Does My Dog Need Additional Vitamins?
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Providing dogs with vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional components is important to their health and well-being. The best way to do so is by feeding a high-quality complete and balanced diet. Supplementing dog food often upsets the balance and may lead to a variety of health problems.
Reasons Why People Might Supplement Their Dog's Diet
People supplement their dog's diet for different reasons. Some of these reasons might include:
- To increase palatability or add variety
- To feel assured the dog is receiving complete nutrition
- To enjoy a larger role in 'preparing' the dog's meal
Supplementing Can Unbalance the Diet
It is important for concerned pet owners to realize that a quality dog food is carefully formulated to meet the caloric needs of the animal. In addition, the food provides the essential amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals specific to the nutritional requirements of dogs. Quality foods are complete and balanced for a specific life stage or lifestyle. By adding table scraps or other supplements, the delicate nutrient balance can be disrupted.
What We Know About Minerals and Supplements
The interaction between different minerals is very complex. Fortunately, this is an area of nutrition that has been the focus of extensive research throughout many years. Research has shown that not only are the individual levels of minerals in a diet important, but so is the proper balance. An excess of one mineral may affect the absorption of a second, and lead to a deficiency in that second mineral.
Supplementing with Meat As An Example of Mineral Interaction
One common supplement is feeding additional meat. However, because meat contains 20 to 40 times more phosphorus than calcium, adding meat to a balanced diet will upset the calcium to phosphorus (or Ca:P) ratio, which is important for proper bone development and maintenance. This may prompt the animal's body to absorb calcium from the bones in order to reach the right balance. This is often the case in older animals that experience tooth loss due to the resorption of bone from the lower jaw. Ca:P ratio should range between 1.1 to 1.4 parts of calcium for each 1 part of phosphorus.
More Calcium Is Not Always Good
Excess amounts of calcium have been associated with several bone diseases affecting growing puppies. Owners of large-breed puppies in particular believe that their puppies require extra calcium for proper development of large bones. Adding yogurt, cottage cheese, or calcium tablets to the pup's diet will only upset the body's delicate mineral balance. Remember that large-breed puppies will consume more food and receive the calcium their bodies need by eating the recommended portions. The best way to support a normal growth rate is to feed growing dogs adequate—but not excessive—amounts of a balanced diet, using a portion-controlled regimen.
Make Sure a Pet Food Is Complete and Balanced
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) regulates the pet food industry and has established certain nutritional requirements for dogs and cats. These requirements are published annually in the AAFCO Manual. Only pet foods that have met the strict testing criteria established by AAFCO can carry the 'complete and balanced' statement on the label.
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- adp_description_block164Nutrition for Large- and Giant-Breed Adult Dogs
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Healthy joints and proper weight are especially important for dogs that grow to be more than 50 pounds. But not all large- and giant-breed adult dogs have the same nutritional needs. Is your dog getting proper exercise? Is she about to have puppies? Special conditions can dramatically affect your dog’s nutritional demands. Giving her a food specially formulated for her large size, life stage and activity level is the easiest way to make sure she’s getting the nutrients she needs.
Choosing a Food for Overall Health
To address the special needs of your large- or giant-breed dog, look for these features:
- Less fat to help maintain an ideal body condition for less joint stress
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for healthy skin, shiny coat and overall health
- Essential vitamins and minerals to help support the immune system and help maintain good health
- High-quality animal-based protein sources to help maintain muscle tone
- A moderately fermentable fiber source, such as beet pulp, to maintain intestinal health, enhance your dog's ability to absorb nutrients, and reduce backyard cleanup
- A carbohydrate blend to help sustain energy by maintaining normal blood sugar levels
These components are key to good nutrition. Look for them in treats, wet dog food, or dry dog food, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult Large Breed.
Maintaining Healthy Joints and Cartilage
Joint health is a big concern for owners of large- and giant-breed dogs. A large- or giant-breed formula that contains high-quality protein can help nourish healthy joints. Vitamins and minerals help promote the production of cartilage. Also, keeping your dog at a healthy weight will help minimize joint stress.
Guarding Against Weight Gain
Dogs with lower activity levels and dogs that have been neutered or spayed are all prone to weight gain. Controlling your dog’s weight is an important step toward protecting against the health effects of excess weight, such as diabetes or joint health problems. If you use a weight-management food, look for these characteristics:
- A reduced fat level that still offers essential nutrients for skin and coat health
- L-carnitine, a key nutrient that helps burn fat and maintain muscle mass during weight loss
- Special carbohydrate blends that help maintain energy while managing weight
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for overall health
Providing Nutrition During Pregnancy
Pregnant dogs have substantial nutrition requirements. Starting in the seventh week of her pregnancy, a mother dog will need to increase her energy intake up to 50% by the time she gives birth and increase it even more when she starts nursing her puppies. Because she may lose her appetite at times, it's important that she eats a nutrient-dense food. A complete, balanced puppy formula can give her the extra nutrients she needs. But avoid puppy food created for large and giant breeds; these formulas contain specially adjusted levels of energy and minerals that may not be sufficient for a pregnant or nursing dog.
Switching to a Mature Diet
Dogs who grow to be more than 50 pounds are considered mature or senior at age 5 or 6, which is earlier than small-breed dogs. So, it’s critical to make a proactive transition to a specially formulated mature diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Mature Adult Large Breed, to help keep your dog healthy and active as she ages.
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