Vitamin D Side Effects in People and Pets

November 12, 2012

Vitamin D Side Effects in People and Pets

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin to help maintain the bone and cell health for people and pets. It is commonly called the Sunshine Vitamin as the body can produce vitamin D when directly exposed to sunlight for 10 to 15 minutes a day. It’s available in trace amounts in some foods such as cheese, beef liver, egg yolks and cod liver oil. Vitamin D is also found in many nutritional supplements, fortified breakfast cereals, fortified beverages and pet food.

Vitamin D side effects occur if a person or animal receives too little or too much Vitamin D. Both of these conditions can be dangerous to long term health and need immediate treatment.

Vitamin D Deficiency

Commonly known as rickets, these vitamin D side effects often happen to vegetarians, vegans, people suffering from digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease or people suffering from malnutrition. Dogs and cats also suffer from rickets. It is more commonly seen in dogs since they will willingly eat anything to fill their bellies, including vegetarian or vegan diets.

Symptoms of rickets include skeletal deformities and bones that easily break. Early symptoms include swelling of the joints and weakness in one or more limbs. Over the weeks, lack of vitamin D side effects cause increased bowing of the arms and legs. Dogs and cats are usually affected when they are immature but in people, rickets can happen at any age.

Vitamin D Overdose in People

It is becoming increasingly more common for doctors to treat patients with high vitamin D side effects because the patients overdosed on vitamin D supplements. Adults and children only need a small amount to thrive – anywhere from 5 to 25 micrograms per day. A microgram is one millionth of a gram. People with rickets need to be monitored for high vitamin D side effects because they need to take large vitamin supplements.

Early symptoms of vitamin D toxicity include:

  • Strong headache

  • Excessive thirst leading to excessive urination

  • Constant nausea and appetite loss

  • Vomiting

  • Chest pains

  • Dry, itchy skin

  • Sudden unexplained irritability

If left untreated, crucial internal organs such as the lungs, heart and kidneys can become irreversibly damaged. Later symptoms of vitamin d toxicity include:

  • Heart arrhythmia

  • Kidney stones

  • Muscle weakness and wasting

  • Bone weakness

  • Deafness

  • Heart disease

  • Lung damage

  • Kidney failure due to excessive tissue damage

Vitamin D Overdose in Dogs and Cats

Pets experience the same symptoms of Vitamin D overdose as people do, only they also get seizures. They may also degenerate much faster than people do. They need immediate veterinary care in order to prevent or limit internal organ damage. If left untreated, the pet will die. Dogs and cats suffering high vitamin D side effects often need to be hospitalized for at least 24 hours. They are hooked up to IVs to help flush the excess calcium and phosphorous from their bodies and then placed on a restricted diet for the rest of their lives.


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