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What is Failure to Absorb Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is necessary for cell reproduction, growth, and without the sufficient amount of vitamins, your dog’s vital organs (i.e. liver, heart, brain) cannot perform properly, which will cause illness and eventually death. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) contains cobalt, which is essential to your dog’s health, the lack of which can lead to many problems with the digestive system and even neurological issues such as neuropathy and dementia. If your dog is a Border Collie, Giant Schnauzer, or a Beagle, and he has symptoms of intestinal cobalamin malabsorption (i.e. diarrhea, weight loss), it is important to get him to see the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Failure to absorb vitamin B12 (intestinal cobalamin malabsorption) is a genetic condition that affects Border Collies, Beagles, and Giant Schnauzers that causes the vitamin B12 to bypass the intestine rather than being absorbed. This disease is usually a secondary illness to an exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) or a small intestine disorder.

Failure to Absorb Vitamin B12 Average Cost

From 42 quotes ranging from $500 - $1,500

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Failure to Absorb Vitamin B12 in Dogs

The symptoms of intestinal cobalamin malabsorption will vary according to your dog’s health and how long he has had the disease. This will show up around six months in Border Collies, and about two or three months for Giant Schnauzers and Beagles. If you can catch it early enough, you can get your dog treated right away and the symptoms will not be as extreme as in dogs that have had the disease for a while. The most common signs of intestinal cobalamin malabsorption are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Loss of appetite or eating more than usual
  • Lack of energy
  • Weakness
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Refuses to exercise or play
  • Lack of muscle mass
  • Altered mental state
  • Seizures
  • Death
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Causes of Failure to Absorb Vitamin B12 in Dogs

The cause of intestinal cobalamin malabsorption is usually genetics, but it has been seen in other breeds due to another underlying disease or injury. However, there are only certain breeds that seem to be at risk for this disease. These breeds are:

  • Border Collie
  • Giant Schnauzer
  • Beagle
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Diagnosis of Failure to Absorb Vitamin B12 in Dogs

If you suspect your dog may have intestinal cobalamin malabsorption, even if you have a breed other than a Beagle, Giant Schnauzer, or Border Collie, you should make an appointment to see your veterinarian. The veterinarian will do a complete and thorough physical examination including body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Your veterinarian will also need your dog’s medical records, any recent illnesses and injuries, what the symptoms are, and how long they have been going on. You will also need to inform him of any changes in behavior or activity as well as changes in your dog’s food.

The veterinarian will also need to run some tests, such as complete blood count (CBC), chemical blood panel, urinalysis, and stool sample. In addition, a specific blood test the veterinarian will conduct, which is called a serum check (vitamin B12) that checks the amount of cobalamin (vitamin B12) in your dog’s blood. The veterinarian may want to check to see if the malabsorption is being caused by a metabolic disorder or a parasite.

If your veterinarian finds that your dog has chronic anemia, he will probably want to run more thorough tests to determine if this is related to neutropenia (low white blood cells) and to find what can be done to resolve this issue. Some veterinarians will perform digital radiographs (x-rays) to rule out any other underlying disease or illnesses. After all the parasitic, systemic, infection and dietary causes are ruled out, the veterinarian will check the amounts of folate and cobalamin to confirm intestinal cobalamin malabsorption so your dog can be treated. If the veterinarian suspects that your dog may have EPI, he will perform a test, which gives the veterinarian the exact concentration of trypsinogen. This test has to be done after your dog has fasted, so your veterinarian may want you to come back the following day.

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Treatment of Failure to Absorb Vitamin B12 in Dogs

If your veterinarian finds that your dog has intestinal cobalamin malabsorption, a B12 vitamin supplement will be administered orally and he may send you home with some B12 vitamin supplements to administer yourself. In extreme cases, your veterinarian will probably administer the B12 through an injection so it will be absorbed faster.

If there is an underlying disease or infection, your veterinarian will treat that as well with medication or a prescription. If EPI is the culprit, you will have to feed your dog a low-fiber diet with moderate levels of easily digested fats, carbohydrates, and protein. The veterinarian may also give you a supplement of B12 vitamins to give your dog daily for a lifetime.

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Recovery of Failure to Absorb Vitamin B12 in Dogs

The prognosis for your dog is excellent if he has intestinal cobalamin malabsorption, although you will need to feed him the special diet and supplement for the rest of his life to keep the B12 level up. You will also need to bring your dog to the veterinarian regularly for follow-ups and routine examination.

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Failure to Absorb Vitamin B12 Average Cost

From 42 quotes ranging from $500 - $1,500

Average Cost

$800

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Failure to Absorb Vitamin B12 Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Miniature Pinscher

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Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Seizures

Our Min Pin has been on seizure medication for a year. She slowly has been having one to two seizures twice a month since this January. Today she has had 5 in the last 3 hours only when she relaxes and starts to fall asleep.

July 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Ellen M. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, I am so sorry to hear that your dog is having seizures more often. This may indicate the the Levetiracetam is no longer controlling the seizures on their own, or that she may have something additional going on such as liver dysfunction, which can also lead to worsening seizures. If she has had that many seizures in such a short amount of time, this is an emergency. I recommend taking her to her veterinarian or to a veterinary emergency clinic immediately. The longer you wait, the more damage the seizures can do if they are happening this close together. I hope that all goes well with your dog, I know this is probably very stressful and I am so sorry! Once she has been treated emergently, the vet should be able to discuss more long-term management options.

