In our third and final installment of Volhard Dog Nutrition 101: Determining Which Food is best for Your Dog, we will examine a third method of discovering whether or not your dog’s diet is truly the best for them. In our first article, we spoke about the importance of looking at the list of ingredients on the dog food package, and deducing the ratio of carbohydrates to real sources of protein. In the second article, we dove into whether or not different breeds of dogs need special diets, and if your dog’s breed is a determining factor in choosing their diet.
In this article, we will take an even closer look at the components that comprise your dog’s dish and how they can have an impact, for better or worse, on every aspect of your dog’s life. There are seven pillars of a complete diet, seven boxes to be checked if you are looking to ensure that your canine’s diet is fulfilling all his nutritional needs. These pillars are, of course, the seven vitamins on which we intend to focus on in today’s blog: A, B Complex, C, D, E, K, and Choline! These vitamins can be found organically in many whole foods and are crucial to keeping your dog healthy and happy. If your dog’s diet is not keeping them out of a deficit of these nutrients, you should be looking elsewhere for their source of nutrition.
The levels of vitamins required by canines are obviously different from what humans need. There are a few criteria that need to be factored in when talking about your dog’s nutritional requirements: their size, breed, and life stage, to name a few. A more advanced understanding of how nutrients work inside your dog’s body will help you pick the most suitable diet for your dog. Remember, dogs are individuals with unique needs.
The 7 Vitamins Every Dog Needs:
The first vitamin you want to ensure is found in your dog’s diet is Vitamin A. This vitamin is responsible for keeping your dog’s vision healthy and strong, as well as promoting growth from in the womb onwards, strengthening the immune system, and enabling cell functions. This vitamin can easily be found in carrots. Common signs of both deficiency and excess are weight loss, seeing and respiratory ailments, as well as dehydration and increased susceptibility to infection.
2. Vitamin B Complex
Following the list alphabetically, the next vitamin is actually a collection of water-soluble vitamins: the B vitamins! This includes B-6 and B-12, among several others. All of these vitamins play a fundamental role in fat and protein assimilation in the dog’s body. Additionally, the vitamin B complex provides much-needed help with healing, especially after surgery or after vaccination. Your canine companion’s health will show multiple symptoms whenever dealing with a vitamin B deficiency, such as loss of appetite, hair loss, and attracting numerous parasites. While these symptoms do not pose a direct threat to your dog’s life, they can ultimately lead to more severe ones, such as flea allergies, anxiety, and heart disease.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is naturally the next on the list, a vitamin almost all of us are familiar with. Scientifically known as ascorbic acid, this water-soluble nutrient is found in many citrus fruits as well as many vegetables like red and green peppers. Its predominant role is to stimulate the formation of collagen, to protect the body from harmful free radicals, and to help maintain a healthy immune system. Vitamin C is actually created in the liver of canines, but an additional level of supplementation through their diet is helpful for most dogs as well.
Unlike humans, Vitamin D plays an essential role in balancing minerals internally, such as calcium and phosphorus. Without vitamin D, your dog’s bones could become fragile and underdeveloped. Unlike humans, dogs have not developed an efficient way of converting sunlight into this nutrient. This calls for a diet adequately enriched with vitamin D. Unlike other nutrients, vitamin D excess cannot be eliminated through urine, so make sure that your dog only receives this nutrient at proper levels.
5. Vitamin E
Vitamin E plays an all-around role in many of the body’s vital functions, making it essential for the dog’s health. This nutrient is responsible for keeping blood vessels open, necessary for peak cardiovascular health. Furthermore, it plays a key role in eye and muscle development and maintenance. Vitamin E is one of your dog’s chief defensive players in reducing oxidative damage, as well as a supporter of many cell functions and fat metabolism. Without the proper levels of vitamin E, some of the dog’s systems, such as the reproductive one, can be affected.
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin essential for blood clotting. Regardless of its role, your dog does not necessarily require a high level of vitamin K to stay healthy. Vitamin K deficiency causes excessive bleeding due to failure of normal clot formation. Ingestion of certain rat and mouse poisons inhibit dogs' ability to use the vitamin K in their bodies, which leads to hemorrhaging and death if not treated.
Finally, a less commonly known vitamin that is essential to your dog’s health: Choline! Choline is chiefly a supporter of the efficient and effective functioning of the liver and brain. Doctors occasionally prescribe this vitamin in high doses as a treatment for dogs with epilepsy. Common signs of both deficiency and excess are loss of body weight and a fatty liver.
These are seven of the essential vitamins your dog needs to be absorbing into their system. Does this mean you need to run out and buy your dog whatever product contains all of these vitamins? Most certainly not. The first thing you must learn is how to read a dog food label and be able to recognize healthy ingredients from those that are unhealthy. Kibble, a type of dry, processed food for dogs, will contain some, if not all vitamins, we have discussed today. However, have you ever questioned the origin of these vitamins? While healthy diets, such as the whole food diet or the fresh, natural diet, use natural sources for these nutrients, kibble is actually filled with synthetic vitamins, completely unhealthy for your canine companion.
Furthermore, kibble consists of a high percentage of carbohydrates while providing very little moisture and low-quality protein. Even the low levels of protein contained in kibble are plant-based and less appropriate for your dog! To sum up kibble’s disadvantages, the way the food is being processed strips away much of its nutritional value, making way for a myriad of toxins. Through research, you can learn how kibble is not only devoid of any nutritional value (becoming “lifeless food”) but also puts your canine companion’s health in danger.
One of the best ways to be certain that your dog’s food contains all the vitamins they need is to feed them a high quality fresh diet containing whole foods and properly sourced ingredients. Ask the company you are interested in for a complete nutritional analysis of the food so you can be sure the 3rd party testing matches the claims made on the label. This does not mean that the best option is to formulate your dog’s food yourself; in fact, this may leave your dog with vitamin and mineral deficiencies that could cause long term disease if not done correctly. . Dog food companies like Volhard Dog Food work with professional veterinary nutritionists to create a balanced diet of calorically dense, fresh, and natural foods that meet all the nutritional needs for your individual dog.