Vitamin C for Dogs: What You Need To Know

Vitamin C for Dogs (Holistapet blog featured image) Benefits Explained. Golden Retriever running through an orange grove
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Is your pup lacking pep? Vitamin C for dogs might be the answer. Commonly known as ascorbic acid, this essential vitamin is like a superhero, helping dogs stay healthy by supporting their immune system, joints health, and more.


Even though dogs can make vitamin C in their bodies, there are times when they might need some extra. Think anxious behaviors, age, or illness. In such cases, giving dogs vitamin C in their diet may be helpful. Whether through their food or vitamin supplements, ensuring dogs get enough vitamin C is a smart move for any pet owner!



What Is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is like a health booster that helps with many different things inside a dog's body. For example, it helps make collagen, which is like a building block for skin, bones, and muscles. Vitamin C also aids in iron absorption, which is vital for carrying oxygen in the blood.


Even though dogs bodies' make their own vitamin C, sometimes, especially when they are very active, agitated, or sick, dogs might need vitamin C supplementation. Adding a daily dose of this vitamin to a dog’s diet can do wonders for their health.


What Are the Different Forms of Vitamin C?

There are different forms of vitamin C with their own unique traits. Here's a quick overview to help you understand some of them and their health benefits:


  • Ascorbic Acid. This is the most common form of vitamin C, which can be highly effective but might slightly irritate some dogs' stomachs.
  • Calcium Ascorbate. This gentler form is easier on the stomach and provides the added benefit of calcium.
  • Sodium Ascorbate. Also gentle on the tummy, this form offers a sodium boost.
  • Ascorbyl Palmitate. This is fat-soluble, allowing it to integrate with fats in the body for different uses.


Ascorbic Acid

Ascorbic acid is the most well-known form of vitamin C. It helps protect against cell damage, supports the immune system in fighting off germs, and even helps make collagen.


Here's the thing — ascorbic acid can be pretty strong and can sometimes upset a dog's stomach. If you notice your dog having some tummy trouble after taking vitamin C, it might be because of the ascorbic acid.


Calcium Ascorbate

Calcium ascorbate is great for pets with sensitive stomachs. Think of it as ascorbic acid's kinder sibling, giving the same health benefits but with a dose of calcium.


Choosing calcium ascorbate for your dog can be a way to boost their vitamin C intake without any discomfort. This form is ideal for growing puppies who need extra calcium for their developing bones. Senior dogs needing gentler vitamin supplements will also benefit from calcium ascorbate.


Sodium Ascorbate

Sodium ascorbate, another gentler form, mixes vitamin C with a bit of sodium. It is less sour and a lot easier for dogs to handle.


Since this type is gentle, dogs of all ages can benefit from it. As for super active dogs, the extra sodium can help keep their energy levels up.


Ascorbyl Palmitate

Think of ascorbyl palmitate as a mix between fat and vitamin C. This form works like a double agent. Since it can mix with fats, it doesn’t just stay in the watery parts of the body like most other vitamin C types. It can help out in more areas.


Ascorbyl palmitate can help pets keep their coats shiny and their skin healthy. It’s also helpful for older dogs who might need extra support with their brain health.


Tan dog in front of building blocks that spell out 'vitamin C' (close up image)


Why Is Vitamin C Important for Dogs’ Health?

Vitamin C is a big deal for dogs, just like for people, because it does a lot of important jobs in a dog's body. Here’s a quick overview of the key benefits vitamin C provides, which we'll explore in more detail in the sections that follow:


  • Allergy Response. May help to calm down allergy symptoms by promoting a strong immune system.
  • Antioxidant Protection. Works like a shield, helping protect the body from harmful particles.
  • Immune System. May help to boost the body’s defense system, supporting a pets immune system.
  • Collagen Production. Assists in collagen production, which aids in healthy joints, skin, and coat.
  • Wound Healing. May help wounds heal faster so dogs can return to playing and be happy sooner.


Allergy Response

When dogs have allergies, their bodies can react too strongly to things like pollen or certain foods. Vitamin C may help calm this reaction down, making it easier for dogs to handle their environment and the different things they eat.


Moreover, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It helps fight off harmful particles in the body that can make allergies worse. By keeping these particles in check, vitamin C may ease swelling, which is a big part of allergic reactions. Less swelling means less itching and discomfort for your dog.


Antioxidant Protection

Imagine vitamin C as a superhero that fights off bad guys, where the bad guys are harmful particles called free radicals. These free radicals can make dogs age faster and weaken their immune system. A vital antioxidant, vitamin C jumps into action to help neutralize these bad guys.


