Zinc Deficiencies in Dogs – What You Need to Know!
7 November, 2017
zinc deficiency in dogs

Zinc is an essential mineral that should be present in a dog’s healthy diet. Zinc deficiency causes a condition called zinc responsive dermatosis. Certain dog breeds are more predisposed to this disease, particularly Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes.

Why is Zinc important in dogs?

Zinc controls certain physiological processes and many aspects of the immune system. Some metabolic functions, including the thyroid metabolism, can’t function properly without zinc.

It is not completely understood why northern breeds like Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes are more prone to suffer from zinc deficiency. It may be down to a genetic inability to adequately absorb the essential mineral.

One theory is that, in the wild, these dogs enjoyed a rich diet of fresh fish, meat and offal. Although they are now domesticated, their dietary requirements are the same but they are often fed processed food which reduces the zinc content. And cheaper dog foods often have zinc bound in a virtually indigestible from.   Zinc isn’t absorbed very easily in the dog’s body. Only 5 to 40 percent of the consumed zinc is absorbed.

The symptoms of zinc deficiency

Common signs of zinc deficiency in dogs are hair loss, poor growth, lethargy, thickened footpads, redness and weeping between the toes, and open and crusted skin lesions around the mouth and eyes. Male dogs lose the desire to breed and females won’t come into heat.

Zinc deficiency during pregnancy can lead to stillborn puppies or physical and mental abnormalities.

Can dogs have too much zinc?

It’s important to stress at this point that these symptoms may have other causes. A vet must be consulted.  High doses of zinc reduce the absorption of copper. This can lead to weak bones and anemia. Signs of too much zinc in the body include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and rapid breathing.

A diet high in calcium and plant food can lead to zinc deficiency

Plants and fiber contain a compound called phytate, which bind minerals such as zinc and reduces the absorption rate. Calcium acts in the same way. A diet high in plant material or calcium could therefore lead to zinc deficiency. Meat and bone contain a higher concentration of zinc.

Zinc Supplements

A good natural zinc source is meat. Compared to the zinc concentration of plants, the difference in percentage is considerable.

Puppies and dogs from the northern breeds should get supplements containing extra zinc. You can find products for improving your pet’s skin and hair condition on the market. Look for high-quality vitamins and fatty acid supplements as well, which can be combined with zinc supplements.  Always consult your vet before adding any supplement to your dog’s diet.

Daily zinc recommendation for dogs

Growing puppies need a minimum of 120 mg/kg of food eaten. The puppy should receive a maximum of 1,000 mg/kg. Adult dogs require about the same amounts of zinc, provided they have a medium activity level. Racing and working dogs need between 150 mg/kg and 300 mg/kg of ingested food.

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