Dog Bone and Joint Health

Dog Bone and Joint Health

The skeletal system is the structural foundation for all vertebrates, including canines. It consists of bones, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. Bone is a versatile biomaterial that serves a multitude of vital functions – it serves as a storehouse for calcium, phosphorus and many other minerals; it functions as factory to manufacture red blood cells and several types of white blood cells (specialized immune cells); it supports and protects the body's vital organs (e.g. a physical cage encases the lungs); it act as mechanical levers to allow muscular action (promotes motion); it provides acid-base balance (helps maintain pH); it detoxifies from toxins (e.g. heavy metals); it helps capture/process sound (via the small bones inside the ears).

Considering all the essential functions of the canine skeletal system, it is imperative to take proactive steps to protect and preserve it with healthy diet and lifestyle practices.

Canine Skeletal System

Canine Skeletal System

The canine skeleton is comprised of three main areas: appendicular, axial, and visceral. The appendicular skeleton makes up the bones of the legs and feet, the axial portion of the skeleton is the main axis of support, the head, neck, spine, ribs, and breast bone (sternum). The visceral bones are the small bony parts of such organs as the inner ear. The long bones have growth plates that produce cartilage, which is converted to bone as the dog grows. At puberty, this bone growth slows, and the growth plates close when the dog reaches physical maturity, allowing no further growth.

A dog's skeleton has an average of 319 bones, which is about 100 more bones than humans. Dogs have the greatest variety in the size and configuration of their skeletons of any species of animal. Even though the tiny Chihuahua has the same number and type of bones as the Great Dane, the size and shape of their bones are very different. The biggest differences (other than sheer size) are in the bones of the skull. A dog’s shoulder blades are not tightly connected to its skeleton, so the dog has potential for greater motion and flexibility.

Canine Skeletal Development

The skeletal system is a dynamic structure throughout a canine’s lifetime and is continuously remodeled. Specialized cells manage the remodeling process – osteoblasts promote bone formation, osteoclasts control bone resorption and chondrocytes maintain cartilage. Collectively, these processes preserve the structural integrity of a skeletal system. In addition to providing structure, the canine skeletal system, particularly the bone, actually has multiple roles in the body. Below are eight of its vital functions:

1. The Bone as a Mineral Bank

Bones serve as storage reserves (aka “bank”) for calcium, phosphorus and other essential nutrients. These nutrients are continuously deposited (bone formation via osteoblasts) and withdrawn (bone resorption via osteoclasts) from the bone to support vital body functions (such as maintain osmotic balance, fire nerve impulses, etc.).

2. The Bone's Role in Blood Production

The bone marrow of long bones and the inner space of spongy bone produce blood cells via the hematopoiesis process; in other words, your dog’s bone marrow acts as a “blood factory”. The bone marrow is also the site where certain immune cells (B cells) are produced.

3. The Bone Provides Protection

Bones protect vital organs. For example, your dog’s skull is like a helmet, protecting the sensitive brain from impact. Similarly, your dog’s rib cage shields the lungs, heart and liver from physical damage.

4. The Bone Regulates Acid-Base (pH) Balance

For organs to function normally, your dog needs to maintain physiological pH. It is actually the bone in your dog’s skeletal system that works to buffer the blood (against extreme fluctuations in pH) by absorbing and releasing alkaline salts as needed.

5. The Bone and Detoxification

Your dog’s bone tissues are involved in absorbing heavy metals and toxins. These resilient tissues remove undesirable compounds from the blood by forming complexes with them, and then disposing of them via the circulatory system – thus minimizing toxic side effects.

6. The Bone and Sound Management

Sense of hearing is possible in part because of the auditory ossicles (“hearing bones”), three small bones that work collectively to transmit sound stimuli to receptor cells in the brain for interpretation. They help detect several aspects of sound such as pitch, loudness and direction.

