Vitamins in dog food and nutrition

We consider natural to consume vitamin and mineral supplements because of the stress that our lifestyle causes us.

It’s true that many times we often see benefits; we are more active and we feel more energetic, especially if we ingest complexes rich in vitamin B.

We often want to do the same for our dogs, so can we apply the same criteria?

I am a firm believer that nutrition is the foundation for a healthy life, in addition to exercise and a positive mental attitude, among other things. If we had the proper nutrition, we would need few vitamins.

On the other hand, I don’t want you to get the idea that I am against vitamins and minerals. On the contrary, I prescribe them a lot as part of my orthomolecular nutrition treatments, but these treatments have a scientific basis and many years of experience, and are used under specific conditions.

I was asking if we could apply the same criteria to our dogs as we do with ourselves concerning the use of vitamins. They are more or less the same. If we are healthy and eat quality food, do we need vitamins? Well, generally speaking, no, we don’t.

So what’s the problem? The problem is that the vast majority of our cats and dogs do not eat quality food, so should we supplement them with vitamins since they do not eat what they should eat?  Well, yes and no.

Let me explain. If you were eating a poor quality diet, would the answer be to take vitamins? Well, not necessarily. They would help you somewhat, but where is the root of the problem? Well, in the poor quality diet. It is the same basic problem regarding our 4-legged companions. Should we supplement them with vitamins or give them a quality food? Definitely the latter!

The problem is that many people think they are giving their cat or dog quality food because it is recommended by their veterinarians, without being aware that most of the food offered in veterinary clinics is of medium to low quality.

Most average commercial foods meet the minimum requirements for vitamins and minerals. So, what’is the problem? Currently, most foods meet these requirements as established by the AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials). This in itself is not the problem as much as the quality of vitamins and minerals present in food.

What would we prefer? The vitamin A present in carrots or liver, or the synthetic vitamin, made by humans? That’s all there is to it.

What’s the problem with vitamins in processed foods? If you read the labels many of them say “With added vitamins and minerals”, “Rich in vitamins and minerals”, “With all the necessary vitamins and minerals”, etc. What does this mean? That the vitamins in that food are not naturally present, but are added afterwards.

Don’t processed foods contain natural vitamins?

I’m afraid to disappoint you, but this is not the case. Why? Because to make the famous kibble, it is necessary to heat the food to very high temperatures and pressures, which kills all kinds of nutrients and life present in it, meaning that the enzymes which are so necessary for many biological processes are wiped off the map, proteins are destroyed, and vitamins and minerals are denatured.

How are vitamins and minerals added to feed?

Once the feed in the form of a consistent mass is mixed, it is passed through an extruder where it reaches those high temperatures and pressures. The extruder is a long tube through which the mass enters on one side and comes out at the other end in the form of very hot pellets of kibble. After that follows the cooling process and the addition of flavor enhancers, fats, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals in addition to other additives.

Are processed foods deficient in vitamins or minerals?

Hardly ever. So why is this a problem? It’s not the same to consume natural vitamins rather than synthetic ones. Most commercial foods contain more than 25 vitamins or minerals of synthetic origin. Many foods are labeled as “natural” even though they have all these vitamins and minerals of synthetic origin. Why? Because the AAFCO allows the use of the term “natural” in spite of this. So, it is not uncommon to find the term “natural dog food with added vitamins and minerals”. No kidding!


Nowadays, it is difficult to see nutritional deficiencies, because pet foods are enriched with vitamins. This is not ideal, as I have explained, but they serve their purpose.

Processed feeds are not deficient in vitamins. Producers add them in the final phase of manufacturing the feed, and prefer to add too much rather than too little. The problem is not quantity, but quality.

The addition of supplementary minerals is not a bad thing, but it’s only necessary under certain specific conditions. If a healthy dog is eating an average commercial feed, the chances are that he does NOT need supplements; what you need to do instead is to switch to a different type of feed.

Before asking the question, “Does my dog need vitamins? We should ask ourselves, “Is my dog getting a quality food?” A quality diet needs few supplemental vitamins or minerals.

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Best regards.

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