Vitamins and minerals are something you often hear about, usually it’s the fact that we’re not getting enough of them! Well just like us, dogs (and other animals) can suffer from deficiencies too.
So how important are vitamins and minerals in our dog’s diet? Well today, we’re going to discuss the importance of vitamin E in the diet.
Dogs require a recommended 1mg of vitamin E per day and meeting this recommended daily allowance is especially important in developing puppies.
Vitamin E Deficiency
So what happens if dogs don’t get enough vitamin E? A study investigated the effect of a deficiency on developing puppies – the results were quite scary!
20 days after birth, the vitamin E deficient puppies started to develop muscle paralysis and muscle weakness in their limbs. A decreased muscle mass and increased sensitivity to pain was also noted.
Fortunately, by supplementing the deficient puppies diets with vitamin E, the symptoms of deficiency were reversed – although in a couple of situations where the symptoms were quite advanced, supplementation failed to significantly reverse the muscle weakness and paralysis.
The same results of vitamin E deficiency have also been seen in rats, guinea pigs and rabbits.
Other Benefits of Vitamin E
Whilst vitamin E deficiencies may cause muscle problems, excess vitamin E has beneficial properties for the skin.
Often dog’s can suffer from a number of skin problems, from minor to major – allergies, fleas and dry skin can all cause problems. Supplementing vitamin E can support the skin and help reduce flakiness. The beneficial effects that vitamin E has on the skin is often why it is found in dog shampoos. Vitamin E also helps to promote a healthy, glossy looking coat – another reason why it is often found in shampoos.
Vitamin E is also known to boost the immune system, making it a perfect ‘winter vitamin’ as cold weather both dries out the skin and can reduce the effectiveness of the immune system.
Symptoms of Vitamin E Deficiency
The most common problem associated with a vitamin E deficiency is the appearance of skin lesions. Areas of the skin may appear red, flaky or raw – this is due to the immune system being weakened by the deficiency. A weakened immune system allows skin mites and other skin-disease causing agents to thrive.
Other symptoms include; muscle weakness, reduced fertility and some have reported degeneration of eyesight due to a vitamin E deficiency. Female dogs are also more likely to give birth to weaker pups.
How to Deal With a Vitamin E Deficiency
If you dog is being fed a high quality diet, it is unlikely that they will suffer from a deficiency as premium pet foods often supplement their products with extra vitamins (including vitamin E).
However, if you are concerned that your dog might not be receiving enough vitamin E there are Vitamin E Supplements available for both cats and dogs, or as previously mentioned, you could opt to switch their diet.
Remember that if you decide to switch their diet, changes should be introduced gradually, start by mixing the new diet with the old diet – gradually increasing the old to new ratio, until after 4 or 5 days your dog is completely on the new diet.
Have you ever owned a dog that suffered from a vitamin E deficiency? Have you ever used any supplements? Have you noticed improved skin and coat health if you do use supplements? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.