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Low vitamin D status linked with shorter survival in dogs with intestinal disease

Posted on: October 9, 2015   by  Missy Sturges & John Canell, MD


A recent study published by the journal Veterinary Internal Medicine suggests that vitamin D status is predictor of disease outcome in dogs with chronic enteropathy.

Chronic enteropathy (CE) is an intestinal disease commonly responsible for illness and mortality in dogs. Dogs with CE experience weight loss, diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting lasting for several weeks at a time. A combination of abnormal mucosal immunity, increased intestinal permeability and an altered microbial flora, along with genetic and environmental factors, contribute to the onset of CE.

Research has discovered that a relationship exists between low vitamin D status and CE dogs. In addition, low vitamin D status has been linked with disease severity in dogs with CE. Despite these findings, no studies have been conducted to determine the clinical significance of this relationship.

In a recent cohort study, researchers from the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies, Hospital for Small Animals evaluated the relationship between serum 25(OH)D levels and clinical outcome in dogs with CE.  A total of 41 dogs diagnosed with CE were included in the study. The dogs serum 25(OH)D levels were measured at the time of diagnosis, and the disease outcome was recorded.

Was there a relationship between vitamin D status and CE in dogs? Here is what the researchers found:

  • 37% of the dogs diagnosed with CE died from complications associated with the disease.
  • The median serum vitamin D levels of patients with CE were significantly lower in the non survivors (4.36 ng/ml) when compared to survivors (24.9 ng/ml) (p < 0.001).
  • Those with low vitamin D status had a 1.08 (CI 95%; 1.02-1.18) increased odds for mortality.

The researchers summarized their findings,

  • “The main finding of this study is that serum 25(OH)D concentrations are significantly lower at the time of diagnosis in dogs which died or were euthanized as a result of a CE.”

They continued,

  • “Although, causality cannot be inferred from these results, the finding that low serum 25(OH)D concentrations are negatively correlated with outcome highlights the need to further examine the relationship between vitamin D homeostasis and disease development and outcome in dogs with CE.”

I have looked at commercial dog food to see if any manufacturers add extra vitamin D to their food but could not find any that do. So I bought Ddrops, and I give my dog the equivalent of 1,000 IU/25 pounds per day.


Sturges, M. & Cannell, JJ. Low vitamin D status linked with survival in dogs with chronic enteropathy. The Vitamin D Council blog/newsletter, October 6, 2015.


Titmarsh, A. et al. Association of Vitamin D Status and Clinical Outcome in Dogs with a Chronic Enteropathy. Veterinary Internal Medicine, 2015.

1 Response to Low vitamin D status linked with shorter survival in dogs with intestinal disease

  1. Rita Celone Umile

    Dear Missy,

    Do dogs also benefit from the cofactors of vitamin D?

    Thanks for your great work here.


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