7. The Bone Enables Movement

Your dog’s bones, tendons, ligaments, and skeletal muscles work together to facilitate movement of individual body parts, as well as the whole body, whether it is for the purpose of catching a ball, going on a walk, or running to greet you at the door when you come home from work.

8. The Bone Gives Structure

Bones provide the structural framework on which your dog’s body is built – they impart distinct shape (which we can use to identify similarities and differences between breeds) and also influence posture and gait.

Framework of Dog Bones

This content is written by our Clinical Advisory Board for informational purposes only. It should not be viewed as an endorsement for any product or as a substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

Dog Nutritional Requirements

The positive impact of proper nutrition on health and disease, including bone and joint health, is well established in all animals, including dogs. Consumers these days have daunting choices when it comes to nutritional choices for their dogs; whether it’s finding the right food, making the decision to supplement their dog’s diet, or managing their dog’s individual dietary needs. Though consumers are becoming more informed about canine health and nutrition through internet resources and online social communities, marketing and branding still plays a large role in their purchasing decisions.

Canine Nutritional Requirement

Bone health problems in dogs arise from numerous causes. If your dog is showing signs or symptoms related to their skeletal health, your veterinarian will first try to determine their origin before beginning treatment. For instance, if the cause of the bone issue is poor nutrition or a genetic predisposition to fragile bones, you might be advised to seek a high quality dog food rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. It may also be recommended to look into dog health supplements that contain vital nutrients (such as lactoferrin, ribonucleases, coenzyme Q10, etc.).

What to Feed Your Dog

In the United States, a manufacturer may label a dog food as "complete and balanced” only if its nutrient profile meets or exceeds the minimum levels set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). AAFCO is a voluntary membership association, consisting of local, state, and federal agencies, that provides a mechanism for developing model regulations for standards and enforcement policies applied to animal feed and establishes nutrient profiles for cat and dog foods. These standards are subsequently enforced at the state level.

In the case of dog foods, AAFCO provides general nutrient profiles for growth, reproduction and adult maintenance stages. These nutrient profiles list minimum (and, in the case of potential toxicity, maximum) levels for 36 nutrients that it considers “essential to a dog’s health”. These nutrients are further classified into five distinct categories: crude proteins, crude fats, minerals, vitamins, and other [nutrients].

Pet parents should not assume that simply providing their dog with a “complete and balanced” commercial food is enough. On the contrary, in 2010, the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN) released a report stating that the “[a]ssurance of proper nutritional health…entails more than meeting nutrient profiles; additional factors must be considered. The report goes on to recommend that veterinarians work alongside pet parents to take a comprehensive approach in designing a dog’s nutritional program; this approach requires consideration of animal-specific (age, physiological status, activity level), diet-specific (appropriateness and safety of diet), and environmental-specific factors (frequency, timing, and quality).

What To Feed Your Dog According to AAFCO

Diet for Senior Dogs | Senior Dog Nutrition

One area that is not covered by AAFCO Nutrient Profiles is dietary needs for senior dogs. A senior dog diet requires special nutritional needs, and some of those needs can be supplied in the form of supplements. Supplements for senior dogs containing lactoferrin, ribonucleases, coenzyme Q10, and beta-glucan can help support bones and joints. If your dog is not eating a complete balanced diet, then dog health supplements (such as a vitamin or mineral supplement for dogs) are often recommended to prevent or address any nutrient deficiencies. Most senior dogs also need extra antioxidants such as quercetin and selenium in the diet, as oxidative stress and free radicals may have caused damage to their joints over the years.

Obesity in Dogs

If you have an obese dog, weight loss can also be very difficult. Obesity is an especially common problem in the older or senior dog, and because these dogs often do not exercise as much. It is much better to not let your dog get overweight than to try to make him or her lose weight when she gets older. But if your dog is overweight, then work very hard to get the extra weight off. It is one of the single most important things you can do to increase the quality and length of life for your canine.

