As we know, dogs are not the only ones that need to be exposed to sunlight to maintain strong bones and skin. Many other species require adequate exposure to natural light or risk developing health issues or even death.
Vitamin D is a nutrient that helps your body regulate its calcium levels. It also acts as an immune system activator and aids in bone growth.
Sadly, due to excessive indoor activity and limited sun exposures, many cats do not get enough vitamin D. This can cause problems such as sunken eyes and lethargy.
Fortunately, you can easily fix this by giving your cat her needed dose of vitamin D. Here are some tips to help you determine how much vitamin D to give your cat!
Reminder: Never feed your pet any supplements without first reading the label and consulting with your doctor. Also, never assume something works like it did for someone else’s dog! Different animals have different nutritional needs; what may work for one won’t necessarily keep you up at night for another one.
Good riddance! That said, read on to learn more about how to give your cat her daily vitamin D requirements.
Disclaimer: The content in this article should not be used to diagnose or treat illness. Instead, they are used to provide helpful insights and information on vitamins, nutrition, and general wellness.
Sources of vitamin D
All mammals can produce their own vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, but it takes longer for cats than other species due to their fur.
Most dogs are born with enough vitamin D, so they do not need supplementation as adults. This is not the case for most cat breeds, such as Persian and Russian Blues, that have thick hair which covers most of their body.
For these types of cats, you should ensure they get adequate exposure to sun or risk deficiency.
A few days’ exposure every week is sufficient if your pet does not like being outside very much. Many owners find that their pets love getting some sun after being exposed to it for a while.
Dogs who live in warm areas or indoor environments may also require supplemented vitamin D.
Vitamin D can be obtained by eating foods that are fortified with the nutrient or through topical applications such as milk or gel drops.
Danger signs of vitamin D deficiency
If your cat seems to be developing symptoms such as lethargy, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea or dry skin, it is important to recognize that they may indicate disease or risk of disease caused by a lack of vitamin D.
Symptoms can get worse quickly so you should seek urgent care if these occur.
Your dog or cat could have become deficient due to one major cause or many. For example, senior pets are at greater risk of nutritional deficiencies because their kidneys work less efficiently.
Certain diseases like cancer can affect how well your body uses nutrients. Medical conditions also reduce food intake, which makes it more difficult to achieve adequate nutrition.
Treatment for vitamin D deficiency
Because most dogs are exposed to sunlight via outdoor activity, it is not as important to check your dog’s levels of vitamin D if they look healthy and bright-eyed. However, because cats are typically less active than dogs, they need more exposure to sun light in order to produce their own natural vitamin D.
That’s why it is very common to find many older cat owners who take extra precautions by making sure their pets are outside during the middle of the day or even morning before work so that they get adequate exposure to UV rays.
But unless your pet is actively seeking out exposures to sunshine, you may be limiting his/her intake of this essential nutrient.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to give your furry friend an appropriate dose of vitamin D. You can purchase nutritional supplements, or you can make sure his diet contains enough through pasture raised meat products or vegetable oils such as olive oil.
Helpful tips for giving your cat vitamin D
As mentioned earlier, most dogs do not require much vitamin D in their diets. This is because they get all of the nutritional vitamins and minerals that they need from eating enough food!
The same goes for cats with low levels of vitamin D. Since most major veterinary hospitals test for vitamin D levels during checkups, it does not make sense to give lower doses unless your cat has adequate amounts already.
Fortunately, many foods are fortified with vitamin D, so you can easily add this nutrient to your kitty’s diet. You will want to pick brands that are certified as having vitamin D in them though, as some may contain too much or none at all!
Making sure your dog is consuming enough vitamin D is important, but just like humans, some breeds need more than others. Like with people, if your dog seems reluctant to eat his/her normal meals, he/she might be suffering from lack of nutrition.
Use sunscreen with SPF
As we mentioned before, sun exposure is very important to your cat’s health! Unfortunately, most cats are not able to produce their own vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.
As such, they can become deficient in this vital nutrient.
This occurs mostly during winter months, when your pet cannot be outside for long periods of time or at night, when it is dark.
Since many indoor-only cats spend much time sleeping, they also do not get enough exposure to natural light.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include heavy coats, lethargy, poor appetite, muscle weakness, and difficulty breathing.
These symptoms usually go away once your dog gets adequate amounts of vitamin D through diet or supplementation.
For some dogs however, these symptoms may only manifest themselves after prolonged exposure to excessive ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunshine or tanning beds. This could potentially increase toxicity.
Therefore, it is extremely important that you prevent your dog from being exposed to too much UVB rays. Not only does this help prevent skin conditions like dermatitis, but it also helps ensure healthy bone growth and internal function as well.
Sunscreen is your best bet because it protects both yourself and your furry friend. Make sure to choose one with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide so it does not burn easily. The two work similarly by protecting your skin layer from the sun’s harmful rays.
Expose your cat to sunlight
As mentioned before, sun exposure is an essential part of any dog’s health, but it also helps promote healthy skin and bone growth in most cats!
Most dogs are exposed to enough sunshine through their coats so that they need only treat them as needed. This isn’t always the case for every individual cat, however!
Some have very thick fur or dark skins which prevent adequate exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. This can result in poor overall health and disease risk due to insufficient vitamin D production in the body.
For this reason, it is important to make sure that your cat is getting sufficient UV light exposure by taking measures such as feeding her outside during dawn and dusk times, having her go outdoors while you are awake, etc.
Supplement your cat with vitamin D
Although most cats spend time outside, they are not exposed to enough sunlight to produce adequate levels of vitamin D.
Most commercially-available foods for dogs and cats do not contain enough vitamin D. This is especially true of some brands that market themselves as “vet certified” or “recommended by vets.”
It’s important to note that even if your dog has no signs of skin disease, you should still give him/her a supplementation of vitamin D. Why? Because it protects his/her bones!
As we know, older animals lose bone density due to aging. If this happens, their bodies don’t quite recognize those lost minerals and will try to make up for them through other means, such as depositing them in the soft tissues instead.
This can lead to calcification (the formation of too many calcium deposits) which may cause health problems later on. Therefore, ensuring your pet’s bone growth continues at a healthy pace is an essential part of keeping them happy and living a long life.
Talk to your vet about requirements
Even though some cats are bred into having very high levels of vitamin D, most adult cats do not require much vitamin D to survive. Therefore, unless you have a serious health concern, there is no need to give your cat extra vitamins or minerals.
Some things may cause your dog or cat to lose excess amounts of vitamin D through their skin, such as frequent grooming, heavy fur coats, or sun exposure that does not include protective clothing like hats and sunglasses. If this happens, then it is important to make sure your pet gets enough UVB light by going out with them or using an umbrella shield.
However, if your furry friend looks pale and sickly, has trouble eating, or is acting lethargic, they may be suffering from nutritional deficiency.
Fortunately, many vets offer advice and testing for different nutrients including vitamin D.