Folic Acid



Jean Viljoen – Pasadena Chihuahuas; Vahalla, South Africa

I wrote about the importance of Folic Acid in my manuscript in 1993, my husband died the same year which resulted in the book only being published in 2004. Much of the information I wrote about then is consistent with new information during recent research. In my book, page 181 for those of you who did not purchased the New Chihuahua Encyclopedia, it reads;

A key vitamin for the strong development of a foetus and it plays a role in the metabolism, cell division, the regeneration of red blood cells and aids in the development of a puppy’s nervous system. Body reserves should be built up before mating as it facilitates smooth conception and ensures foetus strength. Folic Acid is claimed to prevent birth-defects, certain forms of anaemia, and is a natural anti-stress factor, which aids in the synthesis of proteins, fatty acids and utilization of carbohydrates. (Source below Staying Healthy with Nutrition by E.M.Haas) Folic Acid is vital to growth and reproduction of all cells, particularly during times of rapid cell growth such as in pregnancy. It is a water-soluble B vitamin which ensures optimal foetal development and reduction of birth complications. It is involved in the formation of the foetal spinal cord and can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects.) Deficiency causes anaemia, fatigue, depression, sores in the mouth and tongue, malformation of foetus and miscarriage. The following information is gleaned from various sources and breeders:- Folic Acid also known as folate or folacin is one of the vitamins also known as vitamin B9. It is a vital raw material for production of red blood cells, norepinephrine and serotonin which are chemical components of the nervous system. It is known to synthesize genetic material in every cell of the body and normalize brain function. Folate is a food supplementation and fortification. Folic Acid is water-soluble and no adverse effects have been demonstrated in research, if too much is consumed, the body will flush out the excess. The exception to this rule is that an excess of Folic Acid could hide vitamin B12 but correct dosing should prevent this occurrence. It is recommended not to exceed 1000 times the recommendation dose of 0.18 mg/kg. A bitch weighing 8kg would therefore receive the dose of 5mg per day. Chihuahua breeders would dose a ¼ 5mg tablet per day. Another source suggests 400 micro grams a day or 4mg during pregnancy, this should increase if there are known defects. The tablets are small and I have found the easiest way to divide the tablet is to cut the tablet with a small scissors into half then quarters. In my manuscript for my book written years ago, I wrote of the importance of Folic Acid for pregnant bitches but at the time research had not yet established the tremendous importance of Folic Acid with regards to cleft palate and hair lip etc in dog breeding. Research has since found that the failure of nasal and maxillary buds to fuse during embryenesis which takes place around the 33rd day of gestation results in cleft palate and hair lip. Folic Acid research of causes of cleft palate, hair lip is good news for the owners of brachycephalic dogs. Some researchers claim that daily supplementation to bitches from fifteen days before mating until the end of gestation confirms Folic Acid would significantly reduce the risk of cleft palate. A breeder of Boston Terriers, Tania Coquhoun writes a Folic Acid supplement of 1.5 daily from first day of mating until three weeks after whelping definitely reduces cleft palate, improves lactation, protects intestinal parasite and food poisoning, promotes healthier skin, acts as an analgesic for pain, may delay hair graying when used in conjunction with pantothenic acid and PABA, increases appetite, acts as a preventative for canker sores, helps ward off anemia. Enemies are water, sulfa drugs, sunlight, therefore, store in a dark place. Food processing (especially boiling) heat can affect Folic Acid and diminish its potency.

Tania also states in the third generation, cesarean sections where greatly reduced and cleft palate decreased. It was also suggested to her by a Naturopath that labour time could be reduced by 30-50%. I am in complete agreement with her claims. Folic Acid Research has suggested that it could prevent some types of birth defects by 50%. A deficiency could cause abortion or still births. Supplementation enhances the repair of the adult central nervous system. There are also claims from breeders who own long coated breeds of dogs, that it definitely improves coat growth, I have for years complained to my hairdresser about the quick growth of my hair, she claimed that the Folic Acid was the cause of my hair growing so quickly, interesting! For breeders who like to spoil their dogs with a dish of extra food. I am great believer in feeding only the recommended amount of excellent dog food but there are exception where some dogs have a higher metabolic rate and are inclined to be thin, for them the additions of foods known to be a good source of folate are cereal grains, pasta, rice, chicken liver, lentils, wheat germ, eggs probably a lot more but speak to an animal nutritionist for more information. I am not a nutritionist, veterinarian or scientist but have bred dogs since 1966 and twenty years ago I was feeding my dogs Folic Acid, after the death of my husband, life went to pieces and I just never thought about it again until preparing the manuscript for my book in 2003, for those who purchased my book you can read about Folic acid but unfortunately research was minimal and not much published to inform dog breeders of the importance of Folic Acid. It is claimed to prepare the uterus making it a healthy environment to conceive and fertilize the eggs thus increasing the possibility of the bitch conceiving. Research has not yet been established with regards to the possibility of increasing the litter size, but I have found in some cases my bitches whelp larger litters and stronger healthier puppies, I have fed my bitches Folic Acid about four months before they come into season, perhaps this is a waste but until more researchers in animal health and breeders have established the correct dosage and precisely the correct time to start supplementation; I think I will stick to my own observations. The research of 15 days before mating is not always possible, often a bitch comes into heat and stands within days ready to be mated!

Please bear in mind I am a dog breeder and some of the views expressed are my own personal views; remember there will be exceptions to the above as life affords us no guarantees! Folic Acid is not a magical cure, it is important to ensure a nutritional diet be fed during pregnancy, the bitch must be de wormed before mating, again at one month and a week before whelping, inoculations must be up to date. I also administer ½ a Synulox 50 tablet twice a day two weeks before whelping to bitches that have problems. It has also been suggested by some breeders that puppies be given one drop of Amoxicillin drops after birth if a bitch has had previous problems with puppies dying, it could well save the puppies lives unless there is a congenital fault, in which case nothing will help. Weigh puppies daily, if they are not gaining weigh, supplement with a puppy milk formula, tube feeding is the answer for puppies that refuse to feed. We can only do the best we can and hope for the best,

I hope this article will be beneficial to dog breeders who have problems breeding their bitches! You are welcome to contact me anytime if you have anything to add to the above. Your input will be appreciated.

Jean Viljoen

Pasadena Chihuahuas

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