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Vitamin D may be risk factor in dog's heart failure

Extensive evidence suggests that vitamin D plays a role in cardiovascular health for people. Now, the first study on vitamin D status and congestive heart failure in dogs suggests the same: Vitamin D deficiency may be a risk factor for congestive heart failure in canines.

Published in the January/February issue of the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, the study analyzed 31 dogs with confirmed congestive heart disease and 51 unaffected control dogs. The Cornell research team discovered that while age, sex and body condition were not significant factors, a measure of vitamin D in the blood stream positively correlated with heart health. Using owner questionnaires that detailed dietary intake in the three months prior to the blood test, the researchers estimated how much vitamin D the dogs had ingested and compared it to body weight to compensate for size and body condition.

“The outcomes of studies on the benefits of supplementing with vitamin D in people have been inconclusive, but there is evidence that the level of vitamin D deficiency may play a role," said Dr. Marc Kraus, who conducted the research with Drs. Kenneth Rassnick, DVM ’93; Joseph Wakshlag, DVM ’98, Ph.D. ’05; and Anna Gelzer.

“The question of supplementation is even more relevant to dogs because we know that, unlike us, they are not capable of absorbing vitamin D through their skin,” he said. “Perhaps, supplementing with vitamin D [in dogs with congestive heart failure] in addition to conventional therapy may increase survival time in this population of patients. This should be determined with future studies.”

The study, “Relation of Vitamin D Status to Congestive Heart Failure and Cardiovascular Events in Dogs,” received no outside funding. 

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Joe Schwartz