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Should commercial dog foods be supplemented with a good quality multivitamin?

  • June 17, 2021
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Should commercial dog foods be supplemented with a good quality multivitamin?

In a word, yes. 

Although there are exceptions to the rule, most commercial dog foods provide a good foundation for good health. But there are always some nutrients that are left out due to cost or destroyed during manufacturing, transportation and storage. 

So what exactly happens when dog food is made and stored? I researched this topic recently for an assignment for one of my Canine Nutrition courses. It took hours of research to find the studies that backed up these claims and so if you want to know the answer, keep reading below.


I recently learned that heat is applied 6 times when kibble is made: 

Step 1.

Meat is added into a vat to render it down to a powder. Then, heat is applied at a temperature of 220 degrees up to 390 degrees.

Step 2.

This powder is then sent to the hammer mill. This is the first time the plant starts to cook the material. Next, the ingredients are cooked together. Heat is involved in this process.

Step 3.

All of the ingredients are preconditioned – hot water and pressurized steam are used to cook the ingredients into a gloopy doughy material.

Step 4.

This dough is pushed through an extruder. The walls of the tubes are heated to high temperatures, and high pressure as the dough passes through. It is squeezed out the other end and cut into shapes. As the dough hits the air and the pressure is released, it puffs up. The kibble is hot and soft at this point.

Step 5.

All of the kibble is baked in an oven to dry.

Step 6.

A second round of enrobing. Heat is applied … and the hot kibble is dried and sprayed with synthetic vitamins, minerals, and flavor enhancers. The flavor enhancers are typically rendered liquid fats or powders.

Vitamins and Minerals are susceptible to oxidation and destruction during the thermal process. 

Some vitamins like Thiamine is well known for it’s lack of stability and will degrade when it’s exposed to heat, UV light, gamma irradiation, high water activity and sulfites (often utilized as a preservative).  

Omega-3s do not remain stable during the manufacturing process

Algal oils do not remain stable during the severe thermal process in how kibble is made. It’s common, therefore, for pet food companies to use fish meal, rather than oil as their source of Omega 3s. The amount of EPA and DHA recorded typically takes a drop in the pre-conditioning step of the manufacturing process.  

In fact, DHA has been shown to decrease by 50% in the pre-conditioner.  

Should commercial dog foods be supplemented with a good quality multivitamin?

Omega 3s oxidize and degrade over time

When studied, the level of Omega 3s didn’t change much during the first 3 months. But over time Omega 3s oxidized and/or degraded between the ranges of 9 and 17%.  

Vitamins decrease during the manufacturing process

Vitamin retention decreases slightly when kibble exits the extruder and dryer. 

Vitamins degrade during storage

In a study conducted by Mooney in 2010, the quantity of vitamins in kibble declined by approximately 50% over six months of storage in ambient conditions.  

Nutrition plays an important role in the prevention of breed-specific ailments like Hip Dysplasia 

Dogs prone to hip dysplasia were studied to see how nutrition affected them. The study concluded that nutrition played a role in whether a dog might develop hip dysplasia.  

Synthetic vitamins are absorbed differently

Vitamins and minerals are sprayed onto the kibble in the final stages of when it’s made.

So despite having a similar structure, you dog’s body may react differently and not fully absorb all of these synthetic vitamins.  

But before you grab the most popular multivitamin

As you can see, the amount of vitamins you think might be in commercial dog food is decreased during the time it is cooked and while it sits on the shelf.

Consider adding fresh food sources to your dog’s daily meals. You can add in fresh meat, organ, seafood and fiber quite easily.

Final Thoughts:

Although there is a learning curve, my preference would be that your dog ate a balanced fresh food meal (cooked or raw).

I realize that this may not be realistic for most dog parents so my next recommendation is to make sure you’re feeding less kibble and more fresh food even if you’re just topping off bowls.

You can top off bowls with food you make in the kitchen or single ingredient treats and chews. I’ve tried almost all the brands out there and I’ve been a loyal fan of Real Dog Box for almost four years. You can sign up for your own box to be delivered to you.

And as your last option when fresh food additions are not available, I would add in a multivitamin that is specific to your dog’s breed, age, lifestyle and needs; an Omega 3 and a supplement to help keep your dog’s joints healthy. I use the set from Pawsomely Healthy and if you want to try it out use code Maggielovesorbit to save 10% off your initial purchase.

Every dog is different.

With your decisions for your dog, monitor their:

  • Skin
  • Coat
  • Eyes
  • Stool
  • Energy
  • Behavior
  • Negative reactions like regurgitation, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • And have your veterinarian conduct routine urinalysis and bloodwork 

These health markers will provide you the data to know if what you are feeding is improving your dog’s health and allowing them to thrive. 

At the end of the day, let your dog and their health determine what’s best for them.  

Thank you for reading this far, dear friends. To your own dog’s health and happiness. Best of luck in your information-seeking journey.

Stay steadfast and curious as you gather your own information and form your own opinions on what’s best for YOUR dog.  


Mooney, A. (2010) Stability of Essential Nutrients I Petfood Manufacturing and storage, Masters Thesis, Kansas State University

Nutritional Influences on Hip Dysplasia

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Hannah Zulueta and her two dogs Maggie and Orbit

Hello, my name is Hannah and learning about Boston Terriers and canine nutrition has become my life’s work. 

First and foremost I am a dog owner, a Boston Terrier breed enthusiast and a seeker of the truth.

I started this blog because there isn’t enough space to write on our Instagram.

My mission is to equip Boston Terrier owners and dog owners alike with the knowledge I have so that your dog will live a longer life and better health.

I have two dogs.  Maggie is my socially awkward one; which I find highly relatable because I am completely out of place in large groups myself.  And Orbit is the freebird. She used to have terrible allergies but since she started eating fresh food she’s been symptom free.

You won’t read about cats here… but you will get a fairly large dosage of articles dedicated to the Boston Terrier.   Read more about us. 

By, June 17, 2021
Fear-Based Health Care
The Unlearning
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