Calcium Supplements for Dogs

There are conflicting reports as to whether or not it is necessary to include calcium supplements for dogs in their diet. Some reports state that as long as the dog is eating a quality dog food, there is no need to supplement their diet with calcium. Others state that if the dog's diet is lacking bones, vegetables or dairy products with meat only, then calcium supplements are important in order to promote healthy bone maintenance and development. Too much calcium in the diet can lead to health problems, including less dense and therefore weak and fragile bones.

Calcium and Phosphorous

Calcium and phosphorous work together in the body as essential minerals necessary for proper health. The age and status of the dog will determine the proper daily requirement; however, the ratio between calcium and phosphorous is two parts calcium and one part phosphorous.

Calcium Is an Essential Mineral

Calcium is necessary for various body functions including bone formation and growth, muscle contraction, blood coagulation and nerve impulse transmission. Large amounts of calcium can be found in bones, leguminous plants and dairy products. Meat, animal organ tissues and cereal grains contain small amounts of calcium. Bone meal contains the recommended calcium-phosphorous ratio; however, it can contain toxic heavy metal contaminants, such as lead.

It is recommended to seek advice from a veterinarian as to whether or not to give calcium supplements to pregnant or nursing mothers or to older dogs that may not be able to glean enough calcium from their diet. Proper calcium amounts will allow for proper bone growth and development throughout a dog's life.


Phosphorous is another essential mineral required in a proper and healthy diet. High amounts of phosphorous are found in meat and animal organ meats, which are low in calcium. Phosphorous is needed for the formation of teeth and bones. It is essential in the body's utilization of fats and carbohydrates. It also helps in the synthesis of protein for the development, maintenance and repair of cells and tissues, contraction of muscles, kidney function, nerve conduction and the regularity of the heartbeat.


Excessive or inadequate amounts of calcium and phosphorous can cause health problems. Calcium deficiency can lead to soft, thin or brittle bones. Excessive calcium in the diet can lead to skeletal problems such as hip dysplasia. It is important to maintain the two parts calcium to one part phosphorous ratio. Excessive phosphorous can decrease the intake of calcium in the body, thereby producing a calcium deficiency. Dogs fed commercially produced food usually receive the proper amounts required for calcium and phosphorous. However, dogs fed home-prepared diets may need calcium supplements.

It is best to seek advice from a veterinarian as to whether calcium supplements should be given to any dog. Only a veterinarian would be qualified to answer this question of supplementing a dog's diet with calcium, since he would ask and understand the type of diet the dog is being fed.