Phosphorus for Dogs

Picture of a black dog in the water

Phosphorus is another mineral that all dogs need in order to be healthy and thrive. It is just as important for people as it is for our canine friends.

In today’s article, we’re looking at some of the roles that this nutrient plays inside a pet’s body, whether an overdose in phosphorus is possible, what the symptoms of this condition are, and more.

Why Is Phosphorus Important for Dogs?

We all know that calcium is an essential component of bones and that this is the reason why some dogs end up suffering from rickets or osteomalacia. But phosphorus is just as important as it can also be found in body areas such as your pooch’s bones and teeth.

On top of that, phosphorus has the ability to combine with other minerals present in your dog’s system. This means that it is paramount for the transmission of nutrients from one body region to the next, and it also helps with the production of complex compounds that assist your dog’s body, on the whole, to function normally.

Another aspect that makes this mineral essential for the healthy development of any animal is its ability to fuse with certain nutrients so as to ensure that the membrane of the cells existing in your pet’s body develop properly.

It’s also worth noting that phosphorus is important for the genetic material of dogs and other mammals. It can be found in both DNA and RNA (dogs are DNA organisms just like us). In other words, it is a mineral that proves its worth for pregnant dogs, too, since such complex mechanisms are a part of the reproduction function.

Finally, phosphorus is involved in other processes, mostly related to the elimination of substances from your dog’s body. As such, it helps your pet’s kidneys to function normally so that they can get rid of waste as they are supposed to.

Where Can Phosphorus Be Found?

Besides being a component of some supplements that your veterinarian might recommend, phosphorus can also be found in several natural food sources.

If you feed your dog a homemade diet, which is something that many pet owners might be interested in these days, especially given the high number of artificial (and potentially carcinogenic) additives in commercial kibble, you should make sure that you add ingredients that also contain phosphorus to the recipe.

The most common natural sources of phosphorus are listed below:

While phosphorus can also be found in wheat, we do not recommend using this type of food as the main part of your dog’s diet, as it can easily trigger digestive distress. Grain allergies are quite common in our canine companions nowadays.

Does your dog have low levels of phosphorus?

The only way to know that your dog does indeed need more phosphorus is to take them to the animal hospital and have a number of blood tests performed.

Phosphorus deficiency is most often associated with calcium deficiency since these two minerals work together in completing so many functions. This means that if your dog has low calcium levels with their respective symptoms, chances are that your pooch might need some phosphorus, too.

The most common clinical signs that can be seen in a dog with hypophosphatemia are the following:

  • A lack of appetite even for the most delicious treats and foods
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Pain and discomfort in a wide range of body areas
  • Cardiovascular complications

Low phosphorus diets might sometimes be recommended by vets for pets that have kidney failure or any number of other kidney pathologies. However, you should never actively lower the amount of phosphorus in your dog’s diet without doing so under the guidance of a veterinary professional — you could be doing more harm than good.

Can Your Dog Have Too Much Phosphorus? Hyperphosphatemia in Dogs

This is not a very common health issue that some dogs can develop. Another aspect worth noting here is that it’s often not the result of a poor diet or one that’s extremely rich in phosphorus since even commercial dog food varieties don’t have massive amounts of this mineral.

On the other hand, some dogs can have hyperphosphatemia as a result of suffering from other health issues, such as kidney problems, parathyroid gland dysfunctions, or various conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract.

Most of the symptoms that can be noticed in a dog that has too much phosphorus in their blood or system, in general, pertain to their urinary health. As such, some pets can show the following signs:

  • Straining to urinate
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Depression, lethargy, or the absence of any appetite

Hyperphosphatemia tends to affect senior animals more than it does young ones, and that’s because they might already have chronic kidney issues. Puppies and adults can also develop it on occasion, especially in cases of excessive supplementation with minerals — but in their case, hyperphosphatemia is easier to treat and is almost always not a consequence of other complications, such as hormonal imbalances.

Treating Hypophosphatemia or Hyperphosphatemia in Dogs

Blood biochemistry can quickly and easily reveal whether or not an animal has any of these two health issues. When it comes to treating hyperphosphatemia, vets can use a variety of medications, all of which will be tailored to your dog’s specific conditions.

Since hyperphosphatemia can be a result of other diseases, the primary one needs to be discovered. The most common therapy is administering phosphate binders orally.

As for hypophosphatemia, your vet can recommend specific supplements for this. If you intend on feeding your dog a homemade canine diet, you should always ask your vet beforehand.

More often than not, you will have to add extra ingredients to the natural foods you use in your recipes, and they might range from vitamin and mineral liquid supplements to omega fatty acids or a number of other amino acids that positively influence your dog’s health.

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