Vitamin B6 is essential for canine health. Your dog's nerves, brain, hair, eyes, skin, mouth and liver all benefit from daily replenishment of B6. Most regular dog food contains adequate amounts of vitamin B6, but you can add items such as beef liver or sweet potatoes for extra amounts of the vitamin. However, the ASPCA reports that vitamin B6 supplements are not necessary unless prescribed by a veterinarian.
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Vitamin B6 is a component of the water-soluble vitamin B complex and is essential for life. Because only tiny amounts of B6 are stored in muscle, it must be replenished daily. Vitamin B6 is important for hormone regulation, a healthy immune system, proper functioning of red blood cells, glucose generation and activation of genes. B6 deficiencies can result in kidney stones, weight loss, muscle twitching, tooth decay, skin lesions, anaemia and stunted growth. Death can occur in extreme cases.
Symptons of Deficiency
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Assess your dog's overall health. Look at his coat, watch him play, see how he responds. If there is a change in his energy level, if his coat is not shiny or healthy in appearance, if he doesn't appear to be interested in play or walking, or if he seems off balance or weak, take him to the veterinarian for testing.
While most quality dog foods contain an adequate amount of vitamins, processing and storage can weaken and destroy these vitamins. However, according to the ASPCA, it is unnecessary to give a vitamin supplement unless a specific vitamin deficiency is diagnosed by a veterinarian.
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Many people choose to supplement regular dog food with "people food" such as sweet potatoes, a good source of vitamin B6, as well as vitamin C and beta carotene. Other B6 vitamin-rich sources include beef liver, chicken, tuna and salmon. The foods you add to your dog's diet should not exceed 25 per cent of your dog's weekly calories.
According to the ASPCA, hypervitaminosis---poisoning due to excess vitamins---is more common these days than hypovitimanosis, or vitamin deficiency. Fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A and D are stored in the body and more likely to cause toxicity in large amounts. Water-soluble B vitamins rarely have negative side effects on their own. Choose supplements carefully and do not mix different vitamins without checking with your veterinarian.