An obese dog can often have bone and joint issues, so it's best not to let your dog get to that point. You should practice dog weight management, by implementing strict nutritional control from early on and to take measures if your dog has gained weight that is unusual for its breed type or frame. For a large breed puppy, use a diet for large breed puppies (lower caloric content) as these dogs' bones and joints are very sensitive to weight fluctuations.

Avoid People Foods

It's important to note that dogs have sensitive stomachs and don't do well with constant table scraps or new "people" foods. The best option is always to follow your veterinarian's recommendations and provide him or her with a balanced dog-specific diet (there are non-commercial homemade dog diets as well but these should always be administered under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian).

Dog Supplements: Are They Needed?

While AAFCO nutrient profiles are a good starting point in deciding a dog food, it is important for dog owners to realize that these profiles do not address special considerations, such as medical conditions or diseases, dietary restrictions due to food allergies or gastrointestinal conditions, age (i.e. senior/geriatric dogs), level of exercise and energy levels (working or athletic dogs may have caloric requirements than dogs that are obese because of a sedentary lifestyle), or even something as simple a picky eater.

A dog supplement is just that - it is intended to SUPPLEMENT a dog's diet. Natural supplements are especially useful if you have a dog on a homemade diet, but can also be a good addition to any dog depending on what aspect of their health you want to promote. It is important to do your research and make sure that the supplement is safe, the manufacturer is reputable and knowledgable, and that your veterinarian is in the loop to ensure that there are no nutrient excesses or deficiencies (balance is very important).

This content is written by our Clinical Advisory Board for informational purposes only. It should not be viewed as an endorsement for any product or as a substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

Benefits of Lactoferrin for Dogs

Lactoferrin is a multi-functional protein that provides a variety of health benefits to both humans and dogs. Here, we'll examine what it is, where it comes from, and how it can play a role in your dog's health. In particular, we will discuss how lactoferrin benefits the canine skeletal system.

What is Lactoferrin?

What is Lactoferrin

Lactoferrin is a molecule that is naturally found in the bodies of humans and most mammals. This multi-functional protein, which can be isolated and purified from milk, is most commonly known for its important role as a transport molecule in the body. Lactoferrin has its own receptors in the digestive system; it binds to metals, such as iron, and facilitates absorption across the gastrointestinal tract. In the past 30 years, studies have shown lactoferrin’s significant impact on immunity, reproductive health, the skeletal system, and gastrointestinal health (Alderova et al., 2008).

Lactoferrin and Bone Health

Studies have shown that lactoferrin promotes healthy bone turnover in humans, dogs, and all mammals. This metal-binding protein has also been shown to promote bone growth and support bone density (Naot et al., 2005). Scientific studies now document how lactoferrin can boost the activity of the bone-building osteoblasts. Additionally, lactoferrin has been shown to reduce the number of the potentially bone-deteriorating osteoclasts. Lactoferrin is a metal-binding protein and helps with mineral absorption, so it is beneficial to the bones, which are a mineral bank.

Lactoferrin and Joint Health

Cartilage Production: Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue found in the bodies of dogs, humans and other animals. Cartilage can be found in many areas of the body, including the joints between bones, the rib cage, and the intervertebral discs. Cartilage is composed of specialized cells called chondrocytes. The defining metabolic feature of chondrocytes is their ability to produce cartilage, a two-part composite material composed of a collagen filled with a proteoglycan gel. When the cartilage deteriorates and chondrocytes are not produced fast enough to address the deterioration, this can result in joint pain and other joint-related health issues. Lactoferrin has been researched for its vital role in regulating and modulating chondrocyte metabolism (Brandl et al., 2010).

Inflammation: Lactoferrin is also a prominent component of the secondary granules of neutrophils (PMNs) and is released in infected tissues and blood during the inflammatory process (Legrand et al., 2005). Ribonuclease-enriched lactoferrin, specifically, has been demonstrated to have a significant impact on controlling inflammatory markers (Bharadwaj et al., 2009).

