Why is Calcium Important for Dogs?
Calcium is an essential mineral for dogs and humans alike. It’s responsible for conducting electrical impulses, sending signals, contracting muscles (especially the heart), not to mention keeping those teeth and bones strong.
When dog’s don’t get enough calcium they can suffer the same consequences as us – they need ultimate pet nutrition. Notably the condition rickets (where bones become soft and fragile), muscle twitching, restlessness, stiffness, lethargy, convulsions, and osteoporosis.1
Now, regular canned dog food should contain adequate amounts of calcium. However, like all processed foods, ingredients can also lose their nutritional goodness through processing.
The good news is that this essential mineral is found in so many natural foods. If you’re feeding your pup a raw diet it’s particularly crucial to know what those foods are.
A Note About Phosphorus
Your dog requires more calcium than phosphorus to maintain optimal health and ultimate pet nutrition. But popular foods like boneless meats (especially organ meats) are much higher in phosphorus than calcium.
Traditionally, wild dogs would eat an entire animal which would provide plenty of calcium from the bones of the creature. But today, dog’s aren’t necessarily getting enough bone.
So if you’re feeding your dog a raw diet, adding some bone meal or crushed eggshells can be of help to level up that calcium. 2 But we shall delve into that a little more below.
Calcium-Rich Foods That Dogs Can Eat
Eggs are rich in protein, fatty acids, and of course calcium and they’re rather handy as a snack or a treat. Just make sure they’re cooked as raw eggs can carry salmonella as well as lead to a biotin deficiency in dogs. 3
Eggs are slightly higher in phosphorus however, so don’t go overboard. Betters yet, egg shells have shown to contain even greater amounts of calcium.
What you’ll need to do is crush the eggshells and then sprinkle a little (about half a teaspoon) onto their food. Some people prefer to boil the shells first (for the same salmonella reasoning) and then crush them using a mortar and pestle or food processor. 4
While some dogs may have issues with lactose-intolerance, cheese is a pretty good choice of human food for dogs. In moderation.
Cheese contains plenty of calcium, protein, vitamin A, B vitamins, and fatty acids. But it’s high in fat, and some cheeses can be very salty. Low-fat cheese like mozzarella or cottage cheese are your best choices. And, look for versions that are low in salt. 5
Cheese is also a great tool for hiding pills when your dog is required to take medication.
Yogurt is wonderful source of calcium for dogs because it can be easily mixed in with their meal. It’s especially helpful for softening very dry food.
Do be picky with your choice of yogurt and steer clear clear of those that are high in sugar (like flavored yogurts), especially if your dog is overweight.
Yogurt also contains plenty of beneficial bacteria that can help to balance your pup’s intestinal flora, much as it does your own.
The best fish for boosting calcium include salmon, tuna, sardines, and trout. Always cook your dog’s fish – raw fish isn’t great on their stomach and it may carry bacteria.6 You should remove all the fish bones, or to play it safe, grind the fish up.
Fish contains plenty of omega-3 fatty acids which are wonderful for promoting healthy skin and coat. They can also decrease cholesterol levels in the blood, and combat inflammatory conditions like allergies and arthritis.7
Which brings us to bones. An age-old dog food that’s become a contentious topic in today’s society – are they safe for your dog to eat or not? One thing’s for sure – they’re a huge source of calcium.
Yes, certain dog bones can be dangerous but rather than avoiding them altogether, it’s about being informed.
Chicken, turkey or pork bones – or any kind of cooked bone – are absolutely off-limits. They can easily splinter into shards that pose a dangerous choking hazard and can injure your pup’s mouth, throat or digestive system. Instead, seek out raw meat bones with plenty of muscle meat still attached to them. Never give your dog a bone when it’s hungry. It’s best to watch the clock and it back off them after 15-20 minutes. You can refrigerate it for a few days and reuse it. 8
But don’t assume that very large bones are a safer option. They can break a dog’s teeth.
Bottom line: Eating bones is not without risk, but there are definitely benefits – like calcium – that are great assets.
If you want to play it safe, crush up bones using a grinder or food processor and then add to your pet’s meal. You can also purchase prepackaged bone meal. Just don’t cook bones beforehand as this can cause a loss of nutrients.
A Most Essential Mineral
Calcium is essential to your canine’s health and wellbeing and these 5 foods show just a few simple ways to help support that intake. You may also like to look into some high-calcium vegetables and legumes such as broccoli, spinach, and beans.
Of course, any concerns that you may have surrounding whether your dog needs more calcium, or how to best feed it to them, should be discussed with your vet.
Thanks Christen for this article. Really an excellent and easy to understand information for all pet parents.