Important Minerals & Their Role in the Canine Diet

Important Minerals & Their Role in the Canine Diet

Health & Safety

Commercial complete pet foods contain all of the minerals a dog needs at the correct level. Mineral supplementation is not recommended unless your vet has diagnosed a deficiency. Pet food packaging doesn’t show the whole spectrum of minerals that the food supplies as it only shows those that have been added to the recipe and not those which are unnecessary to add due to the ingredients providing rich natural sources.

1. Calcium

The correct calcium level is especially important for puppies as it’s required for strong, healthy bones and teeth. It’s imperative that it is present in the diet at the correct ratio with phosphorous. Calcium is also required for muscle contraction, nerve conduction, clotting of the blood, the production of energy and the regulation of many metabolic enzymes.

Good sources of calcium for dogs are chicken meal, lamb meal, salmon, green leafy vegetables and egg.

Too much calcium is a major causative or contributing factor in the pathogenesis of skeletal disease in the puppies (and in particular large and giant breed puppies).

Too little calcium (hypocalcaemia) can result in low bone density. In pregnancy or during lactation this condition is very serious and is called eclampsia (or puerperal tetany / milk fever).

2. Copper

Copper is a very busy mineral! It’s required for a healthy liver and brain. It’s also important for muscle function, collagen synthesis, melanin production, haemoglobin production, oxygen transportation and cellular respiration. It is involved in the maintenance of healthy bones, cartilage and the skin/coat (especially with regard to elasticity). Copper is required for the functioning of enzymes involved in antioxidant protection, and plays a role in the metabolism of vitamin C.

Good sources of copper for dogs include liver, fish beef, veal, duck, lamb, whole grains and legumes.
A condition associated with excessive copper is copper toxicosis (or copper storage disease). This can arise as a result of excessive ingestion, but genetic liver disease is more common.
Copper deficiency is rare in dogs. It can result in anaemia and bone abnormalities.

3. Iodine

Iodine is need for the production of thyroid hormones which control the metabolic rate, conversion of food and fat stores into energy and production of body heat.

Fish and kelp seaweed are good sources of iodine for dogs. Excessive iodine can result in hyperthyroidism. This condition is rare in dogs. Iodine deficiency results in a lower production of thyroxine. This condition is called hypothyroidism and symptoms often include weight gain and hair loss.(Most thyroid problems in dogs are not related directly to the amount of iodine in the diet. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is autoimmune thyroiditis, which results in the destruction of the thyroid tissue. This is thought to be an inherited condition).

4. Iron

Dogs need iron for haemoglobin production (in conjunction with copper) and myoglobin (red muscle cell pigment) production. It’s also required for the normal function of certain enzymes in the body.

Good sources of iron for dogs include liver, chicken, turkey, beef, fish, whole grains, and legumes.

Iron toxicity is virtually unheard of because the body needs a constant supply to replace the red blood cells. Too much dietary iron can however interfere with the absorption of phosphorous.

Too little iron results in anaemia (not enough red blood cells) and this increases susceptibility to infection. It can also result in constipation.

5. Magnesium

Magnesium is vital to maintain cell integrity. One of its most important functions is to control of calcium entry into heart cells to ensure a regular heart-beat. It’s required for all of the major metabolic reactions including the synthesis of genetic material and the production of energy from glucose. Most enzymes need magnesium to function, and it is necessary for the absorption of vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium.

Too much dietary magnesium is uncommon. High levels of magnesium in the blood are usually due to underlying medical conditions such as renal disease.

A magnesium deficiency is also very rare. Symptoms may include muscle tremors, loss of co-ordination and weakness.

6. Manganese

Manganese is required for the synthesis of cartilage and collagen and is thus important for reproduction, normal growth and development of puppies. It has many metabolic roles and is needed for the manufacture of amino acids, clotting factors, and some hormones, enzymes (particularly those required for the production of energy) and brain chemicals.

Good dietary sources of manganese for dogs include whole grains, seeds, egg and green vegetables.

Excessive manganese is virtually unheard of. Manganese deficiency is also extremely rare. If it does occur, it is most likely to affect new-born pups and can result in skeletal problems and poor growth.

7. Phosphorous

Like calcium, phosphorous is also essential for health bones and teeth; and it must be at the correct ratio to calcium. Phosphorous is also responsible for the production of energy-rich molecules in the muscle cells and it’s an important component of genetic material.

Organ and muscle meats are naturally rich in phosphorous.

Excessive dietary phosphorous can accelerate the progression of renal disease.

Too little dietary phosphorous is very rare in dogs. Reduced intestinal absorption of phosphorus can occur due to malabsorption syndrome (as opposed to the diet simply being deficient).

8. Potassium

Potassium is an important electrolyte which is necessary to maintain the correct fluid balance throughout the body. It is essential for muscle contraction, maintaining a regular heart rate, nerve function, enzyme function and the maintenance of stable blood sugar. It’s also needed for the production of genetic material, proteins and energy.

Potassium rich foods that are suitable for dogs include fish, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, potatoes, and some fruit (e.g. bananas and pineapple).

Problems associated with excessive potassium consumption are rare so long as kidney function is good. Some dogs can suffer from a condition calledAddison’s disease (hypoadrenocorticism) whereby the adrenal gland doesn’t produce sufficient quantity of the hormone which regulates blood potassium levels.

Potassium deficiency is usually due to excessive electrolyte losses as a result of diarrhoea and/or vomiting, renal problems or severe burns rather than it lacking in the diet. Long term use of diuretic drugs may be implicated. Potassium deficiency is very serious and requires immediate veterinary intervention as it can cause the heart to stop.

9. Selenium

Selenium is needed for cell growth and immune function. It is also required for the synthesis of prostaglandins and thyroid production. It’s a powerful antioxidant and can help protect the body against free radical damage.

Good dietary sources of selenium for dogs are whole grains and muscle meat.

Selenium toxicity is rare, but when it occurs it is very serious. Symptoms may include anaemia, liver problems, lames and hair loss.

Selenium deficiency is also rare. Symptoms of this condition may include reproductive disorders and death of puppies, muscle weakness, and abnormalities of the heart muscle.

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