Dogs are pretty energetic characters by nature and there is nothing they enjoy more than being taken out for nice long walks in the great outdoors. When healthy, most dogs boast a ton of energy which they need to get rid of or they could end up being quite a handful. If you share your home with a Giant Schnauzer and think your dog is a little off colour and not as playful or energetic as they usually are, it could be they are suffering from a deficiency in Vitamin B12 which is a relatively rare condition known as cobalamin malabsorption.
Other breeds that are more predisposed to inheriting this disorder includes Beagles and Border Collies. With the Giant Schnauzer they inherit an autosomal recessive trait from their parents which causes all the problems. Puppies typically start to show symptoms of there being something wrong when they are anything from 6 to 12 weeks old whereas in breeds like the Border Collie, symptoms start to manifest themselves when dogs are slightly older at around 4 to 6 months old. The symptoms to watch out for are as follows:
As previously mentioned, this is a genetically inherited disorder which means any dogs known to suffer from the condition should be spayed or neutered so they cannot be used in a breeding programme.
Once a vet has successfully diagnosed the disorder which they would do by carrying out a thorough physical examination and by analysing blood samples together with a urinalysis, they would then be able to recommend a correct treatment. However, it would be helpful if the vet had a dog's full history which includes their bloodlines to establish whether any parent dogs suffered from the condition which they would have passed on to their offspring.
Dogs with the condition can also suffer from a condition known as non-regenerative anaemia or they could also be suffering from either a mild or severe case of neutropenia which sees them having very low levels of white blood cell neutrophils. Non-regenerative anaemia occurs when a dog's own body does not compensate for the fact they are suffering from a deficiency in their red blood cells. With this said, there are other reasons why a dog might be suffering a Vitamin B12 deficiency or it could even be they have a worm overload in their gastrointestinal tract which a vet would establish when making their diagnosis.
The problem is that often dogs can store the vitamin in their body when they are healthy which in short means it is only when the levels drop dangerously low that they become very ill and then other organs are impacted more especially their pancreas which produces something called intrinsic factor or IF which helps them absorb Vitamin B12 into their bloodstreams. When dogs suffer from lower levels of the vitamin, it can sometimes be because they have developed a bacterial overgrowth in their intestines which is a condition known as SIBO. A vet would be able to rule this out as being the case when they carry out the necessary blood tests.
When it comes to treatment, dogs with the condition are typically treated with a cobalamin supplement which they would need to be given long-term. A Giant Schnauzer with a Vitamin B12 deficiency would have trouble putting on weight and then maintaining it and this can go on even when a vet is successfully treating a dog. If a dog goes untreated, the prognosis is never that good and over time vets have come to realise the best way of getting Vitamin B12 into their systems is via injection which would need to be done on a weekly basis.
A vet would also need to monitor your Giant Schnauzer's health which means regular blood to make sure vitamin levels are improving and to see whether indeed the correct level has been reached. Once levels peak, dogs typically start to put on weight and condition although their health would need to be carefully monitored to make sure the deficiency does not recur.
Giant Schnauzers are very handsome dogs and in general when well-bred, they are healthy and robust living out their lives without developing any health issues. However, the breed is known to suffer from a rare condition where their bodies are unable to absorb enough Vitamin B12 which can seriously impact their overall well-being. Knowing about the condition, means you would recognise when things might be wrong and the sooner a vet can examine your dog, the quicker they can establish whether your Giant Schnauzer is suffering from a Vitamin B12 deficiency before recommending the right treatment to get them back on their feet again as quickly as possible.