How much Calcium for Puppies and Dogs?
What is the upper limit for calcium supplementation compared to the strict requirements of the puppy ?
Calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) metabolism is submitted to a strict regulation : the body reacts against any variation of the ratio Ca / P in the blood by adapting the secretion of specific hormones.
When calcium intake increases, the level of calcium in the blood (calcemia) increases too, and the consequences are:
– a drop of parathyroïd hormone secretion : normally, this hormone stimulates calcium liberation from the bones (ostéolysis) ;
– a peak of calcitonine secretion : its role is to slow down osteolysis to make the calcemia lower.
If calcium dietary excess is going on, osseous and cartilaginous tissues are no longer remodeled correctly. The maturation of cartilages is delayed, they become more fragile because they have to support mechanical constraints and eventually overweight. Inhibition of osseous remodeling and fragilization of the cartilages may promote very serious diseases that are both painful and invaliding for the locomotion : ostéochondrosis, dissecting ostéochondritis, vertebral compression …
Calcemia is not a good indicator for an excessive calcium consumption, because the hormonal balance keeps it within strict limits, between 80 and 105 ng/l.
Calcium in excess in the food also interferes with the absorption of other minerals and trace-elements : phophorus, magnésium, copper, zinc …
Calcium intake depends on the energetic consumption of the animal and on calcium level in the food. Then, the most logical approach is to rely the calcium concentration to the energetic value of the product (in g of Ca per 1000 kcal).
MINIMUM calcium requirement is estimated around :
– 320 mg/kg of bodyweight for the young puppy, down to119 mg/kg in the adult dog (NRC 1985)
– a corresponding diet contains at least 2,9 g of Ca/1000 kcal, or 1,1 % of Ca/Dry Matter (DM) if the diet contains about 3500 kcal/kg DM (AAFCO 1995)
MAXIMUM calcium tolerable is:
– 7,1 g of Ca/1000 kcal
– or 2,5 % of Ca/DM for a diet that contains 3500 kcal/kg de MS. (AAFCO 1995)
At the difference of the adult, the puppy is not able to adapt its calcium absorption to calcium intake. He always absorbs at least 40 to 50 % of the calcium of the diet, when the adult dog can limit its absorption down to 10 %.
Mini/Medium Junior: 1,35 % Ca (1,46 % Ca/DM) ; 4300 Cal/kg or 3,1 g Ca/1000
Maxi Junior : 1,50 % Ca (1,63 % Ca/DM) ; 3960 Cal/kg or 3,7 g Ca/1000
These products are nutritionally complete and no supplementation is necessary.
If some puppy owners insist to give “a little something else”, we must try to discourage them, by showing how dangerous this bad habbit is, especially for large-breed puppies.
Here are the main sources of calcium available, and a few exemples of practical supplementations. Over these limits, calcium excess becomes really toxic. (The upper limit is 7,1 g Ca/1000 Cal).
Mineral and vitaminic complément (MVC) : 15 % Ca ; 1 cs (= 1 coffee spoon) = 6 g.
Phosphate bicalcique/monocalcique : 20 % Ca ; 1 cs = 4 g
Bone meal : 30 % Ca ; 1 cs = 5 g
Egg shells/calciumcarbonate : 40 % Ca ; 1 cs = 5 g
3 months-old puppy, 5 kg (breed : Spaniel ; adult weight : 15 kg) 200 g of Medium Junior / day that brings 2,7 g of Ca per day.
Maximum tolerable addition of Ca : + 3,4 g or:
23 g of MVC (3,8 cs), 17 g of phosphate bicalcique (4,2 cs),
11 g of bone meal (2,3 cs), 8,5 g of calcium carbonate (1,7 cs).
4 months-old puppy, 8 kg (breed : Pointer; adult weight : 25 kg) 300 g of Medium Junior / day that brings 4 g of Ca per day.
Maximum tolerable addition of Ca : + 5,1 g or :
34 g of MVC (5,6 cs), 25,5 g of phosphate bicalcique (6,3 cs),
17 g of bone meal (3,4 cs), 13 g of carbonate de calcium (2,5 cs).
5 months-old puppy, 20 kg (breed : German Shepherd, adult weight: 35 kg) 440 g of maxi Junior / day that brings 6,6 g of Ca per day.
Maximum tolerable addition of Ca : + 5,7 g or :
38 g of MVC (6,4 cs), 28,5 g of phosphate bicalcique (7 cs)
19 g of bone meal (3,8 cs), 14 g of calcium carbonate (2,8 cs).
6 months-old puppy, 30 kg (breed: Newfoundland ; adult weight : 60 kg) 600 g of Maxi Junior / day that brings 9 g of Ca per day.
Maximum tolerable addition of Ca: + 7,8 g soit :
52 g de MVC (8,6 cs), 39 g of phosphate bicalcique (9,7 cs)
26 g of bone meal (5,2 cs), 19,5 g of calcium carbonate (3,8 cs).