A while ago, a friend of mine gave me a bottle of multivitamins. She was selling them for a company that was representing the vitamins as being the very best thing when it came to giving you back all the energy you start to lack in your middle years, and since I’ve been feeling a bit sluggish lately, I decided that I’d give them a try.
A couple of days into this so-called “rejuvenating” experience, my stomach was in knots, I was agitated beyond all belief, and I thought I was going to pass out. A couple of days later, I threw the vitamins away, and I immediately felt better than I did before I started taking them.
Seems as though these “wonder vitamins” were mostly caffeine and sodium. It’s a friggin’ wonder I didn’t die.
So, as I often do, I started wondering about vitamins and dogs. I’ll tell you quite honestly that I’ve been known to give my dogs a multivitamin from time to time, mainly because I just feed them generic dog food (with my veterinarian’s approval). I do worry about their nutrition, and since I only feed “grocery store” food, I did worry about whether my dogs were getting all the nutrition they really needed.
So then, I started wondering, what if I were feeding them premium dog food? How high in vitamins is that stuff? Should I still offer that multivitamin that my vet says is okay? Or should I forego the multivitamin and just assume that my more expensive dog food was getting the job done?
I’m still not sure.
Of course your dog needs vitamins. So do humans. But how much is too much?
The thing with vitamins is that they work to keep your body (and your dog’s body) safe from various toxins. They also work to build muscle, make foods easy to digest, and ensure a healthy coat.
But not all vitamins do the same thing. Vitamins target specific functions within the body. And your dog’s body is very different from yours.
Think of it this way: most dogs are smaller than most humans. So the vitamin levels that work for us might not work for our dogs. Most of the time, unless you have a dog that’s very similar in body size to that of the average human, if you give your dog human vitamins, you’re probably giving him way too much.
What this means is that giving human vitamins to dogs could lead to toxicity. If you want to continue thinking about it in human terms, you probably wouldn’t give a child a vitamin dose that was more appropriate for an adult, so you shouldn’t give it to your dog.
Honestly, it’s kind of hard to say. There might be circumstances when it makes sense to give your dog vitamins, and others where it doesn’t. Most of the time, you should only administer vitamins to your dog if he’s somehow deficient in certain vitamins. If you want to get your dog up to the point where he’s got enough of a certain vitamin, that’s fine. If he really doesn’t need it in the first place, why would you?
Most of the time, if you’re feeding your dog a high-quality dog food, then vitamin supplements aren’t necessary.
A good dog food should already contain all the nutrients that your dog needs. If you add a supplement on top of that, you’re running the risk of giving your dog too much in the way of vitamins.
As I just said, I have pretty much always fed generic dog food, which can, of course, be low in some vitamins. I’ve never added a vitamin supplement, though, without veterinary approval.
What I’m saying is that I’ve never made it guesswork; if my vet says I’m feeding properly, but a multivitamin might be a good idea, then I give it. If it’s not a good idea, then I don’t.
Sometimes, of course, it’s what gives you peace of mind. I always feel good when I listen to my vet. It’s not like we never disagree, but when it comes to the wellbeing of my dogs, I do trust my vet. Because of that, I don’t exactly consider human vitamins for my dogs to be a good thing.
I think my opinion on this is, “When in doubt, don’t.” That means that I am not onside with human vitamins for dogs, because my vet is not 100% onside with them. Sometimes, your dog might benefit from some extra vitamins. But if you’re not sure which vitamins they are, and if you’re not sure that the benefits will outweigh the disadvantages, just don’t do it.
It’s easy enough to pick up a multivitamin at your pharmacy, and think that you’re doing a good thing for yourself. Maybe you are. But don’t bring your dog into the equation; his metabolism is very different from yours. It’s better not to take the chance.