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Vitamin B5 is essential for dogs because it's an important part of the complex system that allows for energy production, absorption, and storage. All central to your dog's healthy, active life.
Pantothenic acid fulfills an enormous number of roles in metabolism, playing an essential role as a precursor of Coenzyme A, which is needed in all tissues. That's why vitamin B5 is pivotal for the metabolism of macronutrients, such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Pantothenic acid deficiency is rare today because of the high quality nutrition dogs receive, however research has shown that deficiencies can be brought upon by general malnutrition or when the relatively fragile vitamin B5 is compromised in overly processed foods.
What is vitamin B5/pantothenic acid
Vitamin B5, often referred to as pantothenic acid, is one of the water soluble vitamins (as are all B vitamins), so like other B vitamins, it is best provided daily since it's not stored in the body.
In addition to pantothenic acid's large role in the metabolism of energy and essential nutrients and also because of that, pantothenic acid is necessary for well-functioning systems throughout the body.
What vitamin B5/pantothenic acid does for our dogs
Pantothenic Acid, or Vitamin B5, is an essential nutrient that not only helps with digestion, but is also necessary for normal nerve health.
Pantothenic acid fulfills an enormous number of roles and is responsible for naturally synthesizing Coenzyme A- which is then present throughout the body and is itself essential in a large proportion of all central metabolic reactions (including energy production, synthesis of fatty acids, and drug & enzyme functioning).
What does that actually mean?
Since vitamin B5 is necessary to synthesize Coenzyme A, it is a critical element for your dog (and you) to be able to metabolize all macronutrients, neurotransmitters, hormones, and hemoglobin.
As with all vitamin B group members, vitamin B5's overarching role is to convert food into glucose and break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins for energy generation.
What are some examples of B5's functions & benefits?
- Healthy skin - Vitamin B5/pantothenic acid helps the skin (and hair) to attract and retain moisture, while providing protection and enhancing the natural repair process.
- Stress-related hormone support - Vitamin B5 is sometimes called the anti-stress vitamin because it is critical to the development of stress-related hormones produced in the adrenal glands, helping regulate stress, mood, and feelings of well-being.
- Red blood cell production - Vitamin B5 is necessary for making red blood cells and helping convert food your dog eats into energy.
- Healthy digestive tract - By maintaining the digestive system functions, Vitamin B5 supports digestion and a healthy digestive tract.
- Brain health - Vitamin B5 plays a key role in the synthesis of amino acids in the brain and body, which are necessary for normal brain function through neurotransmitter creation and maintenance of cells. It supports cognition and can help reduce dementia. (In humans, research has shown Vitamin B5 to help treat Alzheimer's disease.)
More potential benefits...
Rheumatoid arthritis - preliminary studies
Preliminary evidence suggests Vitamin B5 might improve rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms, but the evidence is limited. One study in humans found that people with RA may have lower levels of Vitamin B5 in their blood than healthy people, and the lowest levels were associated with the most severe symptoms.
Vitamin B5 deficiencies
In terms of pantothenic acid deficiency in dogs, unfortunately less research has been conducted due to deficiencies being brought upon by general malnutrition. Because of that, studies have instead utilized methods to artificially remove Vitamin B5 from the diet to gauge the impact.
That level of deficiency would show results of diarrhea, disturbances to skin and eyes, vomiting, convulsions, and could even lead to death. Scary stuff- but fortunately something that would rarely be seen today.
Even lesser deficiencies can lead or contribute to dermatitis, alopecia (hair loss), gastroenteritis, cataracts, and upper respiratory infections.
Fortunately, pantothenic acid is found in many foods and pantothenic acid deficiency can be prevented by providing a complete and balanced diet containing pantothenic acid without relying on dietary supplements.
Where to find Vitamin B5 in foods
Luckily sufficient pantothenic acid intake is relatively easy in a healthful diet.
Vitamin B5 occurs naturally in most foods and can be found in a number of sources:
- Sweet potatoes
Organ meats and most animal products in general are superior food sources of B5.
Dietary pantothenic acid or Vitamin B5 is everywhere, but it's worth calling out organ meats as an exceptionally rich source. However, adding organ meats to kibble or other complete commercial foods can be risky if not implemented correctly due to the nutrient density. Liver in particular is rich in pantothenic acid, regardless of the animal source of the liver. A homemade diet rich in organ meats and meat will be rich in Vitamin B5.
Again, that means dietary pantothenic acid shouldn't be too hard to include in your pup's diet, and normally you wouldn't need to consider pantothenic acid supplements.
Risk factors & commercial dog food
It is important to know how just marginally low intakes may affect dogs, rather than extreme deficiencies. When it comes to Vitamin B5, storage, cooking, and freezing will have a serious impact. Pantothenic acid is destroyed easily by heat and freezing. Commercial foods, even though they could contain enough Vitamin B5 naturally, often supplement just in case.
Growing dogs, just like humans, require more Vitamin B5 than an adult because of the increase in hormones and other metabolic activity. It is possible that suboptimal intake could affect the health of the skin, something many growing dogs struggle with.
It is possible that high carb diets and high fat diets can affect Vitamin B5 status of your dog, especially coupled with poor formulation practices, storage, and processing.
Questions worth considering in thinking about and feeding Vitamin B5...
- Is there a chance that highly processed foods - dry and canned- that are not formulated by nutrition professionals are providing suboptimal intake?
- Could this potentially lead to slight behavior disturbances?
- Slight skin disturbances?
- Are high-carb, low-quality, poorly-formulated diets affecting skin and gut health?
We don’t have the data to say “yes,” but we do have the understanding as nutritionists of the function of this nutrient and the understanding of how to provide optimal amounts from high quality sources.
We should pay attention to Vitamin B5 in any dog, including those fed raw, cooked, kibble, canned, DIY, etc.
Adding fresh Vitamin B5 to enhance kibble
To add fresh, bioavailable Vitamin B5 to kibble, lean muscle meat, heart, eggs, fish, and duck meat in particular can significantly boost pantothenic acid- even when you're just feeding it as a light topper.
Whole food pantothenic acid supplementation is certainly something to consider since poorly formulated processed foods can likely provide Vitamin B5 sub-optimally since it is so fragile in heat and processing.
Steps to evaluate pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) in your dog's diet
- Identify Vitamin B5 in your dog's food: If you're feeding homemade or commercial dog food, identify the pantothenic acid sources- especially if you're a DIY feeder or feeding local raw food blends.
- If you're feeding canned and/or kibble: look at the list above to see how can you add fresh Vitamin B5/pantothenic acid to your dog’s diet.
Next up in the Basic Nutrition Channel on Dogly
Now that you have a good understanding of vitamin B5, continue to the next essential vitamin step-by-step guide on vitamin B6/pyridoxine.
Or hop over to the Basic Nutrition Channel if you'd like to ask a question in the Community discussion and start any of the other step-by-step guides in Needed Nutrients.
If you ever need more personalized nutrition guidance, please reach out!