There are literally thousands of different vitamin products for dogs sold in the U.S. each year, each of them claiming to be something that can make your dog healthier. On the other hand, dog foods are sold as “complete and balanced,” and “nutritious.” If the dog food we buy for our pets is so nutritious, do we really need to buy extra vitamins?
Dog food comes in all different kinds of quality. Some dog food may be made from food that is not much above the level of road kill. Other dog food is better quality than some of the food that people eat. Some of these foods will have more nutritional content than others.
If you are feeding your dog a high quality food then it’s unlikely that you need to add vitamins or supplements unless your dog has a health issue of some kind that requires something that’s not normally found in dog food.
When you buy dog food in the United States you should look to see if if has a label that says it meets AAFCO nutritional standards or meets AAFCO testing standards. AAFCO is the Association of American Feed Control Officials and they provide nutritional recommendations for dog food in the United States, To obtain their label a dog food company must show, either through feeding trials or through nutritional data, that their food can provide a complete and balanced diet for a particular set of dogs for six months. The formulation can be for puppies, for pregnant or lactating mother dogs, for adult dogs, and so on. AAFCO provides the minimum guidelines that companies need to meet in order to obtain their label. Many good companies far exceed these guidelines, but if they meet the AAFCO guidelines then you know that they have at least met the basic requirements.
A particular dog food may still be something that you wouldn’t want to feed your dog, but it technically meets the nutritional guidelines if it has the AAFCO label.
So, should you buy poor quality food and spend your money on vitamins? That’s not really a good choice. Should you buy gourmet food for your dog? That’s not always the best choice either. Price isn’t a guarantee that your dog is getting the best food. There are many very expensive dog foods made from organic products which follow the latest fads, and which may be produced by very small companies, but they may be subject to food recalls.
Often the best food for your dog is a good quality food, with good ingredients, made by a well-known company that has a reputation for quality control. It often pays to look for a company that does not have a history of having to recall its pet food products. This may not be the most expensive dog food around but it’s probably a food that you and your dog can rely on.
Should you add vitamins to a good quality food? If you are concerned about hip dysplasia or if your dog is elderly, then you may want to consider adding glucosamine-chondroitin-MSM to your dog’s diet. Most dog foods do not contain these ingredients, or, if they do, only in very small amounts. There is some evidence to suggest that they may help dogs with arthritis or hip problems.
Otherwise, most good dog foods are supposed to be properly balanced in terms of vitamins. If you begin adding a lot of extra vitamins then you run the risk of throwing off your dog’s body chemistry.
However, if you are cooking for your dog or feeding a raw diet, then you will need to find a good mix of vitamins to add to your dog’s food to make sure that he’s getting all of the vitamins and minerals he needs.
But, for most dogs who eat a kibble or canned food diet, it’s really not necessary to add a lot of vitamins to the diet.
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