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Essential Nutrients for Dogs and Cats: Minerals

Essential Nutrients for Dogs and Cats: Minerals

In order to be considered a “complete food,” pet foods do not require mineral supplements. However, when analyzed, dry foods will generally consist of 5-8% macro and trace minerals, each serving different purposes for your pet’s body.

Why are minerals important for dogs and cats?

Your dog or cat will use minerals to help with various bodily functions. Each mineral can be used in one or more function, ranging from energy transfer to boosting your pet’s skin health.

14 kinds of minerals

Below you’ll find more information on the various forms of minerals, the unique roles they play in your pet’s health and the kinds of food that provide them.


Calcium intake is particularly important during the growth and suckling stages of young puppies and kittens. About 99% of the body’s calcium is stored in your dog or cat’s bones. There, it is responsible for making a strong skeletal structure and supports the transfer of information between cells and sensory impulses.

Which foods are good sources of calcium?
Calcium is often found in sources from other animals. Carnivores like cats and dogs can find calcium in:
  • Bones of mammals
  • Calcium carbonate (chalk)
  • Calcium phosphate


The amount of phosphorus your pet consumes in should be balanced with his or her level of calcium intake. Together, the two minerals can help with bone structure and cell energy. However, older dogs should be given less phosphorus, because it could make certain health conditions worse.

Which foods are good sources of phosphorus?
Phosphorus can be found in the bones of mammals, but in your pet’s food, it’s likely coming from meat, wheat and gluten


Potassium is called a macro mineral, because the body needs large amounts for proper functioning. This mineral works in the cell to keep a balance of pressure with sodium. It also helps create energy at a cellular level.

Which foods are good sources of potassium?
The most common place to find potassium is in mineral salts. Other sources include dried fruits, avocado, meat and smoked fish.

Potassium Citrate

Your pets, just like humans, can develop painful kidneys stones that must be passed through urine. That’s where potassium citrate comes in. This mineral bonds with calcium in your pet’s system, keeping it from forming stones and reducing the urine acidity.

Which foods are good sources of potassium citrate?
Potassium citrate is a mineral salt. It isn’t often found in everyday meats or vegetables.


Just like calcium, sodium helps monitor the pressure inside and outside of your pet’s cells. It is also the mineral responsible for regulating water. Sodium encourages your dog or cat to drink more water, which, in turn encourages him or her to urinate more frequently, clearing out any minerals that could become stones.

Which foods are good sources of sodium?
The sodium often found in your dog or cat’s food is basic sodium chloride, or table salt.

Sodium Phosphates

A very common health issue among pets is dental disease, caused by plaque and tartar build-up on the tooth. Sodium phosphates help slow down the formation of tartar. You’ll even find this mineral in a lot of human toothpastes.

Which foods are good sources of sodium phosphates?
Rather than finding sodium phosphates in an ingredient, it’s actually a family of mineral salts. They comprise more than 150 different substances, including orthophosphate and pyrophosphate.


Magnesium is a multifunctional mineral, used in a number of ways in your pet’s body. It helps build your pet’s bones, produces energy at a cellular level, and is needed for a good working nervous system.

Which foods are good sources of magnesium?
Magnesium is more commonly found in the bones of mammals and through mineral sources, like magnesia. It can also be found in mineral salts.

Chelated Trace Elements

These elements help improve your pet’s digestive and metabolic functions. They allow your dog or cat to better absorb nutrients from food, through his or her digestive system.

Which foods are good sources of chelated trace elements?
These components come from several natural sources, rather than foods. Purified amino acids chelate minerals such as:
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Iodine
  • Selenium


This mineral can help boost your pet’s body function in several different areas. For instance, zinc improves the quality of your dog or cat’s skin and hair, while also improving his or her reproductive function.

Which foods are good sources of Zinc?
Zinc supplements can be found in organic form, such as zinc gluconate or zinc plush methionine. Otherwise, it is often found in mineral salts, whole meal cereals and all animal products.


Your pet needs only trace amounts of iron, placing it in the category of a trace mineral. However, it’s still vital for bodily function, helping provide oxygen to both organs and muscles.

Which foods are good sources of iron?
There are a lot of ways for your pet to consume iron. It’s often found in:
  • Liver
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Green vegetables
  • Mineral salts


This mineral is especially important to puppies and kittens, as well as older pets. Manganese helps ensure quality bone and cartilage. It also helps with the mitochondria function, or the cell’s energy source.

Which foods are good sources of manganese?
While your pet can get manganese from eating meat, it’s not considered a strong source. Better ingredients for this mineral include:
  • Cereals
  • Grain
  • Fruits
  • Mineral salts


This may be a minor element, but copper helps with several functions in your pet’s body. It helps your pet’s system absorb iron, helping stop anemia and participates in the synthesis of melanin, which ultimately gives your pet his or her hair color.

Which foods are good sources of copper?
While you need to be careful how much copper your pet takes in, there are several good sources of this mineral, including:
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Duck
  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Soy


While only a minor metal, iodine plays a significant role in your pet’s digestive system. It also helps with the synthesis of thyroid hormones that regulate your pet’s metabolism.

Which foods are good sources of iodine?
Iodine can be found in various forms, but the preferred sources include:
  • Sea salt
  • Fish


Just like other antioxidants, selenium helps fight against oxidative stress, like aging, pollution, cancer, or inflammatory diseases. Inside your pet’s body, this trace mineral acts in tandem with vitamin E to protect cell membranes from free radicals.

Which foods are good sources of selenium?
As a trace mineral, your pet’s body doesn’t need large amounts of selenium. It can be found in these ingredients:
  • Mineral salts
  • Fish
  • Meats

Talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s unique mineral needs

For more information on your pet's diet and important minerals to look for in cat or dog food, contact your local Banfield Pet Hospital and speak with one of our pet experts.

Learn More
You can also learn more by reading the Nutrition section of Banfield.com, including these articles below:
Source: 2012 Royal Canin Nutrient Guide