Understanding Your Pet’s Vitamins – The Building Blocks of Nutrition (Part 1)

September 20, 2012 - 7:47am

Vitamins are the building blocks of nutrition for people and for pets. Understanding the importance of Vitamins A, B, C, and all the others will help you determine if your pet is in need of a nutritional supplement.

Pets eating a premium, high-quality, commercial pet food (like those available at Petland) are already very likely receiving a diet that contains the proper mix of all necessary nutrients. Veterinary nutritionists do copious amounts of research in large laboratories, and then write the recipes for the many types of diets that pets require in order to live happy and healthy lives. There is no guessing on their part as to what is nutritionally good for your pet.

However, pets being fed a low-grade commercial food or table scraps may not be receiving a proper nutritional mix. And some pets, depending on their age, stage in life and/or health conditions, may require special diets. For example, older pets often need vitamin supplements to reinforce their slowing metabolisms. Pregnant female cats and dogs require vitamin supplements to replace the nutrients lost while breast-feeding their offspring. Interestingly enough, allergies (like those to wheat or meat) are also now plaguing many of our pets, and therefore, these animals may require a special diet.

Balance is important though. Over time health problems can arise in pets – birds, cats, dogs, fish, reptiles, small animals – any animal that is lacking a balanced diet. However, before giving any pet a vitamin supplement, it is important to read the product’s packaging and follow dosage recommendations closely. Giving a pet too many vitamins, a condition known as hypervitaminosis, can be just as harmful as a vitamin deficiency. Your veterinarian can help you determine what type of supplement (if any) may be best suited to your pet’s needs, or will be able to diagnose possible allergic reactions and recommend an alternative diet for your pet.

Vitamins are nutrients – organic substances in the metabolic process – that help a pet’s body function properly. They are either fat soluble or water soluble. Fat soluble ones can be absorbed only in fat and are stored in the body, unlike water soluble ones. Fat soluble vitamins include A, D, E, and K. Water soluble vitamins include B-complex, C, biotin and folic acid, niacin, and pantothenic acid and choline.

For a full discussion on these vitamins, please check out the next Pet Talk column for Part 2 of this article!!!

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