Minerals for dogs are the same minerals as for all mammals that require these nutrients. However, information about minerals on Best Dog Food Guide is tuned to your needs as it is written in the context of nutritional requirements of the canine family and dog food ingredients.

What Are Minerals?

seasalt crystal structure

seasalt crystal structure

Minerals are ingested in the form of salts. To explain to you what minerals are, I think this is best illustrated by an example. The mineral sodium (Na) is often seen bound to chloride. I’m sure it’s in your kitchen somewhere and we refer to it as kitchen salt (NaCl).

Total mineral content in dog food is described in general terms as its ash content. Ash is the remaining residue when dog food is burned for two hours at 600 degrees in laboratory conditions. About 5 to 8% of regular dog food (based on total weight) consists of minerals.

The Function Of Minerals For Dogs

Minerals are important because of their role in growth and cell proliferation and the role they play in stabilizing body fluids (both osmotic levels as well as acid levels). Some minerals are part of hormones and enzymes.

The main minerals for dogs are listed below. The scientific abbreviation is between brackets and for each mineral, a number of its functions are mentioned (though not complete).

Main Minerals

Calcium (Ca)
For bone development, blood clotting and nerve function.

Cobalt (Co)
For hemoglobulin production (the molecules that transport oxygen in the blood).

Phosphorus (P)
Together with calcium, this element is required for normal bone development.

Potassium (K)
For nerve transmission (includes maintaining a heartbeat).

Sodium (Na)
For the passage of nutrients in the cells and involved in water metabolism.

Magnesium (Mg)
For proper function of the nervous system.

Trace Minerals

Trace minerals for dogs are called trace minerals because only a very low quantity is required.

Iron (Fe)
For hemoglobulin in red blood cells.

Zinc (Zn)
For skin cells, muscle cells and bone cells.

Manganese (Mn)
Involved in growth and reproduction, for cartilage cells, blood clotting, and a shiny coat.

Copper (Cu)
For the synthesis of skin pigments and required in iron absorption.

Iodine (I)
For proper thyroid gland function.

Selenium (Se)
Serves as an anti-oxidant.

Effects Of Too Little Or Too Much Minerals For Dogs

The National Research Council (NRC) and Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) publish recommendations for the minimum levels of trace minerals that should be present to complete and balanced dog food.

When dog food is manufactured, mineral supplements are often added to the natural ingredients. This is because natural forms of minerals in the source ingredients are too inconsistent.

Manufacturers add specific minerals to compensate for this variability and to make sure the final dog food product is balanced and has the right amounts of minerals for dogs. Therefore, when you are feeding a complete and balanced dog food, there is no need to supplement it with minerals. An excess of minerals is not beneficial and it can give opposite results.

A Few Examples Of Mineral Relations

  • Excess calcium and phosphorus interfere with absorption of manganese. Also, the ratio of calcium to phosphorus should be 1.2 to 1 in dog food otherwise bone abnormalities can develop.
  • Excess iron interferes with absorption of zinc.
  • Excess magnesium interferes with absorption of calcium.

Continue reading to find specific side effects of shortages or over supplementation of specific minerals.

Mineral Highlights

Calcium (Ca)

Probably the most familiar mineral and about everyone knows you need calcium for strong bone structures. This explains why the need for calcium is higher during growth. Together with phosphorus, calcium gives strength to bones. Calcium is also involved in signal transmission between nerve cells.

Natural source: Bones of mammals.

Phosphorus (P)

Phosphorus is important for the bone development, cell membranes, and energy metabolism. ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a nucleotide with three P atoms, is the universal currency of free energy in all biological systems. ATP is like a carrier for free energy but only as an immediate donor, not for long-term storage. But you don’t have to remember any of this… just as long as there is enough phosphor (but not too much) in the dog food you are feeding.

Natural Source: Meat (and to a lesser extent corn and wheat gluten).


An excess of phosphorous ingestion and porous bones is associated with All Meat Syndrome. Phosphorus amounts greater than calcium in the dog food menu can result in bone abnormalities due to interference with calcium absorption.

Magnesium (Mg)

Magnesium is involved in signaling of the cells of the nervous system, in muscle contractions and it has a role in cellular energy metabolism. When your dog is very active he may require higher amounts of magnesium.

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