What Does Vitamin B12 Do for Dogs?

Published: 02/11/2021
Every pet parent wants to do the absolute best for their furry four-legger. From taking their dog on pawsome walks and runs to getting them the best overnight care when travel calls them away, caring dog parents place their pet’s needs in high regard.

Of course, nutritional needs are right at the top of pet parents’ concerns. And a healthy and fulfilling diet is what every dog deserves. But despite best efforts, dogs can sometimes become nutrient deficient or contract an illness that makes them lack a nutrient. Let’s take a look at one nutrient, in particular, Vitamin B12.

What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is also called cobalamin. It is not produced naturally in the body and must be obtained through healthy food and dietary supplements. Vitamin B12 is important for cell growth, the burning of fat and carbs, and the health of the nervous and brain systems, among other processes.
What types of dog food ingredients contain Vitamin B12?
  • Beef and beef liver
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
Vitamin B12 and illness

One of the reasons that a dog may lack Vitamin B12 is the failure to absorb Vitamin B12 (Intestinal Cobalamin Malabsorption). This is a genetic condition that can affect Border Collies, Giant Schnauzers, Australian Shepherds, Chinese Shar-Peis, and Beagles. 

As well, dogs who have exocrine pancreatic insufficiency cannot digest and absorb the nutritional benefits of food because of a lack of digestive enzymes in the pancreas.

Other diseases that may cause a lack of Vitamin B12 are GI lymphoma, short bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Symptoms can be extreme weight loss, diarrhea, weakness, lack of energy, change in appetite (whether an increase or decrease in the desire to eat), sleepiness, and more, even including seizures in some cases.

Vitamin B12 in your dog's food

Supplying your precious pooch with nutrient-rich food is always the aim. If your dog is deficient in Vitamin B12, they may be lethargic, losing weight, and showing signs of the inability to digest their food. This typically happens if, for some reason, the liver, kidneys, pancreas, or intestines cannot use the nutrient properly.

If you think your pet is unwell and possibly lacking Vitamin B12, contact the veterinarian for advice and have your pet checked. Your vet may prescribe a Vitamin B12 supplement. Your dog will be monitored to ensure there is not an overdose of B12 in the system at any time.

What does Vitamin B12 do for dogs?

Helps the appetite: Because your pooch will be absorbing the nutrients of their food, their appetite will improve. The digestive enzymes will be working properly to ensure the amount of Vitamin B12 in your dog’s system is healthy.

Boosts the health of the nervous system: Vitamin B12 produces myelin, which coats and protects nerves. Adequate myelin protects the brain and spinal health and also aids in the healthy function of the nervous system.

Promotes a healthy gut: The bacteria normally found in the gut may be compromised if there is a lack of Vitamin B12. When testing finds low B12, it often indicates a gastrointestinal disorder.

Aids in red blood cell production: Vitamin B12 is important to red blood cell production. Symptoms like fatigue and weakness will be evident if red blood cells don’t develop properly because of things like reduced oxygen in the blood.

Proper breakdown of fats, carbs, and proteins: When fats, carbs, and proteins (the three macronutrients that make up calories) are properly broken down, the nutrition can be dispensed as it should be.

Prevents disease: Adequate Vitamin B12 gives all-over protection against disease, particularly illnesses involving the pancreas and the digestive system. Making sure your pooch is protected will keep organs like the pancreas disease-free.

Boosts immunity: A healthy dog means a strong immune system. Vitamin B12, because it plays such an important part in overall health, works to keep your dog in tip-top shape.

How can I make sure my dog has enough Vitamin B12?

Because Vitamin B12 goes through the body so quickly, each meal you feed your dog should have this vitamin in it. Purchase high-quality, vet-approved food with whole food ingredients. 

Your vet will take into account your dog’s age, health condition, breed, and normal activity level when helping you choose the best food. Vitamin B12 sources (like beef or chicken) should be listed in the top 5 ingredients of the dog food you select.

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