Other Benefits of Lactoferrin

In addition to its important role in canine skeletal health, there are many other health benefits associated with lactoferrin, such as:

  • Stimulating the immune system
  • Preventing damage related to aging
  • Promoting healthy bacteria in the intestine
  • Regulating iron metabolism
  • Use as an antioxidant

Ribonuclease Enriched Lactoferrin (R-ELF)

R-ELF is a combination of two milk derived (lactose free) proteins: angiogenin and lactoferrin. This combination is protected by two U.S patents. In 2007, in Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved placebo-controlled clinical studies in humans, R-ELF demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in bone resorption and increase in osteoblastic bone formation, to restore the balance of bone turnover within a six-month period (Bharadwaj et al., 2009). The same year, it also demonstrated a significant impact on reducing joint inflammation (Bharadwaj et al., 2010).

Since this time, the impact of R-ELF on canine bone health has also been demonstrated. In over 100 reported veterinarian-supervised clinical cases, radiograph (x-ray) were examined on dogs that were supplemented with R-ELF following orthopedic surgeries. This study indicated that R-ELF supplementation promoted an increase in bone turnover activity and helped support joint comfort.

As far as sources for R-ELF, Boneo Canine® is the only natural bone and joint supplement for dogs that helps with bone turnover by utilizing this technology. Boneo does not contain glucosamine, chondroitin or MSM, because it operates on a different mechanism. Instead of focusing on lubrication and joint comfort, this all-in-one supplement focuses strengthening the entire skeletal system by promoting bone turnover and supporting the actual structure of the joints.

Getting Lactoferrin into Your Dog's Diet

It’s never too early or too late to start giving a supplement that will benefit your dog’s bone and joint health. Supplements containing lactoferrin are especially beneficial for puppies who could use some extra support during their awkward growing phases (particularly large breeds), smaller dogs with fragile bones and joints, active and rambunctious dogs who experience aches and pains from over-exertion, and senior dogs who need extra bone and joint support for a good quality of life.

Boneo Canine® Maintenance Formula is an innovative supplement that supports strong bones and healthy joints in dogs. Traditional glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM supplements only support one aspect of your dog's skeletal health-the joints. Boneo Canine® is different...this lactoferrin-based supplement is the first to address the ENTIRE skeletal system-the joints AND the bones. Learn more about this supplement by watching the video below.

Further Reading

Want to know more about this important biologically active molecule? Check out the well-documented research available on Lactoferrin.

  1. Lactoferrin is a potent regulator of bone cell activity and increases bone formation in vivo (Cornish et al., 2009)
  2. Lactoferrin promotes bone growth (Cornish, 2004)
  3. Lactoferrin: a novel bone growth factor (Naot et al., 2005)
  4. Lactoferrin: a biologically active molecule for bone regeneration (Amini et al., 2011)
  5. Lactoferrin and bone; structure-activity relationships (Cornish et al., 2006)
  6. Lactoferrin: a modulator of immune and inflammatory responses (Legrand et al., 2005)
  7. Lactoferrin: a Review -Veterinary Research Institute (Alderova et al., 2008)

This content is written by our Clinical Advisory Board for informational purposes only. It should not be viewed as an endorsement for any product or as a substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

Vitamins for Dogs

Vitamins are organic compounds that are necessary for a myriad of different chemical reactions in the body. Some are made in your dog's body and some need to be ingested through diet. Vitamins often work in conjunction with minerals and enzymes to assure normal digestion, reproduction, muscle and bone growth and function, healthy skin and hair, clotting of blood, and the use of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates by the body. Thirteen vitamins are currently recognized.

How Do Vitamins + Nutrients Support Your Dog Health?

While vitamins are crucial and necessary for good health on their own, it is important to remember that they also work alongside other nutrients, such as minerals, to support functions. Some minerals are more easily absorbed or become bioavailable only when combined with vitamins (called co-factors). For example, calcium requires Vitamin D3 in order to be properly absorbed into the system. Similarly, lactoferrin (an important molecule that is naturally produced within the body of all mammals, including dogs), is a metal binding protein is a key transporter for many minerals, including iron and zinc.

