Why You Should Be Giving Your Dog Vitamin C

We’ve all heard of Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), we know that it is an immune system booster that can help us get over a cold faster. So how and why is it beneficial for dogs?

Vitamin C enhances white blood cell function and activity thus improving the immune system function. It increases the levels of interferon in the blood. Interferon is the body’s natural antiviral and anticancer compound.  It also increases antibody levels which is essential because antibodies are proteins that destroy foreign material such as bacteria, viruses, and toxins.

Unlike humans, your dog’s body is capable of producing Vitamin C on its own. However, studies have shown that they do benefit from additional supplementation. A dog’s natural store of Vitamin C can become depleted during periods of stress or illness. A 1942 study found that dogs with skin disease usually had very low levels of Vitamin C in their blood.

Low amounts of “vitamin C can compromise many body functions such as the ability to rid the body of cholesterol and fight off infections and other diseases such as cardiovascular and allergic diseases” (Arnson et al.). Studies have even found that “high administration of vitamin C in experimental animals results in a better outcome in sepsis, oxidative stress, and inflammation” (Macdonald).


Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals in the body. Free radicals are highly reactive because they are missing an electron. They seek out this missing electron from cell membranes, DNA, and proteins. Free radicals are therefore very damaging to the dog’s body overall. Antioxidants like Vitamin C will donate an electron to free radicals (without becoming free radicals themselves) thus stabilizing and neutralizing the rouge atoms.


Dogs have 10x the amount of mast cells in their skin as humans do. Mast cells are responsible for the release of histamine in the body. Histamine creates an itching sensation when released into the body. Supplementing with Vitamin C can help reduce a dog’s itchiness by stabilizing the mast cells.

How to Supplement

  • Feed foods high in Vitamin C
    • Bells Peppers
    • Kale
    • Pineapple
    • Strawberry
    • Oranges
  • Herbs high in Vitamin C
    • Raspberry Leaf
    • Yellow Dock
    • Skullcap
    • Fenugreek
    • Kelp
    • Rose Hips
  • Powdered Vitamin C
    • Ester C Calcium Ascorbate is the preferred form of Vitamin C
      • This is because it has a neutral pH and has increased absorption and longevity in the blood compared to other forms


In her book, “Four Paws, Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs”. Cheryl Schwartz, DVM, suggests the following dosages for health maintenance:

  • Puppies and Small Dogs: 250 mg daily
  • Medium-sized Dogs: 500 mg daily
  • Large Dogs: 750 mg daily
  • Senior Dogs: 500-1,000 mg daily per 40-50 pounds of body weight

It is important to note that Vitamin C is water soluble meaning that excess amounts are not stored in fat cells and are instead peed out. That being said, large doses of Vitamin C can lead to an upset stomach and cause loose stools so always discuss proper dosing with your vet.


Arnson Y, Itzhaky D, Mosseri M (2013) Vitamin D inflammatory cytokines and coronary events: A Comprehensive Review. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol 45: 236-247.

Macdonald J, Galley HF, Webster NR (2003) Oxidative stress and gene expression in sepsis. Br J Anaesth90: 221-232.

Yazdani Shaik BD, Conti P (2016) Relationship between Vitamin C, Mast Cells, and Inflammation. J Nutr Sci 6:456. doi: 10.4172/2155-9600.1000456


Woofs & Wags,

The Holistic Pet Radio Pack

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The contents of this blog, such as text, graphics, images, and other material contained on this site (“Content”) are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website!
If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately. Reliance on any information appearing on this website is entirely at your own risk. If you have medical concerns or need advice, please seek out your closest holistic or integrative veterinarian. Not sure where to find one? Check here: http://www.ahvma.org

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