Feeding your dog a balanced diet can be difficult. Especially when it comes to giving him the vitamins and minerals he needs.
Today I want to talk about a group of important minerals. One that he may not get enough of …
And that's trace minerals.
There are lots of whole foods with trace minerals. And I'll share some of the best options with you …
… but first let’s talk about what trace minerals are and why your dog needs them.
What Are Trace Minerals?
Trace minerals are an important part of your dog’s health. But he only needs a small amount (or trace amounts … which is where this group of minerals got their name).
Each mineral has its own role to play for your dog:
How does iron help your dog?
Iron makes hemoglobin and myoglobin.
Hemoglobin carries oxygen throughout your dog’s body. Myoglobin provides oxygen to his muscles.
What happens when your dog doesn’t have enough iron?
If your dog doesn’t get enough iron, he could experience:
- Poor growth
How does selenium help your dog?
Selenium is an antioxidant that protects against cell damage.
What happens when your dog doesn’t have enough selenium?
If your dog doesn’t get enough selenium, he could experience:
- Low immunity
- Muscle cramping
- Low-stress tolerance
How does zinc help your dog?
Zinc boosts the immune system so that it can fight off viruses and bacteria and heal wounds. It also activates enzymes and improves your dog’s coat.
What happens when your dog doesn’t have enough zinc?
If your dog doesn’t get enough zinc, he could experience:
- Fertility issues
- Bone and joint problems
- Trouble healing wounds
How does copper help your dog?
What happens when your dog doesn’t have enough copper
If your dog doesn’t get enough copper, he could experience:
- Bone and joint disease
- Poor coat color
- Ligament and tendon issues
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How does manganese help your dog?
Manganese helps with bone and cartilage growth, blood clotting and the production of thyroid hormones.
It also helps break down amino acids, glucose, cholesterol and carbs.
What happens when your dog doesn’t have enough manganese?
If your dog doesn’t get enough manganese, he could experience:
- Reproductive issues
- Skin and hair abnormalities
- Bond and joint development issues
Sources of Trace Minerals for dogs
Like humans, dogs get the vitamins and minerals they need from the food they eat.
But not all foods are created equal.
The Problem With Vitamins and Minerals in Kibble
Many dog food bags say the kibble inside is full of vitamins and minerals.
This may be true but … the minerals are synthetic.
At this point, you may be thinking, “Why are they adding in synthetic minerals? Vitamins and minerals are naturally found in the foods we eat, aren’t they?”
You’re right. The problem is most nutrients can’t survive the heat when cooked. So, manufacturers add the minerals after the fact.
But business is business and natural supplements are expensive.
That is why they use synthetic vitamins and minerals. Take a look at the dog food bag and you will see ingredients like:
- Zinc Sulfate
- Calcium carbonate
- Sodium selenite
- Manganese sulfite
- Copper sulfate
These supplements are highly processed.
Let’s consider sodium selenite. It’s a supplement that contains selenium (one of the important trace minerals I mentioned earlier).
Sodium selenite is made from a combination of sodium hydroxide and selenous acid solution.
Sodium hydroxide is used for drain cleaner. Selenous acid is a byproduct of the copper purification process.
I am sure neither of these sound like something you would want to consume yourself or give to your pet.
In fact, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has warned that prolonged exposure to sodium selenite may cause:
- Coated tongue
- Stomach issues
- Liver damage
- Spleen damage
So how do you make sure your dog gets the trace minerals he needs?
Natural Sources of Trace Minerals
When it comes to your dog’s diet the best way to give him the nutrients he needs is to feed raw whole foods.
Foods that are high in trace minerals include:
Nutritious proteins are full of trace minerals.
Beef is great for selenium and copper. While poultry has lots of iron. Halibut and sardines are also a good source of selenium. And zinc and manganese can be found in fish, poultry and other meats as well.
Eggs (while not classified as meat) are a great protein and rich in copper, iron, manganese and selenium.
Organs are full of the vitamins, minerals and trace minerals your dog needs. Especially copper.
Organs should make up 10 to 15% of your furry friends’ diet. But don’t just feed one type of organ. Mix it up and feed as many organs as you can:
Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and vegetables are rich in trace minerals. Green veggies can be a great source of copper, manganese and zinc.
Add kale and spinach for copper or broccoli for iron. Or other greens like spirulina, chlorella and kelp for a wide range of trace minerals.
Legumes and Seeds
Nuts, seeds and beans can also boost trace minerals like iron and copper. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of manganese.
Herbs are a great source of trace minerals.
Try alfalfa, burdock root, catnip and chamomile for manganese, selenium and zinc.
For copper add some sheep sorrel to their diet.
And for iron use parsley and fennel.
While he may not need much, trace minerals are an important part of your dog’s health. So, make sure he gets a balanced diet with the minerals he needs.