For the next and final installment in our Getting to Know Supplements series, we will be taking a closer look at Natural Science Multi-Vitamin. In this article, we’ll cover the following topics:
- Why are vitamins important for small animals?
- Fat-soluble vs. Water-soluble vitamins
- Which pets can benefit from Natural Science Multi-Vitamin?
- Is Multi-Vitamin appropriate for omnivores?
- What are the ingredients in Multi-Vitamin and what are their functions?
- How much of the supplement should I give my pet daily?
Why Are Vitamins Important for Small Animals?
Vitamins are an extremely important part of any animal’s diet but can sometimes be overlooked because they are needed in relatively small quantities. In the early 1900’s, vitamins were called “vital amines” in reference to their importance for life.
Some species may require different amounts of each vitamin, and in some cases different species may require vitamins others don’t. A well-known example of this is the requirement of supplemental vitamin C in humans, primates, and guinea pigs, but not most other species.
A diet imbalanced in any required vitamin can lead to very serious health consequences. For example, a deficiency in vitamin A can lead to impaired eyesight and even blindness while excessive levels or toxicity of vitamin A can result in rash, skin & coat issues, and even liver damage. Thus, it is imperative with any vitamin supplement that you consider your specific pets’ needs and consult with your veterinarian before adding a vitamin supplement to your pet’s diet.
Fat-Soluble vs. Water Soluble Vitamins
There are two broad categories of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble.
Fat-soluble vitamins (including A, D, E, and K) require fat or lipid molecules in the process of absorption and travel through the lymphatic system before being fully absorbed into the bloodstream. These vitamins can be utilized upon absorption or stored in the body and used when needed long after consumption.
Water-soluble vitamins (such as vitamin C and the B complex vitamins) are absorbed more directly into the bloodstream and can be utilized immediately after absorption but cannot be stored in the body. For this reason, water-soluble vitamins have a lower risk for toxicity but are also required more regularly in the diet. As mentioned above, vitamins, while required in the diet of all animals, are only needed in very small quantities, therefore falling into a group known as micronutrients which also include minerals and other key nutrients.
Animals (humans included) require vitamins to perform vital processes. When vitamins are lacking or in excess, the body doesn’t function properly, so balance is key. This narrow range of what is healthy and what is problematic as well as the sometimes-natural instability of vitamins means it is best to leave the dosing up to professionals and commercially available products that have been rigorously tested for quality and nutritional accuracy.
Could My Pet Benefit from Natural Science Multi-Vitamin?
High-quality, commercially available foods should always be complete and fortified with all the vitamins an average animal needs to survive. However, there are still many low-quality foods on the market. This, along with other issues such as underlying disease, can lead to nutrition-related issues in your pet. It is best to follow the guidance of your small mammal savvy veterinarian to determine when you might consider offering a multi-vitamin supplement in addition to complete pellets.
A few common scenarios that could call for vitamin supplementation include:
- Housing multiple animals in the same cage and are not able to monitor individual food intake
- Animals that don’t consistently eat their pellets
- Pets suffering from environmental stressors such as:
- New animals in the home
- New humans in the home
- Pets with underlying chronic health conditions
- Older animals
- Animals under physiological stress, including nursing or pregnant mothers
- If you’ve chosen to feed a pellet-free diet (not advisable)
Is Multi-Vitamin Appropriate for Omnivores?
Small omnivores can also benefit from supplemental vitamins at certain times and Oxbow’s Multi-Vitamin was designed for most of these species as well. At the core of a small omnivore’s diet should be a uniform complete and balanced pellet or kibble, paired with a wide variety of other foods such as greens, veggies, grains, proteins, and fats. In partnering with your veterinarian, you may determine that adding Natural Science Multi-Vitamin would be beneficial for your small omnivore.
Natural Science Multi-Vitamin was formulated specifically for small mammals to contain proper proportions of stable and high-quality vitamins in a palatable and nutritionally appropriate format.
Multi-Vitamin includes a full spectrum of vitamins to supplement any diet and boost intake of vitamins that may be deficient or those that may be beneficial in higher doses.
|Vitamin A||Maintenance of vision; immune system support; cell growth; skin and tissue health|
|Vitamin C (L-Ascorbyl-2-Monophosphate)||Growth and repair of tissues; immune function; iron absorption; antioxidant|
|Vitamin D3||Calcium balance; bone and muscle health|
|Vitamin E||Antioxidant; immune system support|
(Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex)
|Proper blood clotting (prevents excess bleeding); bone health|
|Thiamine (B1)||Carbohydrate metabolism; immune function; nervous system function|
|Riboflavin (B2)||Proper metabolism of nutrients; red blood cell production|
|Niacin (B3)||Proper metabolism of nutrients; nervous system health; skin health|
|Pantothenate/Pantothenic Acid (B5)||Proper metabolism of nutrients; nervous system health; hormone synthesis|
|Pyridoxine (B6)||Proper metabolism of nutrients; nervous system function; immune function|
|Biotin (B7)||Proper metabolism of nutrients; hair, skin, & nail health|
|Folic Acid/Folate (B9)||DNA synthesis; red blood cell production; cellular growth and function|
|Vitamin B12||Nerve tissue health; DNA synthesis; brain function; red blood cell production|
|Choline||Cell structure maintenance; fat metabolism|
Daily Feeding Recommendation for Natural Science Multi-Vitamin
- Herbivores (such as rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas):
- 1/2 to 2 tabs of Multi-Vitamin per day, depending on weight
- Omnivores (such as hamsters, gerbils, mice, and rats):
- Smaller species (mice, dwarf hamsters): 1/8 tablet daily
- Larger species (rats, gerbils, Syrian hamsters): 1/4 tablet daily
Adding any supplement to your pet’s diet deserves a conversation with your veterinarian and evaluation of what is best for your small companion. Past health history, as well as current medications, should be factored into this decision and there are many additional questions that can arise during this evaluation.
Whether adding Natural Science supplements to your pet’s short or long-term diet, we’ve addressed some frequently asked questions we get regarding our supplements to help facilitate the conversation.