Can I Give My Dog B12 Vitamins?

Can I Give My Dog B12 Vitamins

Yes, you can give your dog vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 for dogs, also known as cobalamin, cyanocobalamin, and methylcobalamin, can be safely administered to your dog as directed by your veterinarian. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is an essential nutrient for dogs. 

Cobalamin is vital for many biological reactions in the body involving cell growth, protein synthesis, digestion and nutrient metabolism, production of red blood cells, and proper functioning of the brain and nervous system.

Unlike some other vitamins, cobalamin is not synthesized in the body. Therefore, it needs to be obtained through high-quality dog food and dietary supplements. 

It is important to consult with your veterinarian before supplementing your dog, as some over-the-counter supplements may not be appropriate and can contain dangerous ingredients, such as xylitol which is poisonous for dogs.

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Is Vitamin B12 Safe for Dogs?

Yes, vitamin B12 for dogs is safe.

Vitamin B12 is non-toxic for dogs, and supplements come in different forms, such as cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin.  These different forms are safe as well.

While it’s important to give vitamin supplements as directed by your veterinarian and as directed on the label, giving your dog higher amounts of Vitamin B12 is safe.  As it is a water-soluble vitamin, excess Vitamin B12 is simply eliminated via the urine.

Dr. Lisa Steinberg says, “Vitamin B12 is very important for many bodily functions in dogs, and is sometimes overlooked in veterinary medicine. As a veterinarian, I most frequently see a cobalamin deficiency with decreased intestinal absorption from inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal cancer, and pancreatic disease.  As B12 is water soluble and generally safe, it is often given to geriatric animals who are losing weight and just doing poorly in general, and it definitely helps increase energy and improve quality of life in dogs.”

What Does Vitamin B12 Do for Dogs?

Vitamin B12 for dogs is involved in several metabolic processes and aids in many biological functions.  Here is a closer look at how it helps dogs.

  • Supports Healthy Gut: Giving your dog adequate Vitamin B12 in their diet and supplements help promote healthy intestinal flora. Without healthy gut bacteria, gastrointestinal problems can occur. 
  • Promotes Appetite: Giving your dog Vitamin B12 in their diet and by supplements can improve overall nutrient utilization during digestion.  It can stimulate digestive enzymes to function correctly, which often results in an improved overall appetite. 
  • Nutrient Metabolism: Vitamin B12 supports the metabolic function of essential nutrients in your dog, especially fat and protein. 
  • Boosts Immunity: Vitamin B12 for dogs can help with the production of immunoglobulins and cytokines. These molecules are important parts of the immune system and help fight off infections.
  • Healthy Nervous System: Vitamin B12 helps produce myelin, which is a substance that aids nerve protection and function. 
  • DNA Synthesis: Vitamin B12 assists with DNA synthesis.  DNA is at the core of all body functions and cellular processes.
  • Red Blood Cells Formation: Vitamin B12 is vital for developing red blood cells. The red cells help transport oxygen throughout the body, thus supporting healthy energy levels.
  • Improved Energy: Vitamin B12 can improve or boost energy levels. It helps to break down protein into amino acids and provides fuel for the cells.

Does Vitamin B12 Increase Appetite in Dogs?

Does Vitamin B12 Increase Appetite in Dogs

Yes, vitamin B12 for dogs increases appetite.

As mentioned, Vitamin B12 supplementation can result in an improved appetite and aid in digestive processes.  It supports digestive enzymatic processes and helps with nutrient absorption.  These combined effects can result in better gut health. 

Therefore, vitamin B12 supplements are recommended for dogs with digestive ailments, including long-term diarrhea or chronic colitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI). 

What Are the Symptoms of B12 Deficiency in Dogs?

The symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency in dogs are non-specific. They include issues such as poor appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, weight loss, poor coat quality, and neurological problems. 

Let’s take a closer look at the signs of cobalamin deficiency in dogs:

  • Poor Appetite: One of the first signs of low vitamin B12 levels in a dog is a decreased appetite. A dog with a chronic decrease in appetite will lose weight. 
  • Diarrhea: Affecting the overall digestion process, low cobalamin in the diet will result in gastrointestinal disorders. A very common symptom of gastrointestinal tract disease is diarrhea.
  • Lethargy: Decreased food intake combined with low red blood cell production, which leads to anemia, results in low energy levels. Dogs that are lethargic and sleepy are often disinterested in everyday activities.
  • Poor Coat Quality: Poor nutrient absorption has a negative impact on coat quality. Namely, the coat will lack luster, it may be very flaky, and be seemingly thin and dry.
  • Neurological Issues: Since vitamin B12 is essential for brain health and function,  a deficiency may result in mental dullness, sometimes referred to as cognitive dysfunction, and in severe cases, a dog can have seizures.

What Causes B12 Deficiency in Dogs?

Several different health problems can result in vitamin B12 deficiency in dogs. Here is a more specific review of those issues.

