Calcium is one of the most essential dietary minerals that is required by the body in large amount and dogs too require daily calcium. It is an essential structural component of skeleton and teeth. Calcium cannot be made by the body itself, therefore, its provision must be ensured through a dog’s diet.
The level of calcium in blood of mammals is ~10mg/dL, with some variation due to species.
Since calcium is stored in the body (in bones and teeth) so calcium level in the body can remain stable. If diet is low in calcium the body will utilize stored calcium to smoothly regulate the body functions. But if it leads to calcium deficiency it will adversely affect the bone and teeth health, also it will affect other body functions.
Breed, age, genetics and health condition, etc. are various factors on which body’s calcium requirements depend.
Why your dog needs Calcium?
There are certain important functions that are being performed by calcium in human body and similarly in animal’s body.
Calcium for Stronger Bones in Dog:
Major role of calcium is that it is the basic structural component of bones. Almost 99 percent of the body’s calcium reserves are stored in bones and teeth. So calcium is necessary to makeup the bones and keep them strong. Dietary requirements for Calcium are determined by the needs of bone development and maintenance, which vary throughout the life stage, with greater needs during the period of rapid growth (puppy), during pregnancy and lactation and in later life (older age) when bones become weak. However, calcium needs phosphorus to maximize its bone strengthening benefits.
Calcium for Stronger Teeth:
Calcium plays a role in making the jaw bones strong to hold the teeth in place. Teeth, like bones are calcified structures. Your dog’s teeth need an adequate Calcium along with phosphorus to form a hard structure during growth. Since, most of the calcium is stored in bones and teeth so when the dog’s body is low in calcium it starts using calcium from these reserves which increases the risk of periodontal diseases, tooth decay and cavities.
Calcium plays a vital role in muscle contraction. The dog’s body contain certain calcium channels that regulate the release and blockage of calcium ion in and out of the cells. The release of calcium helps propagate the muscle contraction and relaxation stages. When muscle needs to contract the calcium channels open to release the calcium ions in cytoplasm of muscle cells where it binds with certain proteins and causes contraction of the muscles.
Similarly, it is required for the contraction of the heart muscles, which is the most vital function.
Above discussed are some of the roles played by calcium in animal’s body, other functions include Nerve impulse transmission, Blood coagulation and Hormone secretion.
Calcium Requirements of Dogs:
According to National Research Council (NRC), daily calcium requirement of a healthy adult dog is 50mg per kilogram of body weight. Generally, the recommended daily allowance is 1 gram.
Does your Dog Requires Calcium Supplementation?
It is not necessary that your dog needs to be supplemented with calcium in its diet. It depends on certain health conditions of your dog and the nutritional value of the feed you are providing to your dog that whether your dog’s diet is calcium deficient or it is providing him with adequate calcium according to his body needs. For the reason you should consult your veterinarian.
Calcium deficiencies may arise in dogs.
- If you are providing your dog with a homemade raw diet it is possible that your dog is not receiving adequate calcium as raw meat is deficient in calcium however it is rich in phosphorus.
- Your dog (bitch) can be calcium deficient in case of pregnancy because the fetus is obtaining its energy requirements from the dam (mother) and if mother is not being provided with required amount of calcium, subsequently it will become calcium deficient.
- It can become calcium deficient in case it is in a stage of lactation. Feeding milk to the young ones and not getting adequate daily calcium will result in calcium deficiency because milk contains calcium which is being lost daily in milk feeding the pups.
Consequences of Calcium Deficiency – Hypo-calacemia:
Calcium deficiency can result in a number of health problems.
Poor or Week Bones:
Calcium deficiency can result in an increased risk of developing poor bone conditions with poor bone density. Bones become weak and fragile and this can be quite serious condition in young ones resulting in easy fractures, muscular aches and spasms and in extreme cases Rickets (bowed legs). Other conditions may include Osteoporosis (porous bone) and Osteomalacia (soft bones).
As calcium is an important constituent of teeth, calcium deficiency results in dental problems like tooth decay, cavities and other periodontal issues. Due to calcium deficiency in early age, there will be a delay in initial process of tooth formation.
Other signs may include muscular cramps and spasms, seizures, fainting, numbness or tingling sensations around the mouth or in paws, coarse and dry skin and hair coat, brittle and weak nails, chronic itching and heart failures.
If you observe your dog is suffering from these signs consult your veterinarian and checkout for calcium deficiency. Then you can start calcium supplementation in your dog’s diet for his better health condition.