parents prefer to buy over-the-counter pet food products in the current market scenario. However, if your dog has been on a homemade diet, he’d probably need different amounts of essential vitamins.

Moreover, the market has no dearth of dog and cat food brands. Filtering out the genuine supplier can be a real challenge, especially when many take pride in making false claims. 

Supplements for Working Dogs

As per some veterinarians, you should give essential nutrition to your active or working dog because of the amount of energy consumed during their job. Extra nutrients in the form of vitamins and supplements, which have added antioxidants, are known to reduce any muscle strain during work.

A working dog can be placed under extreme stress, especially endurance sled dogs or guard dogs. These pets should be treated like highly trained athletes, and supplements designed to support muscle function may work well for them.

Moreover, choosing the best vitamin supplements will give you and your pet positive effects, helping your lovely pet to stay healthy and happy.

Canned dog food is often thought of as a last option for picky dogs or dogs with special dietary needs. If your dog needs medicine, you can hide the taste of it in canned dog food. The great thing about this is that the food acts as a vehicle for delivering medicine to your dog. This makes it much easier for them to take their medication and get better. 

Supplements for Optimum Health

Vitamin B and fatty acids help to build healthy skin and coat. A dog with a dull coat or flaky skin may be an indication of skin diseases. Such dogs could benefit from a fish oil supplement or any supplement with polyunsaturated fatty acids. 

Vitamin A, which is found in many protein sources like liver and dairy products, is the chief protector of your pet’s vision. While most pets' foods will contain enough, a lack of vitamin A can lead to vision problems, including night blindness. Skin and hair are also damaged by the insufficiency of this vitamin. If you're concerned about your pet's vitamin A intake, talk to your vet about adding a supplement.

Be sure to seek the advice of your vet, as too much vitamin A can result in coat and bone issues. Giving complete, high-quality dog food is not usually necessary unless your dog is getting most of its diet from table foods or treats. For pets suffering from liver problems, a supplement like Denamarin for dogs can be extremely helpful. Being a pet parent, you should not underestimate the potential of natural pet foods like chicken food which is not only loaded with protein but also free from any additives. 

Vitamins and Supplements for Senior Pets

With age, pets will need a higher quantity of vitamins and supplements, just like human beings. Moreover, dogs, cats, and other pets can suffer from arthritis with age. Glucosamine supplements may decrease the discomfort caused by arthritis and support joint health in both people as well as animals.

Many veterinarians recommend a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin to preserve and lubricate aging joints. Along with these targeted supplements, a multivitamin, and mineral supplement can help preserve health and increase comfort in an aging pet.

If you are facing frequent issues regarding your pet’s health, consider giving him/her a daily multivitamin. Though choosing the right vitamin and supplement can be a difficult task considering the number of fake products available in the market. So, it’s in your best interest to consult your veterinarian, who will help you make the right choice on a budget. Also, you can easily get these supplements and vitamins from pet supply stores which are abundant in the market today. 

Furthermore, you can always check the American veterinary medical association website for getting any information related to your pets. They have got everything covered, from essential vaccination for pets, responsible pet ownership, preventive care, tips to keep your pet healthy, and pet medications and prescriptions, among others. 

Lastly, some food and supplements can cause itching and irritation in your lovely pet, leaving both you and them in a state of frustration. However, you can use Atopica for cats and Atopica for dogs which can effectively reduce itching in your pet. It is recommended to take these medicines with your vet’s advice, though. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best supplement for dogs and cats?

It's difficult to say what the best supplement for dogs and cats is, as the ideal supplement varies depending on the individual pet's health, age, and dietary needs. However, some commonly recommended supplements for both dogs and cats include fish oil for joint health and skin health, glucosamine for joint support, and probiotics for digestive health. It's always best to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best supplement regimen for your pet.

What vitamins do cats and dogs need?

Cats, being obligate carnivores, need vitamins A for vision and skin health, B1 for energy metabolism, B12 for red blood cell production and nerve function, D for regulating calcium and phosphorus levels for bone health, and E as an antioxidant. On the other hand, dogs require vitamins A, B complex, C, D, and E, as well as various minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. It's always best to consult with a veterinarian to determine your pet's specific vitamin and mineral needs based on their health, age, and dietary needs.

Can cats and dogs take the same supplements?

Cats and dogs have different nutritional requirements, so they cannot take the same supplements. Supplements formulated for cats may contain different levels of vitamins and minerals that are toxic to dogs and vice versa. It's important to only give supplements that are specifically formulated and recommended for your pet by a veterinarian. Additionally, giving your pet more than the recommended amount of a supplement can be harmful, so it's crucial to follow the dosing instructions carefully.

What vitamin is toxic to cats?

Vitamin D is toxic to cats when taken in high doses. Vitamin D is necessary for the regulation of calcium and phosphorus levels, but too much can lead to an increase in calcium levels, leading to serious health problems such as kidney damage, heart problems, and muscle weakness. Also, Vitamin A toxicity can occur in cats if they receive high doses of the vitamin over an extended period of time. Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity in cats can include bone problems, joint pain, and liver disease. Cats obtain most of the vitamin D and A they need from their diet, and it's important not to give them supplements or multivitamins containing high amounts of vitamin D unless instructed by a veterinarian.

Is it OK to give dogs human multivitamins?

It is generally not recommended to give dogs human multivitamins. Human multivitamins are formulated for human nutritional needs, which are different from those of dogs. Giving your dog a human multivitamin can lead to an imbalance of nutrients, which can be harmful and even toxic. For example, high levels of certain vitamins and minerals, such as iron and vitamin D, can be toxic to dogs. Instead, it's best to provide your dog with a balanced diet that meets its nutritional needs or give them a supplement specifically formulated and recommended by a veterinarian.

More on Pet Nutrition and Supplements

The Benefits of Fish Oil Supplements
What Do I Feed My Adult Dog?
Is Your Cat a Picky Eater?

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis, or treatment by, your veterinarian. It has however been reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Joe, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist and graduate of Cornell University's program for Veterinary Medicine.

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