Biotin For Dogs: Is Deficiency A Risk?

Food on the left and samples of dog's health issues on the right

Do you know if your dog is getting enough biotin in his diet?

Biotin’s an important nutrient, but it isn’t talked about as much as some of the other well-known vitamins.

It should be.

If your dog’s not getting enough, you could run into some serious health issues.

So what is it and how do you know if your dog needs more?

What Is Biotin?

Biotin is one of the complex B vitamins (along with riboflavin, thiamin and niacin). It’s also known as vitamin H (confusing, right?).

First of all, together vitamins are responsible for breaking down fat and carbs from food. Then they turn them into energy.

Biotin is part of that process, but it does a lot of other great things too.

Benefits of Biotin for Dogs

So why do you want to make sure your dog’s getting enough biotin?

It helps maintain:

  • Healthy skin and coat
  • Proper muscle formation
  • Healthy digestion (it metabolizes proteins and fatty acids)
  • Normal growth
  • Improved energy
  • Thyroid and adrenal gland function
  • Normal function of the reproductive tract

Biotin is essential for some of the most important functions in your dog’s body.

Treating Common Skin Conditions

Research shows that biotin can also help improve common skin conditions in dogs.

A study of 119 dogs with skin conditions were treated with only biotin. Their symptoms included:

  • Dull coat
  • Brittle hair
  • Hair loss
  • Scaly skin
  • Pruritus
  • Dermatitis

In 60% of the cases all symptoms cured after the biotin treatment and in 31% an improvement was seen.

clinical study on the effect of biotin in dogs

[Related] There are other things you can do to manage skin conditions. Here are 10 steps from Dr Ed Bassingthwaighte.

Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency

How can you tell if your dog is biotin deficient? Biotin deficiencies are rare, but there are several symptoms that you should look for.

Symptoms include:

  • Scaly skin
  • Skin lesions
  • Dry and dull hair/coat
  • Scruffy appearance
  • Lethargy
  • Alopecia
  • Reduced growth rate
  • Diarrhea
  • Anorexia
Signs of a biotin deficiency in dogs

Other signs that may not be as noticeable include:

  • Defects in nerve transmission
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Anemia

To confirm a deficiency, your holistic vet will test concentrations of biotin in your dog’s urine.

What Causes Biotin Deficiency?

Deficiencies in biotin can sometimes be caused by a general lack of it in the diet.

There’s also a concern that feeding raw eggs leads to deficiency. This is because the whites contain avidin, an enzyme that interferes with biotin.

The truth is you’d need to be feeding about 8 eggs a day, every day, to create a deficiency.

The yolk of an egg actually contains a healthy amount of biotin. So as long as you feed your dog the entire egg, this is a good source of the vitamin.

Antibiotics can also cause a deficiency because they mess up the microbes in your dog’s gut. This can interfere with the levels of biotin in your dog’s body.

Other rare causes of deficiency may include:

  • Gastrointestinal parasites
  • Hormonal disturbances
  • Chemical or physical trauma
  • Functional or metabolic disorders

It can also be hereditary.

Dog-Safe Foods That Contain Biotin

Biotin plays an important role in your dog’s health, so it’s a good idea to add biotin rich whole foods to his diet.

Some of the most important natural sources of biotin are seed oils (hemp seed oil is a safe one) and liver. And of course, eggs. Other foods include:

  • Meat (beef kidneys are good)
  • Sardines
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Cauliflower
biotin-rich foods to add to dogs' diets

[Related] Hemp seed oil is good for more than just boosting biotin. Here are 5 reasons to use it.

Can Your Dog Get Too Much Biotin?

Biotin is water-soluble. That means it’s easily eliminated from the body through urine. So no, you don’t have to worry about your dog getting too much in his system. (Fat-soluble vitamins build up in the body and lead to toxicity.)

Because of this, it’s important to be consistent with giving your dog biotin so the levels don’t lower. While whole food is a preferable source of this vitamin, it is also available in supplements. Look for biotin on its own (not synthetic) and follow the directions on the label.

So, maybe you’re worried about a deficiency, want to clear up a skin condition or just want to be on the safe side. Add a little extra biotin to your dog’s diet. This will ensure your dog receives all the benefits of this important vitamin.

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