Are Vitamin E for Dogs Supplements Necessary?

By MarĂ­a Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. January 7, 2021
Are Vitamin E for Dogs Supplements Necessary?

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Vitamins are essential for dogs since they are something which their body cannot produce on its own. Not all animals will require the same types of vitamins, but vitamin E is a necessary one for dogs. The majority of vitamins are acquired through food, one of the reasons providing a proper diet is so vital for a dog's health and well-being. However, there are occasions when a dog will have a deficiency of a particular vitamin. In these cases, it is understandable we might ask are vitamin E supplements for dogs necessary?

At AnimalWised, we look at everything you need to know about vitamin E for dogs. However, if you think your dog may have any sort of dietary deficiency, it is important you take them to a veterinarian for assessment.

What is vitamin E?

Vitamins are divided into two groups, depending on whether they are water-soluble or fat-soluable. These terms indicate whether they can dissolve in water or fat, respectively. Vitamin E belongs to the second group, with vitamins A, K and D also being fat-soluable vitamins.

These types of vitamins can be stored in the dog's body fat, but are found in the greatest concentration in the liver. They are mainly excreted in the vile which is produced in this organ. Vitamins are micronutrients which are responsible for a dog's metabolism. The metabolic processes specific to vitamin E include:

  • Formation of cell membranes
  • Cellular respiration
  • Metabolism of fat
  • Protects unsaturated fats from oxidation (antioxidant)
  • Protection of cells, tissues and organs against free radicals

Due to these vitamins being contained in the liver, it often takes time for symptoms of vitamin E deficiency to be visible. Vitamin deficiency is a general term for an organism lacking a certain vitamin over a prolonged period of time. This could be due to not receiving enough of said vitamin in diet, but failure to absorb or metabolize it effectively can also be responsible.

By looking closer at the antioxidant function of vitamin E for dogs, we should note that it is effective in avoiding the rancidification of fats and vitamin A. It also reacts with selenium, meaning less quantity of this mineral is needed and vice versa. If the dog doesn't have enough vitamin E, these processes are affected. Lastly, vitamin E deficiency can lead to intestinal ulcers and bleeding, as well as vision or reproductive problems.

Are vitamin E supplements necessary for dogs?

When a dog has a vitamin E deficiency, we need to find out the cause of the problem. Fortunately, they are generally quite rare, but they can be found if the dog has a poor diet or one of a range of metabolic disorders. The latter are often problems derived from the poor function of organs required for these processes such as the liver and kidneys.

Poor diet for a dog is usually an easy solution. You will usually have to provide the right diet to in turn provide the dog with sufficient vitamin E. However, we need to take the dog to a veterinarian for a proper assessment. Not only will they be able to provide an accurate diagnosis for the dog, but they will be able to determine if they have sustained any functional damage during the period of vitamin deficiency.

In cases when diet is insufficient to provide enough vitamin E for a dog, the veterinarian may provide necessary supplements to boost its levels temporarily or over a prolonged period of time. However, these will need to be prescribed by the veterinarian and we should not give them to our dog without prior professional consultation.

How to vitamin E supplements benefit dogs?

Vitamin E is not only necessary for a dog's general health. It's synthesis into the body can also be beneficial when they are suffering from various medical conditions. These include:

  • Together with other micronutrients such as selenium, vitamin E for dogs contributes to liver care for dogs with chronic liver failure. This is also helpful for dogs which sustain liver damage from poisoning or chemotherapy treatments. This is because it can help with the regeneration of liver cells which improves related symptoms. It is best when combined with other antioxidants since the damage to the liver can make it difficult for vitamin E to be absorbed in the first place.
  • Another benefit of vitamin E for dogs is when they have joint problems or arthritis. In its role as an antioxidant, it helps reduce oxidative damage to cartilage. It can help to slow the progression of arthritis, even if it cannot cure the disease. They may not be strictly necessary, but they can help the dog's quality of life.
  • Vitamin E can also be used in a topical form to repair, protect and regenerate certain tissues. This is why it is often an ingredient in various coat care products or those designed to help skin diseases in dogs.

Vitamin E for dogs dosage

As we have stated above, the main source of vitamin E for dogs should be food. If we choose a quality diet adapted to their clinical picture and stage of life, we will cover their nutritional needs. On the other hand, if it seems to us that our dog needs vitamin E despite receiving a proper diet, we must consult a veterinarian. They will consider whether vitamin E supplements will be beneficial for your dog.

The dosage of vitamin E supplements for dogs will depend mainly on their clinical picture and weight. Each manufacturer will provide the recommended guidelines for use, but the vet will be able to let us know if there are any contraindications (especially if they are being given other drugs).

Vitamin E for dogs can be found in tablet form, injectable solutions or even in topical products. In the latter case, it can often be purchased as a cream, spray or even shampoo. Topical products may be used on healthy dogs, as long as their instructions are followed closely. This is especially the case if the dog is suffering from any particular skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis.

Are Vitamin E for Dogs Supplements Necessary? - Vitamin E for dogs dosage

Natural vitamin E supplements for dogs

A quality diet is the best way to provide the dog with the vitamin E it needs. Often commercial dog food comes fortified with different vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E.

If the veterinarian considers it necessary, they will prescribe synthetic vitamin E supplements to administer to the dog. However, with mild vitamin E deficiency or as a complementary treatment for certain diseases, they may suggest controlled dietary changes. These might include the following vitamin E-rich foods suitable for dogs:

  • Vegetable oils: sunflower, rapeseed or, to a lesser extent, olive oil.
  • Nuts: English walnuts or hazelnuts (in small doses).
  • Fish: pomfret, salmon or sardines.
  • Avocado: pulp .
  • Vegetables: broccoli, chard or spinach.

Some vegetables may contain vitamin E, but it doesn't necessarily mean they are suitable for dogs. In fact, some are toxic, particularly in high doses.

Side effects of vitamin E for dogs

As we pointed out at the beginning, fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin E have the ability to be stored in the body. This means a high dose will not be eliminated as easily from the body as the water-soluble vitamins which are excreted in the urine. An excess of vitamins is called hypervitaminosis and can cause health problems, hence the importance of not supplementing without a veterinary prescription.

On the other hand, when vitamin E is administered via injection, we need to be careful of inoculation point swelling. This can lead to an abscess or an allergic reaction may be triggered. Fortunately, this is a very rare occurrence for dogs. Follow our guide to giving a dog a shot under the skin to be safe.

If you want to read similar articles to Are Vitamin E for Dogs Supplements Necessary?, we recommend you visit our Healthy diets category.

  • Olóndriz, Ibone. (2017). Nutritional management of patients with liver disease. Ateuves Magazine 37. pp. 12-15.
  • Sagarra, Natalia. (2018). Diet for dogs with joint problems. Ateuves Magazine 69. pp. 14-17.
  • Villagrasa, Maria. (2018). Vitamin cocktail. Ateuves Magazine 46. pp.14-19.

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