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

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Zinc is an immune booster, and a strong immune system is what fights off bacteria, viruses and parasites. Building a strong immune system will help your dog stays healthy—and perhaps even free from severe allergies.
The immune system is comprised of two parts. One part includes the outer portion or skin and the second part, internal, protects the body from all foreign invaders that get past the skin.
There are several ways to build up your dog’s immune system, and one of them is by giving zinc. Zinc is crucial to protein metabolism and wound healing in dogs.
Some good sources of zinc included in dog food are supplements like zinc sulfate, zinc oxide and zinc carbonate. Red meats, whole grains and peas also serve as zinc sources in dog food.
While zinc is critical in your dog’s diet, over-supplementation can cause toxicity. According to the Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), growing puppies and adult dogs require a minimum daily zinc intake of 120 mg and a maximum daily limit of 1,000 mg. Zinc should be consumed naturally through the dog food that is provided. Read the ingredients on the bag containing your dog’s food to see how much zinc is included.
Overdosing on zinc causes a condition in dogs known as zinc toxicity. A dog’s health negatively impacted in several major ways:
• Gastrointestinal irritation: The dog is unable to keep down any food or water. Vomiting and diarrhea is severe and the abdomen may be painful to the touch.
• Anemia: Red blood cells are destroyed, and oxygen flow throughout the dog’s body is impaired.
• Lethargy: A usually energetic dog will become very sluggish.
Sometimes dogs get zinc toxicity by swallowing items that contain zinc, such as nuts and bolts or pennies; in this case, surgery might be required to remove them from the dog’s stomach. Blood transfusions may also be required. However, for most cases, simply removing the source of zinc allows the dog’s natural immune system to recover and new red blood cells to be produced over time.

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