Besides our shared love for the outdoors, playing, and walking, dogs and humans have a lot in common. We may not always look alike or share the same emotions, but we certainly both love food!
Dogs share our love of food and they can gain many health benefits from certain minerals found in fruits and vegetables — something we have in common! It is important to make sure your dog’s diet contains the right amount and proper mix of minerals.
Too much or too little of certain minerals can cause health problems in dogs, just as it does in humans. For example, an overabundance of calcium can lead to kidney stones and bladder stones in dogs.
On the other hand, a deficiency in potassium can lead to muscle weakness and an imbalance in sodium and potassium levels can also affect heart function.
Calcium is an important mineral for building strong bones and keeping them strong throughout your dog’s life. It also helps regulate the heart, muscles, and nerves. Calcium exists in several forms, but sources with highly absorbable forms of calcium include dog-safe human foods like cheese, canned salmon or sardines with bones (yum), yogurt, cottage cheese, and certain vegetables like broccoli.
Milk products contain lactose, which may be problematic to dogs that are lactose intolerant. This condition isn’t very common in dogs; however, if your dog does have trouble digesting milk then you should switch to a milk-free diet or use milk alternatives such as soy milk or rice milk. If switching foods works for your pet then stick with it.
If lactose intolerance continues to be a problem, try calcium carbonate supplements or lactose-free milk.
Dogs that get too much calcium may suffer from diarrhea and other digestive problems, along with fatigue and muscle weakness. Dog foods that have been specially formulated for senior dogs or puppies sometimes contain lower amounts of calcium because they are less active than adult dogs.
Just make sure the food you choose has enough of this mineral for your pet’s level of activity.
Like many minerals, iron is an important part of a dog’s diet because it plays a role in keeping cells healthy throughout your dog’s body. Iron also helps red blood cells carry oxygen – an essential function for all living beings!
Iron deficiency is common in both puppies and adult dogs, so it is important to make sure your dog’s food contains enough of this mineral.
Too much iron can cause digestive problems and toxic levels of iron may be fatal in some cases. Older dogs and dogs that have trouble maintaining healthy blood sugar levels may need a diet with less iron than other dogs.
Consult your veterinarian regarding the right amount and type of iron for your pet and whether supplementation is required.
Zinc plays an important role in maintaining strong bones, healing wounds, fighting infections, and forming red blood cells.
However, too much zinc can interfere with copper absorption which can lead to serious health problems such as liver damage so be careful about giving your pooch supplements containing zinc unless you’ve cleared it with your vet first.
Oral supplements containing magnesium are often recommended for dogs with stiff joints or arthritis. Epsom salts, which are another source of magnesium, can also be used to soothe your pet’s aches and pains by giving them a nice warm bath.
Magnesium helps form important enzymes in your pet’s body that are involved in digestion, bone formation, reproduction, neurological function, blood sugar control, and other activities. Magnesium supplements may help to lower high blood pressure that is caused by manganese toxicity.
You should only give your dog magnesium-rich food if you’ve cleared it with your vet first though because too much magnesium can lead to serious health problems such as liver damage.
Potassium is an essential mineral that helps your dog maintain normal fluid and electrolyte balance. This means it keeps her heart pumping, kidneys functioning properly, and nerves transmitting messages to the brain.
Potassium also helps regulate blood pressure which can be especially important if your pooch suffers from kidney disease or Cushing’s Syndrome. Like other minerals, too much potassium may cause digestive problems so use caution when giving supplements containing this mineral to dogs with health issues.
Dogs come from a long line of carnivores which means their bodies are not always equipped to get nutrients from plant-based sources. They often lack the enzymes needed to break down fiber, cellulose, and other components in plants so it is common for dogs to experience digestive problems when eating foods that contain high quantities of these materials.
Adding supplements containing prebiotics and probiotics can help your dog digest her food more efficiently and in some cases, improve or reverse existing digestive issues such as chronic diarrhea and weight loss caused by malabsorption.
It is important to note that too much of certain nutrients can cause significant health problems in dogs so always consult your vet before switching foods or adding supplements. For example, canned food has more calcium than dry food because it contains more moisture.
Some vets might recommend canned food for senior dogs with dental issues that make chewing difficult but others may not think this type of wet/raw diet is appropriate for all pets in terms of nutritional balance.
For healthy adult dogs, you should look for a dog food formula designed for maintenance (sometimes listed as adult maintenance). Dog foods with these labels meet the nutrient requirements established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) which means they are complete and balanced diets suitable for long-term feeding.
Feeding a homemade diet rather than commercialized pet food requires extensive research and careful planning to ensure it provides all of your dog’s nutritional needs.
The major difference between feeding a home-cooked diet or a commercial brand food is that you can include specific ingredients in addition to meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, vegetables (optional), fruit (optional), etc. Some examples of supplements that might be included when making your own dog food are bonemeal (calcium supplement), cod liver oil (omega-3 fatty acids), kelp powder, nutritional yeast/brewer’s yeast, vegetables, or vegetable oil (fiber), etc.
While it is possible to cook for your dog at home, the task can be time-consuming without a high-end pressure cooker which can cut cooking times in half. It is important to note that most commercial pet food companies must adhere to strict regulations when preparing their products so they are less likely to include ingredients that could be harmful to your pet even if they do not taste particularly good.
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