Part of your daily routine may include popping a vitamin with your morning beverage. And why not -- people eat an array of foods, leaving it to the supplement to make sure they get their vitamins. Though a multivitamin may be good for you, it's not necessarily the case for your dog.
If you're interested in natural multivitamins for Duke -- or yourself -- it's important to get a grip on what "natural" means. There is no standard definition of "natural" when it comes to vitamins. According to Vitamins-Nutrition.org, some consider a "concentrated nutrient derived from a quality natural source" to be a natural vitamin. There should be no artificial sweeteners, colors or preservatives present. Synthetic vitamins are processed in a lab and are cheaper to produce than natural vitamins.
In theory, more vitamins should make Duke stronger and healthier -- after all, it would seem there can't be too much of a good thing when it comes to vitamins. But that's not true. If your pooch is eating a complete and balanced diet -- and he should be if his diet is commercially processed -- at best, you may be wasting your money giving him a supplement. At worst, he could be getting too much of certain vitamins. For example, too much vitamin D can lead to elevated calcium levels in the bloodstream, depress his appetite and cause muscle atrophy. Excess vitamin A can cause joint pain and lameness, damage blood vessels and cause dehydration.
You may be cooking for Duke yourself, in which case, a multivitamin may help ensure he's getting what he needs. However, if you are preparing his meals, it's vital to run his diet, including supplements, by a veterinarian or animal nutritionist to ensure he's getting not only enough vitamins, but also the proper amount of minerals. As with vitamins, too much of certain minerals can have harmful effects on a dog. As well, if your vet has determined Duke has a vitamin deficiency, the right supplement will put him on the path to good health. Some vitamins, such as C, E and B-complex, can be useful for giving him a boost without the danger of toxicity. However, some, such as vitamin E, can affect the levels of other vitamins, so proceed with caution.
There's a wide variety of supplements for pets on the market, including natural multivitamins. When you shop for the best one for Duke, there are a few guidelines to help you make your choice. Look for a lot number on the product, which implies the company has implemented quality control checks. Read the label to understand exactly what's in the product and look for certification from an independent organization that the product is what it claims to be. Reputable manufacturers often include a phone number on the label so you can call and ask questions about the product. If the brand has commissioned clinical studies on the product, that's a great bonus.
The best natural multivitamin for your dog will be the one your vet approves. Your vet should understand what your pup's diet is and how his current health is to recommend or approve a multivitamin. If Duke is vitamin deficient, he'll likely need a supplement of the specific vitamin -- a multivitamin isn't appropriate for vitamin deficiency.
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