Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) Deficiency in Cats

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Key takeaways

Cobalamin deficiency in cats is a condition where inadequate levels of vitamin B12 are available in the body.

  • Cobalamin (vitamin B12) is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a fundamental role in red blood cell production, neurological function, and DNA synthesis
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, appetite loss, and poor coat condition
  • Cobalamin deficiency is usually a result of chronic gastrointestinal disorders in cats
  • Diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency involves blood tests
  • Once diagnosed, treatment involves vitamin B12 supplementation and treatment of the underlying condition causing the deficiency
  • Left untreated, cobalamin deficiency can lead to a severe decline in health
  • If addressed promptly with cobalamin supplementation, the prognosis is good, but the deficiency will return if the underlying condition is not addressed
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A closer look: Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) Deficiency in Cats


Vitamin B12 deficiency is rare in cats. Vitamin B12 deficiency is easily treatable with prompt medical attention.

The prognosis depends on the underlying cause. If caused by chronic gastrointestinal conditions, the deficiency continues until the underlying condition is treated. Left untreated, cobalamin deficiency can cause life-threatening anemia and as such early medical attention is highly advised.

If addressed immediately with cobalamin supplementation, prognosis is generally good.

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Risk factors


Cats with a history of chronic gastrointestinal disease are more likely to develop vitamin B12 deficiency.

The precise symptoms of cobalamin deficiency vary depending on the underlying cause. Most cases are attributed to chronic intestinal disease. Disorders of the pancreas may also be a contributing factor.

Possible causes


Main symptoms


Testing and diagnosis


The symptoms of cobalamin deficiency are common to several other health disorders. A blood test is the diagnostic tool to ascertain whether a cat presenting symptoms is suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency. Other diagnostics used to identify the underlying cause include:

  • Physical examination
  • Blood work
  • Urinalysis
  • Diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays or ultrasound

Steps to Recovery


Treatment of B12 deficiency depends on the underlying cause.

If the deficiency is caused by an intestinal disease causing poor absorption of vitamin B12, treatment options include:

  • Treatment of the underlying gastrointestinal condition
  • Vitamin B12 supplementation, either through subcutaneous injections or oral tablets

In some cases, cats may require lifelong cobalamin supplementation, particularly if the underlying condition is a lifelong disorder.

If addressed immediately with cobalamin supplementation prognosis is good, but the deficiency will return if the underlying condition is not addressed.

Steps to Recovery

Prevention


Vitamin B12 deficiency is not contagious. The most effective ways to prevent cobalamin deficiency are a healthy and balanced diet, and regular veterinarian checkups.

Is Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) Deficiency in Cats common?


Cobalamin deficiency is rare in cats.

Typical Treatment


  • Oral B12 tablets
  • Vitamin B12 injections
  • Treatment of underlying GI disorder

References


No Author - Writing for Pet Talk
Franziska Hanisch, Linda Toresson, Thomas Spillmann - Writing for Tierärztliche Praxis Ausgabe K: Kleintiere
Dr. Brad Hinsperger, B.Sc, DVM - Writing for Kingsdale Animal Hospital

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