Calcium levels in your dog’s body can be a tricky business.
Like any medical care step, there are different sides of the coin that need to be looked at for your dog with cancer. First, many dog lovers are feeding their dogs home made diets. Since these dogs are not eating pieces of a carcass skeleton, they will need to have calcium added to meet their basic needs.
The body uses calcium to maintain the bones, for muscle use, for the heart to pump, for neurotransmitters and more. The daily amount of calcium for an adult dog is 119 mg per kilo of body weight of calcium.
In humans, it has been shown that diets low in calcium increased the risk of cancer of the colon and rectum.
The problem though is that dogs with cancer may have high blood calcium already from their cancer. Some cancers secrete a substance (PTHrp) that causes the kidneys and bone to act together to raise the blood calcium. Anal sac apocrine adenocarcinomas do this commonly.
If the blood calcium level is too high, the kidneys can start to mineralize. This hurts kidney function and can cause kidney disease. High calcium can also cause urinary stones (calcium oxalate). And moving cells, in particular moving cancer cells, require calcium to travel (if you would like more information on how cancer works, read the Guide).
So we have a delicate balancing act with calcium.
What about calcium sources? Years ago, I wrote that oyster shell calcium and bone meal were good sources, but later found that some of these supplements contained lead. So I eliminated this recommendation and instead focused on chicken necks and/or calcium citrate.
Calcium citrate does not create lead accumulation in the body. It is also gets into the bloodstream well after taking it in food, where other forms had lower absorption.
Supplementing dogs on commercial foods that are balanced and complete do not need additional calcium supplements. However, if your dog is on a home made food, you will need to supplement with calcium.
For more information on diet and how to give necessary calcium to your dog, there is a free download on the top of this blog page. There is more information in the best diet to feed your dog with cancer in the Guide.
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.