Mineral supplementation is used in kibble and wet pet foods to ensure that a food contains all the nutrients required to sustain life. Without them, a food may not meet the nutrient requirements of a pet.
Why Are Minerals in Pet Food Important?
Minerals play many important functions in the body, especially when it comes to proper bone and tissue development.
Although many ingredients contain minerals, it is often necessary to supplement to ensure adequate levels.
Too much, too little, or in some instances, an incorrect balance, may result in negative effects on health.
Chelated minerals are often found in premium pet foods because they have increased utilization in the body compared to non-chelated, inorganic minerals. These minerals are bound to amino acids or protein, making them easier for the body to absorb. Chelated minerals can be identified on pet food labels as a “proteinate” or a “chelate”, for example, zinc proteinate. Chelated and non-chelated forms are often used together to ensure adequate mineral levels.
The total mineral content in a food is referred to as its ash content, and ash content can vary between recipes depending on the ingredients chosen to target desired nutrient levels. For example, chicken meat meals have an increased protein content compared to fresh de-boned chicken meat, and therefore are often used when a higher protein content is desired. Unlike de-boned meats, meat meals contain both meat and bone which provide a rich source of calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. This can contribute to higher ash levels in the food. However, it is important to realize that a pet food would not be complete and balanced without these essential minerals.
In pet food, mineral supplements are added using what is referred to as a “premix”. Mineral premixes are a combination of essential minerals, and are used to provide the micronutrients pets requires in the correct amounts.
Using small quantities of a premix helps to ensure minerals are distributed evenly throughout the food, which helps ensure nutritional adequacy and safety of the recipes.
Using a premix allows the minerals to be mixed twice – once when the premix is made and again when the premix is added the food. While our goal is to use nutrient-rich ingredients to minimize the need for supplementation, nutrition and food science tells us that optimal nutrition cannot always be achieved by natural food sources alone, making supplementation of pet food necessary.
How Do These Minerals Help Your Pet?
Minerals, their functions and their common sources in pet foods are:
- Calcium (calcium carbonate): essential for normal bone development.
- Chloride (sodium chloride, potassium chloride): responsible for osmotic pressure and acid-base balance along with sodium and potassium.
- Copper (copper proteinate, copper sulphate): copper, together with iron, is essential for the body to produce red blood cells.
- Iodine (calcium iodate): essential for thyroid function.
- Iron (ferrous sulphate, iron proteinate): iron, together with copper, is essential for the body to produce red blood cells.
- Manganese (manganous oxide, manganese proteinate): essential for brain function and blood sugar regulation.
- Magnesium (magnesium oxide): essential for healthy muscles and bones.
- Phosphorus (monocalcium phosphate, dicalcium phosphate, tricalcium phosphate): essential for bone health. These supplements also provide a source of calcium.
- Potassium (potassium chloride): essential for regulating fluid balance, transmitting nerve signals, and coordinating muscle contractions.
- Selenium (sodium selenite, selenium yeast): essential for the normal functioning of the immune system and thyroid gland. Selenium works synergistically with vitamin E as an antioxidant.
- Sodium (sodium chloride, commonly known as salt): sodium is involved in blood pressure regulation; it also helps muscles, including the heart, and nerves work properly.
- Sodium tripolyphosphate: a mineral salt that binds to excess calcium in the mouth to help prevent tartar formation. Provides a source of sodium and phosphorus.
- Zinc (zinc oxide, zinc proteinate): essential for normal functioning of the immune system.
This blog was originally published on October 2, 2015. Last revised October 29, 2020.
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