Vitamin C for Dogs

There is much controversy surrounding vitamin C for dogs. Some holistic veterinarians recommend it while others claim it causes harm. If your dog eats a healthy, balanced diet, vitamin C may not be necessary. However, most dogs are fed commercial kibble that contains more harmful products than healthy ones. In this case, adding vitamin C may improve your dog's health.

Uses of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that regenerates vitamin E, which is shown to have an effect on many areas of the body. Unlike humans, dogs produce vitamin C in their bodies and don't need it added to their diets.

It is recommended primarily in times of extreme stress when the dog's body may need vitamin C in excess of what it is capable of producing. Dogs suffering from severe illnesses or environmental stress may show improved health with the addition of vitamin C, and some veterinarians recommend a daily dosage.

Vitamin C also has anti-inflammatory properties that have improved the conditions of dog's suffering from a sports injury or joint and muscle pain associated with old age.

Risks Associated with Vitamin C

Even promoters of vitamin C recognize the risk associated with too much vitamin C. Excess vitamin C is excreted through the kidneys, but too much can cause flatulence and diarrhea. This level varies with a dog's age, size and breed.

Critics contend that feeding a healthy dog vitamin C is equivalent to feeding thyroid medication to a dog with a healthy thyroid and predict problems with the kidney and liver associated with vitamin C overdose.

The National Resource Council ran 24 tests on vitamin C in dogs in the 1980s, and all concluded that vitamin C should not be used to supplement a dog's diet. One of the studies linked supplemental vitamin C with skeletal disease in Labrador retriever puppies. However, the the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), designated the governing body for the pet food industry, labeled these tests invalid in 1994 on the basis that they are too old.

Feeding a Healthy Diet

Regardless of your stance on vitamin C, it's not as important for dogs with a healthy diet. Read your dog's food label. Avoid food with corn, wheat and preservatives as all of these are cheap fillers that your dog cannot digest. The first three ingredients of your dog's food should contain high level proteins, not meat byproducts.

Supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids can enhance your dog's diet, but if you are feeding high-level ingredients, multi-vitamin supplements are not necessary.

If you are thinking of changing your dog's diet, do your research. Feed your dog the diet that is best for him as every dog is an individual. A high-quality diet will reduce veterinary visits and improve your dog's quality of life. Vitamin C is not necessary but may be included in a healthy diet.