Biotin Deficiency Symptoms in Humans & Dogs

Know more about Biotin deficiency symptoms by reading this article. Biotin deficiency is a nutritional condition that affects both humans and domestic animals.

It is often mild in many affected persons but can be serious and even fatal in untreated cases. Analyses indicate that biotin deficiency can occur in individuals regardless of their age, sex, ancestry, or gender.

However, there are instances when genetics have been highlighted to play key roles in the development and progression of the deficiency.

Frequency of Biotin Deficiency

Biotin deficiency is hardly noted in healthy persons since the daily requirements of the coenzyme are very low. As a result, healthy persons who are subject to a balanced diet can derive adequate amounts of vitamin B complex from the diet.

Nevertheless, cases of deficiencies have been associated with the consumption of selected foods such as raw egg white, which contain avidin.

When such foods are cooked, avidin is broken down hence its role in the inactivation of vitamin B is overcome. Biotin deficiency can be inborn or dietary but can be resolved if effective measures are put in place.

The Biochemistry of Biotin Deficiency

A biotin is a group of carboxylases that act as a coenzyme in biochemical reactions.

Some of the key reactions that involve the use of biotin include the catabolism of amino acids, the transport of fatty acids and their metabolism in the mammalian body, and the gluconeogenetic reactions in the body.

In genetic processes, biotin has been implicated in the activities of transposons which help to transfer genetic functions from one locus to another.

The amount of biotin in an individual is biochemically and biologically regulated through multiple mechanisms. These include:

  • The activity of biotin transporters
  • Dietary intake of biotin
  • The activity of peptidyl hydroxylase biotinidase
  • The activity of protein ligase holocarboxylase synthetase

Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency

The symptoms of the deficiency vary significantly and can manifest in different ways. Some of the key classes of symptoms include:

  1. Fine and Brittle Hair
  2. Biotin is involved in the development of hair hence its deficiency is associated with poor development of hair
  3. Anemia
  4. The affected persons suffer a significant decline in blood volumes
  5. Hair loss and subsequent development of baldness
  6. Birth defects in some cases
  7. Increased incidences of fungal infections
  8. Seborrheic dermatitis noted in many persons with biotin deficiency

There are also psychological symptoms associated with biotin deficiency. These include;

  1. Hallucinations
  2. Lethargy
  3. Anorexia
  4. Depression in some instances

Causes of Biotin Deficiency

Some factors have been directly established to cause biotin deficiency. The following are some of the verified causes;

Total parenteral malnutrition

This occurs in children, especially when the mother does not take enough diet composed of biotin. As a result, the fetus is supplied with little biotin. It hence affects their post-birth development

Protein deficiency

There are several proteins that are involved in the homeostasis of biotin. Such transporters can be deficient in some persons hence leading to an impaired transport system. This leads to biotin deficiency in such persons

Anticonvulsant therapy

There are instances when patients are subjected to prolonged therapy to address convulsions. Some of the common anticonvulsants that affect biotin concentration in the body include phenytoin, primidone, and carbamazepine.

Most of these anticonvulsants impede biotin transport across the intestinal mucosa. This is especially key in the absorption of dietary biotin.

Severe malnutrition

Notably, the major source of biotin in humans is the diet. Therefore, a limited intake of diet rich in biotin may lead to biotin deficiency. Therefore, biotin deficiency can be directly associated with malnutrition

Genetic mutations

There are several proteins and enzymes involved in biotin synthesis and transport in the human body. Different genes encode these proteins.

Mutations in the genes can significantly affect the concentration of biotin in the body hence causing deficiency. This occurs through impaired transport or biosynthesis.


Studies indicate that pregnant persons require a higher intake of biotin-containing diets. Failure to access the requisite diets leads to deficiencies that manifest both in the mother and the fetus, as well as the child post-birth.

There are also several potential causes of biotin deficiency in humans. These include:

  1. Advanced smoking culture
  2. Excessive consumption of alcohol
  3. Excessive intake of antidiuretics
  4. Malabsorption of biotin due to short bowel syndrome
  5. Excessive intake of ketogenic diets

Treatment and Prevention of Biotin Deficiency

Patients with biotin deficiencies can overcome the condition through

  1. Cessation of smoking and intake of alcohol
  2. Ingestion of diets that are rich in biotin
  3. Parenteral and intravenous administration of biotin and biotin supplements
  4. Genetic mutation analysis to establish susceptibility to biotin deficiency
  5. Administration of biotin supplements to pregnant women
  6. Regulated use of anticonvulsants during therapy
  7. Intake of protein supplements to support the biosynthesis of the biotin transporters

Biotin Deficiency in Dogs

Cases of biotin deficiency also occur in domesticated animals such as dogs and cats. Such cases can be linked to different factors.

Causes of Biotin Deficiency in Dogs

#1 Depletion of intestinal microflora

Analyses indicate that the gastrointestinal tract of dogs has symbiotic bacterial and fungal species that are involved in the de-novo biosynthesis of biotin.

If the microbial population is disturbed. Then the biosynthesis of biotin is disrupted. As a result, biotin deficiency occurs

#2 Malnutrition

Besides obtaining biotin from gut microbes, dogs also rely on food for biotin. Therefore, malnutrition in dogs leads to a lower supply of biotin thus translating to biotin deficiency in the long term.

#3 Fatty acids and Proteins

Some fatty acids, especially the poly-unsaturated types, and proteins, play key roles in the absorption and transport of biotin in dogs.

The absence of the requisite fatty acid and protein transporters promotes the depletion of the biotin reserves. This leads to the occurrence of biotin deficiency in the animals.

Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency in Dogs

What are the signs of biotin deficiency in dogs? Pet handlers can look for the following symptoms to establish whether their dogs are suffering from incidences of biotin deficiency.

  1. Scurfy skin – This occurs as a result of hyperkeratosis of the superficial and the follicular epithelia
  2. The decline in urinary biotin concentration – The concentration of biotin significantly reduces in the body. As such, analyses of urine samples will reflect the decline since excess biotin is often excreted through the urinary system.
  3. Alopecia
  4. Diarrhea
  5. Anorexia

Some dogs may express biotin-responsive disease conditions. These can be symptomized by;

  • Dull coat
  • Brittle hair
  • Loss of hair
  • Scaly coat
  • Pruritus
  • Dermatitis

Treatment of Biotin Deficiency in Dogs

Cases of biotin deficiency in dogs and other pets can be controlled through dietary and non-dietary methods.

  1. Food supplements – There are specifically designed food supplements that can be given to dogs to prevent control of the cases of biotin deficiency. These supplements supply the required nutrients for the transport of biotin
  2. Intravenous injection of biotin – This approach involves direct infusion of the coenzyme complex to boost its concentrations within the body.
  3. De-chlorination of drinking water – In some instances, chlorine plays a key role in the inactivation of biotin hence leading to its deficiency in dogs. Therefore, such cases can be prevented by de-chlorination of the drinking water.
  4. Proper feed storage – Losses of biotin in feeds occur due to poor storage. Therefore, the ability of such feeds to supply the requisite elements and coenzymes to dogs is limited. It is necessary to adopt proper storage models to prevent such losses

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