Zinc for Dogs

Unlock the secret to your dog's optimal health with the often-overlooked mineral, zinc! In this eye-opening article, we dive into why zinc is a game-changer for your furry friend. From boosting immune systems to ensuring a shiny coat, zinc is a powerhouse in supporting your dog's well-being. Discover how to spot zinc deficiency, the best zinc-rich foods, and safe supplementation tips.

Key Takeaways

  • Zinc is essential for dogs’ health, playing a critical role in their immune system, skin and coat health, wound healing, and growth, with dogs requiring specific amounts of zinc depending on their age and physiological state.

  • Zinc deficiency in dogs can lead to a range of health issues from skin lesions to a weakened immune system, and early detection is crucial for effective treatment and prevention of severe problems.

  • Ensuring adequate zinc intake for dogs involves a balanced diet along with veterinarian-guided supplementation if needed, with breed-specific considerations and risks of zinc toxicity from over-supplementation or accidental ingestion.

The Role of Zinc in Canine Health

Zinc is indispensable for canine health. It’s involved in over 300 bodily processes in dogs, including:

  • Supporting a robust immune system

  • Maintaining a healthy skin and coat

  • Cell replication, particularly during wound healing

  • Healthy skin, hair, and toenails

  • Maintaining the structural integrity and function of cellular membranes, crucial for the health of the gastrointestinal tract

Zinc predominantly resides within cells, particularly in the cytoplasm, membranes, and intracellular compartments like mitochondria, with specific transporters mediating its concentration and distribution, ensuring optimal zinc concentrations.

Immune Function Support

Zinc benefits for dogs

Zinc plays a vital role in supporting a healthy immune system, which is the first line of defense against diseases. Dogs with sufficient zinc levels exhibit a robust immune system, helping fend off frequent infections and boost overall health. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Dogs suffering from zinc deficiency often face frequent infections due to a weakened immune system and a suppressed immune response.

The good news is that dogs with weakened immune systems experiencing recurrent infections have shown significant health improvements following a regimen of dog zinc supplements, also known as zinc supplementation, which includes the use of dogs zinc products.

Healing and Growth

In addition to supporting your dog’s immune system, Zinc is key to their growth and development. Zinc contributes to maintaining healthy skin in dogs, which is vital for efficient wound healing. This is because zinc acts as a cofactor for numerous enzyme systems, including those crucial for keratinocyte migration during wound repair. A zinc deficiency can lead to slow wound healing and the appearance of crusty sores or lesions on a dog’s body, emphasizing the mineral’s importance in repair processes.

Moreover, Zinc is a vital element in the production of various hormones, contributing to the growth and development in puppies and young dogs.

Skin and Coat Vitality

Have you ever wondered what contributes to your dog’s shiny coat and healthy skin? You guessed it, it’s zinc! This essential mineral contributes to healthy skin and a shiny coat in dogs, helping to prevent conditions like hair loss and dermatitis.

Moreover, zinc is instrumental in maintaining the integrity and function of canine skin cells, directly influencing the resilience and repair of their skin. It aids in the production of collagen and keratin, which are essential for maintaining the strength and elasticity of the skin and the luster of the coat.

A zinc-rich diet can help mitigate dry, flaky skin and fortify your dog's natural defenses against skin infections and irritations, ensuring they not only look their best but also feel great.

Identifying Zinc Deficiency in Dogs

Zinc for dogs

Identifying a zinc deficiency in your dog can be challenging as the symptoms often mimic other health issues. However, by knowing what to look for, you can catch this deficiency early, potentially saving your dog from severe health problems.

Early Symptoms

Some early symptoms include lack of protection from infection, abnormal iodine metabolism, and interference with normal cell developments, such as wound healing and replacement of intestinal lining cells. In puppies, these symptoms could manifest as stunted growth, diarrhea, crusted and cracked footpads, and multiple infections.

Other symptoms of responsive dermatosis in dogs include crusts and scaling around the eyes, mouth, scrotum, transition areas between skin and mucous membranes, and a dry, dull hair coat.

When Deficiency Becomes Severe

Zinc deficiency is not to be overlooked, as early symptoms can escalate into severe health problems. In puppies, early symptoms can be birth defects and the possibility of stillborn puppies. In severe cases, puppies often don’t respond well to supplementation, which may result in death or euthanasia.

If left untreated, severe zinc deficiency can result in additional complications, including hair loss, enlarged lymph nodes, lack of appetite, depression, skin infections, and malnutrition. In such dire cases, veterinarians may resort to interventions like zinc injections to manage the condition and address zinc deficiencies.

Zinc Absorption & Intake


With a clear understanding of zinc’s importance and the consequences of its deficiency, it's important to provide your dog with an adequate amount of zinc. Both a balanced diet and the right supplementation strategies are crucial to delivering the necessary amount of this vital mineral.

