The truth about pet vitamins

Thinking of getting extra supplements for your pets? Before you head over to the pet store, find out if pet vitamins are really necessary for your furry friend. Check out our expert advice on what your pet needs to stay healthy.

By Lola Augustine Brown

The truth about pet vitamins
©iStockphoto.com/Marek Brzezinski
Most of us see our pets as a very important part of our family, and so have a natural desire to want to give them the best in life; there wouldn't be such a thriving market for gourmet pet foods and treats if we didn't. If you browse the shelves at some upmarket pet stores, you may also have noticed that there are companies making supplements for pets, or you may have heard that pets need supplements.

But are pet vitamins really necessary?
The short answer to whether you should be giving your pet vitamins is no, says Dr. Nicole Gallant, a Kensington, PEI-based vet and representative of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. "Giving your pet quality food is the way to go unless your pet has been diagnosed by a vet as having some kind of deficiency," she says. "And if you are giving your pet a vitamin or mineral supplement, you can cause an imbalance that may actually cause your pet harm."

Vitamin deficiency in pets
Circumstances where pets would be deficient in vitamins and minerals are pretty rare, says Gallant. Sometimes cats can develop a potassium deficiency if they have kidney issues, and there is a chance that a pet could develop rickets as a sign of calcium deficiency. But Gallant says she has never seen an animal with rickets in 30 years of veterinary practice, and says this is due to how good pet nutrition has been for the past 40 to 50 years.

"In the past, a lot of people would supplement growing puppies with calcium, but dog foods have come so far in the past 20 years that they now do a much better job than any supplementation will do," she says. "And some people give their dogs vitamin C, because they think it will do them good, but the only animals that need vitamin C in their diet are guinea pigs and primates."


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