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The One About B-12

Updated: Jul 10

Much like Melatonin, there is a lot of talk about B12 in pet enthusiast circles, both online and in real life. People swear by it. Many get the injections done at their vet office. Even more dose their dogs using the B12 gel capsules from the health and wellness section of their grocery store. It may surprise you, then, to hear that B12 should sometimes be used with a bit of finesse.

To B or Not to B

Vitamin B, and by extension Vitamin B12, is important. We and our pets need it. But we need it in the right amounts. For most of us, the amount of B12 we get from our food is sufficient. Sometimes, though, that may not cut it. But can you have too much of this good thing?

Vitamin B12 is a lot like sun to a rose bush; essential, but in the right amount. B12 is crucial for various bodily functions in both humans and our pets, akin to the sun's role in a rose bush's ability to thrive. Complications from correctly administered B12 are pretty much unheard of. But just as too much sun can scorch a rose, an excess of Vitamin B12 could lead to adverse effects like nausea, harm to the liver or kidneys, it can mask a deficiency in folate which can lead to neurological damage, and some individuals may even experience an allergic-type reaction to high levels of B12. There can even be cosmetic impacts, such as skin irritation or the formation of surface pustules.

But it isn't just a matter of measurement. It can come down to what's going on within a certain individual. Some individuals may absorb B12 very efficiently, while others may not. And this can have an impact on how effective supplementation may be, as well as if there may be any associated risks. It all comes down to balance and understanding, some of which may be reliant on veterinary expertise. Instructions for B12 should always be followed to the letter, and you should never increase dosing without consulting your veterinarian first. Additionally, if your pet is not already on B12, you should never start them on it without a veterinary consultation. Adding on B12 to your pet's medication regimen can sometimes be more complicated that it may first seem. For example, B12 may have various interactions with specific drugs that your pet may already be taking.

The above mentioned risks are documented in human patients, and while there have been correlative connections in dogs there is no demonstration of causation between B12 and the above effects in dogs. However, out of an abundance of caution it is always worth knowing the potential a particular drug or supplement may have.

Ideally, your pet would get the Vitamin B12 they need from their food. Almost all commercially available dog foods contain adequate amounts of B12. For some individuals, supplementation may be required. If this can be done by simply adding a particular food item to your dog's meals, that may be the best solution since the body absorbs B12 more efficiently when it is delivered via general nutrients. Food such as fish can help you make strides in the right direction.

For some individual pets, injections may be the answer. And these can be remarkably advantageous! Getting B12 levels to where they should be can promote overall improved health, but specifically can help improve digestion, strengthen the immune system, improve skin and coat, and supplement energy levels.

Again, before starting your dog on any vitamin regimen, speak to your veterinarian. Especially if your dog is on other medications or has a plethora of health concerns.



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