Vitamins for dogs

Let me tell you the basics of vitamins for dogs.

What are vitamins?

Vitamins are bio-molecules that are required for metabolic processes in all mammals including you and your dog. These processes are the basis of life, without these chemical reactions cells are not able to grow, reproduce, respond or just maintain their structure. In these metabolic reactions a particular vitamin can act as a catalyst (facilitating the chemical reaction as a cofactor; the enzyme's sidekick) or a substrate (taking part in the chemical reaction).

And this already is much more than you need to know. I'll spare you the trouble of getting into the details of these metabolic pathways. That would be way outside the scope of learning how to choose the best dog food. Just continue reading for some fact finding about vitamins for dogs. Which ones are or should be present in his dog food?

Vitamin highlights

These vital molecules can be classified based on their solvability in either fat or water.

Water solvable vitamins for dogs

Water soluble vitamins are absorbed in the small intestines and excess amounts can easily leave the body via the urine. Because these vitamins can't be stored, your dog needs his daily portion of each. The plus side is that toxicity effects are less likely to occur as opposed to the fat solvable ones.

Vitamin B complex

There is no single one substance vitamin B but a whole range of chemical compounds that have been given a number for easy pronunciation.

  • B-1 (Thiamin)
    Required in carbohydrate and protein metabolism. Thiamin deficiency can result in heart and nerve disease.
  • B-2 (Riboflavin, also known as vitamin G)
    Used in skin and hair cells.
  • B-3 (Niacin, also known as vitamin PP)
    Essential to the nervous system and required in processes that convert dog food to energy. Deficiencies can lead to ulcerations in the oral cavity.
  • B-5 (Panthothenic acid)
    For maintenance of proper blood sugar levels and formation of certain hormones and nerve-regulating substances.
  • B-6 (Pyridoxine)
    Required for nerves and involved in protein metabolism.
  • B-7 (Biotin, also known as vitamin H)
    For healthy skin and hair. Deficiencies are rare, but can be induced by long-term use of oral antibiotics.
  • B-9 (Folic acid, also known as vitamin M)
    Essential for growth and health of unborn puppies.
  • B-12 (Cyanocobalamin)
    Essential for red blood cell development and function.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)

Vitamin C has anti-oxidative functions. Unlike you, your dog is capable of synthesizing this essential compound in his liver (find some more differences between you and your canine companion).

girl with Labrador Retriever dog

Fat solvable vitamins for dogs

As an excess of these cannot be excreted from the body via urine, toxicity levels can be reached more quickly as compared to the water solvable vitamins. The advantage however is that your dog is able to store these vitamins in the liver, so deficiencies on the other hand, are less likely to occur.

Vitamin A (Retinol)

Important for proper vision, normal bone growth and skin renewal. Toxicity: Liver failure.

Vitamin D (Calficerol)

Promotes absorption of calcium and phosphorus and thus helps development of teeth and bones.

Vitamin E (Tocopherol)

Protects against cell oxidation, involved in reproduction and it helps the body use vitamin A.

Vitamin K (Naphthoquinone)

Involved for regulation of blood clotting.

Can be synthesized by bacteria in the intestines of your dog. But only when his intestinal flora is healthy! Deficiencies therefore could occur after prolonged treatment with oral antibiotics. Tip: Supplement your dog with prebiotics or probiotics when this is the case.

In general the likelihood of vitamin toxicity is very low unless you're feeding these in concentrated supplements. In complete and balanced dog food, the correct amounts are present leaving no need for supplementation.

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