Human beings have an advantage over dogs. Our bodies can produce Vitamin D from exposure to the sun, and that's pretty miraculous, actually. Dogs, however, need to get their Vitamin D from their diet and their diet alone. Guess how many pups don't get the amount that they need from food? A whopping 75%! That's bad news, and it's why you need to be aware of this controversial little vitamin.
Here's the scary part: too little Vitamin D can cause dogs a whole host of problems. Bone deformities, congestive heart failure, inflammatory bowel disease, immune system dysfunction, and even cancer - these are all risks. Why? Well one reason is that Vitamin D helps the absorption of phosphorous and calcium, so deficiencies can affect a large range of functions in your dog's system.
Two types of Vitamin D are available to rectify this problem: Vitamin D2, which comes primarily from plants, and Vitamin D3 from liver and fatty meats. Vitamin D3 is the form that is most bioavailable for dogs, and the kind you most often see in commercial foods and supplements.
So load up on as much Vitamin D as possible?
No! Too much of a good thing isn't wise either. Commercial pet food companies in the past have added high levels of Vitamin D to their foods, causing overdoses for dogs that aren't that much different from, oh, say...consuming rat poison. Vitamin D toxicity can lead to illness and even death as levels of calcium and phosphorous can rise too high and lead to calcification of tissues in the kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and heart.
Okay, so we minimize Vitamin D then, right?
Not quite! Hold your horses (or your puppies). Now research is showing a possible correlation between low serum levels of Vitamin D and cancer. A host of studies have been done to link low levels of Vitamin D with the onset of cancer in dogs. In 2014, researchers conducted a study that measured 25VitD (the most accurate measurement of Vitamin D in the body) in the blood of test animals who had different types of cancer and compared them to dogs who were cancer-free.
In order to be protected from cancer and other immune dysfunction, the researchers determined that dogs should have between 100 and 200 ng/mL 25VitD in their blood. In the study, the dogs who had various forms of cancer had considerably less.
However, since 25VitD is only a precursor to the usable, active form of Vitamin D, more research needs to be done to effectively prove the cause and effect relationship between low levels of 25VitD and cancer. Nonetheless, there have been enough studies to prove that factors in our dog's environment can significantly decrease Vitamin D Levels and lead to disease.
Okay, so how do balance Vitamin D for our pup?
A dog's inability to produce Vitamin D from sun exposure and reduced bioavailability from food definitely exposes them to risk (if they're not eating a natural, carnivorous diet). The first key is a healthy diet.
Unfortunately not everyone has the time and money to prepare a species-optimized meal plan every day. For those who buy commercial or canned dog food, a balanced supplement like Canine Boost will take all the fuss out of optimizing your pup's diet. Follow the directions, dose properly, and your little guy will have all the Vitamin D he needs, with almost no risk.