The most common use of Vitamin K in dogs is as a treatment for rat poisoning. In this article we will talk about why this vitamin is so important and what functions it fulfills.
To understand the importance of Vitamin K for dogs, we need to know that it is a fundamental nutrient for their health. Among its main actions, it deals with modulating blood coagulation processes and bone health.
Read on to learn about these and other effects of Vitamin K in dogs.
Natural Vitamin K Types
There are two types of Vitamin K: the first, elaborated by plants, is called K1 or philoquinone. Green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli or Brussels sprouts are rich in Vitamin K in its K1 variant.
Then there is Vitamin K2 or menaquinone, elaborated by the bacteria that reside in the intestine of mammals. This form is produced during the digestion of foods.
The chemical industry has entered the field of producing synthetic variants of Vitamin K. This is why Vitamin K3 (menadione), K4 and K5 exist on the market.
Vitamin K3 was found to be toxic as it interferes with the function of glutathione: it causes liver toxicity and damages cell membranes. Its use as a treatment for Vitamin K deficiency in men was banned in 1963.
Although not recommended, the three synthetic variants of Vitamin K are used in many areas. These include the pet food industry (K3) and with the aim of inhibiting the growth of fungi in processed foods (Vitamin K5).
Vitamin K3 is easily identified on pet food labels, where it is listed under the name sodium menadione bisulfate, sodium menadione bisulfite or menadione dimethylpyrimidinol bisulfite.
The term Vitamin K comes from the German “koagulationsvitamin”.
Functions of Vitamin K for Dogs
Vitamin K1 and K2 are fat-soluble compounds. The K1 form absorbs in the small intestine and requires bile for absorption. The K2 form is assimilated in the ileum and colon.
After uptake in the intestine, Vitamin K undergoes a recycling process in the liver. This is where the vitamin acts as a cofactor for the mutation of a group of proteins.
This group of proteins includes those necessary for the coagulation cascade . It is also a relevant process for the metabolism of bones and dentin, osteocalcin.
Activation of Vitamin K is necessary for these proteins to interact with calcium and become operative in the coagulation process.
Clinical cases of Vitamin K administration in dogs
Vitamin K is given to dogs in various specific cases. For example against poisoning by rodenticides , such as warfarin, which work by blocking the recycling of Vitamin K in the liver.
These poisons induce the inability to produce essential clotting factors, particularly factors II and VII.
The use of Vitamin K in this case is necessary as an antidote. This remedy can work both in animals and in the case of humans accidentally – or intentionally – exposed to anticoagulant poisons.
On the other hand, Vitamin K is given to dogs if there is a condition that prevents its normal absorption. This happens in the face of liver disease, but also for the prevention and treatment of weak bone diseases or osteoporosis.
Hemophilia is a genetic disease that prevents proper blood clotting . In this case, a treatment based on this vitamin is aimed at counteracting the risk of major bleeding.
If your dog has been subjected to prolonged antibiotic treatment, which may have altered the gut microbiota, he may need a Vitamin K supplement. Integrate this into his diet until his intestinal ecosystem is restored to normal.
Side effects of treatment with this vitamin
Treatment for dogs with high doses of Vitamin K should be administered with caution. In fact, it has been reported that the K3 variant (menadione) can promote haemolytic anemia in dogs when given 4mg / kg for 5 days.
Keep in mind that Vitamin K takes a day to work, regardless of how it is administered. Remember that the new proteins must be synthesized to be effective, since the coagulation factors already in circulation will not be altered by the treatment.
In situations of extreme danger for the animal, such as severe bleeding, Vitamin K should not be thought of as inducing immediate haemostasis. In these cases it is necessary to use a source of active clotting factors, such as a transfusion.
Finally, it should be noted that dogs need to get most of their essential nutrients through their diet. Their diet must be rich in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and other substances that are beneficial to health.
Only in some cases is it recommended that the dog consume fortified foods and food supplements to make up for the lack of nutrients that, otherwise, they would not be able to consume in the minimum recommended quantities.