Updated: Apr 7, 2020
Minerals are inorganic substances that are essential to the metabolic functions of the body. They are absolutely critical to the health of your dog. Microminerals or trace minerals, are relatively rare in the soil and oceans and therefore in our food. They are needed in small quantities for optimum health but if they are lacking in your dog's diet, they can create a variety of health issues.
The 4 most common microminerals that you need to ensure are in your dog's diet, whether you feed raw or a conventional diet (kibble/wet food) are:
Impact on raw fed dogs
If you feed your dog a raw diet, you may think that because it is natural and fresh, your dog is getting all the nutrients she needs. However, this is not always true for the following reasons:
1. Whether you feed a commercial raw diet or you prepare meals yourself, it is crucial to rotate the proteins (and veggies/fruit if you feed them to your dog) regularly. Each animal protein contains different nutritional value and a different ratio in protein vs fat. Feeding always the same protein will lead to many deficiencies including in essential fatty acids. Organ meats are the main source of vitamins and macro/micro minerals in your dog's diet. They should represent 10 to 13% of your dog's meal. Bones provide essential macrominerals such as calcium and phosphorus and should represent about 10% of your dog's meal. Not enough diversity in your dog's diet will create deficiencies not only in minerals but in vitamins, essential fatty acids and more. I remember chatting with the guardian of a young dog and he was telling me his dog was on a chicken commercial raw diet because chicken is the cheapest protein you can find. This is not a proper balanced diet and in the long run can lead to serious health issues.
2. Modern agriculture practices have greatly depleted the soils over the past 70 years. Several studies indicate that the average calcium levels dropped 27%, zinc levels 59% and iron levels 37% between the 1970s and mid 1990s. Crops become more and more mineral poor and the animals that are fed those foods, become mineral poor as well. This lack of nutrients is passed on throughout the food chain all the way to the food your dog eats.
Additionally, conventionally grown foods (and farmed animals eating them) contain herbicides, the most common one being Round Up. The active compound in Round Up is glyphosate which binds to macro and microminerals.
Plants exposed to glyphosate can't absorb minerals properly and as a result, become mineral poor.
Besides, glyphosate has been linked to cancer, kidney disease, hormone disruption and bone deformities in humans, so we can suspect it affects our dogs in a similar way.
The crops to avoid for their highest concentration of glyphosate are wheat and legumes such as soy, chickpeas, lentils and beans.
Even organic crops contain trace amounts of glyphosates due to the general pollution of our soils.
As much as possible, favour organic foods and grass-fed, pastured-raised animals from local farmers.
According to a study from 2001, there is a clear difference in the nutritional value of organic and conventional crops. Organic crops contain more vitamins and minerals and less heavy metals.
Impact on kibble fed dogs
If you feed kibble, you may have noticed the nutritional content list of all vitamins and minerals at the back of the packaging. They're not from the original ingredients as the heating process (High Pressure Pasteurization or HPP) involved in the manufacturing of kibble destroys them. So manufacturers add synthetic vitamins and minerals to meet the minimum requirements established by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials). It is important to know that those requirements were never set for optimum health but rather from the perspective of what is strictly necessary so that your dog doesn't become sick or malnourished.
The problem is that synthetic vitamins and minerals have a smaller scope of action as natural ones and they are also less bioavailable to the body (your dog can't absorb and use them because of their chemical structure) than natural minerals.
For these reasons, your kibble fed dog may be lacking some microminerals. You can easily remedy this by regularly adding some of the fruits and vegetables listed below to your dog's regular kibble.
Do not mix raw and kibble unless you are transitioning your dog's diet to a full raw diet. Feeding a mixture of raw and kibble on a regular basis may make your dog more sensitive to pathogens.
Critical role in the growth process.
Regulates the metabolism (rate the body uses energy).
Mineral excesses increase the need for iodine: (calcium, potassium, fluoride, manganese and arsenic can increase the need for iodine in the diet)
Long term deficiency can cause weight gain, dry skin, poor coat, sensitivities to temperature and noises and behaviour issues.
Deficiency can cause hypothyroidism, immune deficiency and reproductive issues.
Which foods to feed? Fish, eggs, and marine plants such as kelp. The quantity contains in those sources depends of the availability of iodine in the soil where they grow.
Feeding the thyroid glands from animals is also a great way to provide iodine to your dog. Chicken necks are great for this reason.
Manganses plays a key role in the urea cycle by removing excess nitrogen and ammonia.
Helps the body detoxify from oxydative stress.
Plays key function in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fat metabolism.
Signs of deficiency: impaired growth and reproductive functions, abnormal blood clotting, and general metabolic issues.
Weak tendons and ligaments because manganese activates the production of collagen in the joints. Many dogs with cruciate ligament issues may be manganese deficient.
Which foods to feed? Whole grains, nuts, leafy green veggies, beef liver and tripe, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried coconut, mussels and almonds.
Food rich in anti-nutrients such as phytic acid and oxalate acids (spinach, sweet potatoes, cabbage) may inhibit manganese absorption as well as other more common minerals such as phosphorus, iron, and calcium.
Protects the body from oxydative damage caused from anti-radicals. Anti-radicals can damage the DNA and accelerate the aging process, and can lead to cancer. Anti-oxidants can reverse the process and help the body repair.
Selenium, combined with vitamin E, works in synergy to create a potent anti-oxidant. Selenium is also important in the thyroid and immune functions.
Deficiency in selenium may lead to auto immune diseases. Research has shown that selenium also protects against mercury toxicity. Deficiency can cause hair loss and weight loss and muscular distrophy.
Which foods to feed? Fish, mushrooms, beef and pork kidney, lamb liver, oyster, turkey liver, beef spleen.
Selenium is affected by modern farming and pesticide use so it is always a good idea to supplement the diet with it.
An important co-factor for 200 enzymes in protein, carbohydrates and fat metabolism. Antioxidant properties
Important role in the release of vitamin A from the liver. So zinc deficiency is often related to vitamin A deficiency.
Northern breeds (Huskies and Malamutes) can have a genetic defect that limits zinc absorption.
Helps with wound healing, plays important role in the immune and reproductive function, growth, vision, blood clotting, skin function and proper blood sugar balance. Zinc also is a powerful anti-oxidant that can help reverse the damage caused by free radicals.
Zinc deficiency can be related to skin lesions, poor brittle coat, loss of hair pigment, poor wound healing.
Large amounts of phytates can interfere with the absorption of Zn (by linking with zn, making it less available to the body to use). Phytates can be found in wheat and rice bran, soy and peanuts)
Which foods to feed? lamb liver, 90% ground beef , oyster, mackerel and kale.