The Importance of Vitamin D for Dogs and Cats

There is some new research out that low levels of vitamin D are associated with a risk of cancer and other serious diseases in dogs and cats. The current research is showing a correlation between low vitamin D levels and the following diseases in dogs and cats:

  • Cancer

  • Heart disease

  • Kidney disease

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

  • Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions (erosion of the teeth in cats)

  • and other chronic diseases

Dogs and cats get their vitamin D entirely from their diet, whereas humans can get some of their vitamin D from the sun. Pets seem either unable to convert it or unable to use it in their bodies and have to rely on the vitamin D they consume from their diet.

Synthetic vitamin D is supplemented in commercial pet foods. There is some evidence that the synthetic form may not be well-absorbed or could possibly be destroyed or decreased by heat processing.

Homemade diets can be a better source of vitamin D but getting adequate amounts may still be difficult. Cod liver oil is an excellent source of vitamin D. Beef liver and organ meats are high in vitamin D. Fatty fishes such as salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel are also a good source of vitamin D. Dairy products such as yogurt, cheese and eggs have some vitamin D but may not be an adequate source.

There are also some concerns with getting too much vitamin D and it causing toxicity. I believe this is more an isssue when using synthetic vitamin D, rather than natural sources.

My recommendation is to first test your pet for vitamin D levels. I use VDI Laboratories in conjunction with RxVitamins for Pets. It is a simple blood test done in a vet’s office. If the levels are low, I recommend supplementing with a natural source of Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) such as Rx Vitamins Rx D3 or Rx D3 Forte (also available in my office). A follow-up bloodtest is then done in 8-10 weeks to make sure levels are adequate.

More reading on some of the research on Vitamin D and pets can be found here.

More information about Vitamin D in dogs and cats can be found here.

Contact Dr. Deneen Fasano at her clinic Animal Healing Solutions for more information about Vitamin D testing for your pet.