Dogs need vitamins and minerals as much as humans do, however, many dog owners are unaware of just how important minerals are in regulating the metabolism and normal functioning of a dog’s body.
This article covers the various functions of minerals in a dog's biological system, to give you a guide to what supplementation your dog may need.
How Important Are Minerals to Dogs?
Quite simply, very important! If you want your dog to live a long and healthy life, then it should receive adequate amounts of fat soluble vitamins, water soluble vitamins, and minerals like iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, and phosphorous. A dog's need for these will change through their lives because puppies need very different nutrients compared to older dogs.
How much supplementation should I give my dog?
Ideally, it is necessary to supply these nutrients in a dog’s daily diet as part of a balanced diet. If you are unsure about the vitamin and mineral content of the food that you are giving your dog, ask your veterinarian the type of food and supplementation that would be best for your dog’s age, weight, and breed. They will be able to advise on any dietary changes and supplementation your dog may need.
What are the main nutrients and minerals that may need supplementation?
The following is an overview of the nutrients which your dog may need.
Calcium & phosphorus
The dog’s body uses an essential mineral, Calcium, for bone growth and the healing of injured bones.
These should be given in proper amounts. Too much or too little calcium and phosphorus can cause havoc in a dog’s system. Too much phosphorus can negatively affect calcium absorption and vice versa.
Give young pups and senior dogs an abundant source of calcium if you want to prevent fractures and heal their injuries more quickly. Active domestic pets, trained dogs, and performance dogs all need constant calcium replenishment.
Although dogs are able to synthesize ascorbic acid on their own, many breeders in the United States consider vitamin C supplementation a good practice when a dog is pregnant. There is no harm in adding a little vitamin C to the supplementation regimen. (Although too much vitamin C would probably be non-helpful because the dog’s system would simply excrete excess vitamin C.)
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient that is essential for a dog’s muscles, circulatory system, and injury healing. It is also an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
There is a link between deficiency of Vitamin E to cell damage in skeletal muscle, the heart, liver, and nerves.
Dogs that have coat problems should be given vitamin E. It is often common in dog shampoos because it can help reduce flakiness and promote a healthy, glossy coat.
You can find out more in our complete guide to vitamin E here
Vitamin B complex
Vitamin B complex is essential in a dog's diet for the assimilation of fat. It acts as a co-enzyme promoting biochemical reactions to change carbohydrates into glucose providing energy to the body.
B complex vitamins are water soluble; this set of vitamins flushes through the body in four to eight hours so need to be replenished. The B-complex vitamins also work more efficiently if there is sufficient Vitamin C in the diet and both are critical to protein and fat absorption.
Dogs also need B-Complex vitamins any time antibiotics are used. Most antibiotics destroy both the good and bad bacteria in the intestinal tract, often resulting in diarrhoea.
Dogs that are suffering from flea infestations should be given vitamin B complex as they will help your dog combat the effects of flea and tick bites.
Potassium is needed by dogs for normal cardiac activity and optimum kidney function. Cells also need potassium to regulate chemical processes. The mineral potassium is also vital for the dog’s muscle growth and maintenance.
A little salt goes a long way! A little sodium chloride (salt) in a dog’s daily diet can help prevent dehydration.
For normal production and function of red blood cells, there is the need for mineral Iron. Red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen to the dog’s tissues and transporting carbon dioxide away from cells, tissues, and organs.
Although more research is underway for this particular trace nutrient, it is widely accepted that zinc helps promote a healthy coat in dogs. Giving your dog too many raw egg whites can prevent your dog from absorbing and utilizing zinc in its diet.
Getting a dog's diet right is tricky and changes over time. Generally, a dog will be more likely to require supplementation at the beginning and end of their lives, but it is also worth noting that some may require this throughout their life.
This guide gives an overview of what the most common vitamins and minerals do, which will give you a good jumping off point to address any issues your pup may be having. Naturally, this is not a substitute for veterinary advice, so do ask your vet as they have the expertise and knowledge of your dog to make explicit recommendations.