Vitamin A Deficiency (Hypovitaminosis A in Turtles)

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Home Care

It is important to administer vitamin supplements, antibiotics or antifungal medications according to your veterinarian’s instructions. Pay particular attention to the frequency and amount of drug that should be administered.

Make the needed diet changes to include foods higher in Vitamin A. Good sources of Vitamin A include dark leafy greens, such as such as dandelion greens (not treated with lawn chemicals), kale, parsley, cilantro, collard greens, mustard greens; yellow or orange vegetables such as carrots; and other foods containing carotenes. The carotenes are converted in the body to Vitamin A and cannot be overdosed because excess amounts are not converted.

If your turtle is reluctant to eat greens, you can sneak them into the diet by mixing them with a favorite food, tuna fish, cooked liver or semi-soft turtle pellets. Food process the mixture so that he cannot pick out the greens. Start with a low percentage of greens and increase a little each day. Even wild, 100 percent of carnivorous turtles eat the vegetable matter that comes from the guts of prey animals. Except for carnivorous turtles such as snapping turtles, start to increase the size of the vegetable pieces until the turtle is eating the greens mixture by itself. Some difficult feeders will require 10 percent protein foods to be added to the greens to entice them to eat their greens. For water turtles, the mixture can be mixed with plain gelatin (not Jello, which will melt in water), allowed to solidify and cut into bite sized blocks. These blocks will not readily dissolve in water.

Observe the general activity level, appetite and interest of your pet. It may be helpful to keep a chart of foods and supplements actually eaten each day, as well as the weekly or monthly weights of your pet.

Regular follow-up visits may be required for your veterinarian to monitor the resolution of the condition.

Preventative Care

Vitamin A Deficiency is a preventable disease, and a complete, well balanced diet will prevent this disease.

To enhance consumption of leafy greens, feed turtles similar to box turtles, adult painted turtles and adult red eared sliders adequate amounts of Vitamin A rich vegetables (see above) before feeding turtle pellets or live food. Feed carnivorous species whole fish, name brand turtle pellets or gelatinized/food processed mixtures (described above).

Limited use of a high quality vitamin and mineral supplement can help prevent many nutritional deficiency problems. Remember that overuse of such supplements may cause toxicities. Check with your veterinarian for the proper dose for your turtle.

Feed your turtle fresh foods. If feeding commercial pelleted diets such as trout chow or pelleted turtle chows, make sure the product is fresh and has been stored properly. Many vitamins have short shelf lives and degrade rapidly with storage.


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