Why is dog calcium a must and why do dogs need ten times more than we do? Here are the 11 most important functions of calcium for dogs and natural sources you may have in your kitchen already.
For years this is something I didn't understand and assumed my dogs were getting it in their food. I was wrong and I want you to know better.
And when our dogs lack calcium it doesn't show up for a very long time, and once it does, it's too late.
We all know dog calcium will build strong healthy bones and maintain them. What we don't all know is that for complete absorption there should also be phosphorus, magnesium and vitamins A, C and D present. Natural sources will supply that.
I bet you're ready for the list right? Here's ten more things calcium for dogs does to maintain health:
Almost makes you nervous doesn't it? Maybe it should. You ask yourself if your dog is getting his or her needs met and you wonder...
Since dogs are mainly meat eaters and have a highly acidic diet, they need more calcium to maintain the right pH balance in the blood. (Junk food, as in dog kibble is also highly acidic so creates the same need.)
And guess what? If they don't get it in their food, they will take the calcium from their own muscle mass and then from their own bones in order to survive. Have you ever seen a once muscular dog lose muscle mass as they get older? Now you know.
The most important thing to remember is calcium and phosphorus go hand in hand and need the right balance.
I know, here I go throwing something else into the soup. Basically the deal is meat has the phosphorus and bone has the calcium so now you know where the whole food philosophy comes from. For the proper absorption of calcium, phosphorus is needed. Optimum ratio is 1.2 to 1.4 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus.
Relax! It sounds difficult but it isn't. First, most dogs do very well with 1 to 2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus and bone meal calcium is right in that bracket.
Thinking about this ratio is kind of a pain in the rear for me so I just stick to feeding raw meat with bones keeping the 10-20% bone in mind.
It's also why I use variety. Here's an example of how much bone is in various chicken parts.
Leg quarter: 30%
Split breast: 20%
Whole foods are trustworthy, meaning they have nutrients that work together. Some other natural sources of calcium are green leafy vegetables, cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, collards, brewers’ yeast (only if your dog doesn't get yeast infections), seaweed and eggshells.
In fact, if you feed commercial fare (kibble or canned) feeding your dog whole eggs, including the shell is a great idea. Eggs are a perfect protein and commercial foods don't have nearly enough of the stuff.
Worried about the shell? I was and originally I dried and crushed them thinking they might cut my dog's mouth. But now? Heck, every time I crack an organic egg when I'm cooking, someone runs in and sits outside the kitchen door with tail wagging. He knows it's a treat and I know it's calcium for dogs.
If you feed your dog a raw diet, including the bones is important or supplementing with the other sources I just listed above will give him a well rounded diet.
As for me, I've been feeding raw for several years now and I can't imagine feeding anything else. It's so easy now it's kind of fun. And if I end up getting a deal on ground meats, there are raw meaty bones in the freezer, eggshells or bone meal.
You can find a few free recipes at raw dog food recipes here on this website.
Yes and no. Variety is the spice of life remember? And a variety of foods is always a good idea. My dogs love chewing on big beef bones but they can't eat the big ones. The 13 year old guy in the picture has all his teeth and can still eat an entire rib beef rib bone, whole turkey legs and chicken backs.
If you don't feed raw, or you have a phobia about your dog's eating bones, bone meal is a good choice of calcium for dogs and you can simply sprinkle it on their food. I hope I really don't have to say this, but bone meal for your garden is not the same thing and is toxic to dogs. Amazon has some decent choices. I have purchased one called Solid Gold because it has the right calcium/phosphorus ratio and was recommended by a vet I know.
If you feed a raw diet to your dog you MUST feed either bones, or a calcium supplement for your dog's health. I think bone meal is a good choice because you get a form of calcium that's natural instead of synthetic and it's easy to sprinkle on his food.
And last but not least, if you are feeding dog kibble or canned dog food - unless it is one of superior quality, it is more than calcium that your dog is lacking. For an idea, you may find Dog Food Manufacturers enlightening. There is a wealth of information on this site so please use it. If you prefer to have something to hold in your hand and read at your leisure about keeping your dog healthy, check out Dogs Naturally Magazine. I've had a subscription since it started and it just keeps getting better. The printed version is available in the US and Canada but everyone can get a digital subscription.