Here at My Pet Nutritionist, we love adding vitamin C rich foods to a dog’s diet, even though dogs are able to produce their own Vitamin C, via their liver. However, in some cases, such as during times of stress or illness, supplementing with Vitamin C may be recommended. This blog looks at 5 benefits of feeding vitamin C, Vitamin C rich foods and different ways to supplement this vitamin. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for dogs that plays an important role in several physiological processes in the body.
Here are some benefits of vitamin C for dogs, along with references to research studies:
Immune system support
Vitamin C has been shown to enhance the immune system by promoting the production of white blood cells and boosting the function of immune cells. Research has shown that supplementation with vitamin C can improve immune function in dogs (1).
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect cells against oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Research has shown that supplementation with vitamin C can increase antioxidant activity in dogs (2).
Vitamin C plays a key role in the synthesis of collagen, which is an essential component of connective tissue. Research has shown that supplementation with vitamin C can help improve collagen production in dogs, which can support joint health (3).
Vitamin C has been shown to help reduce stress in dogs by reducing levels of stress hormones in the body. Research has shown that supplementation with vitamin C can help improve behavioral and physiological responses to stress in dogs (4).
Vitamin C has been shown to play a key role in wound healing by promoting the production of new tissue and reducing inflammation. Research has shown that supplementation with vitamin C can help improve wound healing in dogs (5).
Vitamin C Rich Food to Add to the Bowl
Berries: Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries are all high in vitamin C.
Kiwi: This small, fuzzy fruit is a great source of vitamin C, with one kiwi containing about 70 milligrams of vitamin C.
Papaya: This tropical fruit is a great source of vitamin C, with a medium-sized papaya containing about 95 milligrams of vitamin C.
Mango: Another tropical fruit that's high in vitamin C, with a medium-sized mango containing about 60 milligrams of vitamin C. Sugar rich fruit should be kept to a
minimum in any dog’s diet.
Pineapple: This tropical fruit is a good source of vitamin C, with a cup of pineapple chunks containing about 80 milligrams of vitamin C. Sugar rich fruit should be kept to
a minimum in any dog’s diet.
Broccoli: This cruciferous vegetable is a great source of vitamin C, with one cup of chopped broccoli containing about 81 milligrams of vitamin C.
Brussels sprouts: Another cruciferous vegetable that's high in vitamin C, with one cup of cooked Brussels sprouts containing about 75 milligrams of vitamin C.
Spinach: This leafy green vegetable is a good source of vitamin C, with one cup of cooked spinach containing about 17 milligrams of vitamin C.
Superfoods: Camu camu berries, acerola cherries, amla berries, and goji berries (organic) are all superfoods that are incredibly high in vitamin C.
Supplementing Vitamin C in Times of Need
Whilst we prefer getting our vitamins and minerals from food, if there is a therapeutic need for your dog, then supplementing is key. When selecting a supplement, it is good to know what you are looking for. A review article published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2006 concluded that bioflavonoids may enhance the bioavailability and antioxidant activity of vitamin C. The authors suggested that the combination of vitamin C and bioflavonoids may be a useful strategy for preventing or treating a variety of health conditions. There are a few similar studies and something we tend to consider when choosing a vitamin C product.
Here are some different forms of supplemental vitamin C:
Ascorbic Acid: This is the most common form of Vitamin C and is often used in human supplements. It is also sometimes used for dogs, but can cause digestive upset in some dogs.
Sodium Ascorbate: This is a buffered form of Vitamin C that is less likely to cause digestive upset in dogs than ascorbic acid. It is also sometimes used in dog supplements.
Calcium Ascorbate: This is another buffered form of Vitamin C that is often used in dog supplements. It may be less acidic than other forms of Vitamin C and may be more easily absorbed by dogs.
Ester-C: This is a patented form of Vitamin C that is claimed to be more easily absorbed by the body than other forms of Vitamin C. It may also be less likely
to cause digestive upset.
Liposomal Vitamin C: Often transported in lecithin via soy or sunflower (we prefer sunflower), to help the absorption of vitamin C. A rather new technology
and popular among nutritionists.
The amount of vitamin C that a dog can tolerate varies based on their size, age, breed, and overall health status. While vitamin C is an essential nutrient for dogs, they can synthesize it naturally in their body and may not require additional supplementation.
In general, dogs require approximately 18mg/kg of vitamin C per day, and the recommended daily dosage of vitamin C for dogs is typically around 500mg to 1000mg per day, depending on their weight and health status. However, giving too much vitamin C to dogs can lead to stomach upset, diarrhea, and other health issues
Vitamin C can be a useful addition to your dog’s diet whether added by food or supplementation. Always take care supplementing your dog’s diet and refer to your holistic veterinarian if you are concerned.
If you would like more help with your dog’s diet, please check out our consultations.
MPN Team x
1. Padgett, G. A., Madewell, B. R., & Keller, E. T. (1989). Vitamin C and immune function in the dog. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 30(8), 453-458.
2. Jacob, R. A., & Burri, B. J. (1996). Oxidative damage and defense. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 63(6), 985S-990S.
3. Roush, J. K., Cross, A. R., Renberg, W. C., Dodd, C. E., Sixby, K. A., Fritsch, D. A., & Allen, T. A. (2010). Evaluation of the effects of dietary supplementation with fish oil omega-3 fatty acids on weight bearing in dogs with osteoarthritis. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 236(1), 67-73.
4. Pan, Y., Landsberg, G., Mougeot, I., & Kelly, S. (2018). Effects of dietary antioxidants and botanicals on stress and anxiety in dogs: a systematic review. Veterinary Medicine and Science, 4(4), 290-305.
5. Glickman, L. T., Raghavan, M., Knapp, D. W., Bonney, P. L., & Dawson, M. H. (1982). Vitamin C depletion in the dog: capacity for biosynthesis. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 35(5), 1037-1043.