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Failure to Absorb Vitamin B12 in Dogs

Cobalamin Malabsorption

Cobalamin malabsorption denotes a genetic anomaly where vitamin B12, also referred to as cobalamin, isn’t absorbed properly from the intestine. This issue arises due to the absence of a specific binding receptor in the lower intestine, known as the ileum, for the intrinsic factor-cobalamin complex (IF-cbl). This condition is uncommon and tends to impact Giant Schnauzers, Border Collies, and Beagles. In Giant Schnauzers, it is passed down as a simple autosomal recessive trait. Symptoms typically manifest at 6 to 12 weeks of age in Giant Schnauzers and around four to six months in Border Collies.

Symptoms and Types

  • Anorexia
  • Lethargy
  • Failure to gain weight


The disease is caused by genetic inheritance.


Your veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive physical examination of your pet, along with a complete blood profile, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. Cobalamin concentration levels in the blood serum will be assessed; low levels may indicate absorption failure. The serum examination will also offer insights into any secondary conditions affecting the body, indicated by elevated levels of white blood cells. Urinalysis may also reveal increased levels of white blood cells. A detailed history of your pet’s health leading up to symptom onset, including any genetic information, will be required.

Your veterinarian might identify chronic non-regenerative anemia, indicating the body’s inability to respond to a deficiency of red blood cells, or varying degrees of neutropenia, indicating an abnormally low count of white blood cell neutrophils.

Additional tests may reveal whether cobalamin absorption failure is linked to other congenital metabolic disorders or gastrointestinal tract parasites.


Medical treatment usually involves outpatient care, with long-term supplementation of cobalamin. Your veterinarian will prescribe any other necessary medications based on the medical assessment.

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