When to Give Calcium Supplements to Dogs
Calcium is an essential dietary mineral within your dog’s body. It is vital for the formation of bones and teeth, nerve impulse transmission, cell signaling, muscle contract, and blood coagulation.
Ensuring your dog is receiving enough calcium is essential for overall health. Dogs that don’t receive enough calcium can develop bone and health issues, such as hypocalcemia. But it’s also possible for dogs to receive too much dietary calcium, which can result in health issues such as kidney failure and hypercalcemia.
The key is to achieve the optimal calcium balance for your dog’s specific situation. Your veterinarian can help ensure your dog is receiving an adequate amount of calcium in his diet.
Supplemental calcium is often recommended to treat calcium deficiency in dogs. Deficiencies in calcium often occur when a dog is being fed a homemade diet or during pregnancy, whelping, or nursing.
To Supplement a Homemade Diet
If a dog doesn’t receive enough calcium in his diet, a condition called secondary hyperparathyroidism can occur. According to the National Research Council, this disease was recognized clinically for many years in dogs that were fed meals consisting mainly of meat, and it results in major bone loss, pathological fractures, and skeletal abnormalities.
If your dog is eating a raw-food or homemade diet, it is possible that he isn’t receiving enough dietary calcium because meat and most vegetables and grains tend to be naturally deficient in calcium. For this reason, a calcium supplement is often recommended for dogs that are eating a homemade diet to help ensure proper calcium balance.
If you’re feeding your dog a well-balanced commercial diet, it is usually unnecessary to give him an additional calcium supplement. This is because commercial diets already contain the recommended amount of daily calcium for dogs.
When Giving Birth
During pregnancy, the demand for calcium increases due to mammary gland development and fetal demand. The demand for calcium will continue to increase at whelping and during lactation. The parathyroid gland, which regulates calcium levels in the blood, will take calcium from the bone to supplement calcium levels as needed. But if the dog isn’t receiving enough dietary calcium, this can lead to bone issues and health issues such as eclampsia.
Supplementing with calcium before whelping is not recommended, as it can actually increase the risk of developing eclampsia. Giving fast-absorbing calcium in early labor can be beneficial in some situations because it helps dilate the cervix, gives energy to the exhausted mom, and supports effective contractions.
To Treat & Prevent Eclampsia
Calcium requirements may be higher during different stages of a dog’s life, including during pregnancy or nursing. If a nursing mom doesn’t receive enough calcium, she may develop eclampsia, a life-threatening drop in blood calcium levels. A calcium supplement may be needed to help treat and/or prevent eclampsia in dogs.
A dog or cat that develops eclampsia should receive long-term maintenance therapy with oral vitamin D and oral calcium supplementation throughout lactation. Once a dog has had eclampsia, it is very likely to occur in future pregnancies. To help prevent eclampsia from developing, it’s often recommended to give oral calcium supplementation to the mom immediately after whelping and continuing throughout lactation.
What Type of Calcium Is Best?
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, calcium carbonate is a good choice for treating eclampsia because of its high percentage of elemental calcium, general availability, and lack of gastric irritation. VCA Animal Hospitals points out that calcium bound to lactate, citrate, ascorbate, and other organic acids appears to be more easily and completely absorbed.
That’s why Thomas Labs® created Calcium Now with three forms of calcium. This ensures it is readily available and easily absorbed. Plus, it is fortified with magnesium and vitamins B6, C, and D3 to support calcium absorption. Learn more about the ingredients in Calcium Now and how they work together to provide a full effect!
The materials and information provided on this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your veterinarian or other pet healthcare professional. Consult your own veterinarian if you have medical questions concerning diagnosis, treatment, therapy, or medical attention.