Calcium. It Does A Body Good.

As people educate themselves about the best way to care for their pets, many have made the move to feeding a natural raw diet or, in some cases, a home cooked diet.  While real food is always better for your pet than commercial kibble pet food, it is important that all of your pet’s nutritional needs are taken care of as you are the one in control of formulating a healthy balanced diet.  Feeding variety and the right supplements is important, but perhaps even more so is remembering that a home diet, whether raw or cooked, must include calcium.

calcium

 

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in a mammal’s body.  99% of calcium resides in the bones and teeth while the rest is contained in the blood and soft tissue.  Calcium is significantly important to many bodily functions, not the least of which is the skeletal system.  It is so important that if calcium intake it too low, the body will take calcium from the bones in order to achieve balance.  You can imagine that this isn’t ideal for the bones. 

When we feed our dogs a raw or home cooked diet, we feed primarily meat.  If we feed raw, ideally we also feed either raw meaty bones or ground mixes that contain bone.  Raw feeding roughly requires a mixture of 80% meat, 10% organs and 10% bone (though this may fluctuate slightly depending on the individual animal and if you add raw pulped veggies to the diet).  Cooked foods require approximately the same BUT since you cannot feed cooked bone, an alternative calcium source is necessary.

Meat contains high amounts of phosphorus.  Calcium and phosphorus enjoy a symbiotic type relationship in the body of your dog.  They essentially work together which means that a balance of both is for the best.  Do you have to be spot on every single time?  No – but understand that while balance over time works with most nutrients and minerals, the same cannot be said for calcium.

If you feed a high number of meat only meals to your dog, you run the risk of causing issues over time.  If you are doing the same with a growing puppy, you run the risk of seeing issues in a relatively short time. Though a simplification of the process, if you feed too many meaty meals without supplying calcium, the elevated phosphorus in your pet’s system will find calcium somewhere and that particular somewhere is from their bones.  When this happens occasionally it can be harmless – especially for a fully grown animal – but when done repeatedly, this can cause any number of skeletal and bone issues especially in a growing pup.

Occasionally, even raw feeders aren’t comfortable with feeding whole bones.  In that case, you can feed a ground mixture with the bones ground in or add a calcium supplement such as Eggshellent Calcium (or even grind your own eggshells).  Ground eggshells are the next best thing to bone as they are from a whole food source and thereby far superior to synthetic supplements.  For those who cook, eggshells can be a godsend since under no circumstances should you ever feed cooked bones.

Generally speaking, we balance our pets’ meals over time.  They receive different nutrients from different animal sources and when fed a variety of foods, they are certain to get all that they need.  This isn’t true of calcium and phosphorus and may be the one thing that you want to balance in each or most of your dog’s meals.  Avoid the possibility of problems by giving calcium its due.

How do you balance the calcium in your dog’s raw diet?