July 27, 2020

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Punkin

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Yorkie

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24 Months

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Nausea
Bloody Mucus Diarrhea

Yorkie/Chi mix has had bloody diarrhea/mucus/nausea for the past year. Identified poultry may be an issue, so removed poultry from diet. After months of digestive issues and many tests, blood test indicated low B12/folic acid - so started injections. Was great for about 8 months on fish-based food. Company changed formula, issues started again. Now she is on lamb/sweet potato and seems to be tolerated - but - the day of the B12 shot she sleeps most of the afternoon and doesn't eat until later and the next day she doesn't eat most of the day and often experiences distress/bloody mucus diarrhea after which she starts to eat. Happens almost every week after the B12 shot. I see no indication of side effects from B12 injections.

Sept. 11, 2018

Punkin's Owner

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Koko

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Maltipoo

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4 Months

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Throwing Up
Weak

My dog got a vitamin shot today, I'm guessing it's the vitamin b12 and right after he got that we got home and he threw up everything he had ate this morning .. he looks very weak and sad. I gave him suero since he wasn't drinking any water . Is this a side effect on the vitamin shot? And should i not worry or should i take him to a vet if it doesn't stop?

July 11, 2018

Koko's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

There are normally no adverse reactions to a vitamin injection apart from possibly some localised irritation to the injection site; the vomiting and weakness may be due to the stress of the visit to the clinic. Monitor Koko and if there is no improvement or symptoms get worse return to your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 11, 2018

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Trooper

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Dachshund

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6 Months

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Falling Over

Have you ever heard a connection between shakey puppy syndrome and low B12? Could this condition be treated with B12 supplements? My 6 mo old dachshund mix still has head-shakes and very weak, underdeveloped hind quarters. It doesn’t slow him down but he walks/runs like a drunken sailor and is constantly falling. Our vet (and the internet) says to wait it out but I was just curious. Thanks

May 12, 2018

Trooper's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Low B12 concentrations can cause GI signs and muscle weakness, and can be a problem in some dogs, although Dachshunds aren't a breed typically affected. Your veterinarian can test Troopers B12 levels to see if that is a problem for him and may be contributing to his developmental problems. I hope that all goes well for him.

May 13, 2018

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Fridae

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Chihuahua

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8 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Bloody Mucous Diarrhea Pain
Bloody Mucous Diarrhea Pain Low B-1

She has had gassy stomach upset her whole life. Has been eating high grade dog food whole life; recently (abt 1 year) switched to no grain & appeared to be better for a while then back to more frequent & extreme symptoms. Had 2 B-12 shots in less than a week yet blood tests showed low B-12.. lost almost 1 lbs in abt 1 month, appetite is good; has been on Hills prescription d/d Salmon diet (hard & wet food) for last month in a half (thought she was allergic to chicken)has been actively treated for first gassy stomach then colitis, then iBS then colitis again. Blood tests are all normal except extreme low B-12. Dr wants to do biopsy& suggest weekly B-12 shots but i’m Reluctant for invasive biopsy.Has been seen by 2 vets. What could it be? Is biopsy my only choice?

April 7, 2018

Fridae's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Further testing is required to determine the underlying cause for low levels of vitamin B12 (cobalamin), typically two conditions are responsible for low levels of vitamin B12 (when there is a suitable balanced diet on offer) which are small intestinal disease and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) with both conditions having an impact on the absorption of nutrients by the body. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 7, 2018

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Bailey

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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10 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Weight Loss
Eating Her Poo

After having diarrhoea on and off for a few months, despite trying the usual bland diet etc. our dog Bailey started getting constant diarrhoea with more frequent poops a day than usual. Our vet did a poo test and found initially that she had a worm, she didn’t say which one, so was given the injection for this as she was due one anyway. She was also given antibiotics. Unfortunately the diarrhoea continued and we took her back. She had some blood tests done and found she had a B12 deficiency. More antibiotics. By this time she had lost quite a bit of weight and her spine and ribs were starting to show. She was given a B12 injection which we were told she would have once a week for four weeks. But, we were also told that if she hadn’t improved by the time the second one was due she would need a scan. We took her back for her second one and she had lost another 1/2 kilo in a week. We were told that there was no point in giving her the injection and a scan has been booked to check for something more serious 😔 Why would she not have the injection and what else could this be? She is fine in herself apart from being hungry all the time to the point of eating her own poo! Could it be a thyroid problem? Not sure if this has been tested.

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Ryleigh

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Great Dane

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4 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Sneezing
Lethargic
Shivers When Inhaling
Icky Eyes

Our 4 year old female Great Dane has had diarrhea on and off for months, (she has never been quite normal since we got her at 10 weeks and the vet has never said anything at any of her annual check ups). Back in December our family mentioned she had become very skinny (not something you notice really when you see her every day). Her appetite and water intake has not changed. Her eyes were icky and she was constantly scratching, so the vet put her on allergy meds, antibiotics, and eye drops. Nothing really changed so we took her back to the vet, they did blood work and it came back with very low B12 levels. She is now eating a hydrolyzed protein, vegetarian food and is taking a B12 supplement. She has been on this routine for about a month. She has not gained any weight and still very lethargic at times. Last night I noticed that she shivers when we inhales, also that the edges of her ears have become dry. This morning she had no motivation to go outside and potty or even get out of bed..Could this be something more than a deficiency?

Failure to Absorb Vitamin B12 Average Cost

From 42 quotes ranging from $500 - $1,500

Average Cost

$800