Do Dogs Need Sunlight for Vitamin D? Everything You Need to Know.

Vitamin D is one of the most vital micro-nutrients needed by all living creatures. It helps the development of bone and teeth and regulates heart rhythm. It aids blood clotting and absorption of calcium in the body. Vitamin D is also vital for hormonal balance and healthy digestion. The biggest and most accessible source of the said micro-nutrient is the sun. Both humans and animals can get their daily dose of Vitamin D from the sunlight. However, some animals, such as dogs, respond better to vitamin D acquired from dietary supplements.

Most animals produce a sufficient amount of vitamin D after getting exposed to the sun. The ultraviolet rays in sunlight convert a precursor to Vitamin D, 7-DHC, in the skin to vitamin D. The produced nutrient is then metabolized by the liver and used in the body. Dogs get some of their daily dose of Vitamin D from the sun, but their biology responds better to dietary Vitamin D. Also since dogs have limited levels of 7-DHC, they do not produce a significant amount of vitamin D when exposed to the sun. Therefore, it is essential that you include dietary supplements in your canine’s diet.

In the UK: Vets at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies are investigating the effects of vitamin D on the health of pet dogs.

The Importance of Vitamin D in Dogs

Vitamin D is critical for a dog’s health. It aids bone development and maintains joint health. It also prevents heart disease and kidney failure in dogs.

Some of the most common health issues dogs face are coat problems, vision problems, inflammatory bowel disease, joint inflammation, dental problems and hyperthyroidism. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in preventing the occurrence of all the mentioned canine illnesses.

Since sunlight is not the best source of Vitamin D for dogs, dog owners must fulfil their fur child’s mineral requirement through dietary supplements and nutrient-dense foods.

Deficiency of Vitamin D in Dogs

Now that we have gone over the importance of vitamin D in dogs, let’s look at what the deficiency of the said mineral can do to your doggo.

First and foremost, a lack of vitamin D in dogs can have severe repercussions on their bone health. Since vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium in bones, its absence will lead to brittle bones. A Vit D deficiency can also lead to osteomalacia and rickets in canines. Moreover, a lack of calcium also hampers the ability of muscles and nerves in dogs to function correctly.

One of the most severe side effects of insufficient vitamin D in dogs is the high possibility of congestive heart failure. When a dog doesn’t get enough vitamin, it is more likely to face heart complications and poor bone health.

Studies also suggest that a lack of vitamin D in dogs can increase the risk of cancer.

Excess of Vitamin in Dogs

Although a deficiency of vitamin D in dogs is dangerous, it gets fatal after a while. However, an excess of vitamin D in canines can get deadly pretty quickly. Too much Vitamin D is known for causing toxicity in dogs.

Vitamin D poisoning is quite common in canines. Vitamin D is fat-soluble, which is why an excess of it is stored as fat in the body. Moreover, surplus vitamin D leads to high levels of calcium in the body, which can severely impact the central nervous system in dogs. Not just that, excess calcium is also dangerous for a dog’s muscles, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and cardiovascular system.

Some other side effects of an excess of Vitamin D in canines are anorexia (loss of appetite and weight), excessive thirst, frequent and uncontrollable urination, excessive drooling, vomiting and muscle weakness.

Growing dogs are more severely affected by an excess of Vitamin D than fully grown dogs. If a growing dog experiences an overdose of Vitamin D, its skeletal formation can be disrupted severely.

Some of the most common cases of vitamin D overdose in dogs occur due to ingestion of prescription drugs containing the mineral. Many times dog parents can mindlessly keep medicines in the reach of their fur child without realizing the consequences.

Sometimes packaged dog foods can also contain excessive doses of vitamin D, which can lead to Vitamin D poisoning in canines.

In 1999, cartons of DVM Nutri-Balance High Protein Dog Food and Golden Sun Feeds Hi-Pro Hunter Dog Food led to the death of 25 dogs because they contained surplus vitamin D. The manufacturers later recalled the deadly product.

In 2006, Royal Canin Veterinary Diet recalled four of their products after receiving reports of vitamin poisoning due to them in cats and dogs. However, no canine or feline death was reported due to the consumption of unhealthy products.

In 2010, Wilderness Chicken, Basics Salmon, and Large Breed Adult Chicken dry dog foods by famous dog food company Blue Buffalo were recalled after an error in ingredient sequencing during production was reported. The harmful products affected 36 dogs.

In March 2016, Family Pet Food recalled four of their canned food varieties after discovering the presence of excessive levels of Vitamin D in the products.

Dog parents never, typically, think much before giving their fur child packaged food. And while generally, it’s okay to do so, sometimes it can be dangerous. Therefore, try to give your dog natural foods as much as possible. It’s a great way of ensuring that your pet gets sufficient nourishment while being safe from an excess of minerals.

The Takeaway

Your pup needs lots of vitamin D to be healthy and happy, but that doesn’t mean you can give them supplements in uncontrolled amounts. Consult your vet before deciding on a dose of vitamin D supplements to feed your dog.

Also, even though sunlight is not the best source of producing vitamin D in dogs, you should still take your fluffy friend out in the sun because it’s good for their overall well-being. Since exposure to the sun means exposure to fresh air, going out will make your four-legged canine companion healthy and happy. So, don’t forget to take your fur buddy out and make sure to give them good quality vitamin D supplements.

by Bobby J Davidson  || You can’t buy love, but you can rescue it™

Facts About Animal Homelessness:

  1. Only 1 out of every 10 dogs born will find a permanent home.
  2. The main reasons animals are in shelters: owners give them up, or animal control finds them on the street.
  3. Each year, approximately 2.7 million dogs and cats are killed every year because shelters are too full and there aren’t enough adoptive homes. Act as a publicist for your local shelter so pets can find homes. Sign up for Shelter Pet PR.
  4. Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.
  5. According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), less than 2% of cats and only 15 to 20% of dogs are returned to their owners.
  6. 25% of dogs that enter local shelters are purebred.
  7. About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners.
  8. It’s impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States. Estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.
  9. Only 10% of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered. Overpopulation, due to owners letting their pets accidentally or intentionally reproduce, sees millions of these “excess” animals killed annually.
  10. Many strays are lost pets that were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification.
  11. According to The Humane Society, there are about 3,500 brick-and-mortar animal shelters in the US and 10,000 rescue groups and animal sanctuaries in North America.

Here are a some adoptions for consideration: