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If you’re a health-conscious adult, you probably take, or at least think about taking, a multi-vitamin every day. Or maybe you pay attention to which foods will give you more of certain nutrients (er, right?). But what about your dog? Do dogs need vitamin supplements in addition to their food? And if so, what kind?
We talked with the experts to find out the answers to these questions and more. Read on to learn all about vitamin supplements for dogs.
What Vitamins Do Dogs Need for Good Health?
All living organisms need vitamins and other organic compounds to stay healthy and support normal growth. Because vitamins aren’t naturally synthesized by the body, animals (and people) get them from the foods that they eat. According to Dr. Gary Richter, award-winning vet and member of Rover’s Dog People Panel, “All dogs are of the species Canis familiaris and as such have very similar nutritional needs.”
For dogs, those specific nutritional needs include:
- Vitamin K for activation of clotting factors, bone proteins, and other proteins
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin) for carbohydrate metabolism and the activation of ion channels in neural tissue
- Riboflavin and niacin (also known as vitamins B2 and B3, respectively) for enzyme functions
- Vitamin B6 for glucose generation, red blood cell function, nervous system function, immune response, and hormone regulation
- Folic acid for metabolism and protein synthesis
Should You Use Vitamin Supplements for Dogs?
A well-balanced diet provides all the vitamins and nutrients needed for good health, and commercial dog food is specifically formulated to meet those needs. If your dog is eating a complete and balanced diet and not exhibiting any health issues, they probably don’t need a supplement.
However, dogs with particular health and wellness concerns may benefit from the use of supplements. Supplements come in a wide range of formulas and may include vitamins, minerals, and other natural or synthetic substances. These products are intended to support everything from overall wellness to vision health to shiny coats. In an article for WebMD, veterinary nutritionist Dr. Susan Wynn notes that supplements can be extra helpful for senior dogs: “Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E [can] reduce inflammation and help aging dogs with memory problems.”
Dogs eating homemade meals may also need supplements to balance out their diets. Homemade, whole food diets are great (in fact, Richter highly recommends them). But if you’re making dog food at home, you may not have access to all the specific vitamins your pet needs. That’s where vitamin supplements for dogs can come in handy.
Richter notes, “It is a good idea to consult with a veterinarian regarding any questions about nutrition.” This is true if you’re picking a bag of dog food off the shelf or you’re feeding your dog a homemade diet, but especially with the latter. Your vet may test for vitamin deficiencies, refer you to a veterinary nutritionist to determine the best approach to feeding your dog, or recommend vitamin and other supplements that may help with your dog’s particular needs.
How to Choose Vitamin Supplements for Dogs
Supplements are, by definition, not medication. As such, they are not tested and regulated in the same way as medications. This means that supplements are far more accessible to pet owners, as they usually can be purchased without a prescription. However, it also means that they do not necessarily address specific health concerns in the same way, and their use comes with a certain amount of risk.
Pet owners should always talk to their veterinarian about what, if any, supplements are needed for their pet’s health. Ingredients in dog vitamin supplements can vary widely, and they aren’t always listed accurately on the packaging. Some ingredients can interact with medications or other supplements, and it is possible for dogs to have too much of a good thing, overloading on certain vitamins.
Veterinarians will often recommend specific products that they trust based on experience and, when available, peer-reviewed studies. In addition, here are some general tips for choosing vitamin supplements for dogs:
- Look for brands that have commissioned clinical studies of their products.
- Read labels carefully to ensure quality and safety.
- Look for a lot number on the product. This is a sign that the company uses quality control checks.
- Choose brands with confirmed expertise.
- Be wary of claims that sound too good to be true. Vitamin supplements are not cure-alls or medications.
- Do not give human supplements to dogs, as they may contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs.
The bottom line about vitamin supplements for dogs is that you should always talk to your vet first. And, regardless of how you choose your products, be sure to monitor your dog during use. If you notice that your pet’s health is worsening or new problems appear, see your vet immediately.
Recommended Vitamin Supplements for Dogs
We’ve put together a mega list of highly-rated supplements to boost your dog’s health. Some of these products are intended for general health, but many are specially formulated to address one or more specific concerns. Be sure to consider the purpose and the ingredients of each supplement carefully—and, of course, talk to your vet before ordering.
General Vitamin Supplements for Dogs
Packed with essential nutrients, this vitamin supplement for dogs offers support for joints, digestion, skin, and coat. Plus, it comes in a tasty soft chew your dog will love. It’s manufactured in FDA-approved facilities so you can rest assured that it’s safe and effective for your pet. Buy it in 60-, 120-, and 240-count packages.
Designed to support eight different aspects of your dog’s health and wellness, this multivitamin provides essential vitamins like vitamin E and biotin for skin and coat health. It also has probiotics and digestive enzymes for healthy and regular digestion, all in one little peanut butter-flavored soft chew.
Formulated to support balanced nutrition for dogs in all life stages, this multivitamin is an affordable option for pet parents concerned about their dog’s health. It comes in a chewable tablet and features a rich blend of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support, and enzymes to ensure healthy digestion.
Support your young dog’s health and development with this multivitamin formulated by veterinarians to provide everything a growing puppy needs, such as vitamins A, D, and B-complex for strong bones, healthy skin, robust immunity, and healthy joints.
Supplements for Healthy Skin and Coats
For dogs in need of a boost to their skin or coat, these 60-count soft chews are veterinarian-formulated and Rover-verified. The recipe includes EPA, DHA, and other omega-rich fatty acids along with turmeric for a gentle nutritional supplement that may help to relieve dry or itchy skin and hot spots, improve coat shine, and boost overall immunity.Shop on the Rover Store
Loaded with natural salmon and flaxseed for those omega fatty acids along with additional vitamins, these tasty soft chews are formulated for all breeds and ages to nourish the skin and coat while also strengthening cardiovascular and brain health.
