Trace elements for dogs: everything you need to know

Trace elements are among the essential nutrients for the functioning of the body. Let’s find out what they are.

Trace elements for dogs are among the different components of a balanced diet, necessary for both the physiological and psychological well-being of the animal. These are substances of which the lack or excess can lead to the onset of long-term diseases.

Can you tell what trace elements are and why they are important for dogs? If you want to know the answer to this and other questions that may arise in connection with this topic, read on.

What are trace elements?

Trace elements are defined as those mineral substances that act in numerous metabolic reactions. Despite their importance, the concentrations of these elements required by the body for its functioning are very small.

How are trace elements taken?

The body receives the necessary trace elements mainly through food. However, the amount of trace elements ingested varies with the proportion of those available to the body. This is mainly due to the absorption level of each of them, as well as several factors, including the following:

  • The chemical form in which they were ingested.
  • Food conditions.
  • Interactions between the different trace elements. Two or more can compete with each other, which hinders certain processes in the body. For example, calcium absorption is affected by the presence of zinc.

Trace elements for dogs

Among the various trace elements that the body must incorporate through its diet, some are distinguished by their functions. For example, 3 specific trace elements are related to hair or skin disorders in animals.

Copper, one of the most important trace elements for dogs

Copper deficiency is mainly observed in puppies rather than adult individuals. Specifically, in those fed with homemade rations and without supplements.

This imbalance can also be caused by the intake of foods that are excessively enriched in calcium, iron or zinc. As for the perceived effects in the animal, the changes in the coat stand out, which manifest themselves in the following way:

  • Hair discoloration . This loss of color begins on the muzzle and can spread to the rest of the body.
  • Decreased coat density.
  • Dull and dry fur .


Zinc deficiency in dogs can be caused by poor quality food. Specifically, those rich in whole grains and with a high bran content, which have high quantities of antioxidant compounds, which retain zinc.

These act as metal sequestering agents and prevent the body from taking advantage of it. Foods rich in minerals also affect its deficiency in the body, although it may be related to the fact that it is the dog that has problems assimilating zinc.

In both cases, zinc participates in numerous metabolic processes . This is why its deficiency in the body leads to immune and skin problems.


In addition to zinc and copper, another trace element to consider is iron . This mineral is essential in various biological processes and is present in all cells of the body, as well as in specific molecules.

In particular, most of the iron is found in the proteins hemoglobin and myoglobin, which have different functions in the body. The former is responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the tissues, while the latter carries it to the muscle cells. Only 5-10% of the iron ingested with food is used by the animal’s metabolism.

On the other hand, its excess in the blood is toxic to the body and its absence causes the appearance of anemia. In dogs, anemia rarely results from a dietary deficiency of this mineral. Its appearance is usually related to chronic blood loss, the presence of parasites or bleeding.

Other trace elements for dogs

In addition to those mentioned above, the body requires the presence of other trace elements. The following stand out:

  • Cobalt.
  • Chrome.
  • Fluorine.
  • Manganese.
  • Selenium.
  • Iodine.

Lack of trace elements

Nutritional deficiencies of specific nutrients can lead to different types of diseases. These are also divided into two categories: specific and non-specific. Nutritional deficiencies are classified as specific when they affect a specific nutrient or group of nutrients. On the other hand, they are non-specific when they are related to 3 different factors:

  • Malnutrition.
  • Incomplete or insufficient digestion of food.
  • Typical dog absorption problems.

Furthermore, nutritional problems are known to have a negative influence on the condition of the animal’s coat and skin. For this reason, if the dog lacks trace elements in its diet, it can present various skin disorders.

In conclusion, trace elements for dogs are essential for the proper functioning of the body. However, the required quantities are minimal and both their deficiency and excess in the diet should be avoided.

If you think your pet needs to ingest food supplements, you should always go to the vet before administering them regularly. Only the specialist can diagnose the dog and provide effective treatment.

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