As we age, we learn about a number of medical conditions that occur because of the aging process. Perhaps the one that receives the most publicity is osteoporosis, the chronic and painful disease that afflicts our bones and joints. The same degeneration of bones and joints occurs during the canine aging process and, as with humans, dogs can slow or eliminate the degeneration by supplementing their diets with healthy amounts of calcium.
Why Dogs Need Calcium When Making Homemade Dog Food
Homemade meals for dogs began as a fad, but it now has turned into a practical way to ensure your dog receives the requisite daily amount of vitamins and minerals. However, a staggering number of canine owners do not provide enough calcium in their homemade dog food to thwart the development of arthritis and osteoporosis. Calcium replenishes the depleted bone mass that leads to osteoporosis and it enhances the tissue areas that allow bones and joints to fluidly move. A homemade meal ensures your dog receives enough calcium to strengthen his joints and bones.
Even mild calcium deficiencies can lead to poor canine oral health. The calcium deficiencies also cause chronic degenerative disorders in vital organs, such as a dog’s heart and urinary tract. Recent studies have linked calcium deficiencies to the development of kidney stones. For years, researchers believed calcium excesses caused the acutely painful urinary tract affliction.
Now that we know why calcium is so important to dogs, how do we incorporate calcium into our dog’s homemade dog food?
Calcium Sources for Dogs
Most processed dog food products claim there is enough calcium in one serving to satisfy a canine’s calcium requirements. Independent lab tests say otherwise. Therefore, you can either add calcium supplements to your dog’s processed food or take the time to prepare your best friend with a nutritious home-cooked meal that contains the calcium he needs to maintain a healthy skeletal system. Remember that not only must the home-cooked meals deliver ample calcium, they should also not contain foods that are toxic to dogs.
Yogurt is a great source of calcium for your dog, either straight out of the container or mixed into her dry food. Some dog lovers use yogurt in sauces to bolster calcium levels. Cheese is another great calcium source, but you need to be careful of the types of cheese you choose. Dogs seem to like cottage cheese and it is easier to digest than other cheeses. A simply prepared pan-fried fish provides an abundance of calcium, especially if the fish is salmon, tuna, or trout. Never feed your dog raw fish, which can leave digestive system damaging bacteria behind. Cooked fresh vegetables, such as spinach, beans, and sweet potatoes not only deliver multiple vitamins and minerals, they also contain calcium.
Some Calcium Caveats
While bones left on a serving dish may seem appropriate to give your dog to bolster calcium levels, the fact remains that bones can splinter and puncture internal organs. You can find ground or dried bone meal to add to your dog’s homemade meal. Also, some dogs just do not benefit from home-cooked, calcium-laden meals. If your dog exhibits lethargy or displays signs of bone or joint pain, you should consider calcium supplements recommended by your veterinarian. While a last resort, calcium supplements are much better than watching your dog suffer, as he tries to climb onto the couch.
Who is Holly Lewitas?
Holly Lewitas is the author of the Spunky Murder Mystery Series — cozy mysteries for dog and cat lovers. Books include: The Nose Knows, The Nose Sees All and An Army of Noses. You are invited to connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.
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