Believe it or not, we’re often asked about calcium. We’ve all heard of it. The average human has over 2lbs worth in their body, with 99% of the body’s calcium stored in the bones and teeth, helping to strengthen them. The other 1% helps with muscle movement allowing nerves to carry messages between the brain and our body parts (calcium is one of several electrolytes).
There are many forms of calcium that can appear in the diet. Either from animal parts, plants, or supplements, each form of calcium has unique characteristics in terms of absorption, helper nutrients, side-effects, and how easy it is on the body to put into use. Calcium is a metal that isn’t found by itself in nature, it binds to another element to create a compound.
Most of the questions we get fall into two categories: the source and the quantity.
For Fetching Foods products there are two main calcium sources: bone and eggshell, unless there’s a request for something different in the Custom Meals. Calcium from bone or milk is made primarily from two chemicals, calcium (Ca) and phosphate (P). Only a few of our products contain calcium phosphate in the form of bone (they’re clearly marked). There are several reasons why we selectively use bone. Bone (some other companies disguise the bone in their food by using the chemical names like tri-calcium phosphate or calcium phosphate, rather than the term bone) has several issues around it. While it’s the most readily absorbed form of calcium, it can cause constipation or hard stools, to get calcium the body is forced to take in more phosphates than usual, creating free phosphates in the blood which can be harmful for animals with kidney issues. Bone can also cause issues in animals with sensitive stomachs or older animals because it can be difficult to digest (usually obvious because it causes vomiting). Our dog Rex is one of those with a sensitive stomach to bone.
Calcium carbonate is the main component of pearls, sea shells, snail shells, eggshells, and the like. Of the common forms of calcium, it has highest levels of elemental calcium. This means the body can use the calcium without having to dispose of excess phosphorous, like what comes in bone. Because of this calcium carbonate is the primary type of calcium we use in our products. It’s easy on the kidneys and provides the necessary calcium for bone strength/growth, nerve, and muscle function.
The quantity of calcium we use is based on the AAFCO standards. We lab test our food to measure the exact amount of calcium in the food, which is made up of a small amount of calcium naturally occurring in the meat (calcium phosphate), some in plants (eg plant matter that goes in our dog products), and eggshell calcium/calcium carbonate we use to make up the difference, which is the majority of the calcium found in the food.
AAFCO recommends dogs receive between 1.25g and 4.5g DMB per 1000 k calories, and cats should have between 1.25g and 2.5g DMB per 1000 k calories. We do all that figuring when we formulate the food for your dog or cat.
Most people don’t realize is what’s also important is the calcium to phosphate ratio. As mentioned, calcium binds to another element. Most other foods use bone because it serves as a cheap filler — since bone really isn’t used for anything else in the food chain, so it’s thrown away or ground up and put it in pet food — plus it supplies calcium. When the Ca:P is not 1:1, and is more like a 1:1.3 ratio, that means you have a large amount of phosphates being metabolized that the kidneys are now having to handle. That’s fine if you have a young cat with healthy kidneys. If you have an older cat with bad kidneys you should do take a note of caution.
From the outset we formulated Fetching Foods to be not just healthy to the kidneys, but to the other organs and systems of your dog’s and cat’s body. It’s complicated to get the formulas right and costly to have the products analyzed by independent labs. The result is worth it. We regularly get feedback from you that lets us know our food helps your animals not just live, but vibrantly thrive.