A very popular new year’s resolution is to get fitter or healthier.  While doing this, some of us may choose to take supplements to help aid our diets or boost our performance in the gym. Other people decide to use supplements during the winter months to keep them healthy so that they do not succumb to all those nasty bugs going around!

What do supplements contain?

There are a huge number of supplements on the market and they are readily available to buy in pharmacies such as Boots, supermarkets, health food shops such as Holland and Barrett as well as online.

Many will contain multivitamins, minerals and amino acids which are required in small amounts for our general health.  In most cases, if your pet were to eat these, they are unlikely to result in serious health issues.

Which vitamins and minerals are dangerous to our dogs?

Some supplements could contain ingredients that may be harmful, (brace yourself, here comes the science bit!) for example:

· Iron – in large amounts can lead to severe stomach upset and organ damage in severe cases.

· Vitamin D – in large amounts can lead to increased calcium levels in the blood.

· 5-hydroxytryptophan (or 5-HTP), can cause ‘serotonin syndrome’, which results in high body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure, and tremor or seizures.

· Caffeine, guarana, coffee extract, tea extracts etc. are stimulants and can cause increased heart rate and body temperature, tremors and seizures.

· Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) which is an antioxidant can cause low blood sugar and liver damage in cats and dogs.

· Glucosamine, chondroitin and methylsulfonylmethan (MSM) which are often present in joint supplements for conditions such as arthritis can cause stomach upset, or even liver damage if a large quantity is eaten

Are there any other ingredients in supplements which are poisonous to dogs?

For those of us taking supplements that are made up in a drink, for example effervescent products or protein powder products, if these are sugar free, be aware that they may contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, which can cause low blood sugar and liver damage in dogs.  Protein powders may also contain cocoa powder or chocolate which dogs and cats do not tolerate well, causing stomach upset and symptoms similar to caffeine.

Animal PoisonLine’s top 3 tips for supplements poisoning:

1. Do not give human vitamin and mineral supplements to your pet – they may be healthy for you but toxic to your dog or cat

2. Keep all supplements hidden away from pets so that they cannot access them, this includes handbags which dogs frequently raid!

3. If your pet has eaten your supplements by accident make sure that you seek advice quickly and ideally have the packaging to hand with the strengths of the different ingredients


Please be aware, this list is not exhaustive and new products are being launched all the time.  If you are worried your pet has eaten something they or been exposed to something they should not have, please call the Animal PoisonLine on 01202 509 000 for advice on what to do next. If your pet starts showing any signs, then take them to your local vet practice immediately for treatment. The sooner they are treated, the better the outcome.