Everyone knows that calcium is important. It helps build strong teeth and bones, and in general helps our bodily functions run just a little smoother - so it’s no surprise that calcium for dogs is essential for their diet, especially calcium for dogs on raw diets.
For most carefully created dog food formulas, the amount of calcium your dog will need on a day to day basis has already been calculated and added into their diet for you. However, for dogs who prefer a raw or home cooked dog food, it can be difficult to measure the amount of calcium you’re giving your dog.
But why is it so important to give your dog food high in protein and calcium? Do dogs need calcium? What happens if you give them too little calcium? Is it really that bad to give them too much calcium? Let’s start by exploring why your pup needs a good source of calcium for dogs.
#1 Strong Teeth, Bones and Muscles
The majority of calcium consumed by a dog goes into building the structure of your dog’s bones and teeth, helping to keep them healthy and strong. A lack of calcium or Vitamin D, the vitamin in charge of absorbing calcium, can result in weaker teeth and bones.
Calcium is also important to maintain your dog’s muscles - as a lack of calcium can lead to your pet becoming less flexible and more brittle, and therefore more susceptible to injuries and health issues like fractures and stiffness.
#2 Avoid Deformities and Long-term Spinal Issues
In the long term, this calcium deficiency will surface as rickets, a condition in which your dog’s bones start to become soft and fragile. Your dog may experience symptoms like pain in their legs, spine and lower back. They may also develop muscle cramps and their teeth may become deformed, especially if they contract ricket at a young age, before they fully mature.
In extremely serious cases, the shape of your dog’s skull could even be affected. Your dog’s legs could start to bow and they may experience pelvic deformities and spinal problems further on in their life.
While rickets due solely to a lack of calcium is rare, it is still a serious condition that can be easily prevented by balancing out your dog’s diet, such as by adding natural calcium for dogs in their meals like The Barkery’s Egg Shell Powder for dogs.
#3 Prevent Diseases
In general, calcium is vital for a whole host of functions in your pet’s body. It is required for digestion, blood clotting, hormone balancing, maintaining nerve function and even in maintaining a regular heartbeat.
Keeping your dog’s calcium levels in the normal range is therefore of utmost importance. In serious cases, a lack of calcium could lead to serious health issues such as seizures and loss of muscle control - and even death for some dogs.
When too much is too much
However, much like in humans, calcium levels in a dog needs to stay within a specific range. Too low and your dog risks suffering from a lot of health issues as aforementioned, but too high and your dog would be dealing with a different set of issues.
Namely, a dog getting too much calcium can get kidney disease and even urinary stones. Parathyroid hormones, which is largely influenced by your dog’s calcium intake, can easily disrupt the dynamics in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract, affecting their digestion, among other things.
So how exactly can you help your pet avoid this issue? And where can pet parents like you find natural and healthy sources of calcium?
For dogs that are largely consuming commercially available kibble like ACANA’s excellent selection of dog kibble or high calcium foods for dogs that are “complete and balanced”, don’t worry too much. These formulas typically already contain the right amount for your pup.
In fact, adding any further calcium into your pet’s diet when it already consists of the aforementioned types of food that are already complete and balanced could be detrimental to your pet’s health. In the case of large-breed puppies, it might even be downright dangerous.
Of course, in the case of dogs being fed raw or home cooked dog food, consider adding calcium supplements that implement natural sources of calcium such as Naturvet All-In-One Supplements to your pup’s diet as meat and vegetables often don’t contain enough calcium for your pup to grow healthy and strong.
If your pup’s diet is just missing a little bit of calcium, you could also supplement their diet further with natural treat bones such as ZIWI Peak’s Deer Shank Half Bone.
There are still cases where homemade diets are just right, as far as calcium content is concerned - especially if raw meaty bones already make up at least 25 to 30% of your dog’s diet.
If you use pre-mix dog foods like Grandma Lucy’s freeze dried pre-mix dog food and combine with your own added protein source, you typically do not need to give your pet any further supplements either, so long as you are following the product’s directions.
Of course, you can still consider giving your pup small calcium-heavy treats from time to time, such as Grandma Lucy’s White Fish Dog Treats. These natural and tasty bites will help boost your pup’s calcium levels - but save these for special occasions or as high value treats to be given in moderation. Regardless, do consult a veterinarian or nutritionist before making any drastic changes to your pet’s diet!
Your pet’s diet is important for their growth and development. And in the end, a healthy diet creates a healthy dog - and calcium is a major factor, given how important it is to a wide range of bodily functions. While it can be tempting to go over the top with calcium supplements and the like, it’s good to take a step back and understand just how much calcium you are giving your pup.