Do You Need to Give Your Puppy Vitamins? Supplements Examined

Many pet owners wonder if they should feed their puppy vitamins or nutritional supplements in addition to his normal pet food. Vitamins for dogs are a booming market, and many companies claim to manufacture supplements that aid in puppy nutrition. However, research has shown that a high quality dog food is sufficient to provide adequate nutrition to your puppy during his formative years. Furthermore, puppy vitamins may not provide any added boost, and they may end up causing more long term health problems than they remedy or prevent.

The Problem of Puppy Vitamins

Puppy vitamins of all types encourage growth in your dog. If your dog is properly fed with a well-balanced and vet-approved dry dog food, he will have all of the nutritional elements necessary to grow as normal. Puppy vitamins, therefore, may cause your pet to grow too big or, more commonly, too fast. Dogs that grow quickly may cause stress to their bodies in a variety of ways, including bone, ligament and muscle damage. 

This is not to say that no dog requires vitamin or dietary supplements. In fact, as your dog grows older, it's often beneficial to incorporate supplementary vitamins and minerals into his diet, in order to protect his health. Puppies, however, do not normally require vitamin supplements.

Types of Vitamin Supplements and Their Effects

One of the most common supplements contains fatty acids and Vitamin D, and is intended for brightening and maintaining the skin and fur. While these ingredients may not cause significant harm to your pet, your puppy will receive an adequate portion of these nutritional elements from a well-balanced dog food. Because changes to the skin and coat are frequent symptoms of a variety of diseases, if you have masked those symptoms with vitamin supplements, you can miss out on critical warning signs that point to an underlying disease. 

Omega-3 supplements are also common. Fish oil and other fatty acids claim to treat and prevent a variety of diseases in puppies. While these supplements may be beneficial to older dogs or pets with specific conditions, puppies do not generally require these supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids are touted as being beneficial to heart health. Far more important for a young dog’s heart is a set of routine vaccinations and proper heartworm medication. 

Vitamin C should never be included in a dog’s diet. Dogs are capable of manufacturing all of the Vitamin C that they require internally. Feeding your pet a food containing Vitamin C or, worse, feeding him a Vitamin C supplement, leads to an excess of the vitamin. Although it is water-soluble and therefore not immediately toxic, excess Vitamin C can result in a number of bone diseases, or liver and kidney damage. 

Instead of purchasing dietary supplements and vitamins for your puppy, take the time and effort to invest in a high-quality and properly balanced puppy diet for the first 6 months of your pet’s life. A proper set of vaccinations and routine preventative medicine treatments will further help to round out your puppy’s health and help him to grow into a healthy dog.