Vitamin C in dogs: is it essential according to science?

Veterinary consultation

Unlike humans, dogs can produce vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in their bodies. Due to this ability, nutritionists have considered the administration of vitamin C in dogs unnecessary.

Until recently, it was rare for dog food manufacturers to add vitamin C to their products. In some cases, the vitamin was added more for its conservative action than for its nutritional value.

Effects and benefits of this vitamin

Vitamin C acts in the body as an antioxidant. Oxidation is the chemical reaction of oxygen when combined with another substance.

In body metabolism, the calories your pet consumes are processed through the oxidation process. Thus, when the body ‘burns calories,’ both the heat and the energy that the body needs for proper functioning are produced.

However, too much or too little oxygen in the system can create toxic by-products called free radicals. These radicals can damage cell structure, alter the immune response, and alter DNA codes.

Vitamin C becomes essential here, which acts as an oxygen interceptor and as a free radical scavenger. In this way, it protects cells from destruction or oxidation alteration.

Therefore, vitamin C is a medicinal substance that inhibits tissue degeneration and collagen. This is achieved by working together with the other vitamins and minerals that protect the body and its systems.

Clinical use of vitamin C in dogs

For more than five decades, two studies established the therapeutic benefit of vitamin C in dogs affected by canine distemper virus.

Belfield (1967) described the benefit of intravenous vitamin C in three-day treatments. His studies were carried out in a series of 10 dogs.

Leveque (1969) showed that treatment with vitamin C was vital in the recovery of disorders of the central nervous system. These studies were carried out in a series of 16 dogs.

Various studies have been done on dogs with burn injuries. One of these determined that the administration of vitamin C decreased oxidative stress. Also, the microvascular loss of proteins and liquids decreased (Matsuda, 1993).

More recently, treatment with vitamin C in dogs has been effective in treating heart conditions. In the same way, this vitamin collaborated oxidative fighting stress and improving episodes of tachycardia (Carnes et al., 2001; Shiroshita-Takeshita, 2004).

Due to its role in maintaining collagen health, this vitamin is useful for delaying degenerative disorders. Among them are a degenerative joint disease, hip dysplasia, and spinal disorders (Hastings, 2004).

Fascinating is the report of the effect of vitamin C in dogs affected by the syndrome of cognitive dysfunction (SDC). This condition is common in elderly dogs; It is considered analogous to dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease in humans. In these dogs, the vitamin proved to collaborate in the reduction of the associated symptoms, and that is that it degenerated.

Contraindications to the use of vitamin C in dogs

Mostly, the use of ascorbic acid is safe for animals. However, it is known that excessive use of the vitamin can cause kidney stones to form.

Intestinal irritation and diarrhea can also occur with large doses, and, in sporadic cases, anemia can develop. Vitamin C can also cause an interaction with other prescription medications such as cyclosporine, tetracycline, beta-blockers, loop diuretics, aspirin, and acetaminophen, among others.

Breed matters at the time of treatment with vitamin C in dogs

Unfortunately, many pet owners may not know if their pet is at risk of doing calculations. Indeed, vitamin C should be avoided if a pet has a history of oxalate stone formation.

Supplementation in high-risk breeds such as schnauzers, Lhasa Apso, Yorkshire terrier, miniature poodle, Shih Tzu, and bichon frisé should be avoided.

Urinalysis tests for crystals can help identify other pets that are not considered high risk.

Do not sin too much

You must consult with your veterinarian and inform him of everything you are giving to your pet. Always remember to ask before starting any new supplements.

In the case of vitamin C, the duration of administration depends on the condition to be treated. Always consider the response of the animal and the evidence of any side effects.

In summary, although vitamin C is an excellent therapeutic addition to veterinary treatment, it may not be suitable for all pets. Keep in mind that while ascorbic acid can be purchased without a prescription, it is essential to follow the dosing instructions given by your veterinarian.

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