Your precious dog’s diet is influenced by minerals, which are essential for their health and happiness. Striking the right balance with these minerals is vital for their well-being. Organizations like AAFCO and FEDIAF provide specific recommended quantities. As your dog grows, their mineral needs change accordingly. It’s crucial to avoid deficiencies or overdoses, as they can lead to severe and even life-threatening conditions. Opting for high-quality, fresh, complete, and balanced food that meets AAFCO and FEDIAF requirements is the best choice for your furry companion.

Minerals for Dogs: Striking the Balance

Minerals are essential for any living being's diet. A complete and balance food for your dog will have all the essential minerals in the right quantities. It's crucial to provide them these essential minerals through their diet because, like vitamins, the body can't produce them on its own. It's easy to underestimate or overestimate the amount of minerals our pets need. If not fed in the right quantities, deficiencies and overdoses of certain minerals could adversely affect your dog's health. AAFCO provides recommendations on the minimum and maximum quantities required by dogs and cats at different life stages.

More about the importance of each mineral, recommended amounts of each essential mineral and the consequences of deficiencies and overdoses

Why Do Dogs Need Minerals?

Essential minerals are inorganic nutrients that serve many physiological and biochemical functions in dogs. They play a crucial role in aiding in movement, energy production, and health.

Minerals in the diet are categorized into two groups depending on the amount needed for normal bodily functions: Micro-minerals and Macro-minerals.

Macro-minerals for Dogs

Calcium and Phosphorus

Calcium and Phosphorus are essential nutrients for your dog. They are especially important for growing dogs because calcium helps in building strong bones and teeth. While Phosphorus boosts bone formation, energy metabolism, and cell structure.

Calcium has other important functions, like aiding in blood clotting, nerve communication, and certain cell activities. Phosphorus also acts as a buffer and is involved in nucleic acid metabolism.

According to AAFCO's guidelines, growing and reproducing dogs should get a minimum of 2.5 grams of calcium and 2.0 grams of phosphorus per 1000 kilocalories of food. For adult dogs, the recommended amounts are 1.5 grams of calcium and 1.25 grams of phosphorus per 1000 kilocalories.

It's crucial to maintain a balanced ratio of these minerals, ideally between 1:1 and 1:2. If there's an imbalance, it can lead to osteofibrosis, which shows as anxiety, loss of appetite, diarrhea, bone deformities, lameness, and abnormal posture and gait. The dog's hair may become dull and dry. In adults, high phosphorus levels can lead to periodontitis, affecting the gums.

On the other hand, having too much calcium, especially when the Calcium-Phosphorus ratio is off, can cause hypercalcemia and osteopetrosis. These conditions lead to stunted growth, thick bones, and increase the chances of hip dysplasia and wobbler syndrome, a neurological disease affecting the spine and neck.


Potassium is a crucial mineral in the body that helps with nerve impulses and muscle contractions. It's essential for a healthy heart and overall movement. Its main job is to work with sodium to keep the blood balanced, prevent dehydration, regulate acid levels, and manage water in cells. Both growing puppies and adult dogs need a minimum of 1.5 grams of potassium per 1000 kcal in their diet.

Not having enough potassium, called hypokalemia, can be serious. It's often caused by kidney issues, vomiting, diarrhea, diabetes, diuretics, or intense IV fluid therapy. Signs of hypokalemia include weak muscles, tiredness, unsteady walking, and constipation. Luckily, with supplements or IV treatment, your pet can recover quickly. Both puppies and adult dogs show the same signs of hypokalemia, but it can be worse for puppies, affecting their growth and possibly becoming life-threatening for weaker ones. Too much potassium can lead to severe heart problems, especially irregular heartbeats. It can also affect muscles, causing weakness and paralysis. This condition, known as hyperkalemia, can happen due to excessive potassium intake, kidney issues, or certain diseases.


Sodium is a vital mineral found in our blood and fluids around cells. It helps keep cells in the right shape and size. Like potassium and other minerals, it also plays a role in how our nerves and muscles work.

We come across sodium in our everyday food, and most people know it best as a part of table salt. We understand that we should use salt in moderation. The same applies to dog food. For puppies, it's recommended to have a minimum of 0.80 grams of sodium per 1000 kcal, and for adult dogs, it's about 0.20 grams per 1000 kcal, according to AAFCO guidelines.

These amounts may seem small, but it's important to be careful because too much sodium can cause a serious condition called hypernatremia. This condition can lead to scary symptoms like confusion, disorientation, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, and even coma. To diagnose hypernatremia, vets use urine and blood tests. The treatment involves rehydrating and addressing the underlying causes of the excess sodium.

Sodium deficiency is called hyponatremia. It can cause a cellular problem known as hyposmolality. This means there's not enough body fluids passing through cells or a lack of osmosis. The symptoms are similar to having too much sodium (hypernatremia) and the diagnostic approach is also similar.

Hyponatremia can develop due to various reasons, including high levels of fat in the blood (hyperlipemia), low levels of protein in the blood (hypoproteinemia), feeling very thirsty, congestive heart failure, liver cirrhosis, kidney disease, and others.

It's crucial to monitor the sodium intake in your dog's diet to maintain their health and prevent serious issues. If you notice any unusual symptoms or suspect an electrolyte imbalance, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.


Chloride is usually found together with sodium. Just like the balance of calcium and phosphorus, their ratio should be 1:1. Chloride helps regulate the fluids and nutrients going in and out of cells. It also keeps the right pH levels, helps create stomach acid for digestion, and supports the functioning of nerves and muscles. Additionally, it helps oxygen and carbon dioxide flow inside cells.

For growing puppies, the recommended amount of chloride is at least 1.10 grams per 1000 kcal, and for adult dogs, it's 0.30 grams per 1000 kcal, according to AAFCO guidelines.

Not having enough chloride (hypochloremia) often goes along with not having enough sodium (hyponatremia). Signs of hypochloremia include fluid loss, dehydration from diarrhea and vomiting, feeling tired, and having trouble breathing. It can be caused by similar things as hyponatremia, like congestive heart failure, prolonged fluid loss, chronic lung disease, and sometimes chemotherapy. To diagnose it, a blood test is done, and it's treated with a fluid given through a vein.

Having too much chloride is called hyperchloremia. It can be caused by various things like dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting, poorly controlled diabetes, taking large doses of diuretics, corticosteroids, and NSAIDs (pain relievers). Excessive intake of potassium chloride can also cause it. Hyperchloremia is diagnosed mainly through blood tests and urinalysis, and it's treated by giving sodium bicarbonate or stopping the source of chloride.


Magnesium is another macroelement needed for strong and healthy bones. It's the second most abundant after potassium in the cells. It also helps with muscle function, including heart function, and it maintains the electrical balance between membranes. This is why magnesium is important for puppies, especially. Without it, their growth would be affected.

The minimum recommended concentration for magnesium from 0.15 g per 1000 kcal in adults and growth and reproduction profiles.

Lack of magnesium can lead to weakness, overactive reflexes, tetany and muscle tremors, arrhythmias, and depression. It can be caused by diabetes Mellitus, malnutrition, excessive calcium excretion, and decreased magnesium intake. The signs are vague, and the diagnosis is set by the elimination of symptoms and with EKG, which will show abnormal heartbeats.

Hypermagnesemia or magnesium overdose can lead to nausea, vomiting, weakness, depression, paralysis, lowered heart rate, coma, and even cardiac arrest. It can be caused by kidney failure, poor intestinal motility, high levels of magnesium being administered, and endocrine disorders.

Micro-minerals for Dogs


Dogs require iron, but only in small amounts. Growing dogs need at least 22 mg of iron per 1000 kcal, while adults require 10 mg per 1000 kcal. Too much iron can be dangerous for dogs. Iron supplements are given to severely anemic dogs, but meat is the most absorbable source of iron.

A deficiency in iron, which can lead to severe anemia, is caused by chronic blood loss, but it is relatively rare compared to iron poisoning.

Iron poisoning is a serious and life-threatening condition, often affecting puppies who consume excessive supplements. To prevent this, careful measurement of supplements is essential. Iron toxicity may cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach bleeding, and abdominal pain. Blood tests are used for diagnosis, and treatment involves administering fluids to correct acidosis and shock.


Copper is an essential mineral that helps the body in many ways and works together with other elements. It's important for skeletal formation, connective tissue, preventing anemia, giving fur a bright color, creating myelin, and aiding in enzymatic functions. For dogs in their growth and reproduction stages, they need a minimum of  3.1 mg of copper per 1000 kcal, and for adults, it's 1.83 mg per 1000 kcal. There are no official maximum limits from AAFCO, but most vets agree that too much copper can cause poisoning.

Copper deficiency can lead to skeletal deformities, anemia, fur color changes, and lower fertility in male dogs. This is especially common in malnourished dogs or those that didn't get enough copper in their diet when they were puppies.

An overdose of copper results in jaundice, weight loss, refusal to eat but excessive drinking of water, bloating, confusion, weakness, nausea, low hemoglobin levels, and bleeding from the nose and mouth.

Treatment for copper poisoning involves intravenous fluids, zinc supplements, antibiotics in some cases, and changes in the diet for chronic poisoning cases.


