Vitamin E has garnered a lot of attention due to its antioxidant properties. This provides a wide range of health benefits when included in the right amounts in your pet’s diet.
In this article, we will break down what vitamin E is and the benefits of vitamin E for dogs along with how, and how much, to give to your dog.
If you are someone that just wants to grab some and give it to your dog, we have included our recommendations at the top.
If you want to find out more information, scroll down and we will explain more about vitamin E
So let’s get started…
What is Vitamin E?
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient, which means it can be stored in the dog’s body. This is in contrast with water-soluble nutrients such as Vitamin C and the B Complex vitamins.
Technically speaking, Vitamin E exists in eight naturally occurring forms in two compound groups called tocopherols and tocotrienols. Each of these contains four variant – alpha, beta, gamma, and delta.
The two most common forms of vitamin E are γ-tocopherol, found in soybean and corn oil, and α-Tocopherol, found in olive and sunflower oils.
Is Vitamin E Good for Dogs?
Yes, Vitamin E is beneficial for your pet. In fact, it’s essential!
Vitamin E is essential for a dog’s muscles, circulatory system, repairing injuries and general healing. It is also an antioxidant, so it helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, preventing aging.
There is a link between deficiency of Vitamin E to cell damage in skeletal muscle, the heart, liver, and nerves.
What does vitamin E do for dogs?
The outward effects of vitamin E include better skin and coat, better eyesight, improved fertility, improved muscle function and last, but by no means least, a better immune and cardiovascular system.
Vitamin E plays other roles in the body, like forming cell membranes, however not all of its functions are known
However, the main role that vitamin E plays in a dog’s body, as it does in our own, is to prevent the oxidization of Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) and production of free radicals in the body.
This probably all sounds very technical, but what do all those terms mean?
Vitamin E, Antioxidants and Free Radicals
Vitamin E is an essential part of the canine diet – but why? To understand its role in the body, we need to delve into the interactions between free radicals and antioxidants.
What is a free radical?
According to Dr. Jennifer Coates, author of the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms: Vet-speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian, free radicals are “a group of atoms containing oxygen and electrons that can damage cell membranes, proteins, DNA and other parts of the body.”
Holistic veterinarian Dr. Patrick Mahaney of Los Angeles, CA adds that free radical damage can be a contributing factor to “heart disease, cancer, and arthritis” in dogs.
In more technical terms, free radicals are uncharged molecules that are usually highly reactive and short-lived. They are called free as they have an unpaired valency electron. This unpaired, free, electron can essentially “steal” an electron from nearby molecules. Stealing those electrons can cause the molecules to become free radicals themselves.
So these free radicals do not only damage the cells but can cause a chain reaction leading to more cellular damage.
What is an Antioxidant?
In contrast, antioxidants are molecules that can give up electrons to free radicals without becoming free radicals themselves. This means that once a free radical has paired its electron with one from an antioxidant, the chain is broken and no further free-radicals are produced.
Free radicals form as a normal part of the metabolic processes that produce energy within the body. A healthy dog produces enough antioxidants to offset its free-radical production. However, they can be produced at a greater rate when a dog is sick, exposed to toxins, poor nutrition, or simply becomes older. This is called oxidative stress.
So antioxidants like Vitamin E and Vitamin C stops the cycle of cellular injury by neutralising the free radicals produced by normal functions of the body
Antioxidants, PUFAs, Vitamin A and Amino Acids
To really get into the nitty-gritty, the main role Vitamin E plays is to protect Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids, Vitamin A and sulfur-containing Amino Acids from oxidation.
Mammals naturally store these within their bodies to be used when required. However, they will oxidize. While vitamin A and those amino acids are prone to oxidization, the biggest culprit is the PUFAs simply because more are typically stored.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids come in two types, Omega-3 and Omega-6. Much is written about Omega-3. Mammals can produce all types of fatty acids except linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6 fatty acid, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid.
This means dogs have to get them from the food they eat and why they are called the essential fatty acids.
The ratios of omega 6 fatty acid to omega 3 fatty acids range from 1:1 to 1:1.25. More specifically a stable fatty acid composition with 50-70% of the total fatty acids as essential and, or semi-essential fatty acid of which 25-35% omega 3 fatty acids, 25-35% as omega 6 fatty acids and 20-30% as monounsaturated fatty acids.