This antioxidant protection is crucial because it helps maintain a dog's overall health. When the cells in a dog's body are healthy, everything from the skin to the heart works better.


Immune System

Vitamin C helps create a barrier against viruses and bacteria, reducing the chance of your dog catching a bug. This essential vitamin is especially helpful during times when a dog's natural ability to fight off sickness might be weaker.


Essentially, vitamin C may assist in filling the gaps, ensuring the immune system is not overwhelmed. For pets, this means less downtime and more fun time playing and enjoying life. If your dog needs a vitamin C boost, you can try our Immune Support Soft Chews.


Collagen Production

When vitamin C is lacking, dogs can't make enough collagen. Collagen, an important protein that's like the body's natural building material, helps keep a dog's skin stretchy, their joints moving smoothly, and their bones strong.


Collagen also helps protect against infections and diseases by keeping the skin and mucous membranes (like in the nose and mouth) strong and intact. So, with enough vitamin C for good collagen production, your dog can handle small scrapes and bumps better while having fun and exploring. If this sounds like something your dog can benefit from, check out our Skin, Coat, & Nail Soft Chews today.


Vitamin C and Wounds

Vitamin C may potentially help to speed up the recovery process. As we've discussed, this vitamin helps the body make collagen, which is important for repairing damaged skin and body tissues.



Which Dogs Benefit Most From Vitamin C Supplements?

Not every dog needs extra vitamin C, but it can make a big difference for some. Think of vitamin C supplements as a special boost for dogs that might need a little extra help with any of the above concerns. If your dog falls under these categories, they might find supplementation handy:


  • Puppies. Puppies grow quickly, so they need lots of nutrients to help their bodies develop properly. Vitamin C may support puppies' bone growth, joint health, and immune system, ensuring they grow strong and healthy.
  • Senior Dogs. Older dogs might not naturally produce as much vitamin C or have more health issues like joint discomfort or a weaker immune system. A supplement may help reduce some of the common problems that come with age.
  • Upset or Sick Dogs. Anxious behaviors can lower a dog's natural defenses, making them more likely to get sick. When dogs are sick, their bodies use up nutrients faster as they fight off the illness. Vitamin supplements may help fill the gaps and support recovery during these times.


3 packages of Holistapet's Immune Support Supplements standing up next to each other

What Are the Types of Vitamin C Supplements for Dogs?

Choosing the right supplement that contains vitamin C for your dog requires a careful assessment of the available types. Each type offers unique health benefits tailored to your dog’s unique profile. Here’s a brief introduction to the three main types:


  • Soft Chews. These are like treats — tasty and easy for pets to consume. Soft chews, like ours, can provide a fuss-free way to supplement and double as a reward.
  • Powder. Powder supplements are highly versatile and allow adjustable dosages. The powder form can be perfect for picky eaters since you just mix it with their dog food.
  • Pills. These ensure a consistent dosage. Pills are ideal for dogs that are comfortable with taking them, but they may pose challenges for pups that are evasive to swallowing pills.


Soft Chews

Soft chews with vitamin C are like a treat and a health boost all in one. Many pets love them because they taste good and are easy to eat. Soft chews, like ours, are a great choice if you want to give your dog their supplement without any fuss.


Soft chews can also be a nice little reward for your dog, making supplement time something they look forward to. More importantly, these treats are helpful for older dogs or those with teeth problems since they're soft and easy to chew.



Powder supplements with vitamin C are very versatile and easy to use. You can mix it right into your dog's food, whether wet or dry. The powder form is perfect for picky eaters and dogs that don't like pills.


Powder supplements allow you to easily adjust the amount you give your dog. This flexibility is great for making sure your dog gets just the right amount for their size and health needs. So, if your dog needs a certain amount of vitamin C to help with a health problem, a powder supplement will be your friend.



Pill supplements with vitamin C are a go-to choice for many pet owners. If your dog doesn't mind taking pills, this type is straightforward to use. You know exactly how much vitamin C your dog gets with each pill, which helps keep their supplement routine consistent.


However, some pets might not like swallowing pills. You might have to get creative, like hiding the pill in some food or a snack. Despite this, pills are a good option for many dogs and can easily fit into their daily routine.



When Should I Add a Vitamin C Supplement to My Dog’s Diet?

Adding a vitamin C supplement to your pet's diet depends on a few factors like their health, age, and lifestyle. Certain foods already provide vitamins, so be sure to review what your dog eats first.