How Do Dogs Get Their Vitamins?

Dogs synthesize (produce) some vitamins in their body and others are obtained from diet. Most commercial dog foods include the recommended daily amount of the "essential" vitamins. Nonetheless, it is important to note that commercial dog foods are not customized are specialized to the specific needs of dogs, therefore supplementation or adding homemade foods is sometimes necessary. Dogs on homemade diets also need to be carefully monitored to ensure that they are getting comprehensive nutrition from a vitamin and mineral standpoint.

Is a Dog Multivitamin Necessary?

A generalized dog multivitamin is typically not needed unless a dog has a deficiency or is on a homemade or specialized diet where they are not getting enough nutrients. The best way to determine whether additional vitamin supplementation is needed is through a blood panel test with a veterinarian. Certain supplements do include vitamins and minerals to support specific needs (such as eye health, immune support, or skeletal health). These can be beneficial additions so long as the dosages are minimal and balanced and the supplement is of high quality. Vitamins can also be provided through homemade foods, such as leafy greens or sweet potatoes.

Best Vitamins for Dogs

When it comes to the best vitamins for dogs, particularly those supporting skeletal health, there are certain key vitamins that have been well-documented to play an especially important role in this area. Certain essential vitamins for bone health can be found in canned or commercial dog food. However, for dogs and puppies that need extra bone and joint support, or have any kind of bone and joint issue, such as as broken leg or genetic predisposition to bone problems, a supplement is often recommended. When looking for a canine bone health supplement for your dog, it's important to note that even the best joint supplements for dogs do not offer important bone nutrients.

Vitamins for Dog Bones and Joints

Vitamin D for Dogs

Vitamin D, also known as 'the sunshine vitamin”, plays a major role in regulating the calcium and phosphorus levels within the bloodstream. Vitamin D stimulates the conservation of calcium in the kidney and therefore helps the body to retain it. Because of its interplay with calcium, Vitamin D is known to be extremely important in bone formation and muscle control. Low levels of Vitamin D can cause bone demineralization. Inclusion of this vitamin in a dog's diet is highly advised in both puppies and adult dogs.

Vitamin C for Dogs

Vitamin C plays many important functions in bone formation. It is involved in bone growth as well as bone mineralization. Vitamin C helps collagen biosynthesis and bone cartilage function. Vitamin C deficiency has been associated with defective connective tissue, especially during the bone and wound healing. Deficiencies of ascorbic acid result in the syndrome known as scurvy. Dogs with scurvy exhibit weak bones and swollen joints usually accompanied by severe tissue bleeding. In young dogs, scurvy is sometimes referred to as hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD). Dogs with HOD generally exhibit swollen, painful joints especially of the limbs.

Vitamin C may help alleviate the pain associated with dysplastic hips. In arthritis, ROS and other free radicals are associated with the inflammation process via numerous pathways. Some studies have shown that Vitamin C could alleviate symptoms of arthritis. Vitamin C also helps reduce pain during fracture healing. Vitamin C is a widely used supplement in growing, pregnant, lactating, stressed, and working dogs.

Vitamin E for Dogs

Vitamin E is involved in a variety of physiological and biochemical functions. The molecular mechanisms of these functions are mediated by either antioxidant mechanism or by its role as a membrane stabilizer. It protects cell membranes from oxidative damage by removing free radicals and preventing the progression of oxidative reactions. Several studies have elucidated a positive role for vitamin E in expediting the fracture healing process with influence on bone remodeling. In the skeletal system, several studies demonstrated effects of vitamin E on bone and cartilage tissues. Vitamin E supplementation, especially with the gamma isomer, improves bone structure, which contributed to stronger bone.

