Pet Food Ingredients
on March 10, 2014

AAFCO ponders maximum calcium levels in dog food

Currently no breed differentiations in numbers; incorrect feeding may be an issue

How much calcium is too much in dog foods? In 2007, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) convened a panel of experts from academia and industry to, in part, make recommendations for revision of the AAFCO Dog and Cat Food Nutrient Profiles. These profiles, which were last revised in 1995, serve as one means by which the nutritional adequacy of dog and cat foods can be substantiated in the US.

Now, seven years later, the recommendations of the panel have yet to be put into place. There is agreement as to recommended levels of nutrients with one major exception; that is, the maximum calcium concentration that should be allowed in dog foods for different life stages and breeds.

The charge to the  expert panel when it was formed was to consider the newly released (at the time) publication Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats (2006) by the National Research Council (NRC), as well as other scientific information available since the last revision of the AAFCO Profiles. The safe upper limit as recommended by NRC for dog foods intended for growth is 1.8% dry matter (at 4000 kcal ME/kg).

There is no differentiation as to breed of dog in the NRC tables; i.e., it applies to all dog foods intended for puppies. However, in looking at the supportive text, NRC notes, "Thus, excess dietary calcium has been shown to cause clinically recognizable bone abnormalities in growing dogs, but these effects appear restricted to puppies of large breeds."


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