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Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)

By: Dr. Nicholas Dodman

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Overview

  • Ascorbic acid, also called Vitamin C, is a naturally occurring substance that is important in the formation of collagen.
  • Ascorbic acid is manufactured by most animals, except for some birds, fish, guinea pigs, fruit bats, and primates (and humans.).
  • In dogs and cats, ascorbic acid is manufactured in the liver and normally does not need to be supplemented. Claims that nutritional deficiency of ascorbic acid causes scurvy in dogs and cats are probably inaccurate.
  • The only situation in which ascorbic acid deficiency might occur in dogs and cats is in the case of liver disease, which might disrupt its production. Ascorbic acid may have some application in treating certain toxicity syndromes and, perhaps, in treating feline immunodeficiency virus infection.
  • Ascorbic acid is available over-the-counter but should not be administered except under the supervision and guidance of a veterinarian.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • Sale or use of ascorbic acid in humans or animals does not require the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)..
  • Human formulations: Various generic preparations.
  • Veterinary formulations: None

    Uses of Ascorbic Acid

  • Ascorbic acid has been used to prevent the formation of struvite uroliths.
  • Ascorbic acid has been used to treat complications arising from acetaminophen toxicity.
  • Ascorbic acid may be helpful in treating feline immunodeficiency virus infection.
  • It is also recommended as a supportive measure in the treatment of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, ascorbic acid may cause untoward effects in some animals.
  • Ascorbic acid should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Ascorbic acid is soluble in water, which means the body can quickly break it down and eliminate it in the urine. Because of this, toxicity does not normally occur.
  • Excessive doses of ascorbic acid can lead to the formation of calculi in the kidneys and, in rare circumstances, anemia.
  • Large doses of ascorbic acid may act as an intestinal irritant, and diarrhea may occur.
  • Ascorbic acid may interact with other medications. Consult your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with ascorbic acid. Such drugs include aspirin and other acidic medications; acetaminophen; loop diuretics; beta-blockers; cyclosporine; and tetracycline.

    How Ascorbic Acid is Supplied

  • Ascorbic acid is supplied in various forms, including tablets (250 mg, 500 mg, 100 mg, 1500 mg); capsules (500 mg); crystals (1000 mg per quarter teaspoon); powder (60 mg and 1060 mg per quarter teaspoon); solution (100 mg/mL); liquid (500 mg/mL); and by injection (500 mg/mL).

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
    Because dogs and cats manufacture their own ascorbic acid, none is required to maintain normal bodily functions.
  • For acetaminophen toxicosis, the dosage is 15 mg per pound (30 mg/kg) injected under the skin or 10 mg per pound (20 mg/kg) given intravenously every 6 hours for seven treatments.
  • To treat Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, dogs are given 250 mg per dog, orally, twice a day.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication, and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed otherwise by your veterinarian.



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