Essential Minerals for Dogs: Why your Furry Friend Thrives on these Nutrients

Essential Minerals for Dogs: Why your Furry Friend Thrives on these Nutrients - Trace Minerals

By Chris D. Meletis, N.D.

We want the best for our pet dogs, just as we would for any other member of our family. In the same way we may take a multi-mineral supplement to prevent nutrient deficiencies, an essential mineral supplement for dogs is the best way to ensure their optimal health. Minerals play a critical role in many aspects of your dog’s health, from the way your dog looks to how healthy he or she feels.

Why Dogs Need Minerals

Dogs need minerals for many of the same reasons humans do. Different minerals play different roles in a dog’s health. For example, minerals like magnesium, copper, and calcium help build teeth and bones. Zinc supports a healthy immune system and keeps a dog’s fur coat healthy.

Minerals also help the nervous system work well and promote mitochondria health and muscle growth, so your dog has the strength and energy to run and play. Furthermore, mineral levels are often lower in dogs with lymphoma and osteosarcoma.1

Do Dogs Get Enough Minerals From the Diet?

Dogs don’t always get enough nutrients from diet alone, especially if they’re fed homemade dog food. Homemade dog food is often deficient in minerals like iron, calcium, copper, and zinc. Researchers from the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine analyzed 200 homemade dog food recipes.2 Most of the recipes didn’t provide enough of certain essential nutrients, and most had more than one nutrient deficiency. Only ten of the 200 recipes contained the minimum essential nutrient intake

Obese dogs that are on a weight loss diet might not be getting enough of certain nutrients. One study found that of all the weight loss diets analyzed, most of them had one or more nutrients deficient including calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and sodium.3

The amount of nutrients food in commercial dog food is often the minimum recommended amount. Like humans, many dogs have increased needs of certain nutrients. For example, dogs with joint problems may need more magnesium, calcium, and zinc.

And just because the dog food contains the recommended amounts of nutrients doesn’t mean that all dogs are absorbing those nutrients. Some dogs can get inflammatory bowel disease, which is linked to poor nutrient absorption.4,5 Bacterial overgrowth in the intestines and chronic diarrhea can also cause poor absorption of nutrients. Additionally, some breeds of dogs don’t absorb nutrients as well as others.

What Minerals Are Good For a Dog’s Health?

  • Electrolytes – As with humans, potassium, sodium, and chloride are three important electrolytes in a dog’s body. Electrolytes are minerals that are lost during sweat and exercise. Replenishing them keeps your dog from getting dehydrated.
  • Calcium and phosphorus – Healthy bones and teeth require these two minerals. Calcium also plays a role in blood clotting and healthy blood pressure.
  • Chromium – Essential for supporting healthy blood glucose levels, chromium also has antioxidant actions. In one study, chromium added to dog food improved metabolic and antioxidant measures, as well as indicators of immunity in the animals.6
  • Copper – This mineral supports the nervous system, bones, and connective tissues, and promotes the formation of collagen, which is building block for your dog’s joints and arteries. It also can act as an antioxidant, to defend your pet against excessive amounts of free radicals.
  • Iodine – Iodine supports your dog’s thyroid health and metabolism. Dry dog food usually includes iodine, but homemade dog food often doesn’t have a good source of this mineral.
  • Iron – This mineral is your dog’s best friend, because it’s critical in nourishing cells and organs of the body with a plentiful supply of oxygen. 
  • Magnesium – Magnesium plays many important roles in your dog’s body, not the least of which is bone and joint health. Magnesium deficiency in dogs can lead to problems with joint health.7 This mineral also is important for healthy heart rhythm and blood pressure.
  • Selenium – A mineral involved in thyroid health and defense against free radicals, selenium deficiency even at subclinical levels slows the recovery from parasitical diseases in dogs.8
  • Zinc – A multi-talented mineral, zinc is necessary for the activation and synthesis of more than 200 enzymes. Zinc is important for wound healing, skin health, and immune support,9 to name just a few of its functions.

Here’s What Mineral Deficiencies Do to Dogs

Your dog’s health pays the price of not getting enough of minerals, whether it’s because of dietary deficiencies or absorption problems. This table shows some of the possible consequences of mineral deficiencies in dogs.

Mineral Deficiency in Dogs

Related Problems

Chromium Deficiency

• Poor blood sugar metabolism

Copper Deficiency

• Bone and joint problems

• Unhealthy-looking fur coat

• Ligament and tendon problems

Iodine Deficiency

• Dry Skin

• Rashes

• Weight gain

• Hair loss

Iron Deficiency

• Slow growth

• Anemia

Manganese Deficiency

• Reproductive problems

• Unhealthy skin and fur

• Bone and joint problems

Magnesium Deficiency

• Joint problems

• Muscle weakness and/or pain

• Heart arrhythmia

Selenium Deficiency

• Poor immunity

• Muscle cramps

• Thyroid issues

Zinc Deficiency

• Immunity issues

• Slow wound healing

• Bone and joint issues

• Fertility problems


Causes of Mineral Deficiencies in Dogs

The answer to that question depends upon a number of factors. For example, magnesium deficiency in dogs can be caused by malnutrition, diabetes, kidney damage, treatment with diuretics, and any disease that blocks the absorption of nutrients. 

In addition, some breeds of dogs are more susceptible to certain types of mineral deficiencies. Northern breeds like Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes, as well as larger breeds like Great Danes, Saint Bernards, German Shepherds, and Dobermans are more vulnerable to zinc deficiencies compared to other types of dogs. 

Nourish Your Dog with an Essential Minerals Supplement

An essential mineral supplement for dogs can support many aspects of health. Essential minerals are import for joint health, immune support, energy, a healthy fur coat, and more. Providing your dog with a healthy amount of minerals can keep this lovable family member healthy and strong.


  1. Kazmierski KJ, Ogilvie GK, Fettman MJ, et al. Serum zinc, chromium, and iron concentrations in dogs with lymphoma and osteosarcoma. J Vet Intern Med. 2001;15(6):585-588.
  2. Kitaura C. Is homemade food good or bad for your dog? UC Davis. Published 2019. Accessed September 21, 2023.
  3. Olivindo RFG, Zafalon RVA, Teixeira FA, Vendramini THA, Pedrinelli V, Brunetto MA. Evaluation of the nutrients supplied by veterinary diets commercialized in Brazil for obese dogs undergoing a weight loss program. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2022;106(2):355-367.
  4. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in dogs. WebMD. Accessed September 21, 2023, 2023.
  5. Prognosis for dogs with inflammatory bowel disease. Sharon Lakes Animal Hospital. Accessed2023.
  6. Farret MH, Zatti E, Bissacotti BF, et al. Addition of chromium propionate in dog food: metabolic, immunological, and oxidative effects. Arch Anim Nutr. 2023;77(1):1-16.
  7. Stahlmann R, Kühner S, Shakibaei M, Flores J, Vormann J, van Sickle DC. Effects of magnesium deficiency on joint cartilage in immature beagle dogs: immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, and mineral concentrations. Arch Toxicol. 2000;73(10-11):573-580.
  8. Zentrichová V, Pechová A, Kovaříková S. Selenium and Dogs: A Systematic Review. Animals (Basel). 2021;11(2).
  9. Smith AD, Panickar KS, Urban JF, Jr., Dawson HD. Impact of Micronutrients on the Immune Response of Animals. Annu Rev Anim Biosci. 2018;6:227-254.


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