It is harder to get out and enjoy the sun now that it sets earlier. Sunlight provides an essential vitamin that is great for your skin and bones. This vitamin is Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is as important to our pets as it is to humans, if not more so. It increases the amount of calcium to keep bones strong and prevent osteoporosis and joint issues, along with many other physical and mental health benefits.
We know Vitamin D is important for us humans, but have you thought about how it may or may not affect your pets? Keep reading for more information on how Vitamin D is super important in the lives of our furry loved ones.
Breaking Down The Importance of Vitamin D
First off, what is vitamin D? Basically, it is a molecule that has many effects on mammals. Vitamin D’s main job is to maintain normal calcium levels. Calcium is an important component of bones and muscles. It is also used for muscle contraction, sending signals between cells and blood concentration if we are injured. Too much or too little calcium can be disastrous, so vitamin D is crucial to maintaining calcium homeostasis.
Ways Your Pets Can Get Vitamin D
As mentioned earlier, direct sunlight is an excellent way for your dog or cat to absorb vitamin D into their systems. Being in the winter months combined with daylight savings makes it harder to get that much-needed sun on your skin (or fur in their case). Veterinarians recommend that your pets get a minimum of 20 to 40 minutes of direct outdoor sunlight daily. Light filtered through glass windows may feel good to your dog or cat, but it lacks ultraviolet rays and won’t impart the same health benefits.
There are also supplements available that you give your dog to boost their vitamin D intake. Never give your pet Vitamin D supplements that are for human consumption. Supplements created for humans contain too much vitamin D and can be toxic to your pets. Speak to your veterinarian first before boosting this vitamin in your pets’ diet. They can also consult you on the best way to provide this to your dog or cat.
What Happens If Your Pet Doesn’t Get Enough Vitamin D?
It can be pretty difficult for your pets to experience a complete vitamin D deficiency since this mineral exists in their food and treats. Our dogs and cats also reap the benefits of Vitamin D during the summer months when the sun is shining bright all day. It is just during the winter months that we need to make an effort to boost our pets’ vitamin D intake on those days that the sun isn’t shining so bright.
If this does happen to your pet, a decrease in vitamin D levels can lead to congestive heart failure in dogs. In addition, they may have an increased risk for complications due to heart disease and bone disorders such as osteomalacia (softening of bones) and rickets (bone deformities).
Dogs (and all mammals) have evolved living outside, exposed to the sun all day. Not only do they need sunlight, but they also need to be exposed to the changing nature of raw sunlight throughout the whole day to be healthy. Sunlight landing on your dog’s skin and in her eyes triggers all sorts of important metabolic pathways.
In the winter, you are probably walking your dog in the morning before the sun comes up and after work and evening when it’s dark. Your pup is getting virtually NO natural healthy sunlight!
What You Can Do To Help
Now that you understand the importance of vitamin D for your pets, here is how you can help. The winter is a great time to join our happy dogs and clients at York Professional Pet Sitting. Book daytime walks for your pup. We currently have a promotion going! If you book for eight weeks, you get TWO weeks FREE! CLICK HERE for all the details. If you want to book one or two visits a week, that’s fine as well. Daytime walks can help your pet get some of that precious vitamin D while you’re at work.
We hope this blog has helped you understand the importance of Vitamin D in the lives of your Aurora and Newmarket Pets. If you have any questions or comments I would love to hear them. Oh and don’t forget to take YOUR vitamin D!
Morag is the owner and founder of York Regions most trusted premier in-home pet care and dog walking companies. In 2000 she saw a need for an alternative to kennels, catteries for family pets in the area and has always believed that pets are much happier and less stressed staying in their own familiar environment. Morag and her team are all certified in Pet 1st Aid and CPR, she also offers continuous training to her team members through online and hands on pet care and pet behaviour and care courses. Morag has earned her certificate in Professional Pet Sitting, Professional Dog Walking and Canine Attendant training. She has lived in the Newmarket/Aurora area since 1991 is a wife, a mother of 2 adult children and a grandmother of 2 delightful little balls of energy. She has also been owned by fish, birds, mice, rats, cats, dogs, gerbils and guinea pigs and is an advocate for all living creatures. In her spare time she likes to be involved in her community and events travelling, reading and cooking.