Vitamin A Deficiency in Dogs

Vitamin A deficiency in dogs can result in poor hair and skin quality, stunted growth and even night blindness. By knowing what vitamin A does for your dog and what symptoms to look for, you can help protect your pet from this serious vitamin deficiency.

The Functions of Vitamin A for Your Dog

Vitamin A is an essential canine vitamin. It helps support your dog’s coat and skin health, maintain his muscles and nerves and protect his vision. It is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that your dog’s body stores in his liver until it is needed.

Female dogs especially benefit from vitamin A. They need it for ovarian health and reproductive success. Puppies also need vitamin A to protect them from cleft palates and water on the brain in utero and also to promote healthy growth. They receive their first dose of vitamin A in colostrum, the first milk they receive from their mothers, and they continue to receive vitamin A from their diet as they mature.

Your dog can receive vitamin A from many sources in his diet, including dark orange or dark green vegetables and fruits, egg yolks, fish liver oil and liver.

Recommended Vitamin A Levels for Your Dog

The American Association of Feed Control Officials, which regulates vitamin levels in pet food, has set a recommended minimum dose of vitamin A for dogs is 2,272 International Units (IU) per pound of food daily, or 50 IU for each pound of your dog’s weight.

What a Vitamin A Deficiency Looks Like

Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency in dogs varies, depending on their life stage. Puppies that lack adequate vitamin A may grow slowly and have weak muscles. They may develop problems with their skeletons or their nervous systems. They may not see well, and they may have poor coat quality.

Adult dogs with vitamin A deficiencies may also grow slowly. They may also have poor coats, and they may be unable to see well at night (a condition called night blindness).

How to Provide Vitamin A for Your Dog

Liver is an ideal source of vitamin A for your dog. A three-ounce serving of beef liver contains 30,000 IU, while a three-ounce serving of chicken liver contains 13,000 IU.

You can supplement your dog’s diet with regular servings of liver (beef, lamb, pork or poultry) from the supermarket or butcher shop. You can give your dog liver once or twice a week to boost his vitamin A levels.

If feeding your dog liver is impractical, consider offering him liver treats from your local pet supply store. Check the ingredients in the treats to ensure that they provide supplemental vitamin A before offering them to your pet.

If your dog’s vitamin A deficiency is especially severe, your veterinarian may also prescribe supplemental vitamin A for him. Follow all dosage instructions carefully, and use the medication as directed to help restore your dog’s health. Do not attempt to resolve your dog’s vitamin deficiency by oversupplementing his diet with vitamin A, because too much vitamin A can be just as dangerous to your dog’s health as too little.