Do Dogs Need Vitamin E? Everything You Need to Know About the Nutrient Supplement
Vitamin E is an essential nutrient that promotes a healthy immune system and healthy skin and coat in dogs. With all those benefits, it's easy to think your dog needs an extra vitamin E supplement in their diet—but it's not always necessary, especially for healthy dogs with a high-quality, balanced dog food diet.
Is Vitamin E Good for Dogs?
One of vitamin E's most important functions is as an antioxidant to protect against free radicals. Free radicals—a normal part of the metabolic process—can cause damage to a dog's cells and DNA, affecting a dog's immune, cardiovascular and neurological systems.
Sarah Machell, DVM and Medical Director at Vetster says that supplementing vitamin E can help dogs with skin conditions and some liver and eye conditions. However, "There are no specific known health benefits to supplementing vitamin E intake in normal, healthy dogs," Machell says.
In human medicine, vitamin E supplements are sometimes recommended to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries and a leading cause of heart attacks. As a result of this, some pet parents may assume there are heart health benefits for dogs. "Thankfully dogs do not develop atherosclerosis and therefore this common misconception is not applicable," Machell says.
Sources of Vitamin E for Dogs
While vitamin E is a necessary nutrient for dogs, it's rarely necessary to supplement the vitamin into a dog's diet. Vitamin E is found naturally in common dog food ingredients, such as spinach, broccoli, and plant oils. Most quality dog foods already have the recommended amount of vitamin E your dog needs, so there is no reason to add it to a healthy dog's diet.
Pet parents should only consider giving supplements of any kind after a discussion with your veterinarian. If your dog is diagnosed with a deficiency or illness that may respond to vitamin E, your vet may recommend additional vitamin E through supplements, which can be given to your dog orally in the form of a pill.
If your dog has localized skin problems, vitamin E oil may be recommended to apply directly to their skin. However, Machell says pet parents should be careful, as products made for human application may contain ingredients that are harmful if ingested by a dog.
"The combined risk of ingestion of unknown ingredients, and unclear dosing make the use of topical vitamin E oils a no-go recommendation for me," Machell says.
Can Dogs Overdose on Vitamin E?
Vitamin E overdose in dogs is rare, but possible. The fat-soluble vitamin is stored in the fat of the liver and high levels of the vitamin can cause problems with blood clotting and bleeding disorders. If your dog shows any signs of vitamin E overdose, call their vet immediately.
Vitamin E Overdose Symptoms in Dogs
According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), adult dogs should be consuming at least 50 IU of vitamin E daily. This will typically be provided through your dog's regular diet, and a veterinarian can prescribe an appropriate dosage and frequency of supplements according to your dog's weight and needs.
How to Prevent Vitamin E Deficiency in Dogs
Vitamin E deficiency in dogs is rare as most dogs get a necessary amount of the nutrient through their regular diet. An easy way to ensure your dog is getting enough vitamin E in their diet is to check their food labels; if their food was created within the guidelines of the AAFCO, you can have confidence their diet should be balanced in all macro and micronutrients, including vitamin E.
Some dogs may face more risk of vitamin E deficiency. Machell says a hereditary genetic form of vitamin E deficiency has been seen in English cocker spaniels and dogs with pancreatitis may face greater risk of deficiencies.
5 Best Vet-Recommended Vitamin E Supplements for Dogs
If you and your vet have decided to introduce vitamin E supplements into your dog's diet, here are a few highly rated options.