Failure to Absorb Vitamin B12 in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Failure to Absorb Vitamin B12 in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Failure to Absorb Vitamin B12 in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Failure to Absorb Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is necessary for cell reproduction, growth, and without the sufficient amount of this vitamin, 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 within the digestive system and even neurological issues such as neuropathy and dementia. If your dog 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. Certain breeds including Border Collies , Giant Schnauzers and Beagle may be over-represented as it can be hereditary in these dogs.

Failure to absorb vitamin B12 (intestinal cobalamin malabsorption) can be a genetic condition that affects certain breeds more than others. Vitamin B12 bypasses the intestine rather than being absorbed. This is relatively rare.

Low B12 is usually secondary to a medical issue such as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) or a small intestine disorder.

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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 genetic, 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, regardless of age or breed, 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.  They will also check TLI and folate levels. 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) and ultrasounds 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. Initially, 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 and supplement them with enzymes. The veterinarian may also give you a supplement of B12 vitamins to give your dog daily for a lifetime.

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Worried about the cost of Failure To Absorb Vitamin B12 treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Recovery of Failure to Absorb Vitamin B12 in Dogs

The prognosis for your dog is excellent if he has primary 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.

Most dogs have underlying medical issues resulting in low B12 and prognosis will vary depending on what is going on.

Paying to treat a failure to absorb vitamin B12 out of pocket can be a major financial burden. Fortunately, most pet insurance companies reimburse claims within 3 days, putting 90% of the bill back in your pocket. In the market for pet insurance? Compare leading pet insurance companies to find the right plan for your pet.

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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

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Miniature Pinscher

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Ten Years

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1 found helpful

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1 found helpful

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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1 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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7 found helpful

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7 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Bloody Mucus Diarrhea
Nausea

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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Failure to Absorb Vitamin B12 Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$800

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