Dogs need vitamins and minerals to be healthy just like any other mammal, including humans. Vitamins can be split into two major categories — liposoluble (A, D, E, and K) and hydrosoluble (B vitamins and C).
In today’s article, we are looking at how important B vitamins are for dogs, what food sources they can be found in, and several signs of deficiencies in these nutrients.
What B Vitamins Are There?
When we say ‘B complex’, we refer to several different nutrients, and they are all listed below:
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B7
- Vitamin B9
- Vitamin B12
While many B vitamins share some properties and also some roles, they are unique in their own way.
Also known as thiamine, this nutrient is essential for dogs and it assists them in keeping a well-functioning immune system. It also positively influences the nervous system, which is why it’s commonly used for preventing cognitive disorders in this species.
Vitamin B1 can be found in several different food sources, such as pork, fish, peas, lentils, beans, as well as yogurt. It’s also present in starchy foods such as noodles and rice, but we don’t necessarily recommend giving them to your dog.
Dogs that are vitamin B1 deficient can show a range of symptoms, such as progressive weight loss, neurological symptoms (lack of focus or weakness), as well as digestive distress.
You’ll be happy to know that vitamin B1 supplements are mostly safe for dogs and that no overdoses using this administration method (the oral one) have been reported. Dogs that are given massive amounts of B1 vitamin intravenously can, however, develop severe hypertension which can be lethal, in some cases.
This vitamin is essential for dogs in terms of absorbing the other nutrients from food. It’s heavily involved in the metabolism of both carbs and amino acids, which means that it assists dogs with digestion and turning food into energy.
Vitamin B2 can be found in several foods, such as eggs, cheese, chicken breast, organs (especially beef liver), as well as fish such as salmon.
As for the deficiency that some dogs can experience when it comes to this nutrient, some of the severe clinicals signs are seen in puppies. Young dogs can develop malabsorption, lose a lot of weight, and even experience collapse if they don’t receive enough vitamin B2. Adults can develop eye vision issues (mainly corneal opacity).
There is no danger of a dog overdosing on vitamin B2 as most of it is eliminated through the kidneys.
This vitamin has two main functions — keeping dogs’ skin and coat health in check and ensuring that their cardiovascular system is working properly. While vitamin B2 helps carbs and amino acids to be metabolized, B3 is essential for breaking down fatty acids.
This nutrient can be found in a number of foods such as legumes, avocados, poultry, beef, and dairy products, but also nuts and seeds. Eggs are another example of a treat that you can give your dog every now and then for a nice helping of vitamin B3.
Dogs that do not have enough vitamin B3 in their systems can experience hair loss and a number of skin lesions (ulcerations and erythemas). Because some dogs also develop these lesions in their mouths, they might become unable to feed, so they might lose weight.
Some pets can be allergic to vitamin B3 (with the exception of the one they get from food), so they might experience symptoms like anorexia, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Pyridoxine is one of the most important vitamins in this group as it is in charge of generating blood sugar and red blood cells. It also supports the nervous system and it’s also been found to regulate the hormone production inside a dog’s body.
Vitamin B6 can be found in foods such as chickpeas, poultry, tuna, or salmon, most of which your dog can safely eat. It’s also present in some fruits such as cantaloupe and bananas, as well as leafy greens.
Most dogs that are B6 deficient develop anemia. Unfortunately, it’s quite severe and difficult to treat, so preventing this type of nutrient deficiency is of utmost importance. An overdose in this nutrient is also possible, with dogs that get too much vitamin B6 developing ataxia or muscle weakness.
Also called biotin, this is a nutrient that makes it possible for your dog’s connective tissue to work properly. In other words, it ensures that your dog can move and also assists in the transmission of nerve impulses from one body area to the next. Additionally, vitamin B7 helps your dog to have a healthy-looking coat and skin.
Biotin can be found in foods such as salmon, eggs, sweet potato, avocado, pork, and beef liver. It’s also present in some seeds and nuts.
Biotin deficiency causes flaky and dry skin in dogs, but it can also contribute to a slow growth rate in puppies. In some cases, it can even cause diarrhea and changes in the animal’s appetite. Fortunately, no overdose of this vitamin has been reported as of yet.
Folic acid is an extremely important vitamin as it regulates your dog’s immune function and also contributes to the development of blood cells.
Vitamin B9 can be found in foods such as fresh fruit and veggies, liver, seafood, beans, as well as romaine lettuce, asparagus, and spinach.
Dogs that do not receive enough folic acid can experience a number of unpleasant symptoms, such as diarrhea, weight loss, a lack of appetite, and breeding problems.
While overdosing on folic acid for a dog is rather uncommon, this vitamin should be given only under the guidance of a veterinarian. In some cases, it is linked with impaired fetus growth and in puppies, it could cause respiratory complications — so stick to your vet’s advice.
Vitamin B12 is particularly important for your dog’s nervous system. It does have several other benefits, though, such as making sure that your dog has a healthy gut. It also assists in the production of red blood cells and helps your pooch have a normal appetite — which can be quite important for convalescing animals.
This nutrient can be found in food sources such as fish, meat, eggs, as well as poultry, and a wide range of dairy products. But since some dogs can be lactose-intolerant just like people, you should stick to the first suggestions.
Like vitamin B6 deficiency, a deficiency in B12 causes anemia in most animals. As for any risk of an overdose, you’ll be glad to know that such cases are extremely uncommon.
Final Thoughts on Vitamin B for Dogs
The B vitamin complex is essential for dogs and keeps their bodies healthy and functioning properly. However, supplements aren’t always needed, especially if you feed Fido a quality diet and also give them snacks such as fruit, eggs, or even grilled salmon or liver every once in a while.
Before deciding to give your dog a vitamin supplement, contact your veterinarian.