In the 2006 National Research Council recommendation on vitamin essentials for dogs, Vitamin A was identified as the most essential mineral. In fact, AAFCO followed NRC’s recommendation of feeding up to 5000 UI/Kg and recommended max of 250000 UI/Kg.
To understand the units used by AAFCO to develop the standard recommendations above, it is important to understand International Units.
In the image below, you can see the different equivalents of 1 UI of Vitamin A which is equivalent to 0.3 mcg of retinol and 0.6 mcg of beta-carotene.
The short video below will give you how you can measure dosage requirements for your dog.
What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is an essential vitamin that dogs need for many functions. It is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it can be stored in the body for long periods of time. It is also known as retinol because it is essential for vision.
Studies have been done to determine the impact of Vitamin A in puppy and adult dog diets and this research demonstrated that it is even safer to feed vitamin a to puppies.
Vitamin A as a Fat soluble Fat
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that it is stored in the body’s fatty tissue. It can be found in many foods, but some of the best sources are liver, fish oil, and egg yolks. Vitamin A is also added to many commercial dog foods.
Other sources include carrots, liver (in minimal amounts), pumpkin, spinach, sweet potatoes, and turnip greens.
Water soluble vitamins are not stored in the body and need to be replenished more often.
The benefits of Vitamin A
Vitamin A is essential for many functions in the body, including:
· Creates and maintains healthy skin and coat
· Keeps the mucous membranes healthy
· Improves vision
· Boosts the immune system
· Is necessary for reproduction
What does Vitamin A do in your dog’s body?
Vitamin A is important for many other functions in the body as well, including:
– Growth and development
– The immune system
– cell differentiation
– skin and mucous membranes
Let me explain each of the above in detail:
Growth and development:
Vitamin A is essential for the normal growth and development of puppies. It plays a role in cell differentiation, which is vital for the formation of healthy tissues and organs. Puppies who are deficient in vitamin A may have stunted growth, bone abnormalities, and joint problems.
Vitamin A is essential for vision. It helps to produce the pigment that allows dogs to see in low light conditions. Dogs who are deficient in vitamin A may have poor night vision or even blindness.
The immune system:
Vitamin A is also essential for the proper function of the immune system. It helps to protect the body against infection and disease by stimulating the production of white blood cells. Puppies who are deficient in vitamin A are more susceptible to infections, such as parvovirus and distemper.
Both sexes need vitamin A for reproduction. In males, it is necessary for the production of sperm. In females, vitamin A is needed for the development of the embryo and placenta. It is also necessary for milk production in nursing mothers.
Vitamin A is required for the proper function of all cells in the body. It helps to keep the cells healthy and to prevent them from becoming cancerous.
Skin and mucous membranes:
Vitamin A is necessary for the health of the skin and mucous membranes. It helps to keep these tissues moist and to prevent them from drying out. Puppies who are deficient in vitamin A may have dry, scaly skin and mucous membranes.
Vitamin A is an antioxidant, which means it helps to protect the cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are atoms or molecules that have unpaired electrons. They are unstable and can damage cells, leading to inflammation and disease.
What are the symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency?
The symptoms of vitamin A deficiency depend on the severity of the deficiency. They can range from mild to severe, and in puppies, they can be life-threatening. The most common symptoms include:
– Poor growth
– Bone abnormalities
– Joint problems
– Weak immune system
– Susceptibility to infection
– Dry, scaly skin
– Mucous membrane problems
Let me explain each in detail;
Dry, scaly skin:
One of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency is dry, scaly skin. The skin may be dry and flaky, or it may be thick and leathery. There may also be hair loss. Unhealthy skin and coat are one of the reasons why puppies with vitamin A deficiency are often mistaken for those with mange.
Mucous membrane problems:
Another common symptom of vitamin A deficiency is mucous membrane problems. The mucous membranes are the tissues that line the mouth, nose, and eyes. They may become dry and cracked, or they may bleed easily.
Puppies who are deficient in vitamin A often have poor growth. They may be smaller than normal or they may grow more slowly than normal.
Puppies with vitamin A deficiency may have bone abnormalities. They may have soft, deformed bones or they may be prone to fractures.
Joint problems are common in puppies with vitamin A deficiency. They may have joint pain or they may be unable to move their joints normally.
Weak immune system:
Puppies with vitamin A deficiency are more likely to get infections. They may also have a higher risk of developing autoimmune diseases, such as allergies and arthritis.
What causes vitamin A deficiency in Dogs?
