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Pernicious Anaemia Society
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B12 deficient dog

A bit naughty to ask here, but I can find no information elsewhere, and these communities are such a fantastic reservoir of wisdom I thought maybe someone has some ideas.

Usually dogs only become deficient in B12 if vegetarian fed, if the have exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, or chronic diarrhoea leading to malabsorption. None of this is the case for Seamus my nine year old lurcher. But he is going deaf, and developing cataracts so I am very concerned about him. I noticed too that he has started to scrape one foot on the ground every so often and insisted that he be tested for B12, which came back well below the reference range.

The vet has started him on the B12 protocol and I am confident that he won't be left under treated. However I would really like to know where this has come from in case there other things we need to do to keep him well. He has a history of hypothyroidism sine he was 4, and thyroid cancer 2 years ago. Should I be giving him other supplements - I doubt that folate forms a natural part of a dog's diet, but he is in any case fed a raw food which includes a small proportion of green veg.

We are off to the Royal Veterinary School on Wednesday to discuss his cataracts and whether they are operable, and I will ask for their opinion, but would testing for PA make any practical difference, even if possible?

12 Replies

I'd ask a vet, I just can not comment as I do not know how a dog's system works, Marre.


Our vet doesn't seem to know much about B12 deficiency. Vets are huge generalists, and as I discovered when Seamus became hypothyroid Vet Endos in this country are useless. I had to consult someone in California to get sensible answers! But it was the doggy community that told me about the American Vet. So far I have found no-one in the doggie community who has encountered this sort of B12 deficiency, let alone a vet who knows owt!!!


Hi many animals get b12 deficient. Farmers regularly give shots to animals to pick them up.


There are a lot of possible causes of B12D in humans so don't see that it should really be any different with dogs. One cause in humans can just be changes in acid levels as you get older affecting absorption.

There is a long history - as I understand it - of giving racing dogs B12 supplements to perk them up when they are down so it may be that there is a tendency for certain breeds to develop a deficiency, and I guess that might include lurchers.

However, Marre is right - you really need to be speaking to a vet, but may be someone who deals with racing dogs might be a suitable starting point.


I know nothing. But searching the right place might help.

For example:


Where you can very quickly get taken to Imerslund-Gräsbeck syndrome and other issues.



See? I knew I needed to ask here.

Gambit62 that bit about racing dogs is very interesting, greyhound folk might have known that, but I move in lurcher circles. I will ask at the hospital. Living in the south there are relatively few sighthound specialist vets, around. But there has been some interesting research recently pointing to sighthounds possibly being a different subspecies, with significantly different metabolisms, and biochemistry, to other dogs.

Thanks for the link Rod, not Imerslund Grasbeck since he is middle aged, but plenty more bed time reading there!

1 like

Ruthi, my sister's JR x Yorkie is 15/16, blind now with cataracts which the vet said were inoperable earlier, deaf, has heart and kidney failure and I think it's only the monthly B12 jabs which have kept her going over the last year. She perks right up after the jab. Hope all goes well for your lurcher and they can do his cataracts.


Martyn Hooper did mention at the Thyroid UK Conference recently that over 80% of B12 produced in Europe goes into animals and farmers buy B12 in 5 gallon containers :-)

We have often commented on the Thyroid forum that vets give better treatment than many Docs :-) I live in Crete and have a Greek dog - and she was diagnosed Hypothyroid a few years back when her tail hair fell out and also lost hair from her muzzle. She is on T4. Over a year ago I could see that she looked so sad still and very lethargic so I decided to give her the B12 tabs hubby takes. The improvement has been very noticeable and we are thrilled....hope she is too.

Certain breeds are more prone to thyroid problems I read when researching cruciate ligament problems in dogs.

Being Hypo does lead to deficiencies for humans so why not dogs....due to the lowered metabolism everything is impaired... but am not sure of the fine detail of supplements in dogs....

Hope Seamus is soon feeling well....


Seamus's hypo has certainly been treated much better than a human would be. He is treated primarily on symptoms, but also the T4 reference range for dogs on levo is higher than the natural reference range. How sensible is that? Also no waiting lists, one week from referral to being seen at a teaching hospital!!!! Mind you, his insurance is already £100/ month and I dread to think what it will be on renewal!

What troubles me is the frequency with which all this happens. If global warming doesn't wipe us out, chronic illness will, it seems!


Hi Ruthi my German shepherd is b12 deficient. It's become quite a joke in my house because the vet has given us a huge bottle of cyanocobalamin and I keep saying I'm tempted to use it!!! My dog has extremely bad allergies to food and it has caused untold damage to her digestive tract. So she can no longer absorb b12 naturally. So I no it does happen xxx good look to you x


Nice to hear stories of dogs who have benefitted. The mystery in Seamus's case is that his digestion is cast iron! A good thing since he is a typical sighthound and will steal anything edible!

Today is the day. I am as nervous as if I were seeing a doc myself!


Hi Ruthin, do update us and let us know how everything goes? I used to have Irish Setters, another slim built, speedy dog. My first one had thyroid problems, combined with a very suspect digestive system. He had bad diarrhoea and colitis, to the point where we could only feed him a very limited diet. Knowing what I know now, I should have been supplementing his food much more. MariLiz


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