We want the best for our pets, so we might want to give them a multi-vitamin “just in case.” Here’s what I told a reader about whether or not that’s a good idea.
Q: I want to make sure my pet has the best nutrition. Should I give him a multivitamin?
A: If your dog or cat is already eating a complete and balanced diet — it will say on the bag or can if it is — a multivitamin isn’t necessary. It can even throw off your pet’s nutritional balance. But there are times when a dog or cat can benefit from one, and I asked Joe Bartges, DVM, DACVIM (Nutrition), a board-certified veterinary nutritionist at the University of Georgia, to weigh in on when one might be helpful.
One time is when a pet is eating a homemade diet, he says. Those multivitamins can be recommended by a veterinary nutritionist after evaluating what your pet is eating.
And sometimes vitamin and mineral supplementation can help in treating a disease: “For example, (give) vitamin B12 — cobalamin — with gastrointestinal disease; vitamin D3 — calcitriol — with chronic kidney disease; (and) potassium in cats with low blood potassium due to chronic kidney disease,” he says.
Don’t give pets your own vitamins. The amounts of vitamins and minerals they contain aren’t appropriate for pets — and can even be toxic. “For example, vitamin D content in some human vitamins is high due to osteoporosis, and this could result in overdosing, depending on the vitamin D content in the pet’s diet,” Dr. Bartges says.
Vitamins and minerals may be natural, but they’re not always harmless. And giving too much of anything can cause problems. “If someone gives too much calcium, particularly to a large or giant-breed dog who is consuming a reasonable amount of calcium in a good diet, this can lead to too much calcium intake, which has been shown to increase the risk of developmental orthopedic disease,” Dr. Bartges says.
There’s more in Pet Connection, the weekly nationally syndicated pet feature I co-write with Kim Campbell Thornton and my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker.