Vitamin A is one of the nutrients your dog needs to remain healthy. This vitamin plays several different roles and is essential for both humans and animals.
In today’s article, we’re looking at its functions, the daily recommended intake for dogs, if there are any natural food sources that it can be found in, and what vitamin A deficiencies involve.
Benefits of Giving Your Dog Vitamin A
Before we move on to the many positive effects this nutrient has on a pet’s body, we’d like to note that most dogs are not vitamin A deficient. If you feed your pooch a combination of homemade food (veggies and fruit) and commercial kibble, it’s quite likely that Fido already gets enough vitamin A in their diet.
Your veterinarian can run a number of blood tests that can reveal any vitamin deficiency, including for vitamin A. We strongly suggest that you first have your dog checked before deciding to give them any supplements.
As for the functions this nutrient has, they are quite numerous.
- Skin and health
Vitamin A ensures that your dog’s coat remains healthy, although it might do less in this sense compared to other vitamins, such as biotin. Nevertheless, it is essential for keeping your dog well-hydrated and maintaining the health of your pooch’s immune system.
Also, vitamin A has been found to have a positive effect on temperature regulation.
- Eye health
Everyone knows that carrots contain vitamin A and that kids are supposed to have them every now and then, especially if their parents want their children to have good eyesight.
Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that makes it possible for puppies to keep their eye health on par. It also ensures that your dog is capable of seeing accurately both during the day and during the night.
- Reproductive system health
Vitamin A is an important nutrient that pregnant dogs and those that are nursing should have in their diet.
Moreover, it’s been found to prevent certain disabilities and illnesses of embryos and fetuses, which makes supplementation even more important for these canine categories.
- Normal development
In the end, vitamin A is an important component of your dog’s muscles and nerves, which means that it is highly recommended for puppies.
What Foods Can Vitamin a Be Found In?
A varied diet is the best when it comes to dogs, even though some pet parents might think that giving Fido commercial pet food is the best. The truth is that many pet diets today contain a variety of additives, preservatives, and artificial colors, and many of them have been linked to cancer cases in the past.
Vet-recommended diets are better, but even in these cases, the kibble could contain risky ingredients.
Fresh veggies and fruit usually contain vitamins that are not present in dry dog food. Even some canned varieties do not contain these nutrients, which means that giving your dog these fresh snacks can positively influence their health and digestion.
Vitamin A can be found in the following foods:
Vitamin A can also be found in milk and other dairy products, but we’d say that you should first test these foods on your dog (give them very small amounts at first) to see whether they do not experience any sort of digestive distress. Many dogs are lactose-intolerant, which means that you can’t really give them dairy, except for maybe goat’s milk yogurt, for example.
Since squash also contains a fair share of vitamin A, we’d recommend integrating it into your dog’s diet. The amount of fiber that squash can provide your pooch with can help regulate his or her digestion, especially if constipation or diarrhea are two mishaps you have to handle as best as possible.
Vitamin A Deficiency
Some breeds are more likely to develop vitamin A deficiency compared to others, and they are the Shar-Pei, the Cocker Spaniel, the Labrador Retriever, and the Miniature Schnauzer.
In their cases, a vitamin A deficiency is more the result of poor genetics rather than a poor diet, which means that supplementation in these breeds is practically mandatory.
Dogs that have vitamin A deficiency can show the following symptoms:
- Poor skin and coat health
- Itching, sores, bumps, and lumps
- Recurring ear infections
- Poor vision
- Poor hearing
- Loss of appetite
This health issue is not as common as you might think. Except for the breeds that we have noted, the dogs that do end up suffering from vitamin A deficiency are those that are fed a really poor diet or those that have malabsorption.
Vitamin A Poisoning
Although vitamin overdoses are also very rare, they can happen in some cases. Dogs are known for getting into their pet parents’ belongings and eating what they are not supposed to, and believe it or not, there have been cases of pooches eating entire jugs of skin cream.
Since some types of moisturizers contain high amounts of vitamin A and retinol, dogs can suffer from poisoning after ingesting them.
There’s also the possibility of the animal developing vitamin A toxicity over a period of time. For example, some dog owners might give their pets fish oil or other vitamin A supplements over the course of several months and without asking their vets. Although less common in dogs, this can be life-threatening for cats.
Some of the symptoms shown by dogs that have developed vitamin A poisoning are listed below:
- Weight loss
- Bone pain
- Changes in the dog’s coat and skin (dryness)
- Paralysis or seizures
Not all dogs need vitamin A supplementation. Talk to your veterinarian and ask them to run a few tests to diagnose any health issue your dog might be suffering from, including a vitamin deficiency.
While supplements are great for some categories, such as puppies or pregnant dogs, the dosage needs to be accurate. Do not give your dog human supplements as the dose could put his or her life in danger.