Calcium supplements for dogs are often considered by pet parents when their pooch needs extra bone support. But did you know that calcium supplements for dogs can actually cause serious side effects when given in unnecessary situations? In this blog, we'll specifically discuss calcium supplements for dogs and when they are appropriate.
HOW MUCH CALCIUM DO DOGS REQUIRE?
Calcium is a very important mineral and dogs DO require daily calcium. Furthermore, calcium cannot be made in the body, it must be obtained through a dog's diet. Specific calcium requirements for dogs are dependent on the following:
But whether or not these requirements should be met by using a traditional calcium supplement (instead of calcium-rich whole foods and a commercial diet) is a trickier question. You should consult closely with your veterinarian to ensure that your dog’s diet is nutritionally balanced and customized for the specific needs of your dog.
For further reading on nutrient requirements on dogs, you can check out the AAFCO website or read this great manual published by the National Research Council.
DOES MY DOG NEED A CALCIUM SUPPLEMENT?
In most cases, the answer is NO. A traditional calcium supplement for dogs is usually only needed if there is a calcium deficiency in a dog's diet or in certain health conditions. This can only be determined through a blood panel with your veterinarian.
Calcium deficiencies do arise in some situations. For example, if your dog is on a homemade or raw food diet it is possible that they are not recieving enough calcium (since meat is high in phosphorus but low in calcium). Some dogs can also become deficient during pregnancy or lactation. In these instances, it may be worthwhile to look into adding calcium-rich foods to your dog’s diet. If your dog is still not getting enough calcium, only then should you consider talking to your vet about calcium tablets for your dog.
Otherwise, a healthy dog typically obtains adequate amounts of calcium through their commercial dog food. Dog foods in the United States are required to contain the recommended amount of daily calcium. Therefore, it is usually unnecessary to give any additional calcium supplements to dogs. In some cases, overloading calcium can even become harmful over time (more on this below).
ARE CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS FOR DOGS SAFE?
Calcium supplements for dogs are only safe and recommended when they are given to dogs that are deficient in calcium. Otherwise, calcium levels in dogs should be carefully monitored to prevent overdose or imbalances.
Traditional calcium supplements for dogs can contain upwards of 500 mg of calcium per tablet. When given to a dog that is not deficient in the mineral, this become excessive over time. To illustrate, in a 50 lb dog that is given 3 tablets a day, this adds up to 1500 mg of excess calcium per day (assuming they are eating a commercial diet that has adequate daily calcium). A 1500 mg dose of calcium is more than the total daily recommended dosage of calcium for a dog that size AND does not even begin to factor in calcium that the dog is also adequately receiving from its food.
Side effects of excessive calcium include:
- Upset stomach
- Kidney stones, and
- Kidney failure
Over days, weeks, and months, these levels can add up and can contribute to hypercalcemia. You can read more about these side effects at Pet Poison Helpline.
IF NOT A TRADITIONAL CALCIUM SUPPLEMENT FOR DOGS, WHAT SUPPLEMENT CAN I GIVE MY DOG TO SUPPORT STRONG BONES?
While calcium is necessary for strong bones, a traditional calcium supplement may not be the right answer. Instead, consider putting your dog on a bone health supplement that is tailored to provide bone support and includes proper and safe doses of calcium and other minerals.
Boneo Canine is an all-natural formula that is powered by a patented lactoferrin-based technology called Neo-PORTIN Complex. Neo-PORTIN Complex promotes healthy bone turnover in dogs and helps your dog better utilize the dietary calcium when consumed through its food.
Boneo Canine is formulated with a conservative amount of calcium and should NOT be considered a calcium alternative or a traditional calcium supplement. This product is intended to help maintain an optimal balance of bone and joint nutrients, including calcium, not to supplement or replace calcium in the food.
While a traditional calcium supplements can contain upwards of 500 mg of calcium per tablet, each chewable tablet of Boneo Canine contains only 100 mg of calcium per chewable tablet (as well as co-factors like magnesium and Vitamin D3). These nutrients are included in very conservative doses to provide an optimal and safe mineral balance to your dog’s skeletal frame. Because healthy bones require calcium, a small amount of calcium (a safe and conservative dose) helps take that extra step to ensure that optimal calcium balance is achieved in your dog's body.
WHAT ARE SOME NATURAL SOURCES OF CALCIUM FOR DOGS?
Dairy foods, greens and legumes are all great sources of dietary calcium for dogs. Check out our infographic for some natural food sources of calcium.
The information provided should not be a replacement for medical advice. Consult with your veterinarian to discuss calcium needs or concerns for your dog.