Is my dog getting the vitamins and minerals they need?

By Chippin Time

Is my dog getting the vitamins and minerals they need?

There are certain vitamins and minerals that are essential to your dog’s long term health. When it comes to mealtime, if these are not found naturally in a dog’s food or not at the levels veterinarians recommend, pet food companies add in essential vitamins and minerals to ensure your dog is receiving a complete and balanced meal. 

VITAMINS

What vitamins are good for my dog?

Dogs should receive vitamins A, D, E, K, C, and B as part of their daily diet. Some vitamins are fat soluble, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, which means they are absorbed when the body breaks down fats and oils at mealtime. 

Here’s where you can find the following vitamins naturally in food:

  • Vitamin A: Pumpkin, sweet potato, fish, carrots, spinach, cricket, apples
  • Vitamin D: Fish, cricket, fortified foods
  • Vitamin E: spinach, kale, nuts, cricket, whole grains
  • Vitamin K: spinach, kale, fish, cricket
  • Vitamin C: carrots, apples, sweet potatoes, cricket, limited amounts of citrus fruits (oranges, pineapple)
  • Vitamin B: grains, nuts, brewers yeast, beans, spirulina

What do vitamins in pet food do?

Vitamins support a wide range of activities within your dog’s body. Next time you’re reading a label and it seems like a lot?  Here’s what our board certified veterinary nutritionist, Dr. Beth Hamper, shares are the purpose of the following vitamins:

Vitamin Name

Scientific Function

In the Body

Choline chloride (i.e. choline)

Components of phosphatidylcholine, a structural part of cell membranes, and part of neurotransmitter acetylcholine 

Choline supports the brain and nervous system! For everything ranging from mood to muscle control. It also helps form the protective outer layer to the body’s cells which keeps the cells healthy.

Vitamin E

A fat-soluble antioxidant 

Antioxidants help protect cells from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that cause damage to cells resulting in aging and disease. 

Niacin supplement (i.e. niacin - B3)

Niacin is involved in over 400 biochemical reactions in your body by synthesizing the coenzymes nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP).Coenzymes bind to active enzymes to support their functioning. These reactions help convert food into the fuel the body uses to produce energy. 

Niacin turns food into energy! It also supports a healthy nervous system, digestive system, and epidermis (that’s skin!). Niacin also creates and repairs DNA.

d-Calcium Pantothenate (i.e. pantothenic acid - B5)

Coenzyme that’s important in protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism, cholesterol synthesis and triglyceride (fat) synthesis

Vitamin B5 helps the body break down carbohydrates and fats and turn them into energy. It also supports the adrenal gland and the production of red blood cells.

Riboflavin supplement (i.e. riboflavin - B2)

Key component of coenzymes involved with the growth of cells, energy production, and the breakdown of fats and steroids

Riboflavin - B2 breaks down fats and carbohydrates to support the body’s energy supply. It also can reduce stress on the nerves. 

Vitamin A

Great for vision (component of light sensitive pigments in the eye), synthesis of mucopolysaccharides hence integrity of mucus membranes, immune function and reproduction

Vitamin A supports eye health as well as other soft tissues in the body and mucus membranes. It also supports healthy teeth and bones.

 

MINERALS

What are minerals in pet food?

Minerals in the diet come in two categories: macrominerals such as calcium and magnesium, and microminerals such as iron, copper, manganese, and zinc. The macrominerals are the ones you need a lot of – calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sodium, and chloride . Microminerals, aka trace minerals, are essential, but in tiny amounts – iron, copper, zinc, manganese, selenium, and iodine.  

What do the minerals in pet food do?

Minerals support a wide range of activities within your dog’s body. Ever wonder why some dogs eat rocks (and… poop)? They likely are deficient in some minerals! Our board certified veterinary nutritionist, Dr. Beth Hamper, shared what functions the following minerals have:

Vitamin Name

Scientific Function

In the Body

Potassium Chloride (i.e. Potassium)

Major intracellular cation, important muscle contraction, transmission of nerve impulses, acid-base balance, osmotic balance and cofactor in energy production

Potassium helps muscles to contract and normalizes blood pressure. It also supports cell health, maintaining fluid levels inside the cell. 

Calcium carbonate (i.e. Calcium)

Constituent of bone and teeth, important in blood clotting, muscle function, nerve transmission

Everyone knows calcium is good for our bones, but did you know it’s not just found in dairy? In fact, calcium is found in leafy greens, nuts, fruits, and starchy veggies.

Zinc sulfate (i.e. Zinc)

Activator of 200 known enzymes involved in DNA/RNA synthesis and stabilization, carbohydrate metabolism, protein synthesis, skin and wound healing, immune response, fetal development

Zinc supports the growth of healthy tissues across the body! Low levels of zinc may mean the body can’t protect itself from infection and is slow to heal from wounds. 

Ferrous sulfate (i.e. Iron)

A major component of hemoglobin, a type of protein in red blood cells; carries and stores oxygen specifically in muscle tissues, enzyme constituent

Iron helps produce red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout our body. Iron-rich foods include dark leafy greens, seafood, and egg yolk.

Selenium yeast (i.e. Selenium)

An essential component of various enzymes and proteins, called selenoproteins, that help to make DNA and protect against cell damage and infections; these proteins are also involved in reproduction and the metabolism of thyroid hormones

Selenium is another nutrient that protects cells from damage and helps create new DNA. A deficiency in selenium might come across as fatigue, muscle weakness, or trouble breathing.

Copper sulfate (i.e. Copper)

Works to assist various enzymes that produce energy for the body, break down and absorb iron, and build red blood cells, collagen, connective tissue, and brain neurotransmitters. Copper also supports normal brain development and immune functions, and is a component of superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant enzyme that dismantles harmful oxygen “free radicals.” 

Copper impacts many areas of the body including the brain, nervous system, connective tissues, and blood vessels. It helps create collagen too!

Manganese sulfate (i.e. Manganese)

Coenzyme that assists many enzymes involved in breaking down carbohydrates, proteins, and cholesterol, it also assists enzymes in building bones and keeping the immune and reproductive systems running smoothly. Manganese works with vitamin K to assist in wound healing by clotting the blood.

 

Maganese helps break down food and regulate blood sugar. It also supports brain functioning. 

 

How do I know if my dog is lacking nutrients?

  • Coat health: If your dog’s coat is dry and brittle, their skin is itchy or inflamed, something could be missing from their diet (likely omega3s). 
  • Energy: If your dog has a shift in energy levels or has low energy levels, consider checking with your doctor to rule out nutrient deficiencies.
  • Food and Water Consumption: If they begin trying to consume objects that are not food, have a drastic change in the amount of water they want to drink, or lose their appetite, check in with your vet.

What does a complete and balanced diet mean?

A complete and balanced diet is a term used by the pet nutrition industry to demonstrate that the food is nutritionally balanced. The term implies that the food contains a sufficient amount of protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals that dog’s need in their daily diet. A complete and balanced diet must meet the AAFCO nutritional guidelines.

Can I make my own dog food? Is homemade food healthy for my dog?

Making homemade food for dogs is well intentioned, and often includes minimally processed and fresh ingredients that are good for dogs. However, homemade food is often nutritionally unbalanced and lacking essential vitamins and minerals that dog’s need. Instead of making fresh food at home, a healthy alternative is a dehydrated recipe that has been developed by veterinary nutritionists to ensure it is complete and balanced like the Cricket Dehydrated Daily Food. An additional use for the Cricket Daily Food is mixing half a serving with freshly prepared food to ensure your dog is receiving the vitamins they need.

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