There are several factors that can contribute to vitamin A deficiency in puppies and adult dogs;
The most common cause is poor nutrition. Puppies who don’t get enough vitamin A in their diet are at risk of developing a deficiency.
Another common cause is parasites. Intestinal parasites can rob the body of nutrients, including vitamin A. Puppies who are infested with intestinal parasites are more likely to develop deficiency.
Stress can also contribute to vitamin A deficiency. Puppies who are under stress are more likely to develop deficiency. Stress can be caused by many things, including weaning, kenneling, and illness.
How is vitamin A deficiency in Dogs treated?
Vitamin A deficiency is treated with supplements. Puppies who are deficient in vitamin A will need to take supplements for the rest of their lives. The amount of supplement will depend on the severity of the deficiency.
Puppies who are severely deficient in vitamin A may need to be hospitalized and given intravenous (IV) supplements. IV supplements are the most effective way to treat vitamin A deficiency, but they are also the most expensive.
How can you prevent vitamin A deficiency?
The best way to prevent vitamin A deficiency is to feed your puppy a well-balanced diet. Puppies who eat a balanced diet are less likely to develop deficiency.
You should also have your puppy checked for intestinal parasites regularly. Puppies who are infested with intestinal parasites are more likely to develop vitamin A deficiency.
Finally, you should minimize stress in your puppy’s life. Stress can contribute to vitamin A deficiency. Try to keep your puppy’s environment as calm and relaxed as possible.
As per Ali of mypetnutritionist.com, the most common vitamin and mineral deficiencies in dogs are vitamin B9, vitamin B12, vitamin D, magnesium and zinc. This doesn’t mean that these are the only deficiencies your dog can have, but they are the most common.
The Recommended Vitamin A Levels to give Your Dog
The recommended level of vitamin A for your dog is the same for all life stages. Feed 5000 UI/kg to puppies, adults, and senior dogs and do not exceed 250,000 UI/kg. Converted to pounds, this translates to about 2,272 International Units (IU) per pound of food daily or 50 IU for each pound of your dog’s weight.
Don’t overfeed: Vitamin A Toxicity in Dogs
Vitamin A toxicity is relatively rare in dogs, but it can happen if they eat foods that are high in vitamin A or if they take supplements that contain too much vitamin A. Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and lethargy. If you think your dog has consumed too much vitamin A, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Other Vitamins can also cause toxicity. Read more about Vitamin D toxicity in dogs here.
Vitamin A for dogs skin
If your dog has skin issues, you can feed a diet with Vitamin A supplement. Find a multivitamin supplement made with a combination of egg yolks, liver, fish liver oil, kale and carrots.Egg yolks are high in biotin, which helps with skin and coat health. Liver is a good source of copper, which helps to prevent hair loss. Fish liver oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation. Kale and carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts to Vitamin A. The recommended dose is 1,000 IU per 20 pounds of body weight daily.
Vitamin A for dogs’ Eyes
Vitamin A is also important for eye health. Feed a diet with vitamin A supplement or give an eye drop containing vitamin A if your dog has dry eye syndrome or night blindness.
While vitamin A is an essential vitamin for dogs, too much of it can be toxic. The safe upper limit for vitamin A is 3,000 IU per 20 pounds of body weight daily.
What are some of the best Vitamin A supplements:
- Zesty Paws Multivitamin Bites – All life stages
- PetHonesty 10-For-1 Multivitamin- All life stages
- Rockwell Pets Pro Natural Dog Vitamins- All life stages
- VetriScience Laboratories Canine Plus Senior Multivitamin – for seniors
Q: What are the symptoms of vitamin A deficiency in dogs?
A: The most common symptom of vitamin A deficiency in dogs is eye problems. Puppies with vitamin A deficiency may have dry eyes, watery eyes, or they may be unable to open their eyes. Other symptoms include dry, scaly skin, poor wound healing, and susceptibility to infections.
Q: How is vitamin A deficiency treated?
A: Vitamin A deficiency is treated with supplements. Puppies who are deficient in vitamin A will need to take supplements for the rest of their lives. The amount of supplement will depend on the severity of the deficiency.
Q: How can you prevent vitamin A deficiency?
A: The best way to prevent vitamin A deficiency is to feed your puppy a well-balanced diet. Puppies who eat a balanced diet are less likely to develop deficiency. You should also have your puppy checked for intestinal parasites regularly. Puppies who are infested with intestinal parasites are more likely to develop vitamin A deficiency. Finally, you should minimize stress in your puppy’s life. Stress can contribute to vitamin A deficiency. Try to keep your puppy’s environment as calm and relaxed as possible.
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Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at email@example.com