While some dogs can suffer from certain conditions that make it hard, if not impossible for them to get all the vitamins they need from food, others can develop vitamin deficiencies as a result of not eating the right diet.
These days, many pet owners have become more and more interested in feeding their dogs a homemade diet. It’s cheaper and sometimes healthier since it’s not packed in artificial flavors, preservatives, and colors.
However, if you do not consult a veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist before taking this step, you could inadvertently cause your dog to develop a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
In today’s article, we’re looking at how vitamin deficiencies develop, the most likely symptoms that you might notice in a vitamin-deficient dog, and how this issue can be resolved.
Common Vitamin Deficiencies That Dogs Can Develop
Dogs need a wide variety of vitamins to be healthy, and they get them from different food sources. When a dog’s diet is lacking in one or several vitamins, they might start showing various clinical signs.
But some vitamin deficiencies are more common than others, such as the following.
Vitamin A deficiency
Vitamin A deficiency is perhaps the most common one dogs can get, and that’s because vitamin A can be found in several protein sources (liver and eggs), but it’s prevalent in fresh fruit and veggies, and dogs aren’t really crazy about leafy greens.
Pets that are vitamin A deficient have problems with their vision lose weight and tend to develop infections more often than their healthy, non-deficient counterparts.
Vitamin D deficiency
This nutrient is essential for keeping your pet’s bones in good health. It effectively helps calcium be absorbed properly, so it is particularly important for puppies. A lack of vitamin D in an animal’s diet can lead to rickets, weight loss, and developmental issues.
While there are supplements, and they are recommended particularly to young dogs (up to 18 months of age), vitamin D is also present in fatty meat and fish, as well as eggs.
B2 vitamin deficiency
A lack of riboflavin can cause various symptoms such as low energy, weight loss, and anemia. Vitamin B2 is essential for keeping a dog’s red blood cells in good health, and they are in charge of transporting nutrients and oxygen to and from the pet’s organs.
Riboflavin can be found in most meats (including fish), and along with other B vitamins, it is present in herbs, sweet potatoes, or dairy products like goat yogurt.
Vitamin E deficiency
Vitamin E ensures that a dog’s coat is in good health. It can be found in oils, nuts, as well as seeds since it is a fat-soluble nutrient. Peanut butter is also a good source of this vitamin.
Dogs that get too little vitamin E in their diets begin to experience skin-related health issues such as alopecia, a dull coat, hot spots, and dryness.
Causes of Vitamin Deficiencies in Dogs
This cause is pretty straightforward, but it might not happen because you do not feed your dog the right diet. Sometimes, commercial diets might have fewer vitamins than your dog actually needs, or your pooch might simply not eat enough.
Dogs that have irritable bowel syndrome or frequent bouts of diarrhea are more exposed to developing vitamin deficiencies. The food they eat doesn’t sit in their digestive systems enough for it to be absorbed properly.
This is a health problem commonly caused by a pancreas that is not functioning properly. Small intestine malabsorption is when your dog is getting enough food (sometimes even eating more than they would normally need to) and also eating a high-quality diet, but they’re not getting the right (or any) nutrients from the food they eat.
Dogs that have this issue might experience polyphagia but also chronic diarrhea, and most importantly, they lose weight no matter the amount of food they eat. They can also become dehydrated as a result of losing liquids and electrolytes through their fecal matter.
Signs Your Dog Could Have a Vitamin Deficiency
Every vitamin deficiency causes unique symptoms, but one alarming thing is that when a dog doesn’t get the right diet, they usually become deficient in several nutrients. As such, they can exhibit signs of general malaise, such as the following:
- Weight loss
- A loss of appetite for food and sometimes even water
- Blood clotting issues
- Low body temperature even when the dog spends time in warm places
- Bad gait
- Low energy/reluctance to climb stairs or jump on the couch
- Dry skin and bad coat health
Can Canine Vitamin Deficiencies Be Treated?
In most cases, yes. However, the first step to treating a vitamin deficiency is getting veterinary assistance for your pooch. Simple blood tests can reveal these imbalances, and your vet can put your dog on IV vitamins in the short term and then recommend a supplement for consistent use over a period of several weeks to months.
They will also recommend that you change your dog’s diet depending on the ingredients that can be found in their current one.
Occasionally, severe vitamin deficiencies can lead to other health issues. For example, vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets, which can be quite challenging to treat, especially if the dog sustains one or several fractures and there’s the risk of the pet developing an incorrect callus.
Ensuring that your dog receives all of the right nutrients from the food you give them is easy. If you prefer to give your dog a homemade diet, just talk to your vet about what else you should add to your pooch’s recipes, whether fresh fruit and veggies, fish oil, or actually supplement powders.