Not all vitamins are created equal
Have you ever walked into a pet store or health food store and felt completely overwhelmed? When it comes to essential supplements such as minerals, vitamins, omega oils and probiotics, choosing the right product can be daunting.
Today, I would like to focus on vitamins because, while most people understand their importance, there are still many misconceptions. I hope you will find the following list helpful for choosing the right product for your dog.
Here are 10 things you should know about vitamins for dogs
1. There is a difference between synthetic vitamins and those found in food. Most people are unaware that unless marked otherwise, vitamins are made chemically from crude oil and coal. They are a mock version of food-based vitamins. It is true that synthetic vitamins may correct major problems, but the body does not process them the same as natural vitamins. They can cause stomach upsets and can be easily overdosed.
2. It would be impossible to make vitamin supplements solely from plants and fruits. The cost would be very prohibitive and the product would likely be incomplete. The pile of food that is needed to make one jar of multivitamins would be huge.
3. Naturally cultured vitamins are a reasonable compromise. They fall into the whole food category because they are cultured on a probiotic media. This process bounds these vitamins into bio-proteins, and the body recognizes them as food. They are unlikely to cause stomach upsets or overdose.
4. No one can really say with absolute certainty how much of each vitamin each dog needs. The recommended doses are just an estimate. Offering a broad-spectrum, naturally-cultured multivitamin is the most reasonable solution. Remember, nature never gives an exact amount of vitamins. The mantra here is abundance and variety, but not excess.
5. Nutrient soil depletion is a serious problem. Food is transported long distances and minerals and nutrients do not return to the soil. Some people mistakenly believe that feeding healthy raw or cooked food is enough. This statement may be true in the zero waste natural system of the Serengeti, but not in real life. Even if dogs were fed meat from animals that are raised in a pasture, they can’t roam freely to get a balanced diet. Why? Because different areas have different nutrient and mineral content.
6. Vitamin manufacturing is one of the best-kept secrets of many supplement companies. Most people do not realize that a vast majority of synthetic vitamins are made in China. Most of us understand that products made in China are often lower quality.
7. Vitamins work the best when the body has a good source of minerals, amino acids and omega oils. Without these building blocks, the vitamin's effect will be greatly reduced.
8. Mega doses of synthetic vitamins can be toxic and cause side effects. Especially fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K can cause serious problems because they can’t be easily eliminated, unlike water-soluble vitamins such as C and B complex.
9. Smaller dogs have higher vitamin requirements because of their higher metabolic rate.
10. Plastic packaging exposes vitamins to toxic chemical residues. Choose certified organic vitamins packaged in glass whenever possible.
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM