How to Choose the Right Vitamins and Supplements for Your Pet

Like humans, pets also feel stressed and emotional when their health is not sound, and it's our responsibility to complement our pet's health with special supplements formulated only for them based on their body needs. They may face issues like arthritis, skin allergies, itching, digestive issues, tartar buildup, etc., requiring daily vitamins and minerals. Veterinarians recommend the best-quality pet supplements, like pills or liquids, for maintaining the pet’s health. These are free from harmful chemicals that are commonly present in low-quality pet supplements and have high nutritional value.

Vitamins and Supplements for Pet

Many people think they can give their supplements to pets. However, this is unacceptable because special supplements are formulated for pets that contain dosages based on the pet's daily recommended allowance. Human supplements contain more nutrients than the pet requires, increasing the risk of more harm than good, so choosing the right pet supplement based on your pet’s needs, breed, and size (underweight, ideal and overweight)  is important. In this article, we will discuss the types of pet supplements, how to determine the need for pet supplements and some important tips to remember while buying pet supplements.

Understanding Your Pet's Nutritional Needs

Pet owners who feed their dogs and cats good quality food and supplements have rarely reported nutritional diseases in pets. Are you feeding your pet properly to fulfil their nutritional needs? Your choice should be based on knowledge. Let us help you understand your pet’s nutritional needs.

Dogs and cats have varying nutrient requirements based on their life stages, which commonly include growth after weaning, adult maintenance, late gestation, and peak lactation.

Major causes of Nutritional deficiency in pets are:

  • Homemade unbalanced diet is insufficient to meet daily requirements.
  • Sometimes, cats are fed a diet formulated for dogs and vice versa, which subsequently increases the risk of nutrient deficiency.
  • Feeding meat, hamburger and rice predominantly increases the risk of calcium deficiency.
  • The form of food (raw vs. cooked) is also important. Raw food contains antinutrients that are destroyed by cooking. This mainly include biotin and thiamine. 

The nutritional requirements of cats and dogs are different. Cats require vitamin A, arachidonic acid, and taurine. They also require amino acids like arginine and vitamins like niacin and pyridoxine in greater amounts.

Assessing Nutrient requirements for pet 

  • Water: Pets should be given clean drinking water. Do you know cats drink less water? The water content of dry pet food and semi-moist food ranges from  3-11 % and 25-35%, respectively. The moisture content of canned pet foods ranges from 60% to > 87%, and hence, dogs and cats consuming these types of food drink less water.
  • Protein: Dogs need ten amino acids, including arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine, while cats need an additional amino acid, taurine.  Growing and reproductive puppies should be provided with a minimum of 22.5% protein as dry matter. Have you observed your puppies and kittens with slow growth rates, weight loss, muscle loss, reproductive problems, and dull hair coats? This is due to protein deficiency.

Age of pet

Protein requirement 

4–14 weeks old puppies 

45 g protein/1,000 kcal ME

Puppies > 14 weeks old 

35 g protein/1,000 kcal ME

Adult dogs 

~20 g protein/1,000 kcal of ME

Growing kitten and reproduction 

75 grams of protein per 1,000 kcal ME or   45 g protein/1,000 kcal ME

Adult cats

65 grams of protein per 1,000 kcal ME or 40 g protein/1,000 kcal ME 

  • Omega-3 fatty acids, namely Alpha-linolenic acid, Eicosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid, are required during growth and reproduction in both dogs and cats. Cats require arachidonic acid additionally because they cannot convert linoleic to arachidonic acid. Most commercial adult dog foods and puppy diets contain  5%–15% and 8%–20% fat, respectively. EFA deficiency causes dry and lusterless coat, inactivity, and underdevelopment of reproductive organs.
  • Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are used for managing GI disorders, refractory seizures  and cognitive dysfunction in dogs.As dogs ages, glucose metabolism in the brain is compromised which affects  memory, learning, and awareness.
  • Carbohydrates: During growth, lactation and gestation, dogs need a good supply of carbohydrates.
  • Dietary fermentable fibre: It acts as a prebiotic in dogs and cats.

