Many people take calcium supplements every day to help them maintain their health—but does your dog need to take them as well? The short answer: not usually. Here, our Waxhaw vets explain more about calcium supplements for dogs.
What is calcium and why do dogs need it?
Calcium is a mineral that all animals (including humans) need in order to function. Calcium contributes to healthy bones and teeth, muscle building and function, a strong heart, and a healthy nervous system.
Dogs, like other animals and people, do not produce vitamins and minerals naturally. This means that they have to get calcium through their diets.
If your dog doesn’t get enough calcium through their diet they could develop a calcium deficiency. Over time, this deficiency could cause the body to begin leaching calcium from the bones to make up for the deficit, leading to bone pain and weakened muscles.
Thankfully, most commercial dog foods have all the calcium a dog needs to stay healthy.
Does my dog need to take a calcium supplement?
In most cases, no, your dog does not need to take a calcium supplement unless they have been diagnosed as having a calcium deficiency. Commercial dog foods are specially formulated to include all the vitamins and minerals your dog needs to thrive.
If you take a look at the ingredients in your pup's food you are bound to see items such as bone meal, whey protein, egg, fish, chicken, legumes, or veggies on the list. All of these things provide your pup with a source of calcium. Many commercial dog foods also add supplements, such as calcium carbonate, right into the food to ensure your dog is getting everything they need.
If your dog is on a raw diet or homemade diet, this balance can be a little more tricky. If this is the case, make sure you are consulting with your veterinarian to be sure your dog is getting an adequate supply of calcium and other nutrients through their diet.
There are some situations in which your veterinarian may recommend a calcium supplement. Certain conditions in dogs can cause a calcium deficiency, such as inflammation of the pancreas and kidney failure. In these situations, other medical treatments will likely be recommended along with a supplement.
If you notice your dog has any of the following signs of a calcium deficiency, you should bring them to the vet for a professional diagnosis and treatment plan:
- Muscle twitching or spasms
- Loss of control of bodily movements
- Loss of appetite
- Seizures (in severe cases)
Nursing dogs are also at risk for a condition called eclampsia, which is a drastic drop in calcium due to nursing. If you have a nursing dog and are concerned, please speak with your vet. Supplements for dogs that are new moms depend on several factors.
Treating a Calcium Deficiency
If your veterinarian diagnoses your pup as having low calcium, their treatment will involve correcting the underlying cause as well as supplementing calcium. Most dogs will be given the supplement in the form of a tablet. These tablets are often taken with vitamin D3 to help your pup absorb the calcium into their system.
Your vet will likely recommend regular checkups and monitoring of their calcium levels to ensure your dog is receding the correct amount.
In severe cases, your dog may need to be hospitalized to receive a calcium supplement and fluids intravenously.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.