In her 28 year career, our holistic vet said she had only ever encountered two dogs with low calcium, and Luca was the second! She said it was extremely low and looked genuinely surprised at the review of the full workup blood panel, but it didn’t surprise me one bit. Did I expect low calcium? No. But with Emi and Luca a rare diagnosis tends to be the norm.
I don’t speak “vet” so in laymen’s terms essentially his body doesn’t absorb calcium properly. He was getting it, it just wasn’t being properly processed.
For more information about low blood calcium in dogs, see http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/cardiovascular/c_dg_hypocalcemia
So what do you do if your dog is diagnosed with low calcium?
You might immediately think of dairy, but many dogs don’t digest dairy well and with Luca’s low-fat diet that wasn’t really an option for him. Dog Food Advisor has a good article explaining lactose intolerance in dogs if you’re interested in learning more.
In addition to prescribing an array of herbal supplements she sent me home with a list of high calcium foods to start adding to Luca’s diet.
- Chopped and Steamed Collard Greens
- Chopped and Steamed Kale
- Chopped and Steamed Broccoli
- Chopped and Steamed Sweet Potatoes
- Dried Figs
- Salmon, canned with bones
The National Osteoporosis Foundation has a full list of calcium rich foods with how many mg per serving available at http://nof.org/articles/886.
After reviewing the calcium content of each, we opted to go with collard greens whenever possible. Our vet said chopping it into small pieces and steaming it for about 4 minutes would make it easier to digest. We use kale and salmon when collard greens aren’t available and give the occasional dried fig as a yummy treat. He absolutely LOVES all of his new foods (although he’s never been a picky eater!).
Luca is about 60 pounds (stay tuned for the weight-loss post!) and she said to add 1/2 cup of the steamed veggies per meal.
*Note that giving your dog too much calcium can adverse health effects. Always consult your vet on dietary changes or other medical issues. I am not a vet and the information in this post should not be substituted for the care and advice of your veterinary practitioner. As a rule of thumb I always consult the Pet Poison Helpline website before introducing anything new to my dogs. If you’re investigating calcium options for your dog I suggest you run a quick search on each as well.