I am frequently asked, ‘What supplements should I give my dog to maintain good health and which should I give to support a specific health issue?’ So this month, I am going to suggest helpful vitamins and supplements you can offer your dogs that are safe for daily use and those that are beneficial for supporting specific health conditions.
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Vitamins come in two categories. These are water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins.
Water Soluble Vitamins
Water-soluble vitamins are easily flushed from the body and oftentimes need to be given twice daily for the best results. Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C and B vitamins. It is hard to overdose on these vitamins, however, if you give too much vitamin C without building to bowel tolerance, it can cause diarrhea. B vitamins can cause the urine to be bright yellow in color. However, overall, they are very safe and can be given to your dog daily.
B Vitamins help with nerve development, help maintain kidney function, support healthy muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract and support the eyes and the skin. B vitamins include B-1 (thiamin), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (niacin and niacinamide), B-6 (pyridoxine), B-12 (cobalamin), folic acid, pantothenic acid, biotin, choline, inositol and PABA. These vitamins need to work together and therefore work best in the body if they are all given as a vitamin B complex as opposed to giving just one or two of the B group of vitamins separately. B vitamins are found in meat, poultry, fish, organ meat, eggs, and leafy green vegetables.
B Complex vitamins should be given in the following dosages:
0 – 25 lbs: 25 mg daily
25 – 50 lbs: 25 – 50 mg daily
50 – 75 lbs: 50 – 100 mg daily
75 – 100 lbs: 75 to 150 mg daily
Offering Vitamin C with bioflavonoid is very important. Bioflavonoids help with the uptake of vitamin C and add to vitamin C’s antioxidant value. Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant and immune builder, and it has many functions. It helps support the immune system, helps with collagen building (present in connective tissue), supports capillary repair and adrenal gland functioning. Additionally, it stimulates the production of lymphocytes, fights bacteria and viruses, enhances the ability of chemotherapy drugs, helps prevent high blood pressure and serum cholesterol, supports the production of anti-stress hormones and aids in the healing of wounds. Vitamin C also helps with allergy issues as it acts as a natural antihistamine.
While dogs produce some vitamin C, it is often not enough for dogs living with the daily stress of pollution, low physical activity, illness, and those involved in performance training. Higher doses have also been shown to help with pain relief and immunity.
Because Vitamin C is water soluble, it is flushed from the body quickly. Therefore, it is important to give this supplement with each meal or at least twice daily. Foods that are high in vitamin C include broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, cabbage, parsley, pineapple, strawberries, spinach, turnip greens and collard greens.
There are several types of vitamin C, but the most common is the calcium ascorbate type, as it is buffered and easier on the digestive tract.
Bioflavonoids, which are not exactly a vitamin, are found in the rinds of citrus fruits and are an antioxidant. When taken with vitamin C, they help with the uptake and absorption of the vitamin. They help strengthen capillary walls, help with hemorrhages and prevent bruising. They are also shown to be helpful with inflammatory conditions and arthritis. Bioflavonoids may also be helpful in the treatment and prevention of cataracts. All forms of vitamin C are useful and beneficial, but make sure the type you use has bioflavonoids so you can offer the full benefit of the vitamin C.
Vitamin C should be given in the following minimum dosages:
0 – 25 lbs: 100 – 250 mg daily
25 – 50 lbs: 250 – 500 mg daily
50 – 75 lbs: 500 – 1,000 mg daily
75 – 100 lbs: 1,000 – 2,000 mg daily
Fat Soluble Vitamins
Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the fat in the body and have a longer ‘life’ in the body. They are not easily flushed from the body like water-soluble vitamins are and the recommended dosages are generally smaller than water-soluble vitamins. Because these vitamins are stored in the body’s fat, it is possible to overdose your dog on these vitamins, so the dosage given is very important. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamin A, D and E.
Vitamin A is believed to help fight respiratory infections and keep the body’s tissues healthy. It is considered to have antioxidant properties, helps maintain good eye function and promotes good reproduction and healthy skin. There are two types of vitamin A. The first type is found in animal sources and is called active vitamin A. An example of active vitamin A is cod liver oil. The second type is beta-carotene, which is found in plant sources. There has not been enough research done with dogs to show the value of beta-carotene, but both types are considered helpful. Good food sources of active vitamin A are found in beef, chicken liver, eggs and dairy products.
Generally, the food sources that contain vitamin A are rich enough that supplementation is not necessary; however, more may be added for immunity purposes, respiratory problems, ulcers, skin issues and cancer prevention. I would not exceed the recommended dosages, which are as follows:
Small dogs: 1,000 IUs daily
Medium dogs: 2,500 IUs daily
Large dogs: No more than 5,000 IUs daily
Vitamin D is also considered a hormone. It is not only found in food, but also sunlight. It helps with the metabolism of calcium and phosphorus in the body by increasing absorption of these in the intestines. A deficiency of this vitamin in puppies can result in rickets, stunted growth, delayed tooth development and bone deformities. While sunlight provides some vitamin D, it isn’t always enough. Some food sources that contain vitamin D include fatty saltwater fish, fish liver oils and fortified dairy products.
The daily intake for dogs is:
Small dogs: 100 IU daily
Medium dogs: 200 IU daily
Large dogs: 400 IU daily
Vitamin E is an antioxidant and an anti-carcinogen. It helps protect vitamin C and vitamin A from oxidation. It helps circulation, arthritis, the healing of wounds, supports normal functioning of the nervous system, prevents cell damage, improves athletic performance and may prevent aging. It also works synergistically with omega 3 fatty acids (as found in fish oils), so you want to make sure vitamin E is given with omega 3 fish oils.