  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A deficiency in dogs and cats causes night blindness, dry eyes,  conjunctivitis, keratitis, etc. Specifically, dogs experience skin issues, weight loss and anorexia due to Vitamin A deficiency, while it can cause deafness in puppies due to nerve degeneration. Cats may require vitamin A supplements because cats don't have enzymes which convert beta-carotene to vitamin A. It is important to consult Veterinarians for vitamin A supplements because vitamin A toxicity is common in cats.
  • Vitamin D: Cats and dogs need vitamin D to maintain healthy bones. Even young animals are diagnosed with rickets due to vitamin D deficiency.
  • Vitamin E: You may have observed your pet giving birth to weak puppies,  it may be due to vitamin E deficiency. In dogs, clinical signs of vitamin E deficiency include muscle weakness, reproductive issues, etc, while in cat, focal interstitial myocarditis, myositis and steatitis are common.
  • Vitamin K is important for maintaining gut microbiota. If you find your pet bleeding for a longer duration and heavily, it may be due to a vitamin K deficiency, but this deficiency is rare.
  • Thiamine: In excessive cooking, thiamine is destructed. Thiamine deficiency produces neurological manifestations. 
  • Niacin: A deficiency of this vitamin causes black tongue disease in dogs, which can be reversed by supplementing niacin. Other signs of deficiency include weight loss, redness in lips, bad odour, etc. It is important to note that cats cannot produce niacin from tryptophan, so they are completely dependent on their diet for niacin.
  • Folate deficiency in dogs and cats may lead to weight loss, anorexia, anaemia, diarrhea, and poor hair coat quality. 
  • During growth, pregnancy, and lactation, calcium and phosphorus requirements increase in dogs and cats.
  • Taurine deficiency leads to dilated cardiomyopathy and central retinal degeneration in cats. As a result, cats must have some animal-based protein sources in their diet because plant-based protein sources are devoid of taurine. 

Types of Pet Supplements

  • Supplements for cats and dogs: These include Joint and digestive health supplements, which are commonly used. Some pet supplements also contain turmeric for joint health.
  • Cat-specific supplements:  Hairball control supplements, urinary tract infections and kidney disease.
  • Horse-specific supplements: joint and mobility supplements for arthritis, behavioural supplements (thiamine, magnesium, L-tryptophan, valerian and chamomile), hoof supplements ( biotin, methionine and zinc), pro- and prebiotics for gastric ulcers, omega-3 fats for coat.
  • Behavioural health supplements offer calming support to animals and support balanced behaviour and relaxation.
  • Other common supplements include cognition, skin/coat and heart supplements.

Important factors to consider when choosing pet supplements

Breed differences, calorie needs, daily energy needs based on activity, Life stage, Body mass and age are some of the important considerations when choosing pet supplements. Let us understand some of the important facts in detail.

  • Life stage: For example, there are six types of dogs and their needs vary based on the stage which they belong: puppies, inactive dogs, adult active dogs, pregnant dogs, young adult active dogs and  older active dogs.
  • Choose high-quality supplements because they are free from harmful chemicals and formulated specifically for pets.
  • Check the label to get information on brands, ingredients, guidelines, caloric content, nutrient content, words like “dog food”, “cat food”, etc.
  • Pet food product types are available as canned, dry, and semimoist. 
  • Never choose dog food for cats or vice versa: If you have a dog as a pet, you should look for products formulated only for dogs. This is because of huge differences in nutrient requirements.
  • Dry Food for Dogs and Cats are commonly used and contain ~90% dry matter and 10% water. 
  • Many commercial dog foods contain a combination of plant- and animal-based proteins,
  • Check taurine if you are looking for cat supplements
  • Fatty acid supplements are often recommended for dogs with dry, flaky skin and dull coats.
  • To maintain digestive health of pets, probiotic supplements for pet are available.
  • Special needs for cats: It is advisable to feed a pregnant cat enough so that her body weight increases because while feeding her kittens for 7-9 weeks, the cat loses her weight. 

Popular Supplements for Dogs and Cats

  • Rx D3 Forte: Dogs and cats need vitamin D supplements because of their inability to convert sunlight into Vitamin D. This professional veterinary formula is for dogs and cats and serves as a palatable source of pure cholecalciferol fulfilling their advanced dietary needs. This supplement supports absorption of calcium and phosphorus and also helps in building strong immunity. 
  • Ultra EFA Essential Fatty Acid Supplement: This supplement for dogs and cats provides concentrated fatty acid supplements and supports your pet's health and well-being by promoting healthy skin and coat, fat metabolism, joint health, bone strength, eye and heart health.
  • Rx Zyme: This supplement is given to cats and dogs to promote healthy digestion, reduce intestinal permeability, improve the gut microbial system, and boost immunity.

Choosing the Best Supplements for Your Pet

In this article, we discussed various specific nutrient needs by pets and how their supplement differs from one another. 

  • You should choose supplements that target your pet's needs. Whether it's for a shiny coat or stiff joints, separate supplements are available. While reading the pet supplement label, check for words like guaranteed analysis per 1 teaspoon (4gm) to get information on specific nutrients present relevant to your pet's needs.
  • Palatability is important, so you should look for chewable and flavoured supplements that your pet will easily eat.
  • Always Consult Your Veterinarian to ensure the safety of the supplement, correct dosage, etc. For a supplement to work, it should be given correctly, so veterinarian consultation is important. You may be advised to start with a smaller amount than recommended, use it for different lengths of time, give it differently, etc.


You invest in your health for a healthy life and well-being. In the same way, you should also invest in your pet's health by giving them specially formulated high-quality pet supplements that their bodies can absorb easily.

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