Dogs produce their own vitamin K inside of their intestinal tracts, and as a result generally don't need supplementation of it. The fat-soluble vitamin is essential for blood clotting and for bone development. Vitamin K is found in leafy green vegetables such as parsley, cabbage, spinach and kale. It's also found in egg yolk and liver.
Why Dogs Need Vitamin K
Dogs need vitamin K for proper blood function. When they don't have enough of it, their blood fails to clot correctly. Since vitamin K aids in the formation of bones, it also may be effective in keeping osteoporosis at bay. It even encourages proper liver function.
Because colonic bacteria synthesis can satisfy dogs' daily vitamin K needs, recommended daily dosages for the vitamin aren't established and it often isn't a component in dog food.
Causes of Vitamin K Deficiencies in Dogs
Canines don't usually develop deficiencies in vitamin K. Some factors, however, can occasionally cause vitamin K deficiencies, and warfarin is one such example. Warfarin is an anticoagulant that's commonly seen in rodent poisons. As an anticoagulant, it can obstruct vitamin K synthesis, which is vital for healthy blood clotting processes. If your dog accidentally ingests rodent poison with warfarin, he may experience signs of deficiency such as spontaneous bleeding.
Dogs who are administered antibiotics sometimes develop deficiencies in the vitamin, too. This is because antibiotics are capable of inhibiting the production of the vitamin. Canines who have who have liver disease are often administered antibiotics for extended periods of time and therefore may develop vitamin K deficiencies. Dogs who are suffering from digestive issues can sometimes develop these deficiencies, too. Medical conditions that cause malabsorption or maldigestion are possible triggers as well.
Signs of Vitamin K Deficiency in Dogs
If a dog lacks vitamin K, he may experience cerebral, skin, nasal or digestive hemorrhages. These hemorrhages can eventually cause anemia. If you're concerned that your dog may be suffering from vitamin K deficiency, take him in for a veterinary appointment as soon as possible. Indications of a vitamin K deficiency include external or internal bleeding. If you observe your pet consuming a mouse or rat poison that consists of warfarin as an active ingredient, induce vomiting and seek urgent veterinary attention. Quick treatment can often prevent death. Possible deficiency symptoms to look out for include:
- Incessant bleeding from the bowel or gums
- Significant clotting time
Vitamin K Deficiency Treatment Options
If the vet discovers that your pet is deficient, she may administer vitamin K to him via injection or tablet. Probiotic bacteria supplementation may be useful for restoring vitamin K production, too. Your vet may also suggest dietary additions that can help -- leafy greens, oats, liver and egg yolks are a few examples. Don't make any changes to your deficient dog's diet without receiving prior veterinary approval, however. If you want to feed your dog leafy greens such as spinach or kale, cook them lightly beforehand.