Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, plays a very important role in the metabolism of animals.  It is necessary for digestion, and helps converts fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into energy.

This metabolic role translates into a number of other important functions.  Vitamin B2 is a key part of tissue repair, particularly in the eyes, mouth, and nervous system.  Furthermore, it is critical for proper growth and embryo development.

Natural Sources

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Grazing animals can synthesize their own vitamin B2 when provided with plenty of green feed.  Legumes are particularly beneficial in this process.

Other types of farm animals, such as swine and poultry, cannot manufacture their own riboflavin and must receive an adequate supply in their diet.  Although grains often contain this vitamin, it is not always in a form that can be easily absorbed and used.  Yeast, liver, and dairy products are good sources of vitamin B2, however.

Although healthy cats and dogs can produce their riboflavin with the aid of natural intestinal bacteria, they may need to receive the vitamin in their diets if their digestive function is impaired.  In addition to the sources listed for swine and poultry, they may benefit from eggs and leafy greens.

Causes of Deficiency

A vitamin B2 deficiency is most likely to occur in swine and poultry.  If this happens, the diet is unbalanced, and a better source of riboflavin should be provided.

Pets may experience a riboflavin deficiency if they are taking drugs that interfere with intestinal bacteria, particularly antibiotics.

When vitamin B2 deficiency is seen in grazing animals, it is almost always due to confinement feeding and/or poor-quality hay.  Occasionally, however, it may be seen in hard-working horses that use up their riboflavin faster than their bodies can synthesize it.

Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Weakness.
  • Cracks around the mouth
  • Bright magenta coloring inside the mouth.
  • Hypersensitivity of eyes to light.
  • Moon blindness in horses.
  • Cataracts.
  • Dermatitis.
  • Appetite loss.
  • Emaciation.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Difficulty urinating.
  • Curled toes in chicks.
  • Loss of muscle control in swine.
  • Lying prostrate with legs extended in chicks.
  • Reduced egg production and hatchability.
  • Small litters in swine.
  • Piglets born dead or deformed.
  • Slow growth.
  • High mortality after three weeks in chicks.

Symptoms of Toxicity

Because vitamin B2 is water-soluble, overdose is highly unlikely in most animals.  Some studies suggest, however, that excessive supplementation may cause reduced growth in swine.

Medicinal Uses

Vitamin B2 is not commonly used for its medicinal properties in pets or livestock.

Content regarding medical conditions and treatment is provided for general information purposes only, and is not to be construed as legal, medical, or professional advice.  Please consult your veterinarian for advice regarding your specific animal’s needs.

Complete Series