What are the pros and concerns of giving my dog bone meal?

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Bone meal can help keep your dog’s bones strong and healthy. Pay attention to the ingredients in your dog’s food. A healthy, well balanced diet is crucial to her bone strength. Vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus are all well known for promoting bone strength so try to find a dog food with all three of these ingredients. Bone meal is a great source of these vitamins and minerals and can be added to most foods, if needed.

According to AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials), commercial diets that include their seal of approval must be complete and balanced; there will be some times, however, when you’ll need to add it to food, such as if you prepare homemade foods for your canine.

You can purchase bone meal or grind it yourself. It’s considered a good calcium supplement, providing calcium and phosphorus in the correct ratio. As a powder, you can just add it to your dog’s food. However, bone meal can contain contaminants from the environment. Too much bone meal may add high levels of heavy metals and lead to your dog’s diet. Make sure the bone meal is food grade, not the type used for gardening.

Since bone meal is a source of vitamin D, phosphorous and calcium, the concern is over-supplementation of any of these. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin so it can cause toxicity and affect the calcium-potassium ratio. Too much calcium results in a condition called hypercalcemia. Symptoms include extreme thirst and excessive urination. The dog may become weak or lethargic and lose its appetite. High levels of calcium also can cause kidney stones. This would lead to difficulty urinating, blood in the urine, or both. High phosphorous can aggravate kidney problems.

As always, the best course is to discuss this with your veterinarian. Any homemade food should always be done under his or her guidance.

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