Give your dog a boost of skin- and coat-supporting omega-3s with this salmon and pollock oil blend supplement. Made from wild-caught salmon and pollock, this fish oil for dogs contains high levels of DHA, EPA, and other omega fatty acids for skin and coat support. It also encourages joint health.Shop on Chewy
Featuring a soothing blend of yellow dock root and omega fatty acids, this tablet supplement is designed to comfort and relieve skin problems while supporting your dog’s healthy coat from the inside out. It carries the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) seal of approval. Pick it up in 50- or 150-count bottles.
Keep your dog looking and feeling their best with this skin- and coat-supporting powder. Made with natural ingredients like dried seaweed, flaxseed, and dried pineapple, this vitamin supplement for dogs can be sprinkled directly onto their food. It comes in three size options (1-lb, 5-lb, and 5-oz) and has the added bonus of aiding in digestive and immune health too.
Stress-Busting Supplements for Dogs
Stress is as real for dogs as it is for humans. These chews are designed to soothe nervousness, anxiety, and hyperactivity and help to alleviate stress-related behavioral problems naturally. They’re made with all-natural and veterinarian-approved ingredients including valerian root, theanine, chamomile, and lemon balm. Plus, they come in a dog-approved hickory chicken flavor and in three package sizes: 30-count, 60-count, and 120-count.
All-natural and 100% organic, this liquid supplement is designed to treat pet anxiety and short-term stress and comes in 2-oz and 4-oz bottles. When used prior to a stressful event like a vet visit or thunderstorm, these drops settle the nerves and reduce hyperactive and nervous behaviors like panting and pacing with herbal ingredients, including valerian, chamomile, and passionflower.
Supplements for Mobility and Joint Health
Loaded with antioxidants derived from pure turmeric, these soft chews are designed to relieve a variety of problems including joint pain, itchy skin, hot spots, and slow healing. They come in an irresistible bacon and liver flavor and are produced in the USA in certified-organic facilities.Shop on Chewy
Fortified with joint-protecting and cartilage-building glucosamine, shock-absorbing chondroitin, and joint pain-relieving MSM, this chewable dog vitamin is specifically formulated to help support and repair joints and cartilage; it may be especially helpful to older dogs and those with osteoarthritis.Shop on the Rover Store
Formulated to support optimal joint function, cartilage production, and mobility, these soft Cosequin chews are a must for aging dogs and dogs that suffer from bone and joint problems. It’s packed with joint-supporting MSM, glucosamine, and chondroitin as well as a boost of omega-3 fatty acids.
Part of a veterinarian-designed joint support program, these vitamin supplements are formulated to maintain comfort and mobility throughout all stages of your dog’s life. Featuring glucosamine, MSM, and Perna canaliculus, these chews are clinically proven to increase hind leg strength by over 40% in just four weeks. They’re sold in packs of 120, 240, and 360.
These duck-flavored chews are designed to help keep the spring in your dog’s step. They may help improve range of motion, reduce pain and discomfort, and protect the bones and joints. Plus, they’re made with all-natural ingredients and manufactured in FDA-registered facilities.
Made with six powerful active ingredients scientifically proven to provide hip and joint support, including those standbys glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM, these vitamin supplements for dogs protect their mobility for daily activities like running, jumping, and playing. In addition, these chews have hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and manganese—plus a boost of irresistible flavor from liver meal.Shop on Chewy
Probiotic Supplements for Dogs
Just add water to create a nourishing liquid to moisten your dog’s food with a boost for their digestion. The nutrients in dehydrated goat’s milk, along with added probiotics and digestive enzymes, all support healthy and regular digestion as well as immune support at the gut level. The powder comes in a multi-serving can or single-serve packets.
This non-dairy probiotic supplement is made from all-natural sources of beneficial microorganisms to support your dog’s digestive tract. It’s designed to help normalize digestion, relieve symptoms of food intolerance, support regularity, and soothe gastrointestinal upset. Each capsule contains over five billion microorganisms.
These tasty pumpkin-flavored chews feature a six-strain probiotic blend to promote healthy digestion and regularity. They’re made entirely without grains, artificial additives, and byproducts. Each chew contains three billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of clinically studied beneficial bacteria known to support digestive function and healthy gut flora.
Allergy-Fighters and Immunity-Boosters
Like pet parents, dogs can develop seasonal allergies. These soft chews are designed to relieve skin-related symptoms of those allergies, with natural ingredients like nettle leaf, biotin, and quercetin. They’re are also packed with antioxidants to combat the effects of environmental stress and come in two convenient size options.
Made with wholesome, natural ingredients, these lamb-flavored soft chews are designed to support gut and immune health. They also help to protect against seasonal, skin, food, and environmental allergies in dogs.
Vision and Eye Care Supplements for Dogs
This chicken-flavored supplement powder is designed to eliminate staining around the eyes and mouth. It’s made from all-natural ingredients with no added grains or food dyes that might upset your dog’s stomach.
This senior dog supplement is packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids to support healthy vision as your dog ages. It features the brand’s marigold-derived Lutemax 2020 to reduce eye strain, with cod liver oil and algae to support overall eye function. It also contains essential vitamins to encourage skin health and immune function.Shop on Chewy
Now that you know more about vitamin supplements and what’s available, you can decide what’s right for your dog. As always, check with your veterinarian before introducing any new supplements to your dog’s diet. And check out our additional stories on dog nutrition below.