Is it Safe to Give Your Dog Vitamin C?
Vitamin C works the same way in dogs as it does in humans: it boosts the immune system, takes out viruses singlehandedly, and supports the adrenal glands when dealing with stress.
But what’s the difference between vitamin C in dogs and in humans?
The answer is that dogs have a metabolic pathway in their body where they make and recycle their own vitamin C. Humans don’t and have to provide their vitamin C with food or supplements daily.
Related link: How Supplements Can Help Dogs with Allergies
What Do the Scientific Studies Show?
Let’s summarize a few of the recent vitamin C studies in dogs:
- In 2013, veterinarians at a university in India found that dogs suffering from a skin fungal condition called dermatophytosis had low levels of vitamin C as well as lower levels of zinc, beta-carotene and copper.
- In 2012, the veterinarians and professors at a university in Columbus Missouri decided to see whether or not dogs develop a deficiency of vitamin C while in the ICU. They collected blood samples from dogs hospitalized for 36-72 hours and healthy dogs to find out.
On Day 1 and Day 2, the hospitalized dogs’ vitamin C levels were significantly lower than they were at Day 3, even though no one was slipping the pups some extra vitamin C. The dogs’ bodies were making a lot more of the vitamin in this emergency situation, and the levels were a lot higher than the healthy dogs.
Related Link: Brewers Yeast Benefits for Dogs
- In 2012, a veterinary clinic in Austria reported that dogs with chronic kidney failure. They found higher levels of not only vitamin C, but also vitamin A, B1, B2, and B6, compared to healthy dogs. On the other hand, the dogs showed low levels of vitamin D and folate.
- Veterinarians at the University of Georgia reported in 2010 that nutritional deficiencies and toxic diseases are rare these days due to commercially available high quality food. However, they say, poorly stored diets or problems in a farm animal environment may result in deficiencies of vitamin C, A, zinc, copper, and fatty acids.
- In 2008, a study of beagles from one month old to 12 months old showed that red blood cell levels of vitamin C were high at one month and the beagles were able to recycle the vitamin C their body had made. But by 3 months of age, their levels fell to the levels found in adult dogs. The ability to recycle the vitamin C fell to one-third the level it was originally.
What Does Dr. Belfield Say and Why Is It Important?
One of the top veterinarians to follow on the topic of vitamin C for your dog is Dr. Wendell Belfield, D.V.M. Over the last 37 years, he has used vitamin C while treating dogs in his practice. Dr. Belfield wholeheartedly believes Linus Pauling’s orthomolecular theory of treating individuals with diseases with high doses of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C.
Belfield is also one of the authors of a veterinary textbook on complementary and alternative veterinary medicine (1997).
In his work, he has found that vitamin C is important for the prevention of dog hip dysplasia, and many other conditions:
- arthritis (prevention, control and treatment, too)
- degenerative spinal myelopathy (prevention, control and treatment)
- immune deficiency (treatment)
- food allergies (treatment and prevention)
- inflammatory bowel disease (prevention, treatment and control)
- kidney stones made of struvite (prevention, treatment and control)
- kidney function (treatment)
- chronic renal failure (treatment)
- epilepsy (prevention and treatment)
- appetite and energy levels (treatment)
- skin, hair and coat
- gingivitis and periodontal disease (treatment and control)
In one reported case, Dr. Belfield administered 2000 mg vitamin C into a dog via IV with distemper. In veterinary school, vets are taught that distemper is 100% fatal. However, the dog lived.
So should you give your dog vitamin C? You decide! I know what I’m doing…
Dr. Donna Schwontkowski is a retired chiropractic physician with a master’s in nutrition and herbology. She’s had the opportunity to use her nutritional therapy skills with people and pets over the years and loves sharing her insights with readers online.