Speak with your vet before using any multivitamins or other supplements.
What is a Dog Multivitamin?
Just like multivitamins for humans, a dog multivitamin supplement is primarily a way to give a dog a complete dose of nutrients that might not be received through the diet, or consumed in adequate amounts through food.
A multivitamin is sometimes used to treat a nutritional deficiency that has been diagnosed by a vet – although, often in these cases a more specific supplement will be used to provide for that particular deficiency.
This is what a multivitamin is not: it’s not a replacement for a quality, balanced diet. Dogs should be receiving a comprehensive nutritional profile through the foods they eat daily. Dogs that are malnourished, for example from previous neglect or abuse, those with specific health problems, older dogs, or dogs who may have other reasons for benefiting from a multivitamin are usually the best candidates. With that said, people with perfectly healthy dogs also have their own reasons for providing a multivit supplement – ideally in conjunction with and with the knowledge of your vet.
Do Dogs Actually Need Multivitamins?
Most dogs get through life fine without taking multivitamins. And they aren’t for all dogs. That’s why it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons before you decide to use a multivitamin supplement.
Dogs who are on a diet of high quality, nutritionally balanced food do not need a multivitamin. In the same way that a human on a balanced diet doesn’t need one to survive.
One of the largest group of people who make use of dog multivitamins is those who prepare home made diets for their dogs. If this is you, you’d be well aware of how much time and attention you pay to ensuring the food you’re preparing meets all of your dog’s nutritional requirements, in the right proportions and quantities, in the same way that quality commercial food does – but without the preservatives, additives and filler ingredients that make up a big reason people prepare home cooked dog food to start with.
That doesn’t mean foregoing the research and effort in providing a balanced home made dog diet – but multivitamins can and do help fill small gaps or provide reassurance that a particular nutrient is being consumed at an adequate amount.
A multivitamin – or any supplement – should never be used in an attempt to treat an undiagnosed medical condition.
What benefits can a multivitamin have for your dog?
- A dog who has been diagnosed with a deficiency of a certain mineral or vitamin can benefit from multivitamin intake
- Dogs on home cooked diets where you want the peace of mind that you’re feeding every required nutrient at suitable quantities as part of a nutritionally complete diet
- Very fussy eaters: dogs who are finicky and picky eaters and whom you have a difficult time getting regular, quality food into can benefit from a multivitamin; however focusing on improving their eating habits is still paramount as a multivitamin is not an alternative to a proper diet.
Which dogs benefit most from using multivitamins?
Dogs with diagnosed osteoarthritis might have a vet recommendation for vitamin E supplementation. This could come in the form of a dedicated vitamin E supplement, or as part of a multivitamin. Your vet would advise on the most appropriate option.
Dogs eating a homemade dog food diet
If you’re preparing a home made diet for your dog then you’ve already done research about what the critical components are: for example, one of the prime considerations is to get a proper balance or ratio of calcium to phosphorus. Most people achieve this by grinding down bones into their home prepared dog food. Another method is to include the shells of eggs.
People who are new to homemade dog diets often feel more comfortable if they include a quality multivitamin – but importantly, if you are including bone or egg shells in your dog meals then choosing a multivitamin product that doesn’t contain calcium or only contains a small amount; as is it important as you do not want to be disrupting your calcium to phosphorus balance. Some of the other vitamins and minerals that have a tendency to become deficient in a homemade diet include vitamins D and E, and the mineral manganese – multivitamins containing these important nutrients can help bring up a home cooked diet up to a more balanced meal.
Can you give your dog a human multivitamin product?
Dogs should not be given human multivitamins. Dogs have their own nutritional requirements and they are not the same as ours. Too much or too little of some vitamins or minerals in a multivitamin made for humans can wreak havoc on a dog’s health – and at worst, be downright dangerous.
There’s no reason to give a human vitamin supplement to a dog, because we have so many canine specific supplements available at prices that rival products made for people.
Giving a Dog a Multivitamin
Chews are the easiest type of multivitamins to give to a dog – most dogs will readily take them and scoff them down without a second thought.
Buddy & Lola Daily Multivit https://www.amazon.com/Buddy-Lola-Multivitamin-Chews-Dogs/ is one such chewable option, designed for both small and large dogs with chews that are both soft and tasty with a beef smell and flavor to them. Essentially, these are delivered just like any other treat but with considerably more nutrition packed into them.
