Finally! We can get our dogs and cats tested for low levels of Vitamin D.
Some of you probably get your own Vitamin D levels tested (and you might want to consider doing it, if you haven’t, after you read this!). In human medicine, we know that low levels of vitamin D increase our risk of cancer and other inflammatory diseases. So if you don’t routinely get tested, start now!
Naturally, we are finding that our pets can suffer the same effects of low Vitamin D as humans do. Recent studies have found a scary correlation between dogs and cats with certain types of cancers having low Vitamin D levels compared to healthy dogs and cats.
Other studies report that low levels of Vitamin D in dogs and cats may be associated with the following diseases:
- Heart Disease
- Kidney Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Certain Infections
There’s some GOOD news here, however! You can do something about low vitamin D levels in your pets that could help cut the risk of certain cancers and other diseases associated with low Vitamin D levels!
How can I get my dog’s or cat’s Vitamin D levels tested?
Thankfully, there is a now a blood test that is widely available to test dog’s and cat’s Vitamin D levels so you can know, for sure, if low Vitamin D is a problem for your pet. You can find this test through your Veterinarian. If your Veterinarian is not yet using this test routinely you can request they obtain a single test for your pet through the following companies:
- Patterson (Many Vets already use this company for medical supplies.)
- VDI Laboratory
- Michigan State University
Once your pet is tested, your Veterinarian can tell you if you need to supplement your dog or cat’s diet with extra Vitamin D. Then, 6-8 weeks later, you can test again to ensure that your pet’s Vitamin D levels are adequate.
When I recently started offering Vitamin D testing in my practice I got a lot of questions , which you might have too. Here are the most common Vitamin D and Pets questions I have gotten from patients:
Can I just supplement my dog or cat with extra Vitamin D instead of testing?
NO! This could be very dangerous. It is important to work with your Veterinarian to ensure that your pet is not receiving a toxic dose of Vitamin D. Too much of a good thing can have disastrous results.
What is Vitamin D anyways and what does it do?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin with many functions in the body. One of the most important functions is to regulate how much calcium and phosphorus is absorbed from the gut. It also helps regulate bone density. And, as I explained in the beginning it can be associated with a host of diseases when Vitamin D levels drop below normal.
Can’t I just put my pet in the Sun to get Vitamin D?
Dogs and cats need Vitamin D in their diet. Because our animals have a fur coat, they cannot synthesize ( make it within their own bodies) Vitamin D from sun exposure like humans can. So a few hours in the sun is more likely to overheat, burn or plain annoy your pet and not help one bit with improving Vitamin D levels. Studies have shown that cats cannot create Vitamin D at all from sun exposure even when the skin is shaved. So, nope, shaving won’t work either!
The bottom line is that, cats and dogs MUST get Vitamin D in their diet! Sorry, no easy way around it!
OK it’s important: so which Vitamin do you recommend?
My favorite Vitamin D supplement is Rx For Pets, Rx D3. There are different forms of Vitamin D on the market or in your pharmacy and none of these should be given to your dog or cat with out the OK of your Vet. Some human Vitamin D supplements may contain other vitamins and minerals that may be toxic to your pet, so always consult a professional!
Do you have any other Vitamin D questions? Comment below.