However, ratios do not tell you whether the actual quantity is sufficient, but the calorific value is usually quoted at between 0.5% and 2% of the energy expended daily. What that translates to in real terms is about 0.5-1g for a dog.
Vitamin E, and it’s antioxidant powers, stabilizes these essential fatty acids to prevent their free radicals from harming the body. So, as you might expect, the more PUFAs in the diet, the more Vitamin E is necessary to protect pets from oxidation increases.
What Else Does Vitamin E Do?
But what does all this mean in practical terms? Below we look at what vitamin E does for your pet and the signs that they are deficient
Vitamin E Promotes a Lustrous Coat and Healthy Skin
If your pet is getting adequate vitamin E, they will have a healthy, shiny, and glossy coat, which is why vitamin E is often added in dog shampoos.
Insufficient vitamin E in your dog’s diet is sure to make your pet vulnerable to a wide range of skin problems including dry skin, flea allergy dermatitis, skin lesions, dandruff, rashes, and skin infections.
If you use a shampoo, it is best to let it sit for a few minutes to allow the product to work its way into the hair and scalp.
Vitamin E Promotes a Strong Immune System
Low levels of vitamin E in your pet’s diet are associated with poor immunity. Its ability to scavenge on free radicals can work wonders to protect the immune system from damage.
Because Vitamin E is also known to boost the immune system, some call it the perfect ‘winter vitamin’ since cold weather can dry out the skin and compromise the immune system.
All in all, vitamin E can contribute immensely in keeping your pet’s skin and coat healthy and strengthens the Immune System. However, there are some other areas it benefits too
Vitamin E deficiency has been linked to fertility problems in animals and humans. This is most likely to occur in bitches if they are not receiving adequate vitamin E from their diet, however, male dog fertility is also affected.
Cataracts and age-related macular degeneration are also more likely to occur with insufficient vitamin E in the dog’s diet
Boosts Muscle Function
Vitamin E deficiency in dogs has also been linked to muscle weakness and loss of muscle mass. So for better muscle function, which is critical particularly in working dogs such as Greyhounds and terriers, one should ensure that our furry friends get adequate amounts of vitamin E.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Vitamin E also benefits the cardiovascular system as the vasodilatory effect of vitamin E ensures that the blood circulates properly through the blood vessels.
A healthy circulatory system, in turn, can keep the heart in an optimal condition and helps prevent the formation of blood clots.
A long-term test on humans demonstrated a 7% reduced risk of heart problems, and a 24% reduction in deaths, so well worth making sure both yourself and your pooch get enough!
How do I know if my dog isn’t getting enough Vitamin E?
Essentially if any of the above things are not good on your dog, there may be an issue with a lack of vitamin E. The most noticeable of these is your dog’s skin and coat. So if your dog’s coat is looking dull, and he suffers from other skin-related conditions, it could be down to a lack of nutrients such as vitamin E.
Signs could include:
- Excessive moulting
- Thin or balding patches on their coat
- Suffering from dry or flaky skin
- Poor coat condition
How much extra vitamin E does my dog need?
If you’d like to enhance your dog’s intake of vitamin E by using supplements, it’s probably best to check with your vet first. This will give you a much better idea of the amounts required for your dog.
The exact amounts of vitamin E your dog needs will depend upon the levels and precise mix of Omega 3 & 6 oils being added
Normally the dosage required is determined by a blood test, although the size, age and the weight of the dog also matter.
As a guide, small dogs below 2 years of age are typically given 400 IU, whereas large-sized dogs over 2 years will be looking at about 800 IU of vitamin E daily.
Keep in mind that many nutraceuticals (food-derived substances having medicinal benefits) contain vitamin E as a natural preservative as it stops the oxidation, eg fish oil (all fish oil products should be refrigerated once opened though!)
What foods contain vitamin E for dogs?
It should be noted that any commercially available pet food that meets FEDIAF standards will contain at least the minimum amount of vitamin E that a healthy dog should need.
Vitamin E that is available in the form of a dietary supplement, oil, and powder is listed with a “d” prefix (for example, d-alpha-tocopherol) when it is extracted from natural sources. However, its synthetic version comes with a “dl” prefix such as dl-alpha-tocopherol.
