4 min read

Calcium for Dogs


By Wag! Staff

Published: 02/16/2023, edited: 03/05/2024

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Everyone knows calcium is an important part of human diets, but it’s no less true when it comes to dogs. As well as helping to build healthy bones, it also plays a role in digestive and cardiovascular health.

Read our guide on calcium for dogs to find out more functions, the recommended amount and how you can ensure your dog receives enough of this vital mineral in their diet.

Read on to discover that:

  • Calcium is a mineral that plays a key role in keeping a dog’s muscles, bones and heart strong and healthy
  • Most commercially-manufactured dog food contains a sufficient amount of calcium for dogs
  • Some dogs suffer from Calcium deficiencies, which might require calcium supplements for dogs to rectify
  • Calcium deficiencies are more commonplace in pregnant or nursing mothers
  • Supplements can take the form of calcium tablets for dogs, as well as calcium powder for dogs

Functions of Calcium For Dogs

Calcium performs numerous roles throughout the canine body, including:

  • Facilitating muscle movement
  • Helping to keep the heart in rhythm
  • Stimulating wound healing
  • Prompting the release of hormones
  • Promoting skeletal formation
  • Aiding in digestion
A bottle of calcium supplements spilling out on a table with a wooden spoon

The recommended calcium intake for healthy adult dogs is 50 mg per kilogram of body weight. This means a 20kg dog will require roughly 1000 milligrams (or 1 gram) of calcium per day.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends that dog food contains 1.25 grams per 1,000 calories. The dog weighing 20kg that we mentioned before would need to consume 800 calories per day to receive the daily recommended amount.

Age, breed, gender, and lifestyle play a role in how much calcium a dog needs. For instance, pregnant and nursing canines need more calcium than normal to maintain their strength and to promote healthy bone growth in the puppies. What’s more, too little calcium while pregnant can lead to Eclampsia, a potentially deadly condition.

Puppies also need a controlled amount of calcium, as too much can heighten the risk of Hip Dysplasia developing later in life, particularly in breeds predisposed to the joint condition.

Food sources of calcium for dogs on a wooden serving board

Examples of Calcium Food For Dogs

Calcium is present in most commercially-prepared kibbles and canned recipes, especially if they’ve been formulated to meet the AAFCO’s nutrient standards.

The following foods are known to be good sources of calcium for dogs, too.

A vet tech examining a dog's teeth and body for signs of vitamin and calcium deficiencies

Signs of calcium deficiency in dogs

Hypocalcemia, or low blood calcium, is a condition that occurs when the body doesn’t have enough calcium in the bloodstream to function normally. This condition, sometimes called milk fever, is prevalent in nursing females when milk production depletes the body of calcium and dietary intake isn’t enough.

Miniature breeds and dogs nursing many puppies seem to be at higher risk than larger breeds with small litters.

Signs of a calcium deficiency include:

Treatment of calcium deficiency 

Calcium deficiency is highly responsive to treatment as long as it is caught early. The vet will diagnose this condition by taking a blood sample, before supplementing and treating any underlying conditions thought to be contributing to the deficiency. Typically, vets will start the animal on an IV Calcium Gluconate drip and transition the patient to oral supplements after discharge.

Depending on their blood levels, a dog might need IV electrolytes, too. During their stay, the vet may also need to treat the symptoms of Hypocalcemia with supportive care, such as anti-seizure medications and cooling measures to help reduce their body temperature.

IV bag with a calcium drip to a treat a dog with a calcium deficiency

Signs of calcium overdose in dog

Overdosing on calcium alone is rare. More commonly, dogs overdose on human calcium supplements. The danger of these supplements lies in the Vitamin D and K content, which is added to help the body absorb calcium more effectively. Kidney problems can also make dogs more predisposed to calcium overdose.

Symptoms of a calcium overdose include:

Treatment of calcium overdose in dogs

Treatment of a calcium supplement overdose in dogs depends on how much vitamin D and K the dog ingests. The veterinary team will administer IV fluids, perform blood tests, and monitor the dog. Sometimes, vets will induce vomiting or flush the stomach to remove undigested calcium supplements.

Calcium supplements for dogs on top of a picture of the chemical symbol for calcium

Calcium supplements for dogs

Calcium supplements come in many different forms, including powders, tablets, and chewables — often, this will be Calcium Carbonate for dogs, but Calcium Citrate for dogs isn’t unheard of, either. Calcium is often sourced from eggshells and seaweed.

In addition to Calcium, many calcium supplements for dogs contain other vital substances — such as Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and Omega fatty acids — in order to provide other health benefits at the same time.

Calcium supplements are an excellent option for nursing or senior canines since these dogs are the most susceptible to Osteoporosis (or the weakening of the bones). Calcium supplements for dogs can help with bone resurfacing and strengthening. 

Keep in mind that healthy pets who eat a balanced diet may not benefit much from calcium supplements for dogs unless they have an underlying illness that requires calcium supplementation.

Be sure to run your decision to try calcium supplements for dogs past your vet beforehand, as they’ll be able to advise on whether or not it’s a suitable option for your pet.

Dog sick with a calcium deficiency

Pet poisoning and deficiencies can happen without warning and can be costly to treat. We recommend insuring your pet ASAP to make sure your pet (and your wallet) are covered against accidents and illnesses like vitamin overdose. Start comparing insurance plans from leading insurers like Healthy Paws and Embrace and save over $270 a year.

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© 2024 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.