Sunday, February 11, 2007

Vitamin & Mineral Sources: Part 1

Vegetables: While a few vegetables may serve as natural vitamin sources, most vegetables have little value to a dog. Dogs can only digest about 30 to 50 percent of most of the vegetables eaten by man. Many of these vegetables are practically all water. What roughage they may contain can just as easily be obtained from cereal grains. Vegetables contain too little fat to be of any value as energy sources. Any plant protein they contain is likely to be of low biological value to a dog.

Fruits: Fruits are of even less value to the dog than vegetables are. The main vitamin for which fruits serve as a natural source is vitamin C, a vitamin that is not required in a healthy dog's diet. The healthy dog produces enough vitamin C from glucose to meet its MDR.

Other vitamin sources: Several other natural sources of vitamins are available to a dog owner to feed his or her dog. Some of these, like eggs, cheese, bread, and fish, have already been touched upon under other headings.

Of all methods, by far the most accurate and efficient way to provide a dog's requirement for each vitamin when compounding a diet from natural ingredients, is by using a vitamin mix. You must then calculate the exact amount to add that will provide an adequate supply of vitamins.

Mineral Sources: The minerals, like the vitamins, are best balanced in every diet by using a mineral mix in amounts calculated to supply the requirement for each mineral, and balanced to the caloric density of the diet. In natural diets most of the trace minerals are found in adequate amounts in the natural ingredients. It is important that the major minerals (calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and sodium) be balanced during diet formulation to insure that they are present in the diet in adequate amounts and in the proper ratio.

Bone meal: Bone meal contains calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium in almost the exact ratio required by a dog. As long as it is fed in a finely ground form, most of the mineral it contains will be usable by the dog. Bone meal should be added at about 1/2 ounce for every pound of raw meat put into a dog's diet. It should never be added in excess of 1/2 ounce per pound of the total diet.

Because it is inexpensive and easily available, bone meal is too often fed as the cure-all for any dietary mineral problem. This invariably leads to a greater imbalance in the mineral portion of the diet, not to its correction.

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