Do dogs need vitamin C

Do dogs require Vitamin C? The short answer is no. Dogs can produce vitamin C in their livers themselves. As a result of this ability, nutritionists have long considered it unnecessary to add C to a dog’s diet.

Some commercial dog foods do have vitamin C added to them. This may be because it is able to be used as a preservative. Or it may be because it has antioxidant qualities.

Do dogs need Vitamin C supplements

In a healthy dog, there is probably little or no gain from supplementing a dog’s diet with Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin which means whatever the body doesn’t use is expelled in the dog’s urine.

However, recent clinical observations indicate that when dogs are sick or stressed, they can rapidly deplete their bodies’ output of vitamin C. A further study found that dogs with skin diseases usually have very low amounts of vitamin C in their blood.

Other research found the blood levels of vitamin C to be low and even non-existent in dogs with fevers. Also, dogs who have exercised to their limits such as in dog sports or hunting dogs had very low or no Vitamin C in their blood.

Stress is the best-known cause of vitamin C depletion in a dog. This applies to both physical stress from exercise or illness and mental and emotional stress. The level of stress a dog experience is often measured by the degree of depletion of vitamin C in a dog’s blood.

Benefits of Vitamin C Supplementation

Vitamin pills spilling from an open bottle, not isolated

Many studies have found that dogs that are supplemented with vitamin C showed greater resistance to disease. Also a better ability to recover from injuries or illness.

There is growing support for Vitamin C supplementation among holistic veterinarians. Many prescribe it for illnesses, including cancer, kennel cough and other respiratory infections, abscesses, and other bacterial infections.

Due to its important role in maintaining the health of collagen, it is thought to have benefits in slowing degenerative joint disease, hip dysplasia, arthritis, and spinal disorders.

Some veterinarians suggest giving C to dogs before and after vaccination. Also, it may have benefits for dogs exposed to contagious diseases. Also for pregnant and lactating dogs, and for healthy teeth and gums.

So, should you be giving your dog a Vitamin C supplement? There is probably no consensus as to whether it is necessary due to the fact that dogs produce their own source of Vitamin C. However, it may be beneficial for stressed and sick dogs, dogs that exercise to their limit, dogs with skin diseases, or dogs with joint and arthritis issues.

For a healthy dog with a quality diet and little stress, there is probably no need of supplementation with vitamin C. However, if stress, illness, or age causes a dog’s need for vitamin C to outstrip there ability to produce it, supplementing them with C is a sensible choice.

If your dog doesn’t need it they will pass it when they pee. At worst, it may be expensive urine. Despite the absence of scientific studies confirming that extra vitamin C actually helps dogs, there is not much evidence that extra vitamin C is particularly dangerous for dogs.

See Vitamin C supplements for dogs here

What dosage of vitamin C to give a dog

The average dog normally produces about 18 milligrams of vitamin C per pound of body weight per day. It is generally recommended by many vets to supplement with that same dose and to split the total daily dosage into several feedings during the day. This will help with absorption.

The tolerance of Vitamin C supplementation can vary from dog to dog. Too much vitamin C, especially if given in one dose, will cause diarrhea and even stomach upset in dogs. It is best to start with a lower dose and increase gradually to about 100 milligrams a day. If your dog develops diarrhea and then reduce the dose to the amount given previously.

If you want to supplement your dog with vitamin C, the best form is the salt forms of vitamin C. These are known as mineral ascorbates (calcium ascorbate and sodium ascorbate).

Ascorbates are easily absorbed anywhere in the dog’s intestinal tract. They are also considered to be the most gentle (buffered) forms of vitamin C and cause fewer side effects such as diarrhea.

If you have any doubts about whether you should give your dog a Vitamin C supplement and in what dosage talk to your vet.


  • Joseph Coleman

    A lifelong writer and proud dog dad. Joseph started this blog dedicated to helping other dog owners find accurate information on how to keep their pets at their healthiest through exercise and nutrition. His passion for all things canine shines through in his writing, and he believes that every dog deserves the best possible care. If you're a dog owner looking for reliable advice on how to keep your pup healthy and happy, be sure to check out Joseph's work.