Magnesium is an essential mineral that's present in all mammals. It's one of the most abundant minerals in your dog's body and is essential to your pup's health. From maintaining strong bones and muscles to improving heart health, magnesium plays a key role in many metabolic processes.
But why does a dog need magnesium? And what happens if a dog gets too much or too little magnesium in their diet? Read on to find out!
As with many other minerals in a dog’s body, like calcium, phosphorus and iron, magnesium is key to strong and healthy bones. In fact, magnesium is the third most common mineral in a dog’s bones after calcium and phosphorus. Magnesium also helps with muscle function, including keeping a dog's heart healthy.
Minerals such as magnesium are an important component of red blood cells. Magnesium also helps absorb other minerals, including potassium, zinc, and calcium.
Daily Recommended Intake
Dogs don't need very much magnesium to stay healthy. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines, magnesium should comprise 0.04% of your dog's dry-matter diet. ("Dry matter" refers to dog food that's had all moisture content removed.) This equates to about 1 milligram of magnesium per day.
Common foods containing magnesium that are safe for dogs to eat include:
- Fish (salmon, mackerel, pollock)
- Organ meats (liver, heart, kidneys)
- Bone meal
- Beans (black beans, green beans)
- Whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat, barley)
- Vegetables (spinach, cucumber, peas)
- Fruits (pumpkins, bananas, cantaloupe)
Before supplementing your dog's diet with magnesium-rich foods, contact your vet or talk to a veterinary professional now to ensure it's safe.
Signs of Magnesium Deficiency in Dogs
Magnesium deficiency is known medically as hypomagnesemia and is rare, usually only occurring in seriously ill dogs. Hypomagnesemia usually causes a deficiency in other minerals, primarily calcium and potassium.
There are a few physical signs of hypomagnesemia. However, possible symptoms of hypomagnesemia in dogs may include:
One study suggests a link between a magnesium-deficient diet and risk of heart attack. This study on Beagles also found that a higher volume of heart muscle tissue died in dogs fed a low-magnesium diet compared to dogs fed adequate amounts of magnesium.
Signs of Magnesium Overdose in Dogs
Excess magnesium in a dog's body, known medically as hypermagnesemia, is also rare and tends to mainly occur after a dog has ingested something like ice melts, which often contain high levels of magnesium chloride.
Hypermagnesemia can also happen if a dog is receiving an IV and has kidney failure, making them unable to absorb minerals. Hypermagnesemia is rare, as dogs with healthy kidneys usually have no problems getting rid of excess magnesium.
Possible symptoms of hypermagnesemia in dogs include:
- Muscle weakness
- Respiratory depression
- Cardiac arrest
Cardiac arrest may occur when a dog's magnesium levels are very high. Contact your vet if your dog is showing signs of hypermagnesemia.
Magnesium Supplements for Dogs
Magnesium supplements for healthy dogs aren't necessary if they're getting enough magnesium in their diet. A dog with healthy kidneys will expel any excess magnesium from supplements, providing no positive health benefit.
However, magnesium supplements are beneficial for dogs with some severe or chronic health conditions, including diabetes, epilepsy, and heart disease. Dogs with malnutrition may also be given magnesium supplements to help with recovery. Dogs with kidney disease shouldn't be given magnesium supplements. Always consult your vet before giving your dog magnesium supplements.
There are also links between magnesium levels and mental wellness. Some studies suggest a link between magnesium ion levels in dogs and stress. Therefore, magnesium supplements may be useful in helping treat anxiety and stress. However, more research is needed to prove this hypothesis.
Magnesium is one of the most important and abundant minerals in a dog's body. Magnesium helps facilitate everything from strong bones to a healthy heart. Dogs generally do not suffer from hypermagnesemia or hypomagnesemia as long as the dog is healthy and receives a balanced diet. Dogs should only receive magnesium supplements when recommended by a veterinarian.
Do you have questions about your dog's magnesium intake or dietary needs? Chat with a veterinary professional now!