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B vitamins make up a group of key nutrients that should be part of your dog's daily diet for optimal nutrition to fuel your dog's healthiest life.
B vitamins from from fresh whole foods can be excellent sources and make for a fantastic addition to many processed diets (as well as a very easy addition).
Let's dive into the 7 essential B complex vitamins for dogs and how they support your dog's health.
What are the B vitamins?
There are 7 vitamins in the vitamin B complex classification:
- Thiamine (B1)
- Riboflavin (B2)
- Niacin (B3)
- Pantothenic Acid (B5)
- Pyridoxine (B6)
- Folate (B9)
- Cobalamin (b12)
Choline is often lumped together with the others as a B complex vitamin, but the function of choline is quite a bit different. However, we will still cover choline in this section and we will also touch on Biotin here as well.
What the B vitamins do for our dogs
The B vitamins in your dog's diet are used heavily in energy metabolism and nutrient metabolism. Because almost everything requires energy, vitamin B in dogs is intertwined with many processes in the body. While energy metabolism is certainly a primary role, each B vitamin often has unique, individual functions and therapeutic uses.
B vitamins help the body metabolize fatty acids/fats and protein. They're necessary for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and help protect against liver disease. They also help the nervous system function properly and play an important role in maintaining nervous system health. All B vitamins are water soluble, meaning a dog's body does not store them - and why they're recommended daily.
Supplementing vitamin B in dogs
B vitamin supplementation is essential for many dogs depending on their diet, age, and health. Many diets are deficient of B vitamins, especially if they’re processed rather than fresh. The 7 B complex vitamin group overall plays a critical role in metabolism, with each vitamin having unique functions and therapeutic uses.
To ensure that your dog is getting enough of these essential vitamins, look for nutritional supplements containing a vitamin B supplement or foods with naturally high levels of B vitamins like fresh fruits, vegetables and organ meat.
It’s also important to speak with your veterinarian before starting any vitamin supplementation program. By taking the time to provide your pup with an appropriate vitamin B protocol, you’ll be helping your dog to lead the healthiest life possible both short and long term.
Where can we find B vitamins in foods
These nutrients are easily met in a homemade cooked or raw diet, with the exception of thiamin. It should also be noted that home-cooked diets often require a vitamin B supplement because cooking can reduce their levels significantly, risking vitamin B deficiencies. We will look at which foods provide each of the B vitamins as we focus on them separately in the following guides.
If you want to get started now, you can jump to the step-by-step guides for each B vitamin below:
Water soluble vitamins, supplementation, & balance
Unlike fat soluble vitamins, the B vitamins are best provided daily as mentioned before, because they are not stored the same way that fat soluble vitamins are. However, some of the B vitamins are “recycled” and the body’s ability to do this requires that all essential nutrients are present in the diet.
While B vitamins do not have toxic levels like the fat soluble vitamins do, it is still a good idea to not over-supplement beyond what is needed (unless there is a disturbance to digestion). It is often said that excess water soluble vitamins are excreted in the urine and so high doses are not of concern. While it's true that they are excreted in the urine, their intake still must go to the gut and the liver.
A too-high intake of certain B vitamins can cause liver and nerve damage. There is also research (for humans) that indicates very high levels of intake can cause disturbances to gene expression. The goal as always in nutrition is finding the right balance to help your dog thrive.
Next up in the Basic Nutrition Channel on Dogly
Or hop over to the Basic Nutrition Channel if you'd like to ask a question in the Community discussion and start any of the other step-by-step guides in Needed Nutrients.
If you ever need more personalized nutrition guidance, please reach out!