Dogs and cats need vitamins and minerals to maintain their best possible health. Vitamins and minerals help to keep pets’ coats shiny and healthy. They also keep their bones strong and help pets to have properly functioning immune systems. In addition, vitamins and minerals help dogs and cats to have optimal eyesight, good digestion, a strong heart, and proper cellular function.
Consequences of Vitamin Deficiency in Dogs and Cats
If a dog or cat became deficient in a vitamin, it could have serious consequences for the pet’s health. For instance, if a dog is deficient in Vitamin B1, also known as thiamin, symptoms of the deficiency might include loss of appetite, general weakness, and loss of reflexes. Cats deficient in Vitamin A can have eye diseases such as conjunctivitis, cataracts, retinal degeneration and additional eye problems, as well as poor reproductive health.
Consequences of vitamin deficiencies are many. A lack of any one vitamin can cause damage. Lack of niacin in a dog can lead to inflamed gums and hemorrhagic diarrhea. In cats, it can lead to elevated body temperature and a red, inflamed tongue, among other symptoms. Lack of Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, in dogs can lead to poor growth, skin lesions, and anemia. In cats, it can also lead to stunted growth, convulsive seizures, and kidney lesions.
Vitamins Important to Dogs and Cats
Cats and dogs each need certain amounts of vitamins to function properly. Some of the most important vitamins for a dog’s health are the B Vitamins, including B12, biotin, folic acid, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and thiamin. Other important vitamins include Vitamins A, D, E and K. The B Vitamins play important roles in nervous and digestive system function in dogs and in the prevention of anemia. They also play a role in the proper formation of red and white blood cells.
Vitamin A is important for proper bone and tooth formation as well as optimal vision. Vitamin D helps dogs’ immune systems function correctly. Vitamin E is necessary for appropriate cell function, good digestion, and metabolism of fat. Vitamin K plays an important role in the ability of a dog’s blood to clot properly.
Cats’ needs for vitamins are similar to dogs’ needs for the most part. Cats also need Vitamins A, D, E, K and the B Vitamins. Cats, however, cannot convert beta-carotene to Vitamin A and need to have this supplement in a readily assimilated form.
The Role of Minerals in Dog and Cat Health
Just as vitamins play a large part in a dog or cat’s optimal health, so do minerals.
Minerals are natural substances that help dogs’ and cats’ bodies to properly function in a number of ways. Some of the minerals important to the health of dogs and cats include: calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and iron, along with many others.
Some of ways in which these substances benefit dogs and cats are in the formation of bones and teeth, maintaining the integrity of DNA and RNA, acid-base balance, and the formation of hemoglobin. Other ways include connective tissue formation, cell replication, assimilation of proteins and carbohydrates, and regulation of metabolism. Obviously these are very important substances for dogs and cats to have adequate supplies of.
Consequences of Mineral Deficiency in Dogs and Cats
Mineral deficiencies in dogs and cats can have disastrous results for their health. A deficiency in calcium can lead to skeletal malformations, malformation of teeth, bone pain, and fractures. Deficiencies in magnesium can lead to muscle twitching and convulsions, as well as high blood pressure and nervousness.
If a dog or cat lacks the proper amount of sodium, it might experience an unwillingness to eat, extreme thirst, and excessive urination. Potassium deficiency can lead to neurological disorders in dogs and cats as well as muscle weakness. Iron deficiency can lead to weakness and poor growth.
Helping Dogs and Cats Obtain Proper Amounts of Vitamins and Minerals
Because of the fact that dogs and cats need adequate amounts of various vitamins and minerals to maintain their overall health, many quality supplements exist. Sometimes, feeding a dog or cat one type of food does not provide it with optimal nutrition. It may need more of a particular vitamin or mineral than it is being provided with through diet alone. Keep in mind that signs of deficiency include lethargy, dull coat and skin problems.
It is important to consult a dog’s or cat’s veterinarian to see if it is getting the nutrition it needs. It is possible that the dog or cat would benefit from vitamin and mineral supplementation to keep it in optimal health. A good veterinarian can recommend the supplements that would be beneficial to a particular dog or cat, so that it stays healthy and disease free as much as possible.
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