Magnesium is a critical mineral for animal life. Magnesium is a macromineral which works with other nutrients in the body. It is necessary for bone health, the nervous system and even proper heart function. Proper magnesium levels may also be preventative for cancer.
Dogs can become deficient in magnesium. Stress will cause the body to deplete magnesium. Poor quality of food can cause a deficiency. Diseases which make it difficult to absorb nutrients can lead to magnesium (and other mineral) deficiency.
How Do I Know If My Dog Needs Magnesium?
A blood test can show if a dog is deficient in magnesium.
Certain symptoms can alert you to a possible magnesium deficiency including the following:
- muscle problems
- heart problems
What Kind of Magnesium Supplements Should I Use?
There are specific supplements available for dogs that contain magnesium, often in combination with other ingredients. Supplements designed for dogs with anxiety will have magnesium and supportive nutrients and herbs like chamomile. Supplements for dogs with muscle and joint problems may include other supplements like glucosamine along with magnesium.
Magnesium Chloride is sold in flakes or “oil.” The “oil” is not really an oil, but the flakes mixed with pure water. The resulting liquid feels somewhat oily. This oil can be given to your dog in his water or food. Start with a small amount to see how your dog tolerates it and increase to no more than 1 teaspoon of magnesium oil per quart of water.
Magnesium oil can also be applied topically to dogs. This may be best done at a particular trouble spot (a stiff muscle) or applied to the abdomen, where there is less fur, to maximize absorption.
Magnesium Stearate is a commonly sold magnesium supplement. It is also used as a flowing agent; you will find it in many supplements in small amounts for this reason. Magnesium stearate is probably not the best form of magnesium. It may be less easily absorbed than other magnesiums. The stearic acid in magnesium stearate also has been implicated in suppressing T cells, which are part of the immune system.
Magnesium Sulfate may be the least expensive and most readily available form of magnesium. Magnesium Sulfate is Epsom salt. It is usually used topically for sprains, muscle pain, etc, though it can be taken internally. However, it is not tasty and your dog may refuse it internally.
Magnesium L-threonate is a proprietary magnesium compound created by doctors and scientists at MIT. Positive results have been found with animal studies. (Human studies have not yet been completed.) Studies indicate that this form of magnesium crosses the blood brain barrier and provides more magnesium to the brain than other magnesium sources. Another advantage to magnesium l-threonate is that is does not cause loose stools. Additionally, it is more palatable than other types of magnesium.1
Magnesium l-threonate may be the most helpful source of magnesium for animals with poor cognitive function, memory problems, or brain injuries.2
One disadvantage to magnesium l-threonate is the cost; it is more costly than most forms of magnesium. Another thing to consider is that this is a new supplement. It does not have decades of history behind it. At this time, it appears to be a safe option and may be the best option in some cases. But if you are looking for a “tried and true” magnesium supplement, this will probably not be your first choice.
Purists may also prefer not to use man-made compounds like magnesium l-threonate, which is only sold as MagteinTM, though a number of vendor do sell this type of magnesium.
Other Sources of Magnesium
Blackstrap molasses has magnesium and many other nutrients and is often well tolerated by dogs. Most meats and fish contain magnesium. Herbs are also a good source of magnesium. Alfalfa, chickweed, dandelion, parsley and oatstraw all contain magnesium.
Side Effects and Cautions
Magnesium is a mineral that does not store up in the body and is used or excreted daily. If taken internally, too much magnesium can cause loose stools (excluding magnesium l-threonate.) For this reason, start with a small amount and increase the amount slowly to make sure it suits your dog.
Magnesium supplements should not be given to dogs with kidney problems unless you are working with your veterinarian.
Have you used magnesium with your dog? We would love to hear from you!