What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, cevitamic acid is an antioxidant; it is best known for its synthesis of collagen, a protein that is essential for the growth of teeth, bone, skin, tendons, cartilage and connective tissue.
Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables. Unlike humans, dogs synthesise their own vitamin C from glucose in their livers. Veterinarians often suggest that you monitor your dog’s ascorbic acid levels as vitamin C is essential. As vitamin C helps with bone and muscle growth in young dogs, supplements are often recommended. When older, ill or stressed, dog’s levels of vitamin C deplete, supplementation can aid them.
How can Vitamin C Help?
Vitamin C deficiency can lead to stress, sickness and bad behaviour. It also acts as an anti-carcinogen in dogs and can help them to fight cancer.
A high dose of vitamin C is thought to help with many things, including
The best form of Vitamin C?
To supplement your dog with vitamin C, the best form is the salt forms of vitamin C, known as mineral ascorbates (calcium ascorbate and sodium ascorbate).
Calcium ascorbate is also thought to give the best results in relieving symptoms of arthritis; it has a slightly bitter taste.
Sodium ascorbate powder is thought to be the most effective form of vitamin C for dogs. Both can be bought easily on line or in any health food shop.
Ascorbates have been found to have fewer side effects than other forms, such as Diarrhoea and Heartburn, if your dog is suffering from this even after a gentle introduction, Ester C is combined with calcium to neutralise the PH level, making it a much gentler form and easier to digest.
Vitamin C can be found in carrots, watermelon, apples, celery, sweet potatoes, green beans and cucumber amongst other things, all of which are safe for dogs to eat and can be fed as treats or with their meal if they are fed a homemade raw food diet.
Special dog treats can be bought that have high levels of vitamin C.
Dosage and Precautions
Too much vitamin C will cause diarrhoea in dogs, especially if given once a day. The average healthy dog normally produces around 18 milligrams of vitamin C per pound of bodyweight per day. Young, old dogs and unhealthy dogs may benefit from more, however, they need to gain a tolerance and build up slowly or they may get diarrhoea.
Many holistic veterinarians suggest that maintenance doses are around:-
Up to 10kg dog, 100mg
Up to 20kg dog, 200mg
Up to 30kg dog, 300mg
Over 30kg dog 400mg
The more the dose is split over the day, the more effective the dose will be to increase absorption.
If the dog is suffering from some illness, many times these amounts are often advised. In some cases, up to 5000mg of vitamin C are prescribed.
Speak to your veterinarian and ask what dosage they would suggest. Check the ingredients in your dog’s food as the odd brand have it added.
Since vitamin C is water soluble, any excessive amount is excreted through the kidneys. However, too much vitamin C will cause diarrhoea in dogs especially if given in one dose. How much vitamin C to supplement depends on the individual dog's lifestyle and health condition, as well as the dog's tolerance level of vitamin C (i.e. the upper limit of vitamin C before the dog develops diarrhoea).
Healthy dogs that consume a good quality, balanced diet do not generally need vitamin C supplements as they are adept at producing their own. If you feel that vitamin C will be beneficial for your dog, consult a holistic veterinarian or a canine nutrition expert.
It is worth remembering a side effect can be diarrhoea, so ensure there is plenty of extra water available so they do not get dehydrated.
There are not many scientific studies that support the belief that it is beneficial to add vitamin C, but there are studies that prove that in appropriate doses, it is not hazardous, whatever they do not use is excreted, but if they have had too much, too soon, it may be in the form of diarrhoea.