There are certain dog vitamins your canine athlete needs to sustain health and stamina. The first step to identify what your dog needs is to take a careful look at their dog food to see what types of nutrients and vitamins they are naturally absorbing through their food. I suppose, before you even do that, it’s important to know what you’re looking for.
Most quality commercial dog foods are made with a good balance of vitamins and minerals for household dogs who spend most of their day sleeping on the couch or chasing butterflies in the backyard. Canine athletes need a little something more and supplements are often necessary for optimal performance. Talking to your veterinarian or a pet nutritionist can help you uncover the perfect combination of vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, and carbs for your hardworking athlete.
What Constitutes a Canine Athlete?
Just like human athletes, canine athletes have special dietary needs. But what constitutes an athlete in the canine world? According to Dr. Joseph Wakshlag, Professor of Clinical Nutrition and Sports Medicine at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, if your dog is expected to run for 30 consecutive minutes on a regular basis he or she should be fed like a canine athlete.
Important Vitamins for Dogs
Vitamins are a vital element to life and most are naturally found in foods. Dogs need most of the same vitamins as humans, but in different amounts.
The most important dog vitamins include:
Vitamin A is associated with growth, fetal development, cell function, and immune function.
B Vitamins for dogs include Thiamine, Riboflavin, B12, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic acid, and folic acid. Each of these B vitamins play a unique role in your dog’s health and wellbeing.
Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant to remove harmful free radicals while reducing inflammation and maintaining better cognitive health. Your dog’s liver has the power to naturally synthesize vitamin C, but in some cases dogs require supplementation.
Vitamin D is an important component to balance minerals and calcium to promote healthy bones. The sun offers most of the vitamin D your dog needs, but in some cases supplementation is necessary.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that offers your dog defense against oxidative damage. It is crucial for proper fat metabolism and cell function. Without enough Vitamin E, dogs can develop eye issues, muscle degeneration, and issues with reproduction.
Vitamin K is another fat-soluble vitamin with an important role to play, as it helps activate your dog’s ability to clot blood.
Choline is responsible for supporting cognitive health and liver function.
- Potassium, Sodium and Chloride
Optimal Dog Vitamins Change Depending on Life Stage
There are dog foods for puppies, senior dogs, and other life stages and, for the most part, it’s not a scam to sell more products. Different life stages call for different dog vitamins, and that’s why different foods are made with a unique combination and number of vitamins and minerals. It’s important to check the breakdown of your dog’s food to see if they are getting enough vitamins for their lifestyle, age, and overall health.
You don’t want to give your dog too many vitamins; for instance, excessive Vitamin A can lead to joint pain, dehydration and even blood vessel damage. Additionally, giving a growing puppy too much calcium can result in overdevelopment and a greater chance of hip dysplasia or other conditions.
It’s Not Just Vitamins, The Importance of Fats for Canine Athletes
Researchers found sled dogs fed a high fat diet (with fat making up 53-67% of their diet) could run for about 20 miles before wearing out. On the other hand, sled dogs who derived just 29% of energy from fat sources tired out after only 15 minutes of running. Therefore, researchers concluded that a high fat diet translates to greater energy production and increased endurance for canine athletes. And it makes sense considering dogs convert fat to energy with far more efficiency than any other energy source, such as carbs.
Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
While there are different types of fats and fat sources, omega-3 fatty acids sourced from krill oil (or fish oil, but krill oil is better) make up an important component of your dog’s diet. Most dog foods contain substantial amounts of omega-6s but fail to offer adequate omega-3s. Omega-3s reduce inflammation and help slow the progression of osteoarthritis, as well as help cardiovascular health and overall performance.
Omega-3s include the powerful anti-inflammatory and healing properties DHA and EPA. The standard fish or krill oil for house dogs does not contain enough DHA and EPA for canine athletes. This problem was the inspiration behind Vitality by Alpha Dog Nutrition. Vitality is the first omega-3 supplement made especially for hunting dogs and other canine athletes. Give your dog Vitality and start seeing a difference in as little as several weeks.