  • Low-Quality Pet Food: Vitamin B12 is primarily found in food and animal products, but can be in some fortified supplements. Dogs fed vegetarian or vegan diets are at risk of becoming cobalamin deficient. Diets with low levels of protein and iron can also result in low vitamin B12 levels.
  • Intestinal Cobalamin Malabsorption: Certain dog breeds cannot absorb vitamin B12. This is a hereditary condition and occurs in Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, Chinese Shar-Peis, Beagles, and Giant Schnauzers.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): IBD is another common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency in dogs. In fact, any chronic GI disorder can result in low cobalamin levels. This is because an unhealthy gut cannot properly absorb vitamin B12. On the other hand, vitamin B12 deficiency aggravates the GI tract’s health, creating a vicious cycle.
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI): Dogs with this pancreatic condition lack the digestive enzymes necessary for food breakdown and utilization (including vitamin B12). Dogs with this disease also need to be supplemented with digestive enzymes their whole lives.

What are Good Sources of Vitamin B12 for Dogs?

While natural animal products such as meat are great sources of Vitamin B12 in food for dogs, supplements are a great source of this vitamin as well.  You can ask your veterinarian which of the following high-quality supplements that are readily available on the market are best to give your dog. 

  • PetLab Co. Puppy All-in-One Multivitamin: With 19 active ingredients (vitamin D3, A, E, and B, minerals, and antioxidants), this dog supplement is ideal for fast-growing puppies. It offers metabolism, immunity, and growth support. This blend of vitamins and minerals is available as chewable and delicious treats. Each package contains 45 chews that are easy to dose and use.

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  • WonderLabs Pet Factor B-12: This pet supplement contains vitamin B12 (in the more readily available form of methylcobalamin), folic acid, and intrinsic factors. These components enhance both the absorption and utilization of vitamin B12.
    The product comes in the form of capsules (180 pieces per package) and is suitable for dogs and cats. The unique blend of ingredients makes this product perfect for pets with EPI.
  • No Brand Pet Supplies Vitamin B Complex: This is a 100% natural supplement for dogs that is formulated to manage vitamin B deficiencies. It contains several B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12), brewer’s yeast, dextrose, and minerals (calcium, zinc, and magnesium).
    The supplement is made in Germany by veterinarians and pet experts. The easiest way to use it is to add tablets to the dog food. There are 120 tablets per package.
  • VetriScience Canine Plus Multivitamin for Senior Dogs: This is a vet-recommended blend of antioxidants, vitamins (folate, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, ascorbic acid, vitamin E, A, D3, etc.), minerals (copper, calcium, selenium, zinc, iodine, iron, etc.), omega fatty acids from fish oil, and amino acids.
    The supplement comes as bite-sized chewable treats and regular tablets. Both options come in 60-piece packages. The product is manufactured in the USA and formulated specifically for the needs of senior dogs.

All of these supplements support a healthy dog. However, before clicking checkout and starting to supplement your dog, we suggest talking to your trusted veterinarian.

What Foods Contain Vitamin B12 for Dogs?

As mentioned previously, animal-based foods such as cooked meat, fish, milk, cheese, and cooked eggs are the best sources of vitamin B12 for dogs. Here is a closer look at the foods that contain high vitamin B12 levels.

  • Organ Meat: Organ meat like liver and kidneys are great foods that will give your dogs the best nutrition, vitamins A, E, C, and B12, proteins, and minerals while low on calories and fat. Beef liver contains around 60 mcg of vitamin B12 per 100g and is considered the best source of vitamin B12.
  • Salmon: Containing high concentrations of vitamin B12, along with protein, fatty acids, and minerals, salmon is great for your dog. It boosts the immune system, reduces inflammation, and promotes a healthy coat.
  • Meat: Meat, including wild meat like boar or game, is also another great source of vitamin B12 for dogs.  Meat should be cooked safely for a dog’s consumption to avoid life-threatening illnesses such as salmonellosis, E. coli, and parasitic infections, and to avoid passing on these pathogens to others in the home.

How Often Should You Give a Dog Vitamin B12?

Depending on the severity of the cobalamin deficiency and disease state,  your veterinarian will either prescribe an oral supplement for daily usage or give an injection under the skin every one to two weeks.

Your veterinarian may test blood serum cobalamin levels regularly until it is at a satisfactory level. The breed and medical condition of your dog will also play a role in determining how often and how long they may need to get vitamin B12 supplemented.

How Much B12 Should You Give a Dog?

How Much B12 Should You Give a Dog

If your dog needs injectable Vitamin B12, your veterinarian will calculate a dose.  In general, B12 is available in a high concentration, so most injections are a low volume, and they are administered every one to two weeks as needed. These injections usually do not hurt.  

If your veterinarian recommends an oral B12 supplement, it is best to give it as directed on the product label or as prescribed by the veterinarian.

Injectable cyanocobalamin is needed when oral vitamin supplements are not efficient enough for some dogs. For example, dogs who cannot absorb Vitamin B12 in their intestines do not respond to oral vitamin B12 supplementation.

Also, in the case of EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency), a dog will need additional supplements, such as intrinsic factors and probiotics.

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Nikita Mittal