How would you react if you veterinarian told you your dog’s illness was caused by a lack of the tiniest amount of a certain mineral? You would be devastated. Trace minerals are essential in small quantities in the body. Because requirements are so small for these minerals, they are often called micronutrients. But although they are micro, they are mighty and necessary for proper body function. Trace mineral deficiency is not uncommon in homemade dog food.
Copper Copper’s has many important body functions.
- It aids the intestinal absorption of iron from the diet
- It helps red blood cells use iron to form hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is necessary to carry oxygen to all of the body’s cells.
- It is also important for blood coagulation to prevent blood loss
- It is important in the function of the immune system to fight infection
- Cooper is necessary for the structural strength of arteries, bones and the heart.
- All cells need copper in order to burn fat for energy
- Brain and nerves cells cannot function effectively without copper.
- Copper is also important for the production of hormones
- Is necessary for glucose and cholesterol metabolism
- Helps regulate blood pressure
- It is necessary for the production of melanin and normal fur color
Copper deficiencies can lead to changes in fur color, weakness, decreased activity, anemia, prolonged bleeding, decreased immune and nerve function as well as osteoporosis.
Iodine The primary role of iodine in the body is for the production of thyroid hormones.
- Thyroid hormone regulates the body’s metabolism
- Thyroid hormone is also important for proper bone and brain development of the fetus during pregnancy.
Deficiencies in iodine lead to decreased metabolism, weight gain, hair loss, infertility and various neurological problems. In young animals deficiency can stunt their bone and neurological growth.
Iron Iron is a key mineral for the production of hemoglobin in red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body.
- It is necessary for myoglobin, which aids oxygen supply to muscle, especially during rigorous exercise or temporary lack of oxygen.
- It is necessary in many enzymatic reactions, especially those associated with the use of fat for energy.
Iron deficiency generally results in poor growth in puppies, weakness, exercise intolerance and ultimately, anemia.
Manganese Manganese plays a key role in many cellular chemical reactions that are related to:
- Normal bone development
- Proper nerve function
- Normal reproduction
Dietary deficiencies of manganese can result in abnormal bone growth causing shortening or bowing of the leg bones, lameness and swollen or enlarged joint. Delayed heat cycles, poor conception, increased abortion rates, stillbirths and low birth rates are also associated with manganese deficiency.
Selenium Selenium is has important antioxidant functions.
- Selenium protects the interior of cells from the oxidative damage of normal metabolism
- It is also important in the regulation of thyroid hormone function
- Selenium’s antioxidant role is important for proper function of the immune system
- Selenium is thought to be protective against the development of cancer
Puppies with selenium deficiency may show signs of decreased appetite, depression, difficulty breathing and coma. These symptoms result from degeneration of muscles, especially the heart and kidney calcification.
Zinc Like copper, zinc has many important body functions. It is necessary for 200 chemical reactions in cells that are important for:
- Cell reproduction
- Carbohydrate and protein metabolism
- Proper skin function and wound healing
- Important in the structure and function of cell membranes
- Is necessary to stabilize the structure of DNA and RNA
Zinc deficiency results in poor growth in puppies, hair loss, crusting, scaling and often exuberant growth of the skin around the face, body pressure points and food pads.
Commercial dog food makers are required to provide adequate amounts of trace minerals in their foods. Most homemade dog food recipes are lacking in micronutrients. Dog owners wrongly assume that a variety of meats and carbohydrates will meet their dog’s needs. That is not the case. Foods vary tremendously in the amounts of trace minerals they contain. Foods are often described as “rich in zinc or iron, etc.” but that does not mean they are adequate. The word “rich” can refer to a very small amount that still may be inadequate for the daily requirements of the dog. Make sure your homemade dog food is properly supplemented with these essential micronutrients. Your recipe source should be able to readily provide that information. If not, seek another source.
~Dr Ken Tudor
The Dog Dietitian