Nutritional deficiencies in dogs are one of the most common reasons for hair loss. All dogs shed hair and owners will quickly get to know their own dog’s habits. When dogs lose an increased amount of hair, there are several possibilities. One of the first tests that a vet will run, will be to check for nutritional and vitamin deficiency. Vitamins and minerals are essential in your dog’s health, and here we look into what vitamin deficiency causes hair loss in dogs.
Table of Contents
- 1 Importance of Vitamins in Dog Hair Health
- 2 Nutritional Deficiencies That Can Cause Hair Loss in Dogs
- 3 Signs Your Dog is Not Getting Enough Nutrients
- 4 Dog Vitamins For Hair Loss
- 5 Summary
Importance of Vitamins in Dog Hair HealthVitamins and minerals are an essential part of a dog’s diet. Dogs who eat the right nutrients have healthy skin and good-looking coats. Vitamins are also important in strengthening bones and teeth while also supporting joint function and energy levels. Most high-quality dog food features all of the daily vitamin and mineral requirements for dogs. This is why supplements aren’t required for the most part. When we see dogs with nutritional deficiencies, it is often a result of the dog’s diet being poor. Some owners go for the homemade approach, and if they don’t know what they are doing, it can go very wrong. Dogs that are rescued after living on the streets for some time, usually show signs of vitamin deficiency and hair loss as a result.
Nutritional Deficiencies That Can Cause Hair Loss in Dogs
Vitamin A For DogsAll vitamins and minerals are important for the dog’s health, yet few impacts as many functions in the body as vitamin A. This is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning they require fat or oil in the body to get to where they need to go. Think of fat as a vehicle for vitamins like this. Vitamin A supports almost every function in the body, working with each organ system and supporting the reproductive and skeletal systems. The recommended daily intake for dogs is 3.333 IU per kg of a dog’s dry food. Vitamin A is found in leafy vegetables like spinach, and it is also found in carrots, milk, and liver. So it is widely available. Vitamin A deficiency in dogs causes sparse hair loss across the body, dry skin, and sometimes lesions too. Severe vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness and confusion
Vitamin EVitamin E is a nutrient that boosts a dog’s immune system. Additionally, it is essential for promoting a healthy gut, as well as supporting eye and skin health. This vitamin works through the building of cell membranes in the eyes and skin. Vitamin E metabolizes fat, which in turn supports nutrient absorption. Vitamin C for example, relies on Vitamin E to fulfill its role in the body’s immune system. The most important job for vitamin E is as an antioxidant. Cells and DNA strands that are damaged by oxidative stress, require antioxidants such as vitamin E. These nutrients prevent free radicals in the dog’s body, which cause damage to multiple systems and cause diseases including cancer. Dogs should consume at least 50IU of vitamin E each day. Larger dog breeds will need more, so owners should consult with a vet to find out the right amount for their dog. Vitamin E can be found in organ meats, as well as a variety of seed oils. High levels of vitamin E can also be found in berries, mango, broccoli, and red peppers.
Biotin For DogsSeveral dog foods have additional vitamins and minerals added in, to ensure that our pooches get the right nutrition. One additive you may have seen is biotin. This is a B-complex vitamin and also goes by the name B7. The fundamental purpose of this vitamin is to promote healthy skin and hair. This is what most people know biotin for, yet there is more to this essential vitamin. Biotin can also stabilize blood sugar levels and help to repair immune cells. In the dog’s digestive system, the B-complex vitamin helps to break down carbohydrates, fat, and protein, before turning them into energy. Biotin can be found in egg yolks, nuts, and leafy greens. Even with the inclusion of these foods in a dog’s diet, they will not get enough biotin to reach optimum levels. This is why food manufacturers will increase biotin levels in pet food. If a dog has a biotin deficiency, it will be most noticeable on its skin and through its shedding habits. A long-term deficiency can lead to more serious health issues like digestive disease and skin cancer.
