When discussing dog nutrition and whether a diet is considered balanced, two words come up: essential vitamins and minerals. One of the main issues behind the homemade diet for dogs is that it may lack the necessary nutrients that dogs need.
Essential minerals allow your dog to fight various diseases, maintain your dog's health, and increase the body's energy level. Vitamins and minerals are both necessary, but we will focus this article on minerals precisely and in which foods they can be found.
Commercial dog food is always formulated to account for dogs' vitamin and mineral needs. These kibbles will display the vitamins and minerals included on the back of the package. However, some foods may be more complete than others, especially when it comes to trace minerals.
Minerals help bone development and cartilage, support nerve and muscle function, fluid balance regulation, the transportation of oxygen in the bloodstream, and hormone production. Pet nutrition can seem daunting sometimes, as getting too little of certain minerals can be a reason for concern, but so can getting too much.
Are multivitamins and mineral supplements necessary?
A recurring pet parents' question is whether they need to supplement their dog's diet with essential vitamins and minerals. It's critical to look at your dog's food and assess whether your dog's vitamin and mineral needs are fulfilled.
You should also consult a veterinary nutritionist.
Since your dog's commercial food already has a balanced diet, there is no need to supplement. However, some minerals or trace minerals are sometimes absent, and it could be a good idea to add them to your dog's food.
You might notice that some minerals or trace minerals are not available in supplements. Some trace minerals like fluorine are naturally occurring and supplementing more than your dog needs can be toxic or fatal.
Essential nutrients for growth and reproduction
It's important to note that according to the AAFCO (American Association of Food Control Officials), lactating dogs, pregnant females, and puppies have higher nutritional needs. Other adult dogs of one year of age or older have maintenance needs.
The 15 minerals and trace minerals all dogs need
There are two subcategories among minerals: macrominerals and microminerals. Macrominerals are required in large quantities, while the others are only needed in trace quantities.
Macrominerals include phosphorus, calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur.
Trace minerals, or microminerals, include copper, zinc, iodine, chromium, manganese, selenium, fluorine, and iron.
Calcium and phosphorus
Calcium and phosphorus go hand in hand in a dog's daily diet. They help bone growth and teeth. Calcium also supports:
- Nerve impulse transmission
- Muscle growth and muscle contractions
- Constriction and dilation of blood vessels
- Blood coagulation
- Secretion of hormones
- A cofactor for enzymes
- For growth and reproduction: 1.2% calcium, 1% phosphorus (of dry matter basis)
- For adult maintenance: 0.5% calcium, 0.4% phosphorus (of dry matter basis)
- Dry matter basis: Dry matter basis is the percentage of nutrients in a pet food when its moisture content is 0%. In other words, we get the dry matter basis when we dry out a pet food until there is no water left in it.
Where to find calcium and phosphorus:
- Calcium: Tofu, green beans, broccoli, and cauliflower.
- Phosphorus: meats, eggs, fish.
Sodium, potassium, and chloride
Sodium, potassium, and chloride are the three main electrolytes in your dog's body. Electrolytes are minerals and are electrically charged ions and particles. They support:
- Transmitting nerve impulses
- Maintaining osmotic balance
- Transmitting muscle contractions
- Maintaining acid-base balance
- For growth and reproduction: 300 mg sodium, 1.5 g potassium, 1.10 g chloride per 1000 kcal ME
- For adult maintenance: 80 mg sodium, 1.5 g potassium, 300 mg chloride per 1000 kcal ME
Where to find electrolytes:
- Fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Imbalances in electrolytes can lead to weakness, hair loss, and dehydration.
Magnesium is the main component of enzymes, bones, and intracellular fluids. It also supports neuromuscular transmission.
- For growth, reproduction, and maintenance: 0.06% (of dry matter basis)
Where to find magnesium:
- Nuts, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables.
Sulfur helps maintain dogs' hair, skin, and nails. It supports wound healing and detoxifies the body. Dogs with sulfur deficiencies may develop skin conditions.
- There is no official AAFCO recommended amount for sulfur.
Where to find sulfur:
- Eggs, fish, meat, and molasses.
Iron is another essential mineral and helps transport oxygen throughout dogs' bodies. Oxygen transport is mainly carried out by myoglobin and hemoglobin, and iron is part of these pigments.
Iron also brings other health benefits and supports the immune system.
- For growth and reproduction: 88 mg per kg of dry matter basis
- For adult maintenance: 40 mg per kg of dry weight basis
Where to find iron:
- Fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Zinc supports protein digestion and helps activate hormones and enzymes: more than 200 enzymes require zinc for activation and production.
Zinc also boosts the immune system and supports thyroid function regulation and your dog's skin.
- For growth and reproduction: 25 mg per 1000 kcal ME
- For adult maintenance: 20 mg per 1000 kcal ME
Where to find zinc:
- Eggs, pork, liver, brewer's yeast, and lamb meat.
Copper helps absorb iron. It supports the pigmentation of the skin and hair with the synthesis of melanin, and it helps to stop anemia with the development of red blood cells.
- For growth and reproduction: 12.4 mg per kg of dry matter basis
- For adult maintenance: 7.3 mg per kg of dry matter basis
Where to find copper:
- Seafood, whole grains, seeds, and legumes.
Chromium, Iodine, Fluorine, Selenium, and Manganese
- Chromium: chromium may help lower blood lipids, making it beneficial in dogs with elevated blood cholesterol levels. Chromium's most crucial function is to help regulate the amount of glucose in the blood and, therefore, may be beneficial for dogs with diabetes.
- Iodine: iodine helps support your dog's metabolism and thyroid hormones. When these hormones are off-balance, it can lead to drastic fluctuations in weight, energy, and mood levels.
- Fluorine: fluorine may help slow down or reverse tooth decay and helps stimulate new bone formation.
- Selenium: selenium mainly benefits dogs' immune systems.
- Manganese: manganese is essential to produce energy, metabolize protein and carbohydrates, and make fatty acids.
- Chromium: there is no official AAFCO recommended amount for chromium.
- Iodine: 1 mg per kg of dry matter basis.
- Fluorine: there is no official AAFCO recommended amount for fluorine.
- Selenium: 0.35 mg per kg of dry matter basis.
- Manganese: 1.8 mg for growth and reproduction, 1.25 mg for adult dogs per kg of dry matter basis.
Where to find:
- Chromium: broccoli, barley, oats, green beans, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and brewer's yeast.
- Iodine: fish, dairy, eggs, beef liver, chicken.
- Fluorine: seafood, fruit, potatoes.
- Selenium: whole grains, fish, and eggs.
- Manganese: nuts, legumes, oatmeal, brown rice, leafy green vegetables, and fruits.