Multivitamins for a Puppy

by Betty Lewis
    He has a lot of growing to do, but with a proper diet, he won't need supplements.

    He has a lot of growing to do, but with a proper diet, he won't need supplements.

    Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

    You've taken on a new puppy, which is no small bit of work. All puppies need play time, exercise and training, as well as proper nutrition. It's important Pal gets all his vitamins, which typically are found in a quality pet food, meaning most puppies don't require multivitamins.

    If Pal is a young pup, less than 3 weeks old, he's probably still nursing, so he's getting all the nutrition he needs from his mother's milk. If he's being bottle fed, a commercial puppy milk replacement formula contains the appropriate amount of vitamins, minerals and other things he needs to grow. In fact, during Pal's first year, if he's eating a good quality commercial puppy food offering a "complete" or "balanced" diet, he's getting all the vitamins he needs.

    Pal needs vitamins for good health. Along with minerals, vitamins are essential to keep his body functioning properly, including regulating his heartbeat and helping his body access nutrients. For example, the fat soluble vitamin D is necessary for regulating his calcium and phosphorus levels. However, too much vitamin D can make a dog sick and have potentially fatal consequences. Excess vitamin A can cause joint pain and dehydration. Though vitamins are important for your pup, too much of a particular vitamin can be bad for Pal.

    If Pal's eating a high quality, commercially prepared balanced diet, he likely won't need additional vitamins. If the vet's determined your pup has a vitamin or mineral deficiency, or a medical condition that responds to supplements, Pal may need a little extra added to his daily intake. However, he'll need a specific vitamin or mineral and not a multivitamin, which could result in an excessive amount of other vitamins. Perhaps Pal is particularly finicky and won't eat much, or what he does eat is a poor quality diet that isn't balanced; if that's the case, your puppy may benefit from a multivitamin to keep deficiencies at bay. If you've decided to cook for Pal yourself, he'll need vitamin and mineral supplements. Consulting a veterinary nutritionist is wise to understand what supplements are necessary based on specific recipes. The ingredients you cook with will dictate how much of his nutritional needs are being met without supplements.

    The Food and Drug Administration oversees animal supplements, however, many of the ingredients in supplements aren't regulated. As a result, some products don't meet the claims on the labels. WebMD recommends looking for supplement brands that specialize in a particular area or have commissioned clinical studies of their products. Look for certification on the label that shows an independent organization verified the ingredients. A lot number on the bottle signifies the manufacturer has set up quality control checks. If you believe Pal would benefit from a multivitamin, check with your vet. Puppies that grow too quickly can suffer problems with their joints as they age, and too much of the wrong vitamin can have serious consequences.

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    About the Author

    Betty Lewis is a writer and editor specializing in pet care, animals, careers and emergency management. She previously ran an animal shelter, where she also served as a kennel attendant and dog trainer. Lewis holds a bachelor's degree in journalism, an M.B.A. and a master's degree in professional studies.

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