Vitamin K for Dogs

Vitamin K is involved in the synthesis of proteins that regulate bone metabolism. It is an essential co-factor for several bone proteins involved in calcium uptake and bone mineralization. Vitamin K has positive influence on bone mineral density (BMD) and helps reduce bone loss. Vitamin K2 exerts a powerful influence on bone building. It has a stimulatory effect on bone formation in the femoral tissues. K2 may have a preventive role for bone deterioration with aging. Vitamin K play a synergistic role with vitamin D, Ca(II) and Zn(II) in reducing bone loss.

This content is written by our Clinical Advisory Board for informational purposes only. It should not be viewed as an endorsement for any product or as a substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

Minerals for Dogs

A mineral is an inorganic (non-living) chemical substance that occurs naturally in the earth. There are many different types of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and boron. All mammals, including dogs, require minerals in order for their bodies to function properly.

How Do Minerals Support Your Dog's Health?

Most people associate minerals with strong bones and teeth. It is absolutely true that the canine skeletal system is able to offer structure, movement and protection in large part due to minerals. In fact, the average dog has over 300 bones in his or her body (from the auditory ossicles in the ear - which allow the dog to hear - to the elbows and knees - which allow the dog to bend their limbs). Every single one of these bones contains minerals.

But it’s important to understand that minerals are actually multi-functional in nature and do much more than just maintain and support healthy bones and joints in dogs. For example, calcium plays an important role in bone density, but also supports healthy heart function and proper muscle contraction. Similarly, zinc is an important co-factor in stimulating bone formation activity, but also has important applications in promoting healthy immune responses. Boron plays a major role in calcium metabolism and integration, but also has very important implications for joint health.

How Do Dogs Get Their Minerals?

Minerals are not produced inside your dog’s body; rather, they are obtained through diet and/or supplementation. While not getting enough of certain minerals (mineral deficiencies) can cause negative effects and disorders in dogs, excessive levels of minerals have also been shown to result in host of health problems. Therefore, it’s important to strike a balance, where your dog is getting adequate amounts of the right minerals but not being overloaded with unnecessary nutrients.

Mineral Requirements in Dogs

There is not universally right amount or quantity of minerals that your dog should be receiving, which is why a commercial dog food may be only part of the equation in ensuring that your dog has proper mineral balance. The amounts and ratios of nutrients that your dog needs can vary depending on several factors:

  • Diet – Since nutrients and minerals are obtained through diet, this can also be the most important factor in determining whether your dog has the right balance. Finding a breed appropriate and high quality food regimen (whether it is commercial, homemade, or augmented via supplementation) can be the key to ensuring proper mineral balance.
  • Size – Larger dogs require more minerals than smaller dogs, which is why dosing is so important when it comes to food and supplementation.
  • Age - Puppies need more minerals to support their growing development while senior dogs usually need more minerals to support the needs of their aging body.
  • Breed- Certain breeds are genetically predisposed to absorption problems. For example, northern breeds, such as Siberian huskies, have trouble absorbing zinc.
  • Activity Level- The bone is a dynamic structure that is constantly remodeling, the more it is used, the faster the rate of turnover. Active dogs usually need more minerals than sedentary dogs.
  • Trauma or External Stresses – After an orthopedic procedure or fracture, the nutrient demand is usually localized to the site of the injury. The dog’s immune system is usually affected by antibiotics and open wounds, as well. Therefore, increasing mineral intake during this time is especially helpful.
Important Factors for Minerals and Nutrients for Dogs

How Minerals, Vitamins, and Nutrients Function with Each Other

While minerals are crucial and necessary for good health, it is important to remember that they are still inorganic substances that need to be through the intestinal tract and integrated into the body. Some minerals are more easily absorbed, while others only become bio-available when combined with other nutrients (called co-factors). For example, calcium requires Vitamin D3 in order to be properly absorbed into the system. Similarly, lactoferrin (an important molecule that is naturally produced within the body of all mammals, including dogs), is a metal binding protein is a key transporter for many minerals, including iron and zinc.

