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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Should I give a Vitamin B12 supplement to my dog?

Sick DogHi Pet Blog Readers! Please welcome Erica, a veterinary clinic technician, with this guest post about the possible uses for vitamin B12 supplementation for your dog. I’d like to preface this by saying that you should always consult with your veterinarian before starting any new supplements, and definitely get your pet to the vet right away if they are showing signs of lethargy (periods of time lacking energy, excitement or extreme weakness).
The vitamin B12 is not only important for the human body- it is also important to the health of a dog or cat’s nervous system and the growth of red and white blood cells. Lethargy, weakness in the legs, or a lack of appetite in a pet may be a result of a vitamin B12 deficiency. This common deficiency may be a result of insufficient levels of the vitamin in the pet’s diet, or of an inherited condition that makes it difficult or impossible for the pet to absorb it through its regular diet. A vitamin B12 deficiency that goes untreated may lead to more serious problems, such as serious gastrointestinal diseases and weight loss. A B12 vitamin supplement is a very effective and simple solution to the problem, whether the problem stems from insufficient dietary levels or from an inherited condition. B12 supplements can also help pets that suffer from gastrointestinal ailments or kidney disease.

How is Vitamin B12 Administered to Pets?

B12B12 vitamin supplements may be administered to pets by a variety of methods, just as it can for humans. The most common method is by oral supplement, which can be administered by crushing a tablet and mixing it into the pet’s food, or by mixing the supplement with water and administering it directly to the mouth by syringe. Increasing meat in the pet’s diet will also provide more of the vitamin. Because many pets have difficulty absorbing the B12 vitamin, injection is a commonly used method of administering the supplement. Some will want these injections to be administered by veterinarians, but the process is simple, and with the veterinarian’s approval, the injections may often be done at home by the pet’s owner. Typically, B12 injections are reserved for serious deficiencies, and they are recommended if the pet has a gastrointestinal illness or an inherited condition that prevents it from absorbing the vitamin through food. Injections are typically administered to a dog’s hind leg. Cats receive the vitamin through subcutaneous injection. B12 injections are typically given once a week for the first five or six weeks, bi-weekly for another period of weeks, and, eventually, on a monthly basis.

How Long Until My Pet Shows Signs of Improvement?

Dog TiredAs the pet is taking the vitamin supplements or injections, the veterinarian will test the pet’s blood regularly, until the B12 level is acceptable. While the pet is taking the supplements, improvements in appetite and energy, weight gain, and improvement of any gastrointestinal problems should be noticeable. For the majority of pets, a few weeks taking the supplement will begin to show improvements in the problems associated with the deficiency, but the breed and medical condition of the pet will ultimately determine whether it will need the supplements in the short or long term.
The potential side effects of a B12 vitamin supplement are minimal. B12 is a safe, non-toxic vitamin. While it is possible for a pet to have too much of certain vitamin supplements, taking too much of a B12 supplement will very rarely harm the pet, because it is not stored in the body. The bloodstream will only absorb as much of the vitamin as it needs at a time, and discard the rest through urination. Vitamin B12 is truly a safe solution for pet lethargy, so talk to your veterinarian today about Vitamin B12 injections or supplements for your pet.

Erica Anderson has spent ten years as a Tucson veterinary clinic technician. She loves writing about pets, parenting, and gardening.

So, have you tried B12 for your dog? How did it work out and what were you treating? I’ve used B12 myself in the past to supplement my diet and increase my energy and I think it worked pretty well for me! Share your stories in the comments!

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