Healthy Dog Foods – The Menadione Debate

I’m going to create a new category today called ” Bad Dog Food Ingredients”  and start to post my findings, based on my last few years of research.

This first post as you can see in the title is about Menadione…

When you spend as much time as I do doing research on the best dog food, you are going to find yourself in the middle of more than one debate about ingredients. The one I’m writing about today is called Menadione Sodium Bisulfate, which is a synthetic vitamin K.

Vitamin K is an essential nutrient to ensure proper blood clotting. So what’s the problem after all sounds like Vitamin K would be something we should want in our dog foods?

The problem is not Vitamin K; it’s the synthetic form Menadione that gives us concern. While the FDA has amended its ban on Menadione to allow its use in feed and drinking water for animals, it was previously banned because of toxicity. This is what they FDA says on their site and you can go there to read more.

Vitamin K Substances and Animal Feed

FDA Veterinarian Newsletter 2008 Volume XXIII, No V

by Padmakumar B. Pillai, B.V.Sc.&A.H., M.V.Sc., Ph.D., Biologist, Division of Animal Feeds; Michaela G. Alewynse, Ph.D., Leader, Nutrition and Labeling Team, Division of Animal Feeds; and Sharon A. Benz , Ph.D., Director, Division of Animal Feeds, Center for Veterinary Medicine’s Office of Surveillance and Compliance

Editor’s Note:Although vitamin K is an important nutrient for animals and several sources are available, not all of those sources can or should be used in animal feed. Many have not been approved for use in the United States. Here’s an overview of appropriate use of vitamin K ingredients in the United States.

Menadione is still not allowed to be used in human food and has been denied a petition by the FDA, because of lack of proof of safety.

Menadione has been linked to Liver cell cytotoxicity, Weakened immune systems, Potential mutagenic effects, Damage to natural Vitamin K cycle, Hemolytic anemia and jaundice, Direct toxicity in high doses, Irritation of the skin and mucous membranes.

Personally the fact that this ingredient is banned for human use is enough for me to make it a deal breaker if it’s listed on a dog food label. So what do we do about making certain our dogs are getting the Vitamin K they need?

The conclusion seems to be that Vitamin K supplements are unnecessary for dogs. Vitamin K1 is naturally found in leafy green vegetables, cauliflower, tomato, soybeans, wheat bran, egg yolk and organ meats and is synthesized in the dog’s body. Vitamin K2 is a natural product of bacteria found in the lower intestines.

If you are worried about your dog having a Vitamin K deficiency here are some of the symptoms to look for:

Excessive bleeding
Frequent nosebleeds
Abnormally bleeding gums
Heavy menstruation
Blood in urine or stool.

Some other causes of Vitamin K deficiency are:

Too many antibiotics kill the bacteria in the intestines
Intestinal disorder
Liver damage

One of the first things I look at when picking out the best dog food, is could I eat the ingredients myself. If the ingredients include by-products that by law are marked unfit for human consumption, I don’t want them in my dog’s food.

Likewise if an ingredient is restricted by the FDA from being added to human food, I don’t want that in my dog food either. That is why I will not feed a pet food that has Menadione Sodium Bisulfate listed on the label.