All bodies, including your dog's, need vitamins to grow, to create energy and for health. If your pooch is a show dog or participates in sports or hunting, it might seem logical that he would need a vitamin supplement to stay healthy. While it's true that your active pooch needs extra nutrients, he doesn't necessarily need a vitamin supplement.
Your show or sports dog needs vitamins associated with metabolism to provide sufficient energy to perform his best. The book "Canine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation" lists these to be: • Vitamins B 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 12 • Folic acid • Choline • Vitamin A • Vitamin D • Vitamin E • Vitamin K In her article for DogChannel.com, veterinarian Joanne Healey Howl says that some of those same metabolism enhancing vitamins -- specifically vitamins A and D as well as the B vitamins -- also will do the trick of making a show dog's coat look shiny and healthy.
If you're feeding your sport or show dog a premium vet-recommended food, he should be getting all the vitamins he needs, according to WebMD. "Canine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation" says that commercially produced dog food has anywhere between two and 10 times the minimum requirement of B vitamins, folic acid and choline, and has "sufficient" amounts of other necessary vitamins. While it's true that, if you prepare your show or sport dog's meals yourself, he may need a supplement to ensure complete nutrition, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals advises that no supplementation is necessary with a complete and balanced diet, unless your vet has determined that your dog has a deficiency.
Calories, Not Supplements
Show and sport dogs may be more active than their house-pet counterparts so, just like athletes need more calories to perform, so do active dogs. While a "normal" dog needs to be fed the maintenance amount recommended by the dog food manufacturer, a sport or show dog's food in-take should match their energy output. The ASPCA says that sport dogs with an average workload should get about 40 percent more than maintenance, and a really hard worker should get 50 to 70 percent more. Pooches who appear on the show circuit need about 20 percent more than maintenance amounts.
Dangers of Oversupplementation
WebMD says that most people give their dogs supplements because they think it's necessary, not because it has been recommended by a vet. The problem is, it can be risky to give your show or sport dog vitamin supplements if you're already feeding him a sufficient amount of a balanced diet. The resulting condition is called "hypervitaminosis," essentially poisoning from vitamin overload. Some results of hypervitaminosis include skeletal problems from too much calcium, joint pain, dry skin, brittle bones and blood vessels problems from too much vitamin A and muscle atrophy, bone problems and loss of appetite from too much vitamin D.
- Canine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation; M. Christine Zink and Janet B. Van Dyke, editors
- Web MD: Dog Vitamins and Supplements: Get the Facts
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Nutrients Your Dog Needs
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Feeding Your Adult Dog
- The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals; Alan H. Pressman and Sheila Buff
- DogChannel.com: Go for the Gleam in Your Dog's Coat
- Medical Dictionary: Hypervitaminosis
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.