I know most of you reading this are already aware of how important zinc is to our health as well as our pet's health. However, many people are still unaware of really how important this integral trace mineral is for our pet's health. In result, many animals with varying ailments are not related back to the possible cause - a zinc deficiency.
The Importance Of Zinc & Possibilities Of Deficiency
Just like the minerals iron, selenium, copper and manganese, zinc plays an integral role in your pet's bodies. This includes playing an important role with things such as enzymes, proteins, hormones, thyroid function and immune function. "Zinc is important in a multitude of biological functions, including regulation of the immune response, modulation of keratogenesis and wound healing, maintenance of normal reproductive function, and acuity of taste and smell" (source). Since zinc is necessary for so many important functions in the body, a deficiency could lead to numerous issues and varying symptoms, which is why a zinc deficiency is hard to diagnose.
The body has no way of actually storing zinc, so it is important that there is a constant source of zinc in your pet's diet. Some dog breeds are predisposed to need a higher amount of zinc than most dogs, for example, Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies are breeds predisposed to a zinc deficiency.
"Zinc-responsive dermatosis is an uncommon disease of dogs resulting from either an absolute or relative deficiency in zinc. Dermatological lesions are characterized by erythema, alopecia, scales, and crusts that primarily affect the head" (source). There are two forms of zinc-responsive dermatosis. One affects the predisposed breed of Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies and the other affects growing puppies who are fed a zinc deficient diet or an over supplemented diet. "Life-long zinc supplementation is usually necessary in the familial (breed predisposed) form of the disease, although dietary correction alone may be curative in the second form" (source).
Signs of zinc deficiency can very greatly. However, some common signs of zinc deficiency can include: digestive issues, a dysfunctioning immune system (over-active or under-active, immune system related disease), crusty patches of skin (dermatitis) and weight gain/weight loss (thyroid dysfunction).
Raw Sources Of Zinc - Things To Include Your Pet's Diet
Now I come to the point on how to prevent a possible zinc deficiency in your pet and how to adequately be able to supply zinc (in the most whole food form that you can) on a daily basis to your pet. There are many raw protein sources of zinc. This includes: canned oysters, lean raw red meats such as beef or bison (muscle meat, organs), raw bones and teeth (as fed in a raw diet), and a last resort would be a zinc supplement such as a powder. However, it is wise to note that it is easy to overdose a zinc supplement than it is to overdose zinc when feeding whole foods such as meats and seafoods. It is neccessary to figure out your pet's dose for zinc (if using a measured supplement) or research what source would be best for them, since every animal is different.
If You Are Feeding Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds can be a great addition to a pet's raw or fresh food diet. However, it is important to note that these things are high in phytic acid. High levels of phytic acid can interrupt the absorption of many important nutrients and minerals such as iron, calcium, manganese and zinc. Dogs do not contain nearly enough enzymes to break down phytates, thus decreasing the amounts of phytates being ingested is important.
*By soaking seeds and nuts in water (especially acidic water - adding something such as apple cider vinegar to the water) for a few hours or preferably overnight, and then draining the excess water helps decrease the amount of phytic acid in these foods.
*Sprouting seeds also further reduces the amount of phytic acid (ex: broccoli sprouts).
DISCLAIMER: It is always important to do your own research first in regards to raw feeding or feeding fresh foods for your pet (dog or cat). Every animal is different! What may work great for some may not work great for others. It is important to know that if you are a beginner at raw feeding, there are tons of ways to feed fresh raw foods to your pets (commercially prepared, freeze dried etc.). Starting out can be a little difficult, so if you do your research accordingly, then you'll have more knowledge about EVERY aspect of raw feeding. Remember, if you are not ready to feed a raw diet to your pets, wait to transition and utilize the help of experienced raw feeders, connect with integrative veterinarians, read books geared towards a holistic dog diet and gain knowledge from all of your research so you can effectively give your pet the nutrition it needs to thrive. "The Raw Fed Pet" site is only for informational/educational purposes and is not meant to diagnose or treat any medical conditions.
Did you know?
GREEN LIPPED MUSSELS ARE GREAT FOR JOINT HEALTH?
"In addition to their inflammatory healing properties, these mussels are considered a superