Many dog owners are very uncertain about the topic of “adequate mineral supply”. Above all, the sufficient calcium intake in home-prepared rations and the development of deficiency conditions are always cause for concern.
There is often the idea that you have to give your dog the exact amount of calcium every day so that there is neither a deficiency nor an oversupply.
But it's not quite like that.
The body is an intelligent organism. An interaction of various regulatory mechanisms (among other things) control calcium metabolism very precisely.
We'll see how this works in a moment.
In the body, calcium is needed for the mineralization of the skeleton and teeth - as well as for the transmission of stimuli and energy in the nervous system and for blood clotting.
The first question is: How much calcium does a dog need per day?
The National Research Council (NRC) states a daily calcium requirement of 1.23 g for a 20 kg dog.
But this is only a guideline. And how do you get these 1.23 g into your dog every day? Weigh out a calcium supplement and add the appropriate amount to the daily ration? That would be too much of a good thing, because the food in the basic ration itself contains a certain amount
Bones and cartilage, eggshells, green leafy vegetables and acidified dairy products are particularly rich in calcium.
So how can you ensure an adequate supply of all vitamins, nutrients and minerals? The best way is to make the feed rations close to nature and varied.
A healthy body gets all the substances it needs for daily energy consumption and all metabolic processes from food - the rest is stored or excreted via feces or urine.
The regulatory functions are interconnected and proceed extremely precisely.
Let's take a closer look at this using the example of calcium metabolism: Various organs are involved in the regulation of calcium absorption and release: bones, kidneys, parathyroid glands and the intestine.
If the receptors in the parathyroid gland register a falling calcium level in the blood, parathyroid hormone is released.
Parathyroid hormone stimulates the osteoclasts to break down bone substance.
This increases the concentration of calcium and phosphate in the blood.
Parathyroid hormone has two effects in the kidneys: it reduces calcium excretion and at the same time increases the excretion of phosphate in the urine.
Calcitriol (vitamin D3), which in turn is released by the kidneys, influences the intestines to absorb more calcium from food and thus additionally increases the calcium concentration in the blood.
Of course, the whole thing also works the other way around: If the thyroid registers an increase in calcium levels in the blood, it releases calcitonin.
This hormone ensures that the available calcium is stored in the bones, it signals the kidneys to excrete more calcium in the urine and reduces calcium absorption in the intestine so that the blood value normalizes.
So we see that the body is quite capable of organizing its mineral balance if it is given the basis to do so with species-appropriate food.
If you are a dog owner who is still unsure whether your animal is receiving adequate care, you can get a precise picture using fur mineral or blood analysis in the laboratory.