Does My Pet Need Vitamins?


This is a common question posed by owners wanting to get new puppies off on the right foot, or families of ailing pets, or by people who take vitamins themselves.  The short answer to the question is nah, probably not!

These days most cats and dogs eat a commercial diet with complete and balanced nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.  The standards for these diets are set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), and a statement or seal should be clearly labeled on your food bag.

Some AAFCO-compliant diets are tested by the “formulation method”, where the food is chemically analyzed to prove proper ratios and amounts of nutrients.  Other diets are proven by “feeding test”, where the diet is fed to live animals; the animals’ growth and health is monitored and measured.  If you have a healthy pet, and her food bag shows the AAFCO label, then you’re probably giving everything she needs in her plain old diet.  And you can stop reading now!


Premium pet diets (e.g., Hill’s Science Diet, Eukanuba, Innova, Royal Canin) may contain helpful additions such as antioxidants, omega fatty acids/fish oils, more digestible nutrients, higher levels of Vitamins C and E, and glucosamine.  Prescription diets are used to treat specific medical conditions.

As far as extra vitamins and supplements go, again, most pets of all ages are fine or even better off without them.  However, in select cases they can be beneficial (arthritis, skin issues, intestinal upset, etc.).  Pets eating home-cooked diets also often need additional vitamins and minerals.

If you’re still not sure about your pet’s particular situation, give us a call or ask at your next visit.

Robin Lake, DVM

Foster Animal Hospital

Concord, NC