If you are one of the growing number of pet owners who are feeding their pets a raw meat or homemade diet, it is vitally important that your pet gets the proper amount of calcium.
Calcium is a very important mineral for your pet’s overall strength and good health. Of all the minerals, calcium is required in the greatest amount. It is essential in the body for many functions including bone formation, blood coagulation, muscle contraction and nerve impulse transmission.
If you are feeding a quality dog food then calcium is probably not a concern. Most good, natural foods contain more than enough calcium even for large breeds. Which animals need calcium supplementation? Animals on a muscle and organ meat based diet; animals on a home cooking diet, especially when the animal is a finicky eater that refuses to eat the entire diet; animals on food trials for allergies; animals on limited antigen or hypoallergenic home cooked diet; birds; reptiles; lactating mammals.
So, after consulting your veterinarian, you’ve determined that your pet needs calcium supplementation. Dr. Pitcairn, in his Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats has several suggestions for adding calcium to your pet’s diet. He recommends using powdered bone meal specially formulated for supplementation of animals. You can use that sold in natural food stores for human use, but it will be less convenient and more expensive. NEVER use bone meal sold in garden centers. It is toxic for animals (and humans).
A very pure form of calcium is that derived from seaweed off the coast of Ireland. It has the advantage of not coming from an animal source and provides many excellent trace minerals.
Calcium tablets or powder is another source of supplementation. It comes in different forms such as calcium carbonate, chelated calcium, calcium gluconate or calcium lactate. Avoid products that also contain phosphorus or magnesium. If you buy tablets, use a mortar and pestle or pill crusher to grind them to a powder before mixing with food.
Eggshell powder is an all natural and very inexpensive way to provide calcium in your pet’s diet. You can make it yourself from eggshells which are very high in calcium carbonate. Wash the eggshells right after cracking and allow to dry. After accumulating a dozen or so, bake at 300 degrees for about 10 minutes. This removes a mineral-oil coating sometimes added to keep eggs from drying out. The shells are now dry and brittle enough to grind into a fine powder with a nut and seed grinder, blender or motar and pestle. Eliminate any sharp pieces.
Calcium is one of the most important nutrients our pets need for good bone and overall health. Supplementation is the best way to see that need met for a balanced and healthy diet.