Have you ever wondered why supplements for dogs (and for people) are always administered in such high doses? It’s not uncommon to find those daily percentages of common vitamins and minerals in the tens of thousands of percent. While seemingly absurd, there’s actually logic behind it.
Nutrients absorbed through pills, powders, and chewable tablets prove less absorbable within a dog’s system (again, in people’s systems too—but let’s stick to dogs for now). The problem is simple to understand, complex to solve.
Understanding more about the intricacies of pet supplements will help to determine how and when a supplement is absorbed.
Food: Simple or Complex
Even simple foods like celery or beans are composed of a diverse array of nutrients and micronutrients. Vets and other experts suggest that dogs eat canned pumpkin for its fiber and beta-carotene, which can be converted into vitamin A and used to treat doggy diarrhea and upset stomachs.
But is pumpkin one giant fruit that’s made up of fiber and beta-carotene? Of course not! It just has these two nutrients in bioavailable amounts (meaning, these nutrients are plentiful and can easily be absorbed by the dog). Pumpkin also has:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B-6
- Pantothenic acid
The list goes on…
Micronutrients Role and Gut Flora
In other words, food is complex—not just pumpkin, all plants and animals. Eating food provides your dog with countless micronutrients that all play a role in digestion. What’s nearly impossible to track is what role the tiny bits of magnesium, thiamin, and pantothenic acid are playing while the fiber and beta-carotene are curing your dog’s bowel movements. Chances are, the answer is not nothing.
Each micronutrient interacts with your dog’s digestive tract through their gut flora (one reason why gut health, probiotics, and prebiotics are important). The gut flora has the final say of what gets absorbed and what doesn’t.
But before diving too far into the digestive tract, let’s return to your dog’s mouth—specifically what’s going into it. Supplements. What’s in them?
What’s in the Supplement?
Often supplements are confused with multivitamins where they are narrowed down to a few or a handful of vitamins and minerals. Think of a typical vitamin C pill where there’s only one ingredient—1000mg of ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Now, think of another source of vitamin C, like an orange.
An orange contains roughly 51mg of vitamin C (85% of your daily needed intake).
What else is in an orange? There is:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B-6
- (should we stop…?)
Okay, okay, you get it. There’s a lot of “stuff” in oranges. This “stuff” is composed of over 170 phytochemicals and 60 flavonoids. And this “stuff” is partly the reason why the 51mg of vitamin C is better absorbed and more nutritional than the 1000mg supplement.
Are Supplements Even Necessary?
Absolutely! Just because many of them come isolated doesn’t mean they’re not necessary. Consider an area where the sun doesn’t shine for months out of the year. In Alaska during the winter, vitamin D is hard to come by. This not only affects vitamin D levels, but it affects calcium absorption as well.
These, like many other nutrients, come in nutrient pairs.
Calcium and Vitamin D
Perhaps the most familiar nutrient combo is calcium, and vitamin D. People typically consume their calcium through milk, and they receive their vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D allows calcium to be absorbed into the body—it’s the key that unlocks the powers of calcium to reinforce strong bones.
Other nutrient pairs include:
- Sodium and potassium
- Vitamin B-12 and folate
- Copper and zinc
Some nutrient pairs work to unlock each other’s strengths, like calcium and vitamin D. Others pair well together and perform optimally when both are bioavailable, like sodium and potassium.
The “Key” To Your Dog’s Supplement
Thus, supplements need a few different factors to end up in your dog’s bloodstream where it belongs, and not end up on the lawn.
- Diversity – To mimic the absorbability of real food, supplements need to be multidimensional; they need to have both the nutrients to benefit the dog and the proteins to enable their absorption.
- Nutrient pairs – Ensure that your dog’s supplement has the keys to unlock the other vitamins and minerals.
- Age-specific – Puppies, adult dogs, and senior dogs deal with different issues. Puppies are growing at rapid rates, while senior dogs have organs and systems that are running at half-speed. Make sure the supplement takes this into account.
Supplements That Do It All
While your dog’s food might say ‘complete and balanced,’ chances are, something is missing from your dog’s diet. That’s where supplements come in. But when looking for a supplement, it needs to go beyond a specific vitamin or mineral. Your dog needs bio-replenishment, something that will be absorbed. Regardless if they are an energetic pup or a slow mobile senior dog.
It’s for this reason that Vetericyn created an ALL-IN supplement. This All-In supplement is one that has a protein-based delivery system that ensures your dog absorbs all the necessary nutrients. That way, there is no worrying if the dog food you purchase for your pooch is providing enough nutrition into your dog’s diet.
A supplement that was made with your dog’s health in mind.
- Medical News Today. What are the health benefits of pumpkins? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/279610.php
- Medical News Today. Health benefits of oranges. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/272782.php
- Harvard Health Publishing. Nutrition’s dynamic duos. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Nutritions-dynamic-duos
Dr. Melinda J. Mayfield-Davis, DVM, WCHP-AH, brings over 20 years of experience in veterinary medicine. She is the Technical Services Veterinarian with Innovacyn, Inc., parent company of Vetericyn Animal Wellness. She received her DVM from Oklahoma State University and now resides in Southeast Kansas with her husband, two children, four dogs, and six horses. Prior to working with Innovacyn, Dr. Mayfield owned and operated the Animal Care Center in Columbus, KS.