Are There Any Potential Side Effects for a Dog Taking Multivitamins?
Keeping in mind that dietary supplements, including multivitamins, are not regulated in the same way that food is – it becomes obvious that sticking to trusted, proven brands and products is paramount. Side effects that come about as a result of poor quality ingredients, lack of quality control, or worse: contamination with potentially dangerous ingredients, is a risk with any pet product that isn’t manufactured properly.
Additionally, poorly researched products can have too much of particular nutrients in them, leading to health issues that can range from mild to serious. For example, studies have shown that too much omega-3 fatty acid can result in adverse health effects in dogs and cats – in other words: the dosage and quantity of each nutrients is important.
So the first step to reducing the risk of negative effects: only buy trusted brands of pet multivitamins.
A dog who is eating a high quality, balanced diet consisting of all the required nutrients, who then receives a multivitamin, may find themselves taking in excess of particular nutrients; such as too much of a particular vitamin or mineral. Whilst most vitamins and minerals are not harmful when consumed in a moderately higher quantity, some may cause adverse effects. This includes calcium which can actually contribute to skeletal issues if consumed excessively.
Dogs who have too much vitamin A or vitamin D may also be at risk of health complications. This is why it’s important to discuss your dog’s current diet with your vet before starting on a multivitamin.
The best dog vitamin makers are of course very much aware of nutrient profiles and take care to research the very specific quantities of these vitamins and minerals in their products.
Canine Plus Multivitamin Mineral Supplement
Canine Plus Multivitamin made by VetriScience is formulated for all dogs, of any breed and age, and is made up of more than 25 vitamins, minerals and other nutrients like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Although the regular multivitamin by VetriScience is suited for all dogs, they also have a separate more specific multivitamin made for senior dogs which contains specialized ingredients to support aging dogs.
These are chewable tablets with a duck flavor which should be palatable to any dog – reports are that even most normally fussy dogs are happy to eat these chews.
What’s in a Dog Multivitamin?
The exact ingredient content and quantities will of course depend on what multivitamin product you’re looking at. But most of them contain a mostly similar set of ingredients, with sometimes small differences between different brands – while some brands might even be exactly the same. Multivitamin supplements made for senior dogs are an example of where you might see (or at least: should see) a difference in certain ingredients and/or their quantities, so as to cater for the more specific needs of senior dogs.
Since the majority of ingredients in dog multivitamins are seen throughout most products, below I’ve put together a thorough description of what you’ll commonly see in the ingredients list of multivitamins for canines and what potential benefit or purpose that ingredient has based on my research of veterinary opinion, scientific studies and other professional knowledge. The goal is to save you time, as I’ve done the research, AND to give you more confidence in being able to look at a product’s set of ingredients to decide if it is indeed something that will benefit your dog.
Get ready, because multivitamin ingredients list can be very long indeed. It’s not unusual to see 30 or more ingredients in these products (hence why they are called MULTIvitamins!).
Therefore, my list and descriptions alone will also be quite lengthy as I have wanted to cover all bases and go through every ingredient I’ve seen used in these supplements. Where a more obscure or less common ingredient is described, I also note the specific products that it’s found in – but most of the other ones are found in virtually every single dog multivitamin supplement out there (keeping in mind that quantity is often the differing factor between brands – and can make a big difference in the effectiveness of a product).
It’s important to understand the difference between the analysis list of a product, and the ingredients. The ingredients list is what the product is made up of – the analysis is the summary of the nutritional components of these ingredients. What I am focusing on here is the nutritional profile or analysis – the source of these nutritional items may vary between products depending on the ingredients used to supply that vitamin, mineral or other nutrient.
DL-Methionine or Methionine
Pyridoxine (vit B6)
Riboflavin (Vit B2)
Thiamine (Vit B1)
Is it still important to look at the ingredients, and not just rely on the nutritional profile? Absolutely.
If you’re wanting to avoid additives and preservatives, or just particular ingredients, then you’ll want to also pay attention to exactly what a multivitamin is made from. Some products have a very clean, organic and natural set of ingredients from which they supply these nutrients, while others have a much longer ingredient list and might contain items that you might not consider ideal.
So while all multivitamins have an excellent nutritional analysis, your decision then might very well come down to looking at the ingredients and choosing a product that is as natural as possible.