The minimum dosages for Vitamin E are:
0 – 25 lbs: 50 – 100 IUs daily
25 – 50 lbs: 100 – 200 IUs daily
50 – 75 lbs: 400 IUs daily
75 – 100 lbs: 400 – 800 IUs daily
CoQ10 is a fat soluble, ‘vitamin-like’ substance that is an antioxidant. It is found primarily in meat and fish. It helps protect the heart and protects against periodontal disease and cancer. Dogs have the ability to produce CoQ10, but as they age, this production lessens. Studies in rats have been shown to increase lifespan.
The dosage for CoQ10 is 2mgs per pound of pound of weight daily.
Many dogs on dry or processed foods are missing two vital ingredients in their daily diet. These are probiotics and enzymes. Probiotics are the good, flora and fauna friendly bacteria needed for proper and healthy digestion. Enzymes are needed to help breakdown and process fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Heat over 110 degrees kills both probiotics and enzymes. During the process of making commercial kibble foods, the ingredients are subject to very high temperatures during the cooking and extrusion process. Therefore, if you feed dry or processed foods, it is important to add these supplements to your dog’s daily diet. For those feeding a fresh food diet or a mixture of fresh and dry foods, probiotics and enzymes are in the uncooked foods.
Good bacteria include acidophilus (lactobacillus acidophilus) and lactobacillus bifidus. These are also contained naturally in buttermilk, yogurt, acidophilus milk, kefir and some cheeses. Acidophilus may be helpful in detoxifying harmful substances as it has an antibacterial effect and antifungal properties. It also aids digestion and helps with the absorption of nutrients. Berte’s Ultra Probiotic Powder contains lactobacillus, streptococcus faecium, bacillus subtilis and amylase, protease and lipase.
Enzymes are needed for digesting food, aids in the repair of tissue and support all body functions. While the body can make its own enzymes, it must also get them from food. As stated above, heat destroys many enzymes, so they must be obtained from raw foods, and for dogs, particularly raw vegetables and raw meat. Enzymes help to construct new muscle tissue, nerve cells, bone and skin. They also promote oxidation and convert poisons and toxins in the body into harmless substances. The three types of enzymes in the body are amylase, protease and lipase. Amylase helps with breakdown of carbohydrates, protease with proteins and lipase with fat digestion. Unripe papayas and pineapples are high in proteolytic enzymes, which work on proteins. Other enzymes besides these for proteins are pepsin, trypsin, rennin, pancreatin and chymostrypsin. Proteolytic enzymes are good for reducing inflammation, helping with diseases of the respiratory tract, bronchitis, pneumonia, viral diseases, cancer and arthritis. Bromelain, the enzyme from pineapple, is also helpful for the proper uptake of other supplements.
L-Glutamine is an amino acid that has many wonderful properties. It helps heal the intestinal tract lining and increase muscle mass. Used daily, this amino acid can help stop inflammation and irritation in the gut due to IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease), IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and colitis.
The dosage for L-Glutamine is approximately 500 mg per 25 lbs of body weight one or twice daily.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Supplementing with omega 3 essential fatty acids is very important as it supports many different bodily functions. It helps regulate blood pressure and muscle contractions, supports reproductive health, the heart, and blood clotting. It also helps reduce inflammation and offers protection against some cancers, as cancer cells cannot feed on omega 3 fatty acids.
Supplements for Daily Use – Healthy Dogs
A good prevention supplement that you can feed daily can be found in the Berte’s Daily Blend vitamins. It contains vitamin C, E, B vitamins, D and A, and it has kelp and alfalfa. Along with this supplement, offering EPA fish oil capsules at 1000 mg per 20 pounds of body weight daily is very beneficial. If your dog experiences some stress from traveling, dog shows, performance work, etc., the Berte’s Immune Blend formula may be more beneficial in meeting your dog’s needs. The Berte’s Immune Blend has all the same ingredients as the Berte’s Daily Blend, less the kelp and alfalfa, but is also contains both digestive enzymes and probiotics.
With the high processing protocol of commercial kibbles, many of the nutrients your dog needs are lost in the process. Adding the vitamins and omega 3 essential fatty acids assures your dog is getting the vitamins and omega 3 it needs to maintain good health. Even if you are feeding a fresh food diet, the boost of these supplements is beneficial.
Supplements for Specific to Health Conditions
Arthritis and Joint Problems
Bladder and Kidney Infections
Dermatitis (flaking skin, itching and hair loss)
Tasha's Skin and Hair Support (no longer available, please use Animals’ Apawthecary Spring Tonic instead)
Ear Infections (yeast)
L-Taurine (also found in meat)
Herbs such as skullcap are also very beneficial, as found inEasy Does It
Vitamin C with bioflavonoid,given often throughout the day
Echinacea and Goldenseal tincture, given three times a day
Tasha's Traveler Tummy Formula(contains Ginger and more)
(See July 2004 Newsletter for more information on diet)
We hope you find this newsletter helpful. Adding vitamins and supplements to your dog’s daily diet can be helpful in maintaining good health and supporting specific health issues.
Spring brings a new beginning. Now is a great time to get your dogs on a good solid healthy regiment. This includes a good diet with proper supplementation and lots of exercise and sunshine. B-Naturals carries just about anything you need to help keep your dogs healthy and get them through many of their common health issues.
Enjoy the warm air, spring flowers and all the new beginnings that Spring brings!