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Vitamins for Dogs


Vitamins are organic compounds that are necessary for a myriad of different chemical reactions in the body. Some are made in your dog's body and some need to be ingested through diet. Vitamins often work in conjunction with minerals and enzymes to assure normal digestion, reproduction, muscle and bone growth and function, healthy skin and hair, clotting of blood, and the use of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates by the body. Thirteen vitamins are currently recognized. 


While vitamins are crucial and necessary for good health on their own, it is important to remember that they also work alongside other nutrients, such as minerals, to support functions. Some minerals are more easily absorbed or become bioavailable only when combined with vitamins (called co-factors).For example, calcium requires Vitamin D3 in order to be properly absorbed into the system. Similarly, lactoferrin (an important molecule that is naturally produced within the body of all mammals, including dogs), is a metal binding protein is a key transporter for many minerals, including iron and zinc.


Dogs synthesize (produce) some vitamins in their body and others are obtained from diet. Most commercial dog foods include the recommended daily amount of the "essential" vitamins. Nonetheless, it is important to note that commercial dog foods are not customized are specialized to the specific needs of dogs, therefore supplementation or adding homemade foods is sometimes necessary. Dogs on homemade diets also need to be carefully monitored to ensure that they are getting comprehensive nutrition from a vitamin and mineral standpoint. 

A generalized dog multivitamin is typically not needed unless a dog has a deficiency or is on a homemade or specialized diet where they are not getting enough nutrients. The best way to determine whether additional vitamin supplementation is needed is through a blood panel test with a veterinarian. Certain supplements do include vitamins and minerals to support specific needs (such as eye health, immune support, or skeletal health). These can be beneficial additions so long as the dosages are minimal and balanced and the supplement is of high quality. Vitamins can also be provided through homemade foods, such as leafy greens or sweet potatoes. 


When it comes to the best vitamins for dogs, particularly those supporting skeletal health,  there are certain key vitamins that have been well-documented to play an especially important role in this area. Certain essential vitamins for bone health can be found in canned or commercial dog food. However, for dogs and puppies that need extra bone and joint support, or have any kind of bone and joint issue, such as as broken leg or genetic predisposition to bone problems, a supplement is often recommended. When looking for a canine bone health supplement for your dog, it's important to note that even the best joint supplements for dogs do not offer important bone nutrients.

Vitamins for Dogs _ Dog Vitamins _ Best Vitamins for Dogs _ Dog Vitamins Infographic

Below are some of the key vitamins for dogs that support bone and joint health.


Vitamin D, also known as 'the sunshine vitamin”, plays a major role in regulating the calcium and phosphorus levels within the bloodstream. Vitamin D stimulates the conservation of calcium in the kidney and therefore helps the body to retain it. Because of its interplay with calcium, Vitamin D is known to be extremely important in bone formation and muscle control. Low levels of Vitamin D can cause bone demineralization. Inclusion of this vitamin in a dog's diet is highly advised in both puppies and adult dogs.

VITAMIN C FOR DOGS (Ascorbic Acid)

Vitamin C plays many important functions in bone formation. It is involved in bone growth as well as bone mineralization. Vitamin C helps collagen biosynthesis and bone cartilage function. Vitamin C deficiency has been associated with defective connective tissue, especially during the bone and wound healing. Deficiencies of ascorbic acid result in the syndrome known as scurvy. Dogs with scurvy exhibit weak bones and swollen joints usually accompanied by severe tissue bleeding. In young dogs, scurvy is sometimes referred to as hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD). Dogs with HOD generally exhibit swollen, painful joints especially of the limbs. Vitamin C may help alleviate the pain associated with dysplastic hips. In arthritis, ROS and other free radicals are associated with the inflammation process via numerous pathways. Some studies have shown that Vitamin C could alleviate symptoms of arthritis. Vitamin C also helps reduce pain during fracture healing. Vitamin C is a widely used supplement in growing, pregnant, lactating, stressed, and working dogs.


Vitamin E is involved in a variety of physiological and biochemical functions. The molecular mechanisms of these functions are mediated by either antioxidant mechanism or by its role as a membrane stabilizer. It protects cell membranes from oxidative damage by removing free radicals and preventing the progression of oxidative reactions. Several studies have elucidated a positive role for vitamin E in expediting the fracture healing process with influence on bone remodeling. In the skeletal system, several studies demonstrated effects of vitamin E on bone and cartilage tissues. Vitamin E supplementation, especially with the gamma isomer, improves bone structure, which contributed to stronger bone.


Vitamin K is involved in the synthesis of proteins that regulate bone metabolism. It is an essential co-factor for several bone proteins involved in calcium uptake and bone mineralization. Vitamin K has positive influence on bone mineral density (BMD) and helps reduce bone loss. Vitamin K2 exerts a powerful influence on bone building. It has a stimulatory effect on bone formation in the femoral tissues. K2 may have a preventive role for bone deterioration with aging. Vitamin K play a synergistic role with vitamin D, Ca(II) and Zn(II) in reducing bone loss.

This content is written by our Clinical Advisory Board for informational purposes only. It should not be viewed as an endorsement for any product or as a substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.