Author: Leslie Tsen (B.S.) Ecology, Evolution & Natural Resources. Wildlife Conservation
If essential amino acids (protein) and fatty acids (fat) can be imagined as the tiny building-blocks of cells, then calcium and collagen (protein) are the building-blocks of bones that support the overall skeletal structures of a dog’s body. When combined with Vitamin K, calcium also helps blood to clot properly so that dogs suffer from injuries do not bleed to death. Dogs being fed a mono diet of common dry kibble might not be consuming enough calcium to develop strong teeth and bones. Therefore, calcium supplements in the form of either calcium carbonate (CaCO3), calcium phosphate (Ca3(PO4)2), or calcium citrate (Ca3(C6H5O7)2) are required so that your dogs do not suffer from developmental issues and osteoporosis later in life.
While puppies do require more frequent calcium intake than adult dogs, do confirm the exact figures with a certified veterinarian to avoid overdosing. If you are still uncertain of the calcium amount that needs to be fed to your dogs, don’t worry. Specialized dog food formulas fortified with a dog's daily worth of calcium and phosphorus requirement are readily available in the market. Take note that even though calcium is important for bone growth, too much of it will cause constipation. Its intake should ideally be spread throughout a day’s worth of meals to reduce constipation. Calcium occurs naturally by bonding to other elements such as phosphorus, carbon, and oxygen. Because calcium is such a reactive element, it is almost impossible to encounter pure calcium metal in nature. Calcium is most commonly found in bones, teeth, shells, and minerals such as limestone.
Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) is a common calcium supplement not only for dogs, but also for humans. It has an antacid property that helps to neutralize overly abundant stomach acid in hungry dogs. However, it can cause acid rebound if consumed in high quantity over a long period of time. As calcium carbonate can and does lead to bloating issue when comes into contact with gastric acid, we recommend only taking it with foods to reduce the severity of the symptom as well as to aid in the digestion of calcium carbonate with more acid production. As calcium carbonate is an alkaline based calcium supplement, it is harder to be digested thus can lead to constipation. Calcium carbonate contains 40% element calcium which is almost the same as calcium phosphate, but is almost twice as much as compared to calcium citrate.
Note: To be taken with foods to reduce bloating, spread out the daily intake to reduce constipation
Source: Egg shells, pearls, minerals such as limestone, supplements, and sepia bones (sepia/cuttlebones are not the same as the transparent cartilages in squids)
Tricalcium phosphate (Ca3(PO4)2) or generally just refers to as calcium phosphate is commonly found in most if not all mammalian, avian, amphibian, reptilian and true fish’s skeleton. Element calcium and phosphorus work together to form calcium phosphate compound; a compound that provides bones with the rigidity they need to hold together as a functional skeletal structure. For dogs that are being fed bone meals or solid bones instead of other calcium supplements, the calcium phosphate compound found within is usually enough to provide them with the much needed calcium and phosphorus macroelements in developing strong bones and teeth. For dogs that are being fed a diet of just raw boneless meat, calcium deficiency can be a very real issue as meats are high in phosphorus but very low in calcium.
Ideally, the dietary ratio between calcium to phosphorus should be around 1.2 parts of calcium to 1 part of phosphorus (1.2 : 1), but a more liberal range of 1 to 2 parts of calcium to 1 part of phosphorus is generally acceptable as long as calcium intake is never lower than phosphorus intake for a prolonged period of time. Long-term high phosphorus, low calcium intake can lead to many serious issues including but not limited to bone deformities, weak bones, and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. If the calcium and phosphorus content in your dog food is already in good ratio, bone meals can be given as occasional treat. Calcium phosphate contains about 39% element calcium which is almost the same as calcium carbonate, but is about twice as much as compared to calcium citrate.
Note: Bones can be grinded into fine powder for better absorption, do not feed whole fish bones unless grinded as these are very potent choking hazard
Source: Bones, teeth, milks, and supplements, very rarely found in minerals but do exist in Whitlockite
Calcium citrate (Ca3(C6H5O7)2) is an acidic calcium supplement that does not rely on stomach acid to be broken down. Because of its easy-to-absorb nature, calcium citrate supplement can be taken with or without food, and even on empty stomach. Calcium citrate is also recommended for sick or older dogs that have a decreased efficiency in intestinal absorption. Calcium citrate is not available in nature; it is most commonly derived from the salt of citric acid. Calcium citrate contains approximately 21% element calcium which is only half the element calcium as compared to calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate.
Note: Can be taken with or without food, recommended for sick or old dogs
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Disclaimer: This article contains materials referred from published scientific journals and is strictly meant for educational purposes only. It must NOT be substituted for any forms of medical care, treatment, and consultation from veterinarians, aquatic experts or other licensed professionals. NO compensation shall be reimbursed by Harvest Fish & Pet for the direct or indirect loss, damage, injury, or death of both living (user included) and non-living beings caused by the application of information from this article either in full or in part.