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High Calcium Diets May Be Related to Bone & Joint Disease in Dogs
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
Special Diets
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Q. Are high calcium diets related to bone disease?
 
A. Feeding excess calcium is often blamed for contributing to bone problems in young rapidly-growing dogs. There does appear to be a link between the incidence of hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD) and osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), which are two diseases of young dogs with developing bones. Hip dysplasia has also been linked to the overfeeding of calcium. In recent studies, researchers fed dogs calcium at a much higher than recommended amount, and compared the incidence of disease in dogs that were fed normal or less than normal calcium levels. As would be expected, the animals that were overfed calcium showed increased incidence of skeletal problems including hip dysplasia.

Many people have embraced these studies and interpreted them to imply that by feeding a puppy food slightly lower in the recommended amounts of calcium and phosphorous to large breed puppies, the puppies will have a decreased incidence of hip dysplasia. However, there are no studies that show that these low calcium foods result in less hip dysplasia in large breed dogs than a normal well-balanced puppy food. While feeding a special formula large breed puppy food to your puppy is not bad, there are no concrete studies that show it is better than a balanced puppy food formulated for all puppies.

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