It is still common to hear people, in parks or on the street, talking about the advisability of adding calcium to their pet’s daily ration of food.
But the truth is that if any of the commercial dog foods that are on the market are taken as reference, you can be sure that calcium supplements are absolutely unnecessary if your dog’s diet is suitable for its age and build.
There are a great number of brands that offer a large variety of products suitable for feeding puppies of any size, large or small. Commercial pet food also exists for growing dogs, either miniature or giant breeds, which makes it the best option.
But, why is this important? Simply because repeatedly adding extra amounts of calcium and phosphorous is one of the main risk factors for growing animals, especially in large or giant breeds. The most critical period is between two and five months of age, when mineral unbalances damage the growth of the bone and favour growth disorders. An excess of calcium in the diet leads to higher than normal calcium levels in the blood, which directly causes osteochondrosis, curvature of the radius or instability of the cervical vertebrae.
Even though we do not wish to bore you with technical details, you should keep in mind that the amount of calcium that a two-month old puppy of any breed should ingest is between 260 and 830 milligrams for each kilo of body weight a day. But what is most important and is impossible to calculate if you do not use a commercial product, is that during the development period you should never exceed very narrow margins: the minimum is 60 milligrams for each kilo of body weight a day, and the maximum is 270 milligrams.
If you add supplementary calcium tablets to your pet’s diet, following the supposedly “expert” advice of the people who gather at the park, your next-door neighbour or your friends at the hairdresser’s, it will be difficult to know if you are exceeding the security margins.
Adding excess quantities of calcium continuously during your puppy’s growth period is no joke. The changes in its immature skeleton produced by an erroneous diet can have consequences that affect its whole life.
This is why you should not experiment with your pet’s diet. Your mistakes can have direct consequences on its health. In case of doubt, consult your veterinary surgeon.
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Colegio Oficial de Veterinarios de Alicante
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