Many pet foods have added Vitamin E because of the benefits it provides both to the dog and the lifespan of the product. Of the two forms of molecules, tocopherols, and tocotrienols, tocopherols are those more-commonly added to pet foods and supplements in the form of ‘mixed-tocopherols”
However, there are also many ways to incorporate foods rich in Vitamin E in your pet’s diet.
Vitamin E is high in protein sources like eggs. You can also find it in vegetables and nuts like dandelion, spinach, and other green leafy vegetables, peanuts, and sunflower seeds. Plant oils, including coconut, hemp, olive, safflower, and others are also good sources.
Can a Dog Overdose on Vitamin E?
Vitamin E is one of the four vitamins (along with vitamins A, D, and K) that are fat-soluble for both humans and animals. This means they are stored in the fat of the liver, so an overdose is possible.
One particular side-effect of excessive vitamin E can affect blood clotting by inhibiting normal platelet aggregation (clumping) has been noted in patients taking vitamin E supplements, but not those consuming diets containing vitamin E
So remember to talk to your vet before giving your dog any supplementation
Can dogs take human vitamin E supplements?
Dogs can take human vitamin E supplements. In fact, human vitamin E supplements are often of a higher grade than the canine equivalents!
What makes a good Vitamin E supplement?
As with all our supplements, you need one containing only the finest natural ingredients. In addition you should ensure that the extraction process and packaging ensure the right amount of vitamin E and Omega 3 & 6:
- Oil is extracted gently, avoiding heat, light, and oxygen to provide extremely high-quality oils
- Oxygen and light-blocking packaging to reduce oxidation
- High levels of natural Vitamin E
This means you can be confident they have the right blend of Omega 3 & 6 oils and plenty of natural vitamin E to support your pet’s skin health.
How Else Can I Give My Dog Vitamin E?
Most veterinarians will recommend that vitamin E be given orally, but if a dog’s skin problems are localized, vitamin E oil can also be applied directly to the skin.
Can you use Vitamin E oil on a Dog?
Rubbing vitamin E oil on your dog’s skin and fur can help treat skin problems. Be it dry, flaky or itchy skin, the application of vitamin E oil can work wonders to resolve skin issues and help in maintaining a shiny coat.
If your dog likes the bathtub, try adding Vitamin E oil to the water in the tub.
Vitamin E for Warts
Vitamin E known for its cellular regeneration properties can also contribute to healing the damaged skin associated with warts. It essentially allows the skin to repair itself.
To treat your dog’s warts, break open a vitamin E capsule and apply its contents to the affected area a couple of times every day. You should see results within 2 weeks and in approximately 5 weeks your dog’s warts should be gone.
Vitamin E for Ear Infections
Placing one drop of vitamin E oil into the infected ear can be helpful to alleviate the pain and inflammation associated with ear infections
After cleaning the ear, puncture a vitamin E capsule and then apply a drop of the oil into the dog’s ear. You may need some kind of dripping rod to drop this into your dog’s ear accurately or get one that comes with a pipette
Vitamin E is a hugely important antioxidant that destroys the free radicals in your dog’s body.
Vitamin E also plays a particularly important role in skin health and fertility and is also important for the proper function of the immune system. It’s a key ingredient in a shiny and luscious coat!
Vitamin E also ensures other ingredients in pet foods and supplements stay at their best. It prevents the oxidation of fatty acids in the food which leads to them going off.
The good news is that your dog is probably getting enough vitamin E in their diet. However, these are fat-soluble and are stored in the fatty tissues within the body and so can be problematic if overabundant
So while vitamin E supplements are something to be considered, depending upon your dog’s health and lifestyle, they are certainly no substitute for a healthy diet containing all of the nutrients needed to live a happy and healthy life.
- 1 What is Vitamin E?
- 2 Is Vitamin E Good for Dogs?
- 3 What does vitamin E do for dogs?
- 4 Vitamin E, Antioxidants and Free Radicals
- 5 What Else Does Vitamin E Do?
- 6 How do I know if my dog isn’t getting enough Vitamin E?
- 7 How much extra vitamin E does my dog need?
- 8 How Else Can I Give My Dog Vitamin E?
- 9 Conclusion