The more I thought about it, the more I thought, hmm, if vitamin D deficiency is so common in humans — especially northerners who don’t get adequate sunlight, and those who wear sunscreen — then what about in dogs?
Vitamin D is also rare in foods. Only a handful of foods contain it. Some varieties of seafood are included in that handful.
Salmon is one relatively rich source. But a more efficient vehicle? Cod liver oil. The same stuff our mothers, grandmothers or great-grandmothers made kids take (choke down?) back in the day is still available now. Many human varieties are flavored with lemon, orange or other palatable tastes to make it tolerable. But regular, unflavored cod liver oil is available as well, and is a better choice for dogs than the flavored stuff.
The brand I used to research this article has vitamin D, E and A — all important fat-soluble vitamins — along with omega-3s. The human serving size of this particular brand is one teaspoon per day. So a little goes a long way, and most dogs will need less.
One thing to watch for with fat-soluble vitamins is that they can build up in the body and become toxic. Too much vitamin A, for example, can harm the liver. But if your dog is low in vitamin D, like so many of us humans are, then it is useful to build up the body’s reserves. After all, the more research that’s done on vitamin D, the more it is being linked with health, and its deficiency linked with disease.
So check your dog’s current diet to make sure he is getting enough vitamin D. If not, consider using small amounts of cod liver oil, for not just vitamin D but other nutrients and beneficial omega-3s.