Biotin is a very common additive to dog food. In fact, if you look on the ingredients of your current dog food, you’ll probably find it listed.
But what is biotin, and is it safe for your dog?
Today we explore what biotin is, why it’s in your dog’s food and the role it plays.
What is biotin in your dog food?
Biotin is a B-complex vitamin.
B vitamins are a collection of vitamins that are essential to your dog’s health. B vitamins keep your pup’s body functioning correctly – without them, your dog would suffer serious health issues.
The B vitamins are:
- Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
- Niacin (Vitamin B3)
- Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)
- Pyrdoxine (Vitamin B6)
- Biotin (Vitamin B7)
- Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)
- Cobalamin (Vitamin B12)
You’ll most likely have heard biotin by it’s more common name – Vitamin B7.
Less commonly, biotin is referred to a Vitamin H. The H represents the German words for hair and skin – two parts of our bodies that biotin helps to maintain.
However, when written on the ingredients list for dog food, it will always be listed as Biotin.
Biotin is naturally found in foods like eggs, fish and nuts and leafy greens. However, your dog’s source of biotin will most likely come from his pet food – as an added ingredient.
How does biotin help your dog?
As part of a balanced diet, there are four key benefits that biotin provides for your dog:
1. Maintains healthy skin and coat
Perhaps the most common benefit of biotin is it’s ability to improve your dog’s skin and health. With continued use, biotin has been shown to heal dry, itchy skin and add a healthy shine to hair that was previously dull. This is why dog foods and supplements formulated for skin and hair health contain biotin.
2. Supports digestion
Many of the enzymes in your dog’s body require riboflavin to break down protein, carbohydrates and fat, and turn them into energy. Without riboflavin, your dog could not digest these.
3. Regulates blood sugar levels
Biotin is vital in preventing dog’s blood sugar levels from bouncing around – biotin is used to stabilize blood sugar levels.
4. Supports a healthy immune system.
Many immune cells in your dog’s body require biotin to properly function. Immune cells work to prevent your dog from getting sick.
As you can see, biotin is essential to your dogs health. If your dog doesn’t get enough, it can lead to a medical condition called known as biotin deficiency.
In extreme cases, a biotin deficiency can be fatal.
That’s why there are the dietary recommendations for dogs include substantial amounts of biotin.
Why is biotin added to dog food?
As I explained earlier, is naturally found in meat and leafy green vegetables. And it’s very likely that your dog food has these as ingredients.
Just one problem…
Even if your dog food contains ingredients that are high in biotin, it doesn’t mean the finished product has enough biotin to keep your dog healthy.
You see, when dog food is manufactured, there are a wide range of factors that can impact how much of a vitamin or mineral remains in the food.
Cooking time, cooking method, temperature, light, and air can all reduce the total vitamin content of your dog food.
When dog food is cooked, the high temperatures used in the cooking process will destroy some of the vitamins and minerals – including biotin.
And that’s not a good thing.
You see, a deficiency in vitamins and minerals can cause long-term health issues for your dog.
A biotin deficiency can cause a dry fur, a dull coat, itchy skin and even rashes – among other problems.
So what do dog food manufacturers do? Once the cooking process is complete, they add these lost vitamins and minerals back into the dog food.
Biotin is one of the vitamins that is added back to the food.
Is Biotin safe for dogs?
Yes, the amount of biotin that is added to dog food is considered safe for dogs.
The AAFCO does not have a lower or upper limit for how much biotin should be included dog food.
Waaaaaay back in 1985 National Research Counsel suggested that 30 micrograms biotin per 1,000 calories of dog food as a minimum to safeguard from a biotin deficiency.
So, how much biotin is too much?
You don’t have to worry about your dog overdosing on the small amount of biotin in his food – even if your pup was to devour an entire bag of kibble.
You see, biotin isn’t toxic.
That’s because biotin is water soluble. To put it simply, when your dog pees, biotin leaves the body – it doesn’t get the chance to build up to toxic levels.
The downside? Each time your dog pees, his biotin levels lower. Unless these levels are replaced, your dog can suffer from a biotin deficiency.
The best way to top up your dog’s biotin levels? By eating foods that contain biotin. Fortunately, most dog foods sold in the USA have been formulated to meet this requirement.
Biotin is not known to trigger allergies in dogs.
A clinical study of Biotin has shown it to improve skin conditions in all breeds of dogs.
For this study, 119 dogs showing signs of dull coat, brittle hair, hair-loss, scaly skin, itchy skin, rashes and dermatitis.
Each dog was treated with biotin for a period of 3-5 weeks. The results where overwhelmingly positive with 9 out of 10 dogs experiencing improvement with their skin issues!
Biotin is much more studied in humans, and has recorded benefits such as curing baldness in women and strengthening brittle nails..
However, human studies should be given less weight, as dogs respond differently to certain foods and ingredients. For example, while chocolate is considered safe for humans to eat, it’s deadly to dogs.
Under regulation 582.5159, the FDA allows Biotin to be used as an additive under the GRAS notification. What this means is that as long as the correct manufacturing process is used, Biotin is considered a safe ingredient.
The AAFCO mandates that biotin be displayed in milligrams per pound on a guaranteed analysis.
Biotin has been assigned the international Feed number: 7-00-723
Similar ingredients to biotin
As a B-complex vitamin, biotin is essential to your dog’s health. there isn’t an individual ingredient that can replace it.
However, if you are looking to boost your dog’s skin and hair, there are other ingredients that have been shown to improve skin and hair in the same way biotin does:
- Salmon oil
- Fish oil
- Omega 3
Association of American Feed Control Officials. 2021 Official Publication. Association of American Feed Control Officials Inc., 2021.
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