What are the Best Vitamins and Minerals for Your Dog's Diet

One of the most important things to understand about canine nutrition is that dogs aren't small, furry humans. Dogs require many of the same vitamins and minerals as their human pet parents, but not all of them, and in different amounts.

Consider these two well-established facts about healthy diet for dogs from the Cornell Veterinary Journal. Canine diets need to include:

  • Complete vitamin nutrition, including vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, pyoxidine, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12, and choline.
  • Complete mineral nutrition, including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium chloride, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, iron, zinc, and selenium.

Does anything seem to be missing from the list? There's no vitamin C! Like just about all mammals except humans, dogs make their own vitamin C in their livers.

You will notice that vitamin D is on the list. Vitamin D is essential for humans, too, but there is an important difference for dogs—dogs must get their vitamin D from food. Humans can make vitamin D in their skin when it is exposed to sunlight. We don't really know if furry humans can make vitamin D that way, but it's an established fact that dogs need to get their vitamin D from their diets.

There's another vitamin missing from the list that you may not be familiar with. It's vitamin K. There are three kinds of vitamin K, K1, K2, and K3. Only the first two are essential.

Humans get their K1 from leafy greens, but you never see a dog run for a salad bar. That's because a dog's body makes its own vitamin K. Giving your dog foods that contain K vitamins isn't harmful, but it isn't necessary, either.

Now let's look at the list of minerals. Dogs need sodium chloride. Humans need sodium, and they need chloride. What's the difference?

Humans can draw sodium from sources that aren't salt, like the baking soda used to make quick breads. Dogs need sodium together with chloride in their food, in the form of salt. This doesn't have to be added salt. Naturally occurring salt is fine. If dogs eat meat from healthy animals, they will get the salt they need.

Your dog can eat vegetables in small amounts but doesn't need to eat vegetables. Your dog doesn't need, say, a nice bowl of OJ for breakfast. Your dog doesn't need fruit (and some fruits, like grapes, are toxic for dogs.) Your dog needs the same minerals you do but can get them from animal foods.

In nature, dogs eat whole animals (including the contents of the animal's stomach and guts). That's how they get whole nutrition. In the 21st century, dogs no longer hunt for food. We provide them with the food they need.

Until very recently, commercial dog food hasn't proven to be much of an improvement over whole animals caught in the wild.

Commercial dog foods have been around since the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1860, an American electrician named James Spratt traveled to England with his dog. On the boat, he was given stale crackers and biscuits to feed his dog. Spratt thought his dog deserved better.

Spratt started baking dog biscuits made of flour, meat, vegetables, and the wonder-vegetable of the 1860s, dried beets. The idea caught on and soon dozens of companies were making dog biscuits.

Dog biscuits were better than stale biscuits of the kind eaten by people for breakfasts.

Dry dog food started out as a humane way to feed dogs who could not hunt for themselves. But the problem is that dry dog food, even when people supplement it with all kinds of nutritious treats, doesn't provide adequate canine nutrition.

Scientists at the Veterinary Academy for Animal Nutrition and Dietetics in Fürstenfeldbruck, Germany analyzed 95 different diets commonly given to dogs. Certain nutritional problems came up repeatedly:

  • About 10 percent of dogs were receiving less than 25 percent of the recommended daily allowance of calcium. It takes about two years for calcium deficiency to show up as osteoporosis in a dog. Calcium is abundant in raw bones and salmon.
  • About half of dogs got less than half of their recommended daily allowance of iodine. For dogs, the best source of iodine is seafood. Dogs can also consume small amounts of kelp occasionally, but it is better to rely on fish for this essential element.
  • Dogs, on average, got only about 70 percent of their vitamin A requirement. Dogs need vitamin A for heathy coats and healthy skin, and an active immune system. They can convert beta-carotene and related chemicals from vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, kale, and squash into vitamin A, but not very efficiently, and not enough for their bodies' needs. Liver and fish can make up the difference. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil is even better.
  • Most dogs in the study received about half of their needed vitamin D. Along with calcium deficiency, vitamin D deficiency results in unexpected cases of fragile bones. This is another nutritional issue that can be addressed with wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil, one of the best of all supplements for dogs.
  • Most dog diets were deficient in both copper and zinc. Feeding your dog salmon can address this deficiency.

When Canine Biologics reviewed this study and hundreds of studies like it, Canine Biologics scientists concluded that human-grade food for dogs with cancer was the best approach to keeping dogs as healthy and active as possible. Our human-grade food, premium supplements and wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil are packed with the nutrients that are most likely to be missing from other dog food diets. Canine Biologics provides the best approach to nutrition for canine cancer