Like people, dogs need some minerals in order to be healthy and lead a normal life. One of these minerals is magnesium, which has a lot of functions and is among the most important nutrients that dogs have to get from food.
In today’s article, we are looking at what roles magnesium plays inside a dog’s body, the symptoms of magnesium deficiency, and whether or not dogs can actually get too much magnesium.
Why Is Magnesium Important for Dogs?
Almost everyone knows that when they have an episode of anxiety or if they can’t get enough sleep, they might have to take a magnesium and B6 supplement in the morning.
For dogs, magnesium does the same thing. Pets that don’t get enough of this nutrient in their diet are likely to behave differently and experience more anxiety than the rest.
Besides the way it affects the nervous system, magnesium also ensures that your dog doesn’t suffer from cramps. It’s capable of ensuring that your pooch’s muscles remain healthy, and it also gives your dog enough energy throughout the day.
On top of everything, it is involved in complex mechanisms along with other minerals, such as calcium, zinc, or potassium, and also makes it possible for these nutrients to be absorbed properly into your dog’s system. Otherwise said, magnesium is one of the most versatile nutrients that dogs can get.
Where Can Magnesium Be Found?
This mineral can be found in several natural food sources, such as wheat germ, soybeans, and whole grains. It is also present in a variety of nuts and seeds, ranging from almonds and cashews to peanuts.
Edamame and quinoa have decent amounts of magnesium, but you’ll be glad to know that it can also be found in more ‘normal’ foods such as spinach. Of course, dogs aren’t crazy about greens, but incorporating them into their canned food can be done in a blender.
Some dogs are lactose-intolerant, which is why they might not be able to benefit from the magnesium that can also be found in dairy products. But don’t worry, fish is another food source where this nutrient is present.
In any case, if you feed your dog a commercial canine diet, it is quite likely that he or she is getting the right amounts of magnesium from kibble and wet pet food.
Magnesium Deficiency in Dogs
There are several causes of magnesium deficiency in this species, and starving is one of the least common ones. Dogs can also suffer from diabetes and malnutrition, as well as chronic kidney disease, which means that other diseases can basically cause magnesium deficiency.
Dogs that develop this health problem can show the following symptoms (although not all of them have to be present on the same animal):
- Muscle pain
- Muscle tremors or visible cramps
- Changes in the dog’s heart rhythm
- A lack of energy (sometimes with lethargy)
Diagnosing magnesium deficiency is relatively easy. Your veterinarian can perform a number of blood tests, and since in some animals, the heart arrhythmias can be quite bad, they might suggest performing an ECG, too.
A blood electrolyte test is more often than not quite clear when it comes to mineral deficiencies, including one involving magnesium. Following this, your vet can recommend significant changes to your dog’s diet or a specific supplement. In the short run, though, they are likely to administer IV fluids and electrolytes and even keep your dog hospitalized for several days to make sure that he or she is completely stabilized.
Can a Dog Have Too Much Magnesium?
Hypermagnesemia is quite rare in dogs, and it can only happen in instances where the dog simply ate a lot of supplements at the same time. Unfortunately, many pet supplements these days are enriched with aromas and flavors that make them very appealing to dogs.
So, if your dog somehow gets the bottle open and eats all the pills, he or she could experience health complications.
However, hypermagnesemia can also be caused by various other conditions, such as hormone imbalances or renal failure, where a dog’s kidneys simply cannot eliminate the magnesium from the body, and it effectively builds up to dangerous levels. Hypermagnesemia can be severe or mild, and your vet can discover which one your dog has developed by performing a simple blood test.
Pets that have too much magnesium in their blood can show the following clinical signs:
- Difficult breathing
- Weakness or lethargy
- Heart rhythm changes
Treating excess magnesium in a dog’s blood can be a little more challenging than doing the same for magnesium deficiency. The vet can administer various substances (such as a sodium chloride solution) to balance the magnesium levels, but other medications might be necessary, too, especially for dogs that have heart issues.
Finally, the primary cause of this health problem must be discovered, so the vet will use a variety of tests and diagnosis methods for this purpose. They might test your dog’s hormone levels or recommend an ultrasound or CT depending on what they suspect.
Magnesium Supplements for Dogs
Do not give your dog a magnesium supplement if your veterinarian hasn’t specifically made this recommendation. If you feed your dog a healthy diet, the likelihood of your pooch being magnesium deficient is very low.
Try to take your dog to the animal hospital for blood tests at least once a year to ensure that if your pet does end up suffering from a condition, it is diagnosed and treated as early as possible.