Manganese, a tiny yet important element, plays various essential roles in the body. It contributes to energy production, breaks down proteins and carbohydrates, and aids in the synthesis of fatty acids. Manganese is also crucial for many enzymes that maintain strong bones and cartilage. Additionally, it helps the body use certain vitamins like B1, C, E, and B7.

For dogs in their growth and reproduction stages, they need at least 1.8 mg of manganese per 1000 kcal, and for adults, it's 1.25 mg per 1000 kcal, according to AAFCO guidelines. Not getting enough manganese can lead to bone deformities, poor growth, lameness, enlarged joints, and problems with bone marrow. It can also affect fertility.

On the other hand, having too much manganese is dangerous and can cause severe liver failure, vomiting, loss of coordination, and even death.


Zinc is essential for a healthy coat, reproduction, and helps enzymes function properly for protein synthesis. It's also beneficial for muscles during intense exercise. According to AAFCO, dogs need at least 25 mg of zinc per 1000 kcal in their diet. However, too much zinc can interfere with other minerals' absorption.

Not getting enough zinc can lead to stunted growth, hair loss, growth problems, and a weaker immune system.


Iodine is crucial for the thyroid hormones that control growth and metabolic rate. The thyroid plays a big role in regulating growth, body temperature, skin health, and even neuromuscular function. Iodine is essential for all these processes.

According to AAFCO, dogs need a minimum of 0.25 mg to 0.25 mg of iodine per 1000 kcal, and the maximum is 2.75 mg per 1000 kcal.

Not getting enough iodine or having too much can lead to the same medical issues, like hair loss, feeling tired and weak, having an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), not eating well, and having a fever.


This mineral is an antioxidant, working alongside Vitamin E to protect cells from free radical damage and supporting the immune system. In addition to iodine, it actively participates in thyroid function. According to AAFCO, the minimum requirement is 0.09 mg per 1000 kcal, and the maximum is 0.5 mg per 1000 kcal.

Selenium deficits are rare because Vitamin E can act as a replacement. Both minerals have to be low for a deficit to happen. In such cases, dogs may experience decreased eating and edemas around the body. Having too much selenium can lead to vomiting, muscle spasms, weakness, drooling, bad breath, nail issues, and loss of appetite.

What Happens in Cases of Mineral Deficiency?

It’s important to catch a deficit of any mineral if it has happened or to prevent it before it happens. There are a few general signs that might help you determine if your dog lacks any minerals.

  1. Depression and lethargy are among the first signs that appear. Your dog might seem quiet and not playful. It can also be in pain without you even knowing.
  2. Skin and coat changes are also common in mineral deficits leading to a dull and rough coat and dry and unhealthy-looking skin. The hair can fall out, and they are more prone to skin diseases at this point.
  3. Change in feces can be seen in one to two days after eating a diet that is deficient in some minerals. Look for changes in consistency, color and frequency of poopingThis is due to changes in the digestive system because of the deficit in minerals.

The main treatment for deficits involves administering the lacking minerals, which can be identified through a blood test.

What Happens in Cases of Mineral Overdose?

Mineral poisoning is less common than deficits, but the symptoms can be similar in both cases.

An overdose of Iron can pose a danger, and people often underestimate its effects. Production companies and owners should be careful about the weight limits for each mineral.

For growing puppies, overdoses of calcium and phosphorus can be especially harmful. Some breeders mistakenly believe that higher concentrations of supplementation are better for their growth.

Not following AAFCO and FEDIAF guidelines and providing an improper diet can unknowingly lead to copper poisoning. The liver is responsible for processing minerals, but an improper diet can lead to copper retention and eventual poisoning. This is becoming a growing problem worldwide, so it's essential to follow all guidelines by AAFCO and FEDIAF to keep your dog safe and healthy.

In case of an overdose, vets focus on stabilizing the dog and treating the symptoms to regulate the shock caused by the excess minerals.

Your precious dog's diet is influenced by minerals, which are essential for their health and happiness. Striking the right balance with these minerals is vital for their well-being. Organizations like AAFCO and FEDIAF provide specific recommended quantities. As your dog grows, their mineral needs change accordingly. It's crucial to avoid deficiencies or overdoses, as they can lead to severe and even life-threatening conditions. Opting for high-quality, fresh, complete, and balanced food that meets AAFCO and FEDIAF requirements is the best choice for your furry companion.

Striking the Balance with YoDoggo

All YoDoggo Diets are complete and balanced for ALL LIFE STAGES and the amounts of minerals per 1000 kcal is based on the levels defined by international organizations like AAFCO and FEDIAF.

Check out the levels of Minerals in our recipes -
Beef & Fish,
Chicken & Fish,
Lamb & Fish

By admin
July 24, 2023
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