Vitamin C for Dogs: Are There Benefits?

vitamin C, orange

Ascorbic acid was isolated and identified as the nutrient that prevented scurvy in the early 1900s. Scientists discovered that humans are among the few animals that cannot make vitamin C on their own and have to get it from an outside source like vegetables, fresh fruits, or vitamin C supplements regularly to avoid illness. Unlike humans, dogs can generate vitamin C on their own, and due to this fact, veterinarian nutritionists have long deemed it unnecessary to supplement vitamin C in a dog’s diet. Up until a couple of years ago, very few dog food makers added vitamin C to their products- or if they do, it was for the vitamin’s preservative nature and not for the nutrition. 

Related: The Best Sources Of Calcium For Your Dogs

Vitamin C Helps Dogs That are Sick and Stressed

While vitamin C supplementation may not be necessary when dealing with healthy, happy animals, recent studies report that if dogs are sick or stressed, their bodies’ output of vitamin C can be depleted rapidly. A 1942 study connected skin diseases in dogs with low levels of vitamin C. Other studies report that dogs with fevers and dogs who exercise to their limits, such as sled dogs after a hard race, or hunting dogs during hunting season, tend to have low blood levels of vitamin C. 

The most significant cause of vitamin C depletion in dogs is stress, both physical and emotional. Physical stress can be due to many reasons, such as lactation, gestation, growth, hard work (dogs used for tracking, herding, hunting, etc.), injuries, vaccinations, ear cropping, or illness. Emotional stress can be due to weaning, relocation, or demanding training. The correlation between stress and vitamin C levels in a dog is so consistent that researchers can measure a dog’s stress level through the degree of vitamin C depletion in the dog’s blood. On the other hand, many studies show that dogs (and humans) who supplement with vitamin C are more resistant to disease and can recover from injuries or illnesses better. 

Related: How To Help Your Dog Gain Weight

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What the Research Tells Us

Author and expert Wendell O. Belfield, DVM, talks about how he first experimented with (and appreciated) the positive benefits of vitamin C in his veterinary practice. After a particularly heartbreaking episode, he started researching viral diseases, where he failed to save the life of a family dog with distemper. While studying, he stumbled across an article profiling a doctor who used high doses of vitamin C to successfully treat viral diseases like hepatitis and polio in the 1940s.

Belfield started to think about doing the same thing to fight canine viral infections. In 1965, a client came to Belfield with a dog also suffering from distemper. Belfield injected the dog with vitamin C, and it was a success- recovering from a disease previously considered fatal. Belfield started to experiment with vitamin C treatments for many dogs’ conditions and believes that vitamin C can be a great boon to dogs. 

Antioxidants and Bioflavonoids

Vitamin C works as an antioxidant in the body. Oxidation refers to the chemical reaction of oxygen mixing with another substance, and oxidation in animals is a natural process that generates the energy and heats your body needs to keep running. However, too much or too little oxygen in the system results in toxic by-products known as free radicals, damaging cell structure, and impairing immunity. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and protects the cells from being destroyed or altered by oxidation, and helps return oxidized vitamin E to its original state. 

Several kinds of vitamin C also have bioflavonoids, naturally-occurring plant pigments that the body uses to make other nutrients. Supplementing your dog’s diet with the occasional bites of carrot or apple, or giving them some extra fresh fruit they enjoy, can help enhance their bioflavonoid intake.

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Giving Your Dog Vitamin C

Holistic veterinarians routinely prescribe vitamin C for a wide variety of illnesses, such as kennel cough, cancer, respiratory infections, bacterial infections, and abscesses. Vitamin C plays a crucial role in collagen production, making it especially good for slowing degenerative joint diseases, hip dysplasia, and spinal disorders. Vitamin C is also a preventative and immune booster. Some vets recommend giving the vitamin to dogs both before and after vaccination and to pregnant and lactating dogs that have been exposed to contagious diseases.

Vitamin C Dosage Recommendations

Here are some basic guidelines to give you a good sense of how much vitamin C your dog needs:

  • For Puppies & Small Dog Breeds: 250mg of vitamin C per daily
  • For Medium-sized Breeds: 500mg of vitamin C per day
  • For Large Breeds: 750mg of vitamin C per day

Because their immune systems are weakened, senior dogs require more Vitamin C. Vets often recommend an older dog take 500mg-1000mg of vitamin C per 40-50lbs of body weight per day.

Vitamin C doses of 150mg to 500mg per day are usually safe for cats.

ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR VETERINARIAN FIRST! – Never give your dog a supplement without checking with your vet to know if it’s needed.

How Vitamin C Works

The average dog typically produces around 18 milligrams of vitamin C per pound of body weight every day. This means that for a dog without any clinically significant symptoms but is going through a lot of stress, supplementing with about that much C every day is a conservative maintenance dosage. Veterinarians suggest splitting the total daily dosage into multiple feedings during the day to optimize absorption.

Many holistic veterinarians recommend maintenance doses that are three to four times that amount, but too much vitamin C, especially if given in a single dose, will result in diarrhea. When administering the maximum amount of C for a therapeutic dose, you should raise the dose in 100-500 milligram-per-day increments until the dog develops diarrhea, then lower to the previous day’s amount. This is known as “bowel tolerance.”

Different dogs have different tolerances to vitamin C supplements, and their tolerance may also vary with environmental conditions. For example, a dog experiencing a lot of stress may tolerate 4,000 milligrams without diarrhea but get diarrhea whenever the stress goes away. Another factor to consider is the kind of illness you are treating them for. Always check with your veterinarian to determine the proper dosage and supplementation procedures for your dog. 

Related: 6 Causes Of Sudden Weight Loss in Dogs, and How to Maintain a Healthy Weight

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5 Best Vitamin C Supplements for Dogs

Did you know that humans and dogs possess a wide array of similarities? For example, we both require vitamin C to stay healthy and boost our immune systems to protect ourselves from infections and diseases. Vitamin C also helps reduce joint problems, arthritis, cognitive aging, inflammation, hip dysplasia, and other medical issues for dogs

Making sure that your dog gets enough vitamin C naturally can be tricky. Thankfully, there several vitamin C supplements that you can give them to get the job done! Below, our experts at Rogue Pet Science have compiled a list of the best vitamin C supplements currently on the market that are perfect for your dog!

Rx Vitamins Bio-C Vitamin C Immune Support for Pets
  • Immune system support for young pets is crucial, especially if they board, travel, or have siblings
  • Helps support natural detoxification and elimination
  • Can be scooped & sprinkled over your pet's favorite meal for a daily dose
  • Uses Sodium Ascorbate as a source of Vitamin C
  • Made with premium ingredients to ensure quality, purity, and effectiveness

Our top contender for the best vitamin C dog supplement is the BIO-C formula proudly provided by Rx Vitamins for Pets. It is also the only product on our list specifically designed for animals. This powder is made with only premium ingredients and is frequently recommended by veterinarians as a fantastic source of vitamin C, which helps support natural detoxification and elimination. 

The powdered supplement is formulated with unique flavorings that make it more appealing to dogs, meaning you’ll have a relatively easy time getting your dog to consume it than you will with other, non-flavored supplements. There is no need to hide any pills in cheese slices to get your dog to cooperate!

BIO-C is currently available on Amazon for only $18.00 per bottle for single-time purchases and features an impressive 4.5/5 star rating from nearly 800 reviews. You can also purchase the product as a subscription to save you 10% on all orders. 

Why we love it:

  • It’s made in the USA
  • It includes an easy-to-use scoop

Related: Dietary Fats For Pets

Nutricost Ascorbic Acid Powder (Vitamin C)
  • Bottle May Have a White or Black Lid. Product and Powder of Same Quality.
  • Pure, High-Quality Powder. No Binders Or Fillers
  • 1 Gram Per Serving (Scoop Included), 2 LBS of Pure Vitamin C Powder Per Bottle
  • Non-GMO, Gluten-Free, 3rd Party Tested
  • Made in a GMP Compliant, FDA Registered Facility

Nutricost’s Pure Ascorbic Acid Vitamin C Powder may not be specifically designed for dogs. However, it more than makes up for it by being top-quality, food-grade, and suitable for any homecooked meals you make for your pet. It serves as a clean source of vitamin C, is third-party tested for quality, and is completely non-GMO, gluten-free, and GMP compliant according to their FDA registered facility.

Nutricost Vitamin C is currently available on Amazon for a one-time purchase of only $16.99 per two-pound bottle and features a fantastic 4.5/5 star rating out of nearly 3.5 thousand reviews. You can also subscribe to the product and gain a 10% savings on all orders. 

Why we love it:

  • It’s made in the USA
  • It includes a 1000 mg easy-use scoop

Sometimes dogs need a little extra support for their overall health and wellness, just like humans! Thankfully, our team of experts at Rogue Pet Science has diligently created a wide range of holistic products to provide all of the support they need.

