Vitamin K is an extremely important nutrient for dogs and other animals, too. It’s just as important for humans, and it can prove its worth in a large number of situations, especially in accidents.
The main function that this vitamin is responsible for is blood clotting. This is why dogs that have low vitamin K levels in their bloodstream experience blood clotting issues even when sustaining minor cuts and scrapes.
In today’s article, we’re looking at most of the things you should know about vitamin K for dogs — from the foods that it can be found in to the signs of vitamin K deficiency in our canine friends.
Natural Sources of Vitamin K
Liver and egg yolks are the two types of protein sources that your dog can enjoy at least once in a while, and they’re rich in vitamin K, too. Liver is an extremely nutrient-heavy organ, and it even contains iron and other vitamins, so it’s a great diet choice for dogs — especially as a weekly snack.
Vitamin K can be found in a wide variety of vegetables. Not all dogs go crazy about veggies, so integrating them into their diets can be challenging. Besides, vitamin K can be found mostly in cabbage and broccoli, none of which dogs are huge aficionados of.
How Can You Tell If a Dog Has Vitamin K Deficiency?
Even though most dogs do not develop this vitamin deficiency naturally, it can happen in some cases, such as when pets accidentally come in contact with rodenticides and eat them, or on the other hand, they eat the rodents that have consumed the rat killers.
Some rat poisons used in North America are made with excessive amounts of vitamin E, and the interesting thing about this nutrient is that large doses can lead to internal hemorrhage.
The same can happen to a dog that has eaten a rat or the poison itself.
The other possibility is when the animal is actually unable to absorb it from food or synthesize it in the liver or gut. This can occur in a variety of conditions ranging from malabsorption and intestinal issues (as the gut is the area where most of the food is absorbed into the body) to undergoing therapy for various diseases, which might call for the use of substances such as antibiotics.
All liver conditions can be associated with vitamin K deficiency, particularly biliary obstruction or cholestasis.
Depending on the health of the mother, this condition can also happen in newborn puppies.
Some of the signs that you can see in a dog that experiences vitamin K deficiency are the following:
- Increased bleeding, even when the dog sustains a minor scratch
- Hematomas (purple spots on the pet’s body)
- Blood in the feces
- Bleeding from the nose
- Bloody vomit
- Coughing up blood
Naturally, vitamin K deficiency can also be caused by other diseases, such as liver or intestinal tumors.
Ingesting rodenticides causes other symptoms, which are usually much more severe as the dog can go into shock and lose their life in a matter of one to two hours (also depending on how much rat poison they’ve eaten):
- Straining to breathe
- Changes in the gum color (very pale or white)
- The lack of appetite for food and water
- Pain when being touched anywhere on the body
- Nose bleeds
- Inflammation in the joints
- High body temperature
If you see any of these signs in your dog and you know that you might have placed rat poison across your property, go to the emergency veterinary hospital as soon as possible. The likelihood that your dog is suffering from an internal hemorrhage is very high, so time is of the essence.
Vitamin K Overdose in Dogs
The good thing about this type of nutrient is that overdose cases are extremely rare. While vitamin K can be found in several supplements that can be bought over the counter, this is not a vitamin that many pet parents initially think about when it comes to maintaining their dogs’ health.
Some dogs can be allergic to large doses of vitamin K, which means that if they are administered one at the veterinary hospital, they might experience the symptoms of anaphylactic shock and sometimes might even go into cardiac arrest. These cases are very rare.
There are three main types of vitamin K: K1, K2, and K3. Vitamin K3 is a synthetic variant, so it can’t be found in any natural food sources and can’t be synthesized by the dog’s body. It has been recently banned as an over-the-counter medication in the United States. Unfortunately, this vitamin K form does have a variety of side effects, including causing liver failure.
What’s interesting about a vitamin K overdose is that much of the symptoms that the animal is likely to experience are similar to a case of vitamin K deficiency:
- Weakness and lethargy
- Difficulty breathing
- Pale or white gums
- Icterus (yellow visible mucous membranes, including the gums and the edges of the dog’s eyes, as a result of damage to the liver)
- Absence of appetite for both food and water
A good way to prevent this type of health complication would be to carefully look at the label of the kibble you are feeding your pooch. There are some varieties that might include vitamin K as an added nutrient, but they are becoming rarer and rarer these days — but one can never be too sure.
Should You Give Your Dog Vitamin K?
Unless your veterinarian instructs you to and gives you a prescription for it, you should not give your dog vitamin K.
If your pet already benefits from a good diet and their health status is fine, they can probably get most of the vitamin K they need from food and the rest they can synthesize on their own.
It’s true that some vets administer vitamin K in the event that a dog sustains trauma, but this is typically done to minimize the potential hemorrhages that the animal might have in their body.