Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rock Foundation: Minerals In Dog Nutrition

As far as balancing your dogs nutrition is concerned, minerals are the trickiest component you’ll have to deal with.

Your dog's diet needs to be both complete and balanced. 

What does that mean?

Complete means that the diet must contain all the essential nutrients that your dog needs. Balanced refers to ratios of nutrients relative to each other.

Why is this important?

I think that we all understand that a deficit in an essential nutrient will have a negative impact on the body.

Excess can cause just as much trouble. Fat soluble vitamins and almost all minerals are toxic at high levels. Excess calories lead to obesity. Too much of any good thing will put an unnecessary strain on the body.

More isn't more and less isn't more either.

To complicate matters further, some nutrients mutually compete with one another; omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are a good example. High levels of one will inhibit the metabolism of the other. Proteins (amino acids) are rather forgiving but can also become an issue for dogs on a low protein diet.

However, the most difficult nutrients to balance are minerals.

According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), there are 12 minerals that are essential for dogs:
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Magnesium
  • Chloride
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Copper 
  • Iodine
  • Manganese
  • Selenium

Each of these has a unique, irreplaceable function in your dog's body.

It is important that your dog's diet provides essential minerals in the right amounts and proper ratios.

One of the important relationships to be aware of is the calcium to phosphorus ratio. Your adult dog's food should contain one to two parts of calcium for every part of phosphorus. For growing puppies the ideal ratio is even narrower.

You probably know that calcium and phosphorus are important structural components of bones and teeth.

Minerals are not just about bones and teeth!
  • Minerals play a role in many enzyme-based reactions.
  • Minerals are responsible for helping to maintain the proper balance of fluids within the body.
  • Minerals play a part in aiding the movement of oxygen in the blood stream.
  • Minerals are partially responsible for the transmission of nerve impulses and muscle contraction.
  • Minerals are necessary for the production of many hormones.
    (source: suite101.com)
Did you know that that calcium is also involved in muscle contraction, blood clotting and more? Phosphorus is involved in energy transport, DNA structure and metabolism of other nutrients.

Providing sufficient amount of phosphorus through the diet isn't hard, as it is present in meats, fish, even is some grains, as well as bones. Having too much phosphorus in the diet is a more common problem.

Providing enough calcium to keep up the proper calcium to phosphorus ratio is the tricky part.

Calcium is harder to come by and not always readily digestible. Not all dogs are able to absorb calcium from bones or bone meal, and not all dogs do well with dairy. Kelp is a good source of calcium, but frequently dietary supplements are used.

Further more, high phosphorus levels interfere with calcium uptake.

Other minerals that can also influence one another include copper and iron, phosphorus and sodium, zinc and magnesium.

Iron is needed in red blood cells to transport oxygen.

Copper is important for the proper formation of cells.

Sodium is needed for proper fluid balance, transfer of nutrients and the elimination of cell wastes.

Are you discouraged from cooking for your dog yet? Don't be.

It can be done. But I recommend sticking with quality recipes from reliable sources, or better yet, have a veterinary nutritionist or holistic/TCVM vet formulate your dog's diet.

Monitoring how well your dog's diet works is just as important as who formulates the plan. Jasmine gets her recipes from a nutritionist, but her first recipe contained dairy products that didn’t work for her. We had to change her formula.

Two dietary supplements formulated specifically to balance home-made canine diets are Hilary's Blend (Canada) and Balance IT (US). These also come with recipes. Though a custom recipe(s) with consideration to your dog's age and health are ideal.

I do believe that a home-made diet made with quality ingredients is superior to most commercial processed foods.

But I also believe that balanced nutrition is just as important as ingredient quality.

It's your dog's health,
Jana

Further reading:
Dog Nutritional Supplement Guide: The Essential Vitamins and Minerals
Essentials of Canine Nutrition
Minerals and nutrition
Minerals: Important Nutrients in the Dog and Cat Diet

Related articles:
What Do Those Nutrients Do? Calcium
Feeding Your Dog: Commercial or Home-cooked?
Dog Nutrition And Proteins: The Building Blocks of Life
Dog Nutrition and Carbohydrates: The Essential Non-Essentials 
I Want Some Bacon! Fat In Dog Nutrition
Nothing Fishy About Omega-3 Fatty Acids 
Do I Have To Eat My Vegetables? Vitamins In Dog Nutrition 
Nutrition and Dog Arthritis

14 comments

  1. What a great post, and so many must-read links. I'll have to include a link to this post in my latest post... Tomorrow!

    Good night :)

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  2. Hi Georgia, glad you found my post useful :-)

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  3. My wife and I are so much into our dogs diet and I love reading posts about this subject. Posts like this are really worthwhile. Luv it. :)

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  4. I cook for Jersey and my additive of choice is Honest Kitchen Preference Veggie mix. It has all the good stuff in it for health and nutrition that doggies need. Right now, I'm having problems getting it in Canada, but my parents are bringing me some from Florida.

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  5. Great information! So glad you pointed out the risk of too many vitamins and minerals. This is particularly true of those chemically-synthesized and added as supplements to virtually every commercial pet food, except Nature's Logic. All nutrients in our food come from whole foods and 100% natural ingredients.

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  6. Thank you, Sisko, glad you liked the article :-)

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  7. Hi Karen, yes, Honest Kitchen has great products. We were using Urban Wolf before, same idea, freeze-dried veggies. Unfortunately Jasmine wasn't getting her calcium from that.

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  8. Hi Nature's Logic, glad you liked the post. Will check out your product.

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  9. Lots of good information here. In terms of balance being as important as ingredient quality, I'm inclined to think it might actually be a bit MORE important. I fed a homemade diet to my cats for years until moving to a place where I couldn't get the supplies I needed. I did a ton of research to make sure I was feeding them right -- but I have never met a vet who knew much about pet nutrition. Not surprising since they don't really make nutrition a priority in vet school.

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  10. Dear Julia, glad you enjoyed the article. Yes, traditional vets usually don't know much about nutrition. Holistic or TCVM usually do, as it is part of their approach.

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  11. Greetings from Southern California

    I added myself to follow you. I invite you to visit my blog and follow me if you want too.

    God bless you :-)

    ~Ron

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  12. Hi OG, thank you for following, I'll check out your blog.

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  13. Jana,

    I really enjoyed reading through the information on this site. I am a dog owner and marketing manager at an all natural pet supplement line called Vitamin Sea. Minerals are extremely important for dogs and humans alike. The information on your site about minerals is very relevant to what we do and I wanted to see if you could add a link on this site to our site www.vitamin-sea.com. Also, I wanted to send you a free product for your review and evaluation. Perhaps you could do a write up about it in your future posts? Thanks for your help and I look forward to your reply. VS

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  14. Jana

    I forgot to give you my contact info... please email me at vitaminseautah@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete

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