NOW Supplements: Vitamin C Crystals
  • Highly effective antioxidant that can help maintain healthy tissues
  • Soy Free, Non-GMO, Vegan/Vegetarian, Nut Free, Made without Gluten, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Kosher, Low Sodium
  • GMP Quality Assured: NPA A-rated GMP certification
  • Packaged in the USA by a family-owned and operated company since 1968

NOW’s Vitamin C Crystals with Ascorbic Acid are a natural dietary supplement that offers an effective and affordable way to ensure your dog gets its recommended daily intake of vitamin C. NOW’s product is certified gluten, dairy, egg, and nut-free, is certified non- GMO, contains low sodium, and is classified as vegan/vegetarian. 

NOW’s Vitamin C supplements are currently available on Amazon for a one-time purchase of only $9.83 per eight-ounce bottle and features a fantastic 4.7/5 star rating out of nearly 2.5 thousand reviews. You can also subscribe to the product and gain a 10% savings on all orders.

Why we love it:

  • It’s packaged in the USA
  • It’s pharmaceutical grade
  • It adheres to U.S. FDA Current Good Manufacturing Processes (CGMP) and voluntary Natural Products Association (NPA) Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations

Related: Toxins In Dry Dog Foods: Part 1

Duda Energy asc2 Bag of L-Ascorbic Acid Powder
  • 99+ percent Pure l-ascorbic acid, chemical formula: c6h8o6, a form of Vitamins C
  • Meets United States Pharmacopoeia specifications, food-grade BP2012/USP36 bioactive, non-GMO
  • Packaged in a heavy-duty 5 mil/120um light resistant, PE/aluminum/nylon resealable bag - flexible & strong
  • Synonyms: Vitamins C, ascorbic, vitamin C, ascorbate, ascorbutina, catavin C, cevex, secorbate, 3-keto-l-gulofuranolactone; 3-oxo-l-gulofuranolactone
  • White crystalline powder / 80 mesh / 177 micron

Duda Energy is an excellent option for those wanting access to safe, top-quality vitamin C for their dog but who need to stick to lower-budget products compared to others included on this list. While this product is made in China, it claims to meet all U.S. food regulations pharmaceutical specifications and is non-GMO.

The product is currently available for purchase on Amazon for a one-time buying option of $24.40 for a single two-pound bag. However, it’s also available in a wide range of weights and containers, varying from one-ounce bags to eight-pound pails. It features a 4.6/5 star rating based on 257 reviews.

Why we love it:

  • It’s contained in heavy-duty, reusable packaging
  • It contains 99%+ pure vitamin C powder

Related: Probiotics For Dogs: Why You’re Using Them Wrong

Best Naturals 100% Pure Vitamin C Powder 1 lb (454 Grams) Powder (Also Called Ascorbic Acid)
  • Supports immune health, Circulatory and Heart Health, and Eye Health
  • 100% Pure Powder -- Supports healthy aging
  • Antioxidant Protection
  • Free of solvents, herbicides, and pesticides -- Verified free of allergens by an independent, third-party lab
  • Manufactured in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)

Our final vitamin C supplement for dogs on this list is proudly provided by Best Naturals. Their Pure vitamin C powder is produced following strict U.S. FDA Current Good Manufacturing Practices. According to reviews by humans, it also tastes decent, meaning it may be easier to encourage your dog to eat it than some other supplements contained on this list.

Best Naturals’ Vitamin C is currently available on Amazon for only $12.99 per one-pound bottle, making it one of the most cost-effective supplements on our lineup. You can also subscribe and save an additional 10% on each bottle you receive. 

Why we love it:

  • It’s made in the USA

Searching for Quality Dog Chews, Treats, and Food Toppers?

Vitamin C supplements can provide several health benefits for dogs, and we hope the above guide has helped you decide which brands you’ll have your pet try first! If you’d like access to a range of other holistic pet products that can help support your canine companion’s health and wellness, please consider exploring our website at Rogue Pet Science! Our shop contains a wide selection of specially formulated dog treats, chews, and food toppers. Don’t hesitate to contact us today if you have questions, and don’t forget to explore our selection of quality pet nutrition articles. 

Are you currently searching for a quality source of natural and holistic supplements to help support your pet’s optimal health and wellness? Our experts at Rogue Pet Science have created a range of specially formulated treats, chews, and food toppers for your dog to enjoy!

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