The Role of Bone in Supporting Mineral Balance

The bone provides for the storage and release of minerals in the body. The best analogy is to think as a bank, where minerals are the official currency. If the bone is functioning properly, it will release minerals as needed to support various functions in the body (from nerve impulses to digestion to even regulating sleep patterns). If, for any reason (including aging), the bone “bank” becomes deficient in minerals, the demand or “cost” to support the body’s functions remains the same. In some instances, the demands even increase. As a result, the bank may not be able to meet the demand and, as a result, the body can go into mineral “bankruptcy” and the bones can become structurally weak.

How to Ensure Proper Mineral Balance in Your Dog

Ensuring that your dog has a proper balance is an important preventative step to help avoid negative scenarios caused by deficiencies or excessive levels of minerals. The best and most ideal way to achieve this balance is by keeping your dog active and healthy, with a well-rounded diet that is breed and age appropriate. This balance can be achieved through a high quality food, exercise and supplementation regimen based on your veterinarian’s recommendations.  

Chelated Minerals in Dog Food

When reading the ingredient listing on various dog foods, you may see that some minerals are "chelated." It refers to the process of stabilizing a metal ion by binding it to certain other chemical substances, usually amino acids or organic compounds. The chelated minerals are more readily absorbed than a non-chelated form.

Minerals for Dog Bones and Joints

Calcium for Dogs (Ca2+)

Calcium is essential in the body for many functions including bone formation, blood coagulation, muscle contraction, and nerve impulse transmission. Dogs with inadequate supplementation with calcium may develop skeletal abnormalities often referred to as rickets; a condition where bone becomes soft or very thin and brittle. Feeding adequate calcium without the correct amount of vitamin D and magnesium could compromise the uptake and utilization of the calcium, thus the calcium:magnesium ratio is very important.

Magnesium for Dogs (Mg2+)

Magnesium has a number of vital functions in canine (dog) physiology. It is necessary for the absorption and proper use of certain vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium. Virtually every biological process requires magnesium, as it is an essential cofactor for about 300 enzymes. Magnesium is critical for energy metabolism/production, synthesis of nucleic acids/proteins, cyto-skeletal function in dogs. Magnesium has a possible role in chondrocyte-mediated cartilage biosynthesis. Cartilage is a highly specialized avascular connective tissue in the bone joints. Magnesium depletion adversely affects all phases of skeletal metabolism, which leads to impaired bone growth, osteopenia and skeletal fragility due to uncoupling of bone formation and bone resorption.

Zinc for Dogs (Zn2+)

Zinc is one of the essential minerals supplemented in recent commercial diets for dogs. There are several factors, including genetics, that influence the absorption of zinc. Several of the northern breeds, including Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes, may have a genetic inability to adequately absorb zinc. Many dogs of these breeds must be fed a diet that is higher in zinc to prevent zinc deficiency associated skin problems. If your dog suffers from a skin disorder such as hair loss and excessive shedding, particularly if it is a northern breed, a puppy, or under a lot of stress, a supplement containing extra zinc may be very beneficial, especially if combined with lactoferrin, a zinc-transporting supplement.

Manganese for Dogs (Mn2+)

Manganese occurs in the body principally in the liver, but it is also present in appreciable amounts in the bone. Manganese is essential for protein and carbohydrate metabolism, reproduction, and the action of many enzymes in the body responsible for the production of energy, especially in combination with coenzyme Q10. Manganese is a precursor for chondroitin biosynthesis, an essential component of articular cartilage. Manganese deficiency leads to cartilage metabolic disorder. Manganese supplementation could be a promising approach to improve in-growth and integration of bone implants in dogs.

Selenium for Dogs (Se2+)

Selenium is an essential trace mineral for canine bone health. Free radicals generated during metabolism cause cumulative cell damage, senescence, and development of arthritis. Selenium, as an antioxidant, may help in relieving symptoms of arthritis by controlling the levels of free radicals. Selenium acts as a synergist with vitamins E and C, with more efficacy than combinations of single vitamins to prevent bone damage.

This content is written by our Clinical Advisory Board for informational purposes only. It should not be viewed as an endorsement for any product or as a substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.