We have discussed in previous articles the essentials of water, carbohydrates, protein and fat in your pet’s diet. This month we will look at the merits of minerals.

Minerals include such substances as calcium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc, among others. As a rule, minerals function as co-enzymes that help control numerous biochemical reactions in the body. Minerals also are constituents of bone muscle, and are involved in the growth and regeneration of tissues. Mineral deficiencies rarely occur in pets. In dogs fed cheap generic diets, zinc deficiency commonly occurs, causing crusting skin lesions, often prominent around the mouth and nose.

Mineral excess can occur by overzealous administration of minerals by owners, specifically calcium and phosphorus. This may be especially problematic in dogs. Many owners give their growing puppies calcium pills, thinking this will help with skeletal growth. Too much calcium can actually cause problems, including hip dysplasia. Excessive iron given to dogs and cats (which can happen if human vitamin products containing iron are given to the pet) can be fatal.

Note: An excess of minerals can occur easily in pets. Mineral supplementation is not recommended unless directed by your veterinarian.

Minerals commonly found in plants include calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. (These are also found in bone, and are provided in our pets’ diets through the addition of bone meal or similar supplements.) Minerals commonly found in animals (in muscle tissue) include potassium, sodium, and chlorine.

In January, we will conclude the series on Pet Nutrients with a discussion of vitamins, additives and energy.

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