The first, and most common
form of supplementation, is that of overfeeding. That is, the optimum diet is
supplemented with more of the same, resulting in obese dogs. Obesity in dogs is
the number one health problem seen in canine veterinary practice. Many natural
dietary phytochemical compounds found in fruits, vegetables, spices and tea have
been shown in recent years to be protective against cancer in various animal models.
With the exception of supplements and nutraceuticals that have antioxidant
(anti-aging), anti-cancer, or immunostimulating properties, supplements are
not generally useful for normal healthy dogs. In fact, many supplements on top
of a quality commercial diet can be downright dangerous. We will start with
some of those.
We will take a quick look at the commonly supplemented minerals. Be aware, before
you read any further, that mineral supplementation of commercial dog foods is
generally ill advised, unless there is some underlying medical condition.
Unfortunately, many dog fanciers supplement with calcium. We hear, almost
daily, that calcium supplementation in humans is necessary as they age to
prevent osteoporosis, especially in women. We won't even go there--we are
talking dogs. Every dog food made has adequate calcium content. There is no
shortage of very inexpensive calcium available to the manufacturers to put
in their formulations. It is preposterous to think that this would be an area
in which supplementation is warranted. In fact, high calcium intake is implicated
in skeletal disease. Yet, it remains common practice for breeders to encourage
puppy buyers to supplement commercial diets with calcium. What you get are
not strong puppies but increased rates of osteochondritis dissecans (OCD)
, enlarged joints, dropped hocks, splayed feet, angular limb deformities,
wobbler's syndrome and stunted growth. , , Furthermore, high levels of calcium
in the diet have long been known to cause a relative zinc deficiency in dogs.
, While on the topic of zinc deficiency, we note also that high levels of
iron and copper also interfere with zinc absorption. , If you are to take
anything away from this article, let it be to do no harm with supplements.
Calcium is a very dangerous supplement; one you should not use except under
the careful and participative guidance of your veterinarian. Even then, it
would be worthwhile to check the nutritional credentials of your veterinarian.
Not all veterinarians are created equal, and few vet schools teach nutrition
in any significant amount. As an aside, dolomite is still available in health
food stores as a supplemental source of calcium. The joke is on the uniformed
buyer: dolomite is rock, relatively insoluble and certainly not soluble in
the gut during the time normal for passage. However, it does make a wonderful
acid buffering substrate in marine aquaria. Calcium anyone?
calcium:phosphorus ratio of 1:1.2 or thereabouts is sacred. Don't even think
about messing about with supplementary phosphorus, regardless of the claims
that it is necessary and without it you run the risks of rickets, osteomalacia
and even nutritionally induced hyperparathyroidism. Over-supplementation of
phosphorus can remove calcium from bones. Phosphorus is found in meat, poultry
and fish, the very ingredients found in almost all dog foods. You can buy
it off the shelf, but we suggest you leave it there.
ahead and pump magnesium into your dog. Digestive and internal mechanisms
regulate the level of absorption and generally, no harm will be done. Given
that magnesium is found in soy, corn, other cereal grains and bone meals,
the very staples of commercial dog food, there will be no shortage. On the
other hand, magnesium figures prominently in shelf space in healthfood stores,
and if you own stock in a company that packages magnesium for such a market,
you might want to buy some for your dog. Otherwise, forget it--"Poocharelli"
already is getting more magnesium than he can utilize.
deficiencies are reported in the dog. Don't bother supplementing unless you
have an excess of cash and near cash assets and your dog will tolerate the
there can be iron deficiencies that result in various anemias, but they are
not likely with commercial diets, and not even likely with homebrew diets.
How do you get iron out of meat meals, bone, poultry and dairy products before
you feed your dog? The answer is that you don't. Therefore, absent a special
medical condition, iron supplementation is not warranted. Leave iron supplements
on the shelf at your healthfood store.
in bracelets worn for decorations (but not for therapeutic value) and great
for remembrances of Vietnam POW's, but poor as a dietary supplement. Copper
is found in organ meats, which are common ingredients in commercial dog food.
It is doubtfulthat you will ever have a valid reason to supplement with copper.
your dog has a zinc responsive dermatosis, don't even think about supplementing
with zinc. An excess of zinc causes calcium and copper deficiencies. Given
that beef liver, dark poultry meat, milk, egg yolks and legumes in general
are sources for zinc, no commercial food will ever be short of zinc--too cheap,
too abundant, and you can't get rid of it easily.
in meat, poultry and fish, it is unlikely that either a dietary excess or
deficiency will exist in the dog fed a commercial diet.
in beef, liver and fish, it is unlikely that either a dietary excess or deficiency
will exist in the dog fed a commercial diet.
in grains, meat and poultry, it is unlikely that either a dietary excess or
deficiency will exist in the dog fed a commercial diet. Selenium is paradoxical
in that the symptoms for excess and deficiency are the same. Considered a
micromineral, itoccupies the active site of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase.
This enzyme protects the body from free radicals formed during oxidation of
cell-membrane lipids. Selenium has a synergistic relationship with Vitamin
E. Vitamin E keeps selenium at its most efficacious oxidation state and selenium
'spares' Vitamin E.
in fish and dairy products, it is unlikely that dietary excess or deficiency
will be noted in dogs fed commercial diets.
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