Vitamin A for Dogs: Benefits, Deficiency, Toxicity, and More

Vitamin A is essential for providing a range of critical benefits to your dog: from boosting immunity and improving vision, to helping with growth and tissue maintenance.

But just how much vitamin A does your dog need? And what are the best sources of this essential nutrient?

In this article, we'll dive into the details surrounding Vitamin A for dogs—offering expert advice on ways to ensure your dog receives the required amounts.

What is Vitamin A?

carrots have vitamin A

Vitamin A, an essential vitamin also known as retinol or retinoic acid, is a vital fat soluble vitamin that is used for a host of vital functions.

Perhaps most famously, Vitamin A is essential to vision – it plays a critical role in converting light into electrical signals in the retina.

However, that is just the beginning of what Vitamin A does. The nutrient is also crucial for proper growth and development, cell division, reproduction, and immunity.

And, on top of all that, Vitamin A has antioxidant properties that can help protect our cells from damage.

These antioxidants are particularly valuable because they might shield your dog's body from free radicals – molecules that can cause harm when produced in excess by our bodies' metabolic processes or exposure to environmental toxins.

6 Benefits of Vitamin A for Dogs

puppies drinking milk for vitamin A

Vitamin A plays a critical role in several important functions, including growth and development, cell division, reproduction, and immunity.

Without enough vitamin A, your dog can experience serious consequences such as compromised immune systems, impaired vision, and even blindness.

Here are 6 benefits of Vitamin A for dogs

  1. Maintains healthy eyesight
  2. Growth and development - especially bone growth in puppies
  3. Strengthens your dog's immune system
  4. Improves reproductive health
  5. Supports healthy skin
  6. Assists cellular differentiation

Vitamin A for dogs dosage

In general, dogs require 2,272 IU (international units) per pound of dry food consumed. This may vary based on the dog's health, age, and size.

Vitamin A and your dog's skin

beautiful shih tzu

A lack of vitamin A in dogs can lead to a variety of skin and coat problems.

In particular, adult dogs with a vitamin A deficiency often have patchy fur or bald spots, as well as dry and flaky skin. These skin issues can be accompanied by bumpy or lesion-like textures, which can be uncomfortable for dogs and lead to skin infections.

While there are other causes of skin problems in dogs, it's important to consider vitamin A deficiencies as a potential cause, as treating the deficiency can help improve overall skin and coat health.

If you suspect that your dog may have a vitamin A deficiency, it's best to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment.

Sources of Vitamin A

dog laying next to a pumpkin

Did you know that animals can get their daily dose of vitamin A by consuming foods that contain beta-carotene? Beta-carotene is an orange pigment found in many fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and cod liver oil.

When consumed, beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A by the body, which is essential for healthy vision, immune function, and skin health in animals and humans alike.

Here are 8 food sources of Vitamin A rich foods for your dog.

  1. Oranges
  2. Carrots
  3. Milk
  4. Fish liver oil
  5. Watermelon
  6. Broccoli
  7. Eggs
  8. Pumpkin

5 Signs of Vitamin A deficiency in dogs

dog with skin problems

It's important to be aware of Vitamin A deficiencies in your dog. Let's take a look at 5 signs.

  1. Night blindness
  2. A dull coat
  3. Poor growth especially in puppies
  4. Skin and coat conditions
  5. Poor immune system

Vitamin A toxicity in dogs and overdose symptoms

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for dogs, but when consumed in large amounts, it can turn into a threat to their health.

The symptoms of vitamin A poisoning vary in intensity depending on the dose that has been ingested.

While some dogs show rapid signs of vomiting, drowsiness, irritability, and peeling of the skin, others may present delayed effects.

These may include dehydration, joint pain, and even bone fractures in severe cases.

It's crucial for dog owners to monitor how much vitamin A their pets consume and know how to recognize the signs of toxicity to prevent any harm from happening.

Bottom line

From your dog's immune system and vision function, to providing antioxidant protection and aiding in reproduction and tissue maintenance, Vitamin A is an essential part of pet nutrition.

Fortunately, there are reliable sources of this vitamin available from both dietary options like carrots and green leafy vegetables, as well as quality pet foods in the market.

Therefore, it's important to include plenty of different foods that contain Vitamin A into your dog's diet—feeding it the right foods could help ensure your pup stays healthy throughout their entire life. To learn more, check out our article Vitamins and Minerals for Dogs.

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By Tory Johnson

Tory Johnson is a veteran dog trainer, dog behaviorist, and canine nutritionist with 10+ years experience.

Tory has helped countless families have beautiful relationships with their canine companions.

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