B12Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is one of the most important nutrients for cell growth and repair. Dogs do not produce this vitamin naturally, so they must obtain it through food supplements or their diet. The most nutrient-rich sources of B12 are organ meat, such as liver and kidney, as well as poultry and eggs. Dog owners should ensure that they are feeding their dogs vet-approved products, to guarantee the right amount of B12. This vitamin is water soluble and vital in the production of red blood cells. These cells manage the body’s oxygen levels, which is particularly important for a dog’s skin health, and for repairing hair follicles. Without enough B12, dogs can become fatigued easily, and their coat will become brittle. Increased shedding from a B12 deficiency is also caused because of the neurological damage that a lack of red blood cells can cause. B12 will also support a healthy gut, and help the nervous system, protecting brain and spinal health.
ZincZinc deficiency is another cause of hair loss in dogs, as well as a whole host of serious health issues. This mineral plays a crucial role in cell replication and wound healing and it also supports healthy skin, nails, and hair. This mineral is different from water or fat-soluble vitamins and minerals, in that it is easily absorbed by the body. Zinc will require protein to do its job, however, and zinc deficiency is often a result of protein deficiency in dogs. Mineral deficiencies in dogs don’t always lead to hair loss, but zinc and copper, which will get into soon, can cause dogs to lose hair. Mineral-rich foods such as beef, poultry, and seafood contain a lot of zinc, so most dog food does supply plenty of zinc. Fresh food and high-quality food is best for zinc absorption, as cheap food doesn’t quite get the composition right. Those products will contain zinc that is not bioavailable, meaning that the dog’s food is not giving it everything that it needs. Beyond hair loss, zinc deficiencies in dogs can result in lesions around the mouth, flaking skin, thickened footpads, and brittle nails.
CopperOf all the nutrients a dog can be deficient in, copper is one of the rarest, although it can happen. When it does, hair loss is extremely common given the damage that is done to the hair follicle and pigment. Copper deficiency can also prevent proper development of the reproductive system, and other health problems such as anemia and cracked, dry skin. So many tissues in the dog’s body rely on copper, which is a complex collection of enzymes that boost hemoglobin production, and improve the function of the heart and the immune system. Copper is absorbed from the intestine and stored in the liver. As such, too much copper in the dog’s body can lead to liver disease in later life. Copper accumulating in the liver is usually down to genetic conditions. Foods that are rich in copper include chicken, turkey, beef, and sheep liver. Copper is fat-soluble and many dog foods will add essential fatty acids to support the absorption of minerals like copper. A raw food diet is a great way of ensuring that dogs get enough nutrients, including minerals like copper and zinc. The minerals in a raw diet have better bioavailability of minerals and other essential nutrients. Symptoms of copper deficiency include patchy hair loss, discoloration of the hair, and a dry coat. Long-term copper deficiency can lead to joint disease, problems with bone growth, as well as more serious health concerns such as osteoporosis.
Vitamin DVitamin D is often referred to as the ‘Sunshine Vitamin’ in humans. This is not the same for dogs though. This is because a dog’s skin doesn’t synthesize vitamin D in the same way that we do. Because of this, vitamin D is essential in a pet’s diet, as it’s the only place they can get it from. As we’ve established, vitamin deficiencies in dogs can so often lead to hair loss, and vitamin D is no different. This essential vitamin regulates both calcium and phosphorus absorption in dogs. Hair, bones, muscles, and nerves all depend on vitamin D to function as they should. Beyond hair loss, a vitamin D deficiency can cause kidney problems, inflammatory bowel disease, drastic weight loss, and muscle weakness. It is important for any pet owner, to give their dogs just the right amount of this vitamin D, as too much can cause kidney disease, and in extreme cases, death. Vitamin D is found in healthy fats, oily fish, red meat, egg yolks, and liver, so plenty of foods that any canine companion will love. This nutritional deficiency can be easily treated, and dogs improve very quickly once they start to get a good dose of vitamin D in their diet.
Signs Your Dog is Not Getting Enough NutrientsMost nutritional deficiencies in dogs cause similar symptoms that pet owners should look out for. These most frequently include:
- Hair loss
- Dry/Flaky skin
- Getting sick a lot due to immune deficiency
- Change in urine color
- Excessive thirst