Generally, it's a good idea to consider vitamin C for dogs in certain situations to help boost your pet's health. Here are a few examples:


  • During Troubling Times. Anxious behaviors can lower a dog's natural defenses, making them more susceptible to illness. A boost in vitamin C may help to support their immune system.
  • Recovery. Since vitamin C may promote collagen production, supplementing with it may help speed up recovery if your dog gets hurt.
  • Health Concerns. For dogs that are prone to certain health issues, like joint problems or skin conditions, vitamin C supplements may provide targeted support.


Remember: Not all dogs need extra vitamin C. Dogs naturally produce vitamin C in their liver. However, age, health status, and physical demands can increase their need for this vital nutrient. Before starting any new supplement, consult with your veterinarian.


Want to learn more about dogs and their nutrition? See all our dog nutrition blogs here.


What Causes Vitamin C Deficiency in Dogs?

Dogs can run low on vitamin C for several reasons. First, if they are really upset and agitated, their bodies might not make as much vitamin C as usual.


If a dog is sick or hurt, their body uses vitamin C faster to help fight the illness or heal wounds. In such cases, they might need more vitamin C than their body can make. Additionally, older dogs might not make vitamin C as well as they used to. Just like people get a bit slower when they get older, a dog's body does too.


What Are the Signs of Vitamin C Deficiency in Dogs?

If your dog isn't getting enough vitamin C, it can affect their health. Here are a few signs you should watch for:


  • Unusual Tiredness. You might notice that your dog seems more tired than usual. Vitamin C is a big part of having energy, so without enough, your dog might not want to play as much.
  • Dull Coat and Dry Skin. Vitamin C helps keep a dog's skin healthy and shiny. If a dog is low on vitamin C, you might notice its coat looking dull and its skin dry or flaky. 
  • Slow Healing. Vitamin C aids in healing. Without enough of this vitamin, it might take longer for dogs' wounds to get better.
  • Frequent Illness. If your dog gets sick or has infections often, it could mean they're not getting enough vitamin C to help boost their immunity. 


If you notice these signs, it's a good idea to talk to a vet. These experts can help determine if your dog needs more vitamin C and suggest the best way to add it to their diet.


dog receiving a pill of vitamin C from its owners hand


What’s the Right Dosage of Vitamin C for Dogs?

Finding the perfect amount of vitamin C to give your dog depends on their size, health, and diet. However, a daily dose of between 100 and 500 milligrams of vitamin C is a good starting point for most canines.


Smaller dogs and puppies might need less, closer to the lower end of that range. Meanwhile, bigger dogs can handle more, closer to the higher end.


Be careful not to go overboard, as too much vitamin C can cause stomach upset and other issues. The best way to determine the right amount of vitamin C for your dog is to talk to your vet. They can consider your dog's specific needs and help you figure out the perfect dose.


Can Vitamin C Cause Side Effects in Dogs?

While vitamin C is generally safe for dogs, giving them too much can lead to some minor side effects. Because vitamin C is acidic, taking in too much of it can upset the stomach. The most common side effects in dogs include an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.


Another thing to watch for is the formation of calcium oxalate stones in the urinary tract. Vitamin C can turn into oxalate in the body, and too much oxalate can lead to stones. These stones are painful and might require a vet's help to get rid of.


But don’t worry. These side effects mainly happen if a dog gets way more vitamin C than they need. Keeping to the right dose means your dog can enjoy the health benefits of vitamin C without any problems.



Can I Give My Dog Human Vitamin C Supplements?

Sharing your vitamin C supplements with your dog is not a bright idea. Manufacturers design human vitamin C supplements for the human body, not for dogs.


The main concern here is the dosage. Human supplements often contain higher amounts of vitamin C than what's safe for canines. Giving these supplements to your dog could lead to those not-so-fun side effects we just discussed.


Also, some human vitamins have extra additives, which can be harmful to dogs. For example, xylitol, a common sweetener in human foods and supplements, is toxic to dogs.


If your pet needs more vitamin C, the safest bet is to get supplements specifically made for dogs. Manufacturers formulate these products with the right dosage and ensure they don't contain harmful additives.



Vitamin C for Dogs - Final Thoughts

Vitamin C for dogs is an essential nutrient your pet shouldn't miss out on. This crucial vitamin helps create healthy dogs by promoting their immunity, skin, joint, and bone health, and wound healing.


There are times when vitamin C supplementation might be necessary. When this happens, it's important to choose the right type and amount and to consult your veterinarian for guidance. Consider our Immune Support Chews, Skin, Coat, & Nail Soft Chews, and Urinary + Bladder Support Chews for dogs, which contain vitamin C to help promote your pet's overall health.


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