Have you ever looked at the back of your dog’s food bag, seen the list of all the vitamin supplements added to the food, and wondered what each is for? Selecting the right dog food for our furry best friends can sometimes be overwhelming. I’m hoping that with some of my posts for this year’s April Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I can help take the mystery out of some of the ingredients added to dog foods. Knowledge is power and half the battle when it comes to selecting healthy, well-balanced food for our dogs.
This post is part of our 2023 April blogging from A to Z Challenge! Join us this month as we go through the alphabet, A to Z, learning more about some of the ingredients that are commonly (or not so commonly, in some cases) found in our dog’s food!
What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for many functions within the body. It is stored by the body in the liver. Vitamin A, among other jobs, helps to support the growth and development of embryos, maintains the immune system, and supports healthy vision.
Why is Vitamin A Added to Dog Food?
AAFCO, The Association of American Feed Control Officials, recommend that adult dogs consume 5000 IU of Vitamin A for every kilogram of food they consume. Although vitamin A is found naturally in foods such as egg yolks, liver, carrots, and sweet potatoes, pet food companies also commonly add supplemental vitamin A to boost the amounts in their food.
Cons of Feeding Vitamin A to Dogs:
The amounts of supplemental vitamin A added to dog food will be balanced and safe for your dog. However, because vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin it is possible for dogs to overdose on it. Vitamin A toxicity in dogs is rare, and usually occurs when a dog is consuming too much vitamin A over a course of time, such as multiple weeks. Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity can include lethargy, nausea, weakness, anorexia, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, and sometimes death.
Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about vitamin A toxicity if you’re feeding your dog a well balanced commercial diet. It rarely occurs in dogs consuming unbalanced raw diets (vitamin A is found in liver, and in especially high levels in bear liver) and large amounts of fish oil.
Benefits of Vitamin A for Dogs:
Dog’s bodies require vitamin A to function properly. It’s especially important for pregnant females, as it plays a key role in embryo development. In young puppies, vitamin A is important for the proper continued development of bones, muscles, skin and coat, and for the nervous system.
Vision, especially night vision has been shown to be dependent on vitamin A. A common sign of vitamin A deficiency is night blindness. Vitamin A is also important for the immune system. It is involved with the creation of white blood cells, which help the body to fight off infections.
So What’s the Verdict on Vitamin A? Is it Safe as a Dog Food Ingredient?
Dogs require vitamin A as part of a healthy, well balanced diet. Vitamin A deficiency causes, in minor occurrences, skin and fur issues. However these issues can progress to lesions on the skin, skin and ear infections, dry eyes and other issues with mucus membranes such as within the lungs, weakness, anorexia, poor vision or night blindness. Because vitamin A is naturally found in foods and supplemented in commercial foods, as well as stored within the liver, deficiency is rare.
Vitamin A is a safe dog food ingredient. Many commercial pet food companies add supplemental vitamin A into their foods to reach the daily recommended amounts.
Comment below! Does your dog’s food contain supplemental vitamin A?
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