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Many dog owners ask how to make sense of the many vitamins and essential minerals that make up good and balanced dog food.
What are the necessary vitamins and minerals you should be sure are in your dog food and your dog's diet overall to stay healthy?
How much should come from your dog's food and which vitamins and minerals are not easily absorbed or available in food for the needed health benefits for your dog?
And which vitamins and minerals should be given in the form of supplements if they are lacking in your dog food to maintain good health?
Let's take a look at your own dog food to be sure what vitamins and minerals are in your dog's bowl (or might be missing)...
Some vitamins and minerals are often seen listed on the ingredients list of pet foods and can be overlooked by pet parents. These micronutrients are extremely important in pet nutrition for good health though. Not only are they required but many work together (or can compete) in order to fully deliver the nutrient to the dog in the right way (much the way human vitamins behave, sometimes synergistically, sometimes in conflict).
A lot of times certain minerals or vitamins can be missing in DIY raw or homemade diets, or diminished in processing of commercial dog food. Usually iodine, manganese and vitamin D (aka the sunshine vitamin, importantly needed to support calcium for bone growth and strength) or vitamin A can be missing and causing mineral and vitamin deficiencies over time.
Vitamins & minerals for strong dog nutrition for YOUR dog's body
The vitamins & minerals checklist:
I'm showcasing here the lists of required essential vitamins and minerals in a complete and balanced diet as a "cheat sheet" checklist. If you have specific questions on a certain mineral or any or all the vitamins and how they relate to your dog's nutritional needs, please ask me any dog nutrition questions in the Community discussion here in the Basic Nutrition Channel on Dogly.
Required Essential Minerals in a Dog's Diet:
Required Essential Vitamins in a Dog's Diet:
- Niacin (Vitamin B3)
- Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)
- Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)
- Cobalamin ( Vitamin B12)
- Folic Acid
- Vitamin D: SUL present(Safe Upper Level)
- Vitamin A: SUL present (Safe Upper Level)
- Vitamin E
- Vitamins K and Vitamin C are not required but can be useful in certain situations such as cancer, antioxidant support, and diabetes
- Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E & Vitamin K = each is a fat soluble vitamin
- Vitamin B (all the B Vitamins) and Vitamin C = each is a water soluble vitamin
Every essential vitamin and mineral has a role or roles to play in your dog's healthy life, some greater roles than others.
Vitamins and minerals make up many building blocks for our dog’s health overall and contribute to specific areas of the body such as Vitamin A supporting eye health. Therapeutically, there is some use of vitamins or minerals to help with specific conditions such as skin health and antioxidant support or support for the immune system or nervous system function.
But for the most part, every vitamin and mineral is required for basic metabolic processes in order to support all other systems and functions of your dog's healthy life.
How vitamins can support your dog's body
For example, biotin (vitamin B7) is important in metabolism of fats and carbohydrates as well as protein synthesis. It also affects gene expression and cell signaling. Biotin is important in the health of the skin and coat as well.
The role of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is to support immune function, help with wound healing, and act as an antioxidant. It's water soluble so any excess not needed at the time is excreted in urine.
Vitamin D helps maintain blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. It's important for bone growth and health as well as muscle function.
Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that helps protect cell membranes from damage. It's also important in supporting the immune system and reproductive function.
Vitamin K is important in blood clotting and bone metabolism.
How minerals can support your dog's body
The role of calcium is to maintain healthy bones and teeth as well as support muscle function, heart health and nerve transmissions.
Phosphorus works with calcium for bone and tooth health but also supports kidney function, cell growth, and metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.
Iodine is important in thyroid function.
Magnesium is important in bone health, metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, muscle function and nerve transmissions.
Iron is needed for the formation of hemoglobin (iron carrying component of red blood cells) which carries oxygen to tissues throughout the body. It's also important in energy metabolism.
Selenium is an important antioxidant that works with vitamin E.
Zinc is important in immune function, cell growth and repair, and metabolism.
Copper is important in enzyme function, iron absorption, and connective tissue health.
Manganese is important in bone formation, blood sugar regulation, and fat and carbohydrate metabolism.
There are other minerals required in smaller amounts such as chromium, molybdenum, and fluoride but their roles are not as well defined as the minerals mentioned above.
The best way to ensure your dog is getting all the vitamins and minerals they need for good health is through a complete and balanced diet. That was a lot of information thrown at you so if you have any questions, just ask in the Community discussion.
How your dog's life stage impacts vitamin and mineral needs
Certain vitamins and minerals are more necessary for your dog's optimal health depending on your dog's life stage or particular health condition.
Give me an example...
Puppies, for example, need more of certain vitamins and minerals for bone growth and high energy, while senior dogs need extra support for retaining muscle mass so muscle growth nutrients matter for aging dogs as well as important vitamins and minerals supporting joint health, protein digestion and overall digestive health, and immune function. (You might want to take a look at my life stage nutrition guides for specific info on your puppy, adult dog, or senior dog and their particular nutritional needs.)
Targeting missing vitamins and minerals for your dog
Vitamins and minerals do come from a variety of food sources but sometimes they can be lacking in specific recipes so they are added to the diet in supplement form. You might see supplements that are combinations of multiple vitamins and minerals added to the diet. These can be given as powders, liquids, or chews.
Or, you can use specific foods as toppers on your regular dog food with whatever vitamins and minerals are needed from leafy green vegetables to organ meats to egg yolks to sardines.
If you'd like to dive in more deeply to specific vitamins or minerals or have any questions about your dog, just ask -- I'm here to help you and your dog!
Next up in the Basic Nutrition Channel on Dogly
Now that you've gotten an in-depth understanding of all of the essential nutrients for your dog, you can go back to the intro on why essential nutrients are important for your dog here or jump to any of the other step-by-step guides on Fats, Carbohydrates, and Protein here.
Or, if you're ready to start my step-by-step guides on Needed Nutrients, hop over to the Basic Nutrition Channel. You can also ask me any nutrition questions in the Community discussion there. If you ever need more personalized nutrition guidance, please reach out!
Source: Nutrient Requirements for Dogs & Cats