What are the pros and concerns of giving my dog calcium supplements?

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Pros: Calcium is needed for:

• Healthy bones, nerves and muscles. Puppies and pregnant/lactating dogs need more; your veterinarian will advise you.

Cons: Too much calcium might result in:

• Kidney stones
• Developmental diseases,
• Elbow dysplasia
• Early arthritis.

Some additional sources:
• Bone meal: It’s considered a good calcium supplement and provides 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 one sold for gardening.
• Ground bones: They’re great source of calcium but need to be ground up first. Although all dogs love bones, splintered bones often cause injuries resulting in major surgery or death. Many people now feed their dogs raw diets and, because bones are a good source of calcium and phosphorus, include raw chicken bones daily. Raw food advocates believe that raw bones will not splinter, and keep in mind that it’s much easier to grind bones that have been cooked than raw bones. Make sure the bones are thoroughly ground so no splinters can get caught in your dog’s throat.
• Supplements: Pet health websites, many from veterinarians, will help you decide if your dog needs extra calcium and the type of calcium she needs.
• Yogurt: Dogs can eat the type with fat in it, because they need fat too, but if your dog is overweight, buy a reduced fat yogurt. Cheese and cottage cheese is another source of calcium– and most dogs love the taste of cottage cheese.

NOTE: Your veterinarian may suggest a supplement if you feed your dog homemade food.

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