According to the ASPCA, if your pet is eating a healthful, balanced diet of high-quality food, then pet vitamin supplementation is not necessary. Even pets eating kibble are more likely to suffer from vitamin overdoses (due to the amount manufacturers add to the finished product) than vitamin deficiencies. Give your pets the extra boost they need by feeding them raw vegetables and fruits as treats.
The ASPCA also advises that it is not necessary to supplement unless a specific deficiency is diagnosed by your veterinarian. However, some people subscribe to the view that optimal pet health is more than just avoiding a marked deficiency, and that their pets may benefit from daily supplements. Here are the vitamins that dogs and cats need most, and why:
- Vitamin A: For healthy tissues, inside and out. The best form is from fish oils, like cod-liver, and is beneficial to dogs and cats.
- B Vitamins: Promote growth and aid in healing. B Vitamins are also necessary for fat and protein assimilation, as well as metabolic processes. They are found naturally in eggs, yogurt and kefir (an enzyme-rich yogurt-like product that stimulates digestion and peristalsis).
- Vitamin C: An essential antioxidant that helps eliminate free radicals. Carnivores can produce their own vitamin C, but their need for it increases in stressful situations. The best form for dogs is calcium ascorbate, which is water-soluble and causes the fewest side effects (such as nausea or diarrhea).
- Vitamin E: An essential antioxidant. Promotes healthy circulation in the heart and arteries. It also helps protect the lungs from the effects of pollution. Senior cats especially can benefit from increased vitamin E intake to maintain their immune system responses.
- Probiotics: Just as we need active, "friendly" intestinal flora to help us digest our food, so do dogs. Enhance your pet's diet with active cultures, and treat them to kefir or plain yogurt on occasion. You can give them to your pet 4-7 times a week, to help restore and maintain a healthy digestive tract.