Updated: Jul 24
In this blog post, you will learn why vitamin C is good for your cat and dog, when it can benefit your pet and how to incorporate it into your pet's diet.
We all know vitamin C is good for us but is it good for our pets?
Dogs and cats manufacture their own vitamin C and so it is often thought that they don't need vitamin C added to their diet. If you want to ensure optimum health for your furry companion, adding some vitamin C rich foods to their diet is a good idea.
In the wild, dogs and cat receive much more vitamin C in their diet than their domestic counterparts. This is because they are eating fresh and whole foods that contain vitamin C, for example organ meats, stomach contents of prey animals and, moreso for dogs, berries and other fruits that they scavenge.
The average dog or cat eating a processed diet will unlikely be receiving any vitamin C from their food. For those dogs who are fed a home cooked diet, they may be getting a very small amount of vitamin C but most of it will have been destroyed by cooking.
Health benefits of vitamin C
Vitamin C contains numerous benefits including antioxidant, immune boosting, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine. It can be useful for a number of health conditions including arthritis, infectious diseases, teeth/gum diseases, upper respiratory problems, skin allergies and bladder and urinary tract infections. It's also especially helpful if your pet suffers from stress.
Vitamin C for stress-support
The body uses vitamin C in huge amounts when its under stress and so it is important to include vitamin C in your pet's diet whenever they are suffering from stress. The following table provides examples of some situations that can be stressors for your dog or can and how vitamin C can help.
The reality is that in this modern day, most animals will be suffering from some stress, especially if they are living with people who are experiencing stress (and who isn't?!). Some animals are more anxious than others and just hearing a truck drive by, or a loud bang, can be stressful.
Dogs and cats supplemented with vitamin C have stronger immune systems, show a greater resistance to disease and have a better recovery to illness or injury.
How much vitamin C is needed?
It's almost impossible to overdose on vitamin C because it is lost in the urine within hours of ingestion. If your dog or cat gets diarrhoea, you can be sure that you have exceeded the dosage for your pet.
If you're treating a specific health condition with vitamin C your animal naturopath or vet may recommend that you treat to the "tolerance dose". The tolerance dose (also known as the "therapeutic dose") is the highest amount of vitamin C your pet can cope with before getting diarrhoea.
For every-day health maintenance, the following dosages are recommended (divided daily):
Puppies, small dogs and cats - 250mg
Medium-sized dogs - 500mg
Large dogs - 750mg
Senior dogs - 500mg - 1000mg per 20kgs of body weight
For particular health conditions, the following dosages are recommended:
Ear infections: 125mg twice daily for small dogs and cats; 250-500mg twice daily for medium dogs; 500-1000mg twice daily for large dogs
Teeth/gum diseases: 125mg twice daily for small dogs and cats; 250mg twice daily for medium dogs; 1000mg twice daily for large dogs
Upper respiratory problems: 125-500mg twice daily for small dogs and cats; 250-1500mg twice daily for medium dogs; 500-1500mg twice daily for large dogs
Skin allergies: 125mg twice daily for small dogs and cats; 250-1500mg twice daily for medium dogs; 500-1500mg twice daily for large dogs
Bladder and urinary tract infections: 125mg twice daily for small dogs and cats; 250mg twice daily for medium dogs; 500mg twice daily for large dogs
As immune booster: 500mg twice daily for small dogs and cats; up to 1,500mg twice daily for medium dogs and large dogs.
Sodium Ascorbate or Calcium Ascorbate are the two best tolerated and absorbable forms of vitamin C. On average, one teaspoon of pure powder or crystals contains five grams (5,000 milligrams) of vitamin C, so an average maintenance dose for a healthy cat will be 1/16th of a teaspoon, and for a healthy dog will be 1/8 - 1/4 of a teaspoon.
However, I do prefer food-based supplements to synthetic, man-made supplements as I believe they are better absorbed by the body. Some of my favourite food-based vitamin C supplements are by Green Nutritionals, Eden Healthfoods and Amazonia.
What are some vitamin C rich foods that I can include in my pet's diet?
Nature provides us with many foods that can contain vitamin C, that you can easily add to your pet's diet. To ensure they absorb the vitamin C, along with the other nutrients, make sure you provide the food in a partially digested state, which you can achieve by pulverising or blending the food.
Below is a list of some foods that you can add in food or natural supplement form to your pet's diet to ensure they are getting the vitamin C they need for optimum wellness.
Liver is also a good source of vitamin C for your pet, containing 23.6 grams of vitamin C per 100g.
How can I ensure my pet is getting enough vitamin C?
The best way to ensure your pet is getting enough vitamin C is to feed a fresh, clean and whole food diet that includes vitamin-C rich foods, in the dosages recommended above. Most of the foods containing vitamin C are fruits and vegetables. If your pet won't eat fruit and veg, you can supplement with a food supplement like Kakadu Plum or Rose Hip. Alternatively, a sodium ascorbate or calcium ascorbate supplement will do just fine.
Do you want to ensure your pet is getting all the nutrients they need (and should be getting) from their food? Purchase a Real Food Diet Plan today to get your cat or dog on track to optimum wellness.
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