Adult dogs require 15 mg of zinc per 1000 kcal of metabolizable energy (ME), while puppies need 25 mg/1000 kcal ME, and pregnant or lactating females need 17 mg/1000 kcal ME. But remember, these are just guidelines. Always consult your vet to ensure you’re providing the right amount of zinc for your dog’s specific needs.

Balancing Your Dog's Diet

A balanced diet serves as the initial step in ensuring the proper zinc intake for our dogs. Some sources of zinc-rich foods for dogs include beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, spinach, lentils, and quinoa. Diets that include meat and bone can provide higher concentrations of zinc, beneficial for dogs with a tendency toward deficiency.

While most processed kibble contains the minimum required amount of zinc for dogs, ingredients like phytates and calcium in dog food can inhibit zinc absorption. Diets high in plant materials or calcium can also lead to zinc deficiency due to the presence of phytate, a compound that can bind zinc, thereby reducing their absorption rates.

Including meat & certain vegetables and grains in your dog’s diet can help ensure they get enough zinc. However, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet.

Zinc Supplements

Occasionally, a diet alone may not suffice, thus dog owners may look into giving their dogs supplements. However, it’s important to remember that supplementation should always be done under veterinary guidance to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Zinc supplements formulated for humans should not be given to dogs unless under veterinary guidance, and organic sources of zinc like zinc methionine are preferred for their higher bioavailability.

Risks Associated with Zinc: Overdose and Toxicity


While zinc is integral to your dog’s health, an excessive amount can prove detrimental. Zinc poisoning in pets can result from the ingestion of items containing zinc, including metal objects like nuts, bolts, zippers, jewelry, galvanized metal, pennies, batteries, and skin creams.

Dogs exposed to excessive zinc may exhibit symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, rapid breathing, and initially mild signs that can progress within hours or days. Chronic overdose of zinc can cause severe health issues such as copper absorption problems leading to weak bones and anemia, jaundice, seizures, and potential mortality.

Preventing Accidental Ingestion

As the saying goes, prevention is the best medicine. To prevent accidental ingestion of zinc, it is important to:

  • Keep coins and small metal objects like nuts, bolts, and jewelry out of dogs’ reach

  • Store zinc oxide sunscreens and other zinc-containing products in places pets cannot access

  • Closely supervise dogs that have a habit of eating objects from the ground and train them to discourage this behavior, reducing the risk of zinc toxicity.

Maintaining a clean environment and ensuring that coins or zinc-containing items are not left within a pet’s reach are key measures to prevent zinc poisoning.

Special Considerations for Different Breeds and Life Stages

Like their unique personalities, dogs also have unique nutritional needs, particularly in terms of zinc. Certain breeds, like Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes, are genetically predisposed to zinc-responsive dermatosis. To prevent this condition, selective breeding is recommended to avoid breeding dogs with this genetic disease.

Reproductive Health

Breeding dogs require special attention regarding their zinc intake. Zinc is crucial for maintaining normal sexual function, which is key for breeding dogs' health and reproductive success. Dogs with zinc deficiency may exhibit reduced sexual function, delayed or failed conception, decreased sperm quality, increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth, and poor milk production in nursing dogs.

It is important to ensure that breeding dogs receive an adequate amount of zinc in their diet to support their reproductive health.

Senior Dogs and Dietary Adjustments

As dogs age, their dietary requirements, including the need for zinc, tend to change. Decreased activity levels and changes in nutrient absorption, including zinc, are common in senior dogs. Thus a change in diet may be necessary. Always consult a vet to ensure you’re providing the right level of zinc for your senior dog’s diet to avoid deficiency or excess intake.


Zinc plays a vital role in your dog’s health, supporting everything from their immune function to their skin and coat vitality. Recognizing the symptoms of zinc deficiency and ensuring your dog gets adequate zinc through a balanced diet and appropriate supplementation is essential. Remember, always consult with a veterinarian before starting any supplementation regimen, as every dog’s needs are unique.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I give zinc to my dog?

Yes, you can give zinc to your dog, but make sure not to exceed the recommended limit of 1,000 mg/kg of dry matter diet according to AAFCO standards.

What foods are high in zinc for dogs?

Consider adding zinc-rich foods to your dog's diet, such as beef, lamb, turkey, and chicken. These are excellent sources of zinc.

How do I know if my dog has zinc deficiency?

If your dog is displaying signs of hair loss, poor growth, lethargy, thickened footpads, redness and weeping between the toes, or open and crusted skin lesions, it may be a sign of zinc deficiency. Immediate consultation with a veterinarian is recommended.

How to treat zinc deficiency in dogs?

To treat zinc deficiency in dogs, the treatment includes oral and intravenous zinc supplementation and improving the diet by incorporating zinc-rich foods or supplements. Consider using zinc sulfate, zinc methionine, or zinc gluconate for oral supplementation.

What are the risks associated with zinc overdose?

Zinc overdose can lead to copper absorption problems, weak bones, anemia, jaundice, seizures, and potentially fatal health issues. It's important to be cautious with zinc supplementation to avoid these risks.