Folic Acid: A Vital B Vitamin for Pets and Poultry

Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9 or folate, serves a crucial role in addressing deficiencies in dogs, cats, horses, and various animal species. Vital for red blood cell formation and cellular growth, this vitamin is especially critical during early pregnancy, significantly reducing the risk of brain and spinal birth defects. Folic acid is an essential nutrient for all dogs and cats, with recommended allowances of 0.270 mg/kg and 0.750 mg/kg, respectively, based on a 4,000 kcal diet.

Functions of Folic Acid:

  • Cellular Growth and Tissue Function: Folic acid supports cellular growth and tissue maintenance.
  • Synergy with Other Vitamins: It collaborates with vitamin B12 and vitamin C to facilitate protein breakdown, utilization, and synthesis.
  • Red Blood Cell Formation: Crucial for preventing anemia by aiding in the production of red blood cells.
  • DNA Production: Essential for DNA synthesis, which carries genetic information.

Folate-Rich Fruits:

Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are notable sources of folate. For instance, a large orange contains about 55 mcg of this essential vitamin, aiding in maintaining adequate levels for overall health.

Food Sources Rich in Folate:

Folate naturally occurs in various foods such as asparagus, brussels sprouts, spinach, mustard greens, oranges, orange juice, beef liver, nuts like walnuts, and beans.

Recognizing Folic Acid Deficiency:

Folate deficiency manifests through symptoms like:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Mouth sores
  • Neurological issues

Preventing deficiency can be achieved through a diet rich in folate-containing foods.

Disease Associated with Folic Acid Deficiency:

Folate-deficiency anemia arises due to insufficient folic acid in the blood. This deficiency affects:

  • Red blood cell production
  •  Anemia
  • Compromises the body’s oxygen-carrying capacity.

Potential Side Effects:

When taken orally, doses exceeding 1 mg daily may lead to adverse effects like stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, irritability, confusion, behavior changes, skin reactions, seizures, and other complications.

Folic Acid Uses in Poultry:

In poultry, folic acid in feed significantly impacts in:

Various growth-related parameters enhancing overall productivity and health.


Folic acid, a vital B vitamin, plays a critical role in red blood cell formation, cell growth, and DNA synthesis. It is essential for pets and poultry, with deficiency leading to various health issues. Incorporating folate-rich foods can prevent deficiencies, while caution is necessary to avoid potential side effects from excessive intake.

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