The Benefits of Vitamin E for Pets
Vitamin E is known as an essential nutrient to humans that you'll find stocked in almost any grocery store nowadays. Some of the benefits for humans include healthier brain function, prevents aging, and disease prevention such as with liver disease or Alzheimer's. With all these health benefits, it's no wonder we ask whether or not it would also help the health of our cats and dogs.
Luckily, Vitamin E is one of the best defenses against oxidative damage. Vitamin E deficiency in pets can lead to things like eye and muscle degeneration as well as reproductive issues. Your pets need ample Vitamin E to live a healthy and functionally long life. In this post we'll go over the core benefits of Vitamin E for cats and dogs, and also tell you the best way to administer Vitamin E into their life.
Improved cardiovascular and muscular health
One of the core benefits of Vitamin E is it's effect on both the cardiovascular health and muscular health of your pet. These are important issues to prevent early on.
Muscular dystrophy is caused by hypovitaminosis E, and "is characterized by degeneration and necrosis of skeletal muscle myofibers". This causes a decrease in agility and exercise tolerance and affected dogs often develop muscle atrophy, or decreased muscle mass according to VCA Hospitals. A study by Clinical Medicine and Surgery on rabbits showed that "rabbits with vitamin E deficiency have increased plasma concentrations of creatine phosphokinase and cholesterol" and "supplementing [their] diet with an alternative vitamin E source such as wheat germ, should prevent this problem".
Vitamin E also has a significant positive effect on the cardiovascular health of your pet. Studies by the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine showed that Vitamin E, as well as other antioxidants, slows down the progression of early chronic valvular disease. Further studies by the Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation looked into oxidative stress on dogs who had cardiac failure. They looked at the imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants, and their research shows that Vitamin E "is the main and most potent lipid-soluble antioxidant" and that "Vitamin E is one of the most powerful free-radical scavengers, particularly in cell membranes" thus preventing cardiovascular ailments.
Another benefit of Vitamin E is it's positive effects on your pets eyesight. In fact according to the Journal of Nutritional Science, "antioxidant supplementation increases retinal responses and decreases refractive error changes in dogs". Another study by the American Journal of Veterinary Research supports this as "dogs fed purified diets developed retinopathy consistently when the nutrition was deficient in vitamin E". Retinopathy is classified as damage to the eye which can cause visual impairment.
Maybe the most famous research on the effect of Vitamin E and canine eyesight is by Dr. Wilfrid Shute, who treated a seven year old doberman pinscher who had developed infertility and cataracts. The treated dog was given 300 IU of Vitamin E and was able to sire a litter of puppies within three weeks, and his cataracts cleared in three months.
Vitamin E is known to increase fertility in non-neutered dogs. The study above by Dr. Wilfrid Shute also supports this. In specific, Vitamin E affects sperm function, and a study by Animals, an international and peer-reviewed zoology journal, shows that sperm motility and concentration had positive effects when a balanced amount of Vitamin E was given to dogs.
Healthier and shinier coat
Vitamin E is known to make your pet's coat shinier. The opposite of shine is dullness, and dullness occurs when your dog doesn't have enough vital nutrients, including Vitamin E. Furthermore, deficiencies in Vitamin E can lead to skin dryness, dandruff, rashes, and even skin lesions. Research done by Veterinary Quarterly showed that plasma Vitamin E concentration was significantly lower in dogs with atopic dermatitis, or otherwise known as Eczema, than dogs without it. Topical application of Vitamin E will both help remedy this condition and act as a preventative method.
How to give your pet Vitamin E
So you're sold on the benefits of Vitamin E, but now you want to know how to give your pet Vitamin E. There's two main ways pet professionals recommend giving your dog or cat Vitamin E: ingestion and topical.
Ingestion is the most common way to ensure your pet has enough Vitamin E to be healthy, and many pet foods already have Vitamin E in them. However if you're feeding your pet dry foods, be warned: according to the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, the extrusion processing of dry pet foods causes some of the natural Vitamin E to be destroyed. This is an important caveat to note so that you're ensuring your pet is getting enough Vitamin E in their diet. If ingestion is your preferred method, then ensure your pet is eating enough high Vitamin E foods, like salmon, spinach, or peanut butter.
The other recommended method to give your pets Vitamin E is through a topical application, usually mixed with a carrier oil. Like humans, our pets skin is absorbent and can gain the benefits of Vitamin E through their skin and paws. Balms or oils with Vitamin E can be applied directly on your pet's paws or skin and it will be absorbed in their bloodstream naturally. Not only will this provide ample Vitamin E in your pet, but it will also keep their coats soft and shiny!
If you're interested in adding additional sources of Vitamin E to your pet's life, be sure to check out our paw balms, as they all have Vitamin E as a core active ingredient for the healthiest paws.