Calcium supplementation

by kylie brown
(seattle, wa)

Hi I have an 8 1/2 month old girl and was concerned about her past diet and the potential lack of calcium it contained.

She's currently about 22 1/2 inches at the base of the neck (I'm not sure where to properly measure "at the shoulder") and about 85 lbs. At 10 weeks I found she had a severe case of round worms and subsequently, she was put on special food by the vet for a month. She hated it and when she was able to eat kibble again, I mixed it with cooked chicken and carrots to entice her. So until recently her diet consisted of roughly 1-1 1/2 breasts daily with veggies and about 4 cups of kibble (BW large breed pup).

Now i'm concerned that this diet might have been too low in calcium. Compared to her brothers and sisters she is considerably shorter and her head is much smaller. And it is interesting that, while they are going through the awkward scrawny stage, she is very muscular and much more "filled out". Also, her parents, especially her mother, have very large skulls. A vet has suggested that along with just feeding kibble alone, that I should add calcium as well for the next 4 months.

So I was just wondering, in your infinite wisdom, would an addition of calcium beyond what is in the blue buffalo be of any benefit considering the short window she has remaining for skeletal growth? Most of what I've read regarding calcium supplementation was negative and it's actually possible to stunt growth. But she is a vet and I don't know if the negatives resulted from a year of extra calcium or a few weeks. Her idea of "making up for lost time" seems logical I guess but I just want a second opinion. Sorry this so drawn out.

Thanks in advance, this is a great site.

Hi Kylie
Interesting question. I wish I had some 'infinite wisdom' to share, but not being a veterinarian this is a situation where you're probably best to follow her advice. But I can give you my personal opinion and hope that it helps too :)

At 8 1/2 months your Rottie is still a puppy and has a lot of growing to do. However, she is past the stage where she's growing rapidly, so to me it would seem that giving her extra calcium at this point wouldn't carry the risks that it does for a younger puppy. Now, it may not help in terms of her growth, but it also may not hurt. That's something you'll have to rely on your veterinarian to advise you on.

As for her size - adult height, weight and conformation is 99% genetic. Diet, exercise and general health obviously play their roles, but genetics is the major factor. So, your pup's head size, height, weight and musculature are going to be mostly down to what she's inherited from her parents. My Rottweiler Puppy Growth Chart page has lots of information that you might be interested in.

Also, all puppies grow at different rates, and it sounds as though your girl is developing on a slightly different time-scale to her siblings. This isn't unusual, and the biggest male pups often take much longer than the smaller females to reach maturity.

Her muscle development is probably more a genetic tendency than anything to do with her diet too. She will probably be a strong, sturdy adult and although her head may (or may not) grow to be similar in size to that of her parents, she will be exactly what her 'genetic blueprint' set out to achieve.

As long as she's happy and healthy, that's what really counts and it sounds as though she is. Just be patient and wait for her development to be completed, then you'll know for sure how she's going to look.

Hope this helps in some way. I'm so glad that you're enjoying my site and finding it useful. Best of luck with your Rottie.

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Apr 26, 2012
Great info. Chris :) NEW
by: Sue from

Thanks for taking the time to post that additional information Chris.

I agree that if a Rottie pup is eating a premium puppy food designed large breeds then adding anything is unnecessary... and can cause problems rather than fix them!

Adding egg-shells is a great tip and one that I'm going to keep in mind :)

Apr 19, 2012
No calcium supplements NEW
by: Christopher Bayhi

Calcium in large breed puppy diets should be between 0.7% and 1.5% on an as-fed basis(Source: Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 4th Edition). More calcium than this is too much for a large breed puppy and contributes to Developmental Orthopedic Disease (DOD). Calcium supplements are unnecessary and will likely cause an increase in DOD unless the calcium is medically necessary to treat an ailment or medical condition.

Calcium levels in puppy foods are regulated by AAFCO, setting the maximum at 2.5% on a dry matter basis (Source: AAFCO Pet Food & Speciality Pet Food Labeling Guide). Since this level was established, the incidence of DOD related to excess calcium intake has been blamed on supplements, not diet.

Puppies eating a commercial product designed for their life-stage do not need supplements of any kind, unless it is medicaly mecessary.

Double check with your vet. Rotties take 2 to 3 years to mature. At 8.5 months she's sill growing, just not as fast as when she was younger. If you want to supplement calcium and it's ok with your vet, you can grind 2 egg shells in a cheap coffee grinder to where it's almost a powder. Put it on her dry food and see if she'll accept it. The calcium content in 2 egg shells every other day is safe and will not "overload" the calcium concentration in the dog's system or contribute to DOD. Again, check with your vet first!

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