Calcium

Dogs need calcium in a recommended ratio of 1 to 2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus. A deficiency can eventually lead to bone deformities, pain and fractures while adding too much decreases the nutritional value of the food as the calcium binds many of the minerals.  If your dog eats commercial foods which are balanced or raw diets that include at least 20 percent raw meaty bones such as chicken necks and backs, there's no need to add calcium to the diet since the calcium amount to offset the phosphorus is already there. 

If your dog eats 50% or more homemade then you must supplement the calcium. Yogurt, multivitamins, and mineral supplements only supply enough calcium to balance the phosphorus in them, not in any additional fresh foods so they don’t count. Kirby eats a combination of both so I always supplement the homemade meals as I prepare them.

Amounts

There are two ways to do this. You can provide the general daily dosages for adult dogs based on weight according to holistic veterinarians by splitting the amounts between daily meals. Your veterinarian can give you the ideal dosage for your dog.

The easiest way is to add 1/4 teaspoon per cup of prepared food or 1/4 teaspoon per pound of meat in a recipe which I include in each of our dog food meal recipes. Do not add calcium to treats.

Puppies younger than six months, pregnant dogs, and nursing dogs have different requirements so it’s important to check with your veterinarian for the proper amounts if feeding homemade or raw diets. For example puppies do better with bone meal which contains phosphorus in addition to the calcium.

Sources

Sources of calcium include calcium carbonate or calcium citrate, seaweed, bone meal, and ground eggshells which is what I use. It’s the easiest and budget friendly since everyone cooks with eggs.

How I Do It

1.  Wash the empty eggshells in warm water until all of the egg white is removed being careful not to remove the papery thin membrane attached to the inside of the shell since it contains important nutrients for your pet's joints that help with arthritis.

2.  Lay the broken shells out on paper towels and allow them to air dry. I then store them in an extra egg carton in the cabinet until I have enough to grind.

3.  Bake at 300 degrees for ten minutes to remove the mineral oil coating used to keep eggs fresh (only necessary for store bought).

4.  Break the eggshells up into small pieces and grind them into a fine powder in a coffee grinder you have NOT ground coffee in.  I have a grinder specifically for Kirby so I don’t have to worry about what might have been left behind that can harm him. You can put the egg shells in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to grind them but they must be fully ground for complete absorption.

5.  Store in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid in a dry place like a kitchen cabinet for up to two months. it's not necessary to keep in the refrigerator.

One medium sized eggshell equals 1 teaspoon of powder with 750 to 800 milligrams of elemental calcium, the amount available for absorption.  You can also purchase Eggshellent Calcium if you don't want to grind your own.

Final Word

It’s ok to feed occasional meals that don’t include added calcium since adult dogs can get by without it for months but eventually a deficiency will cause serious consequences so start adding this necessary nutrient to your homemade meals.