Sulfur is another mineral that dogs need in order to be healthy. Compared to some of the other minerals that we have discussed in our other articles, the amount of sulfur that dogs should get is quite low.
However, dogs can also suffer from a sulfur deficiency if they do not get any in their diet. This mineral also has benefits when applied topically, meaning on the skin and coat of dogs, but we’ll delve more into this in a section below. Read on to find out more about sulfur for dogs!
Natural Sources of Sulfur for Dogs
Some of the foods you can give to your pooch without worrying about causing a sulfur overdose are the following:
However, onion and garlic also contain sulfur compounds, but they are actually dangerous for dogs. These sulfur compounds are capable of breaking up your dog’s red blood cells, effectively leading to severe anemia in a matter of less than a few hours.
This is one of the reasons why many vets advise against giving your dog table scraps, as they are likely to contain seasonings and condiments that have no place in your dog’s diet. There are some dog breeds that are more likely to develop this type of sulfur compound toxicity even more rapidly than others, such as Chow Chow, Pug, Shih Tzu, and Lhasa Apso.
Sulfur Deficiency in Dogs
This health complication has become less and less common in the past several decades, with the development of commercial pet diets. Pet food these days contains a wide variety of added minerals and vitamins, which can put a pet owner’s mind at ease.
On top of that, sulfur deficiency is one of the least common mineral imbalances that dogs develop because the amount of this nutrient that they need is actually low.
The signs of sulfur deficiency in dogs somewhat resemble those of other imbalances, such as when your pet’s diet is lacking in zinc.
Dogs that are sulfur deficient will have a dull coat, hair loss (localized or generalized), skin ulcers, skin irritations and cracking, and a generally poor immune system. These animals might develop infections time and again even if they seem otherwise healthy.
Sulfur Overdose in Dogs
Dietary overdose cases are extremely rare. Even vets do not necessarily recommend adding sulfur or sulfate compounds to homemade dog diets, and that’s because pets can get it from the food sources we’ve already mentioned.
However, onion and garlic can cause this health issue. In some cases, it can also be caused by exposure to massive amounts of topical sulfur, where a pet owner tries to kill fleas and ticks with a concentrated sulfur powder, for example.
Pesticides in this category can cause severe symptoms in dogs, such as incoordination, blindness, as well as brain damage. Some animals can die after being exposed to such high concentrations of sulfur.
Another aspect where sulfur is dangerous to dogs and other animal species is when farmers burn sulfur in an attempt to manage their problems with pests. When sulfur is burned, it turns into sulfur dioxide. If a dog is exposed to this gas, they will experience a wide range of respiratory symptoms and irritations in the superior tract of their respiratory system. Eye irritation is not uncommon, either.
Sulfur toxicity is very hard to treat because this mineral has the ability to be absorbed very quickly, which means that even if the vet attempts to induce vomiting and they manage to get rid of your dog’s stomach contents, the compounds might have already gotten into their blood stream.
Using Sulfur Topically for Dogs
If you did not know, most flea and tick products these days contain sulfur compounds. They are particularly effective for treating mites, too, including Demodex mites, which are known to be very challenging to treat.
And while sulfur is indeed very effective when it comes to killing these external parasites, it also has to be used judiciously. Always read the label of the product you purchase and use it according to the instructions listed there.
Topical products such as spot-on solutions are usually much safer than giving your dog a bath, although that might not always be the option. For example, in Demodex mite cases, the dog has to be washed with an Amitraz solution, but we recommend that this procedure takes place always at the animal hospital and not at home.
Do keep in mind that these insecticides can be dangerous for pets, children, and even adults when they are not used properly.
A Note About MSM
MSM is a dietary supplement that’s become quite popular with people in the past few years. It stands for methylsulfonylmethane, a sulfur compound that can be found in both plant and animal sources.
There are combinations of MSM these days that add glucosamine and chondroitin to the recipe so that the dog benefits from the formula as much as possible. MSM products can be good for senior dogs who have problems with their joints.
MSM is also said to provide good results in cases of gastroenteritis and allergies, but its use for arthritis and arthrosis is the most common one. Talk to your vet about whether or not you can give your dog an MSM supplement – there are species-appropriate products these days, and you should not use the one made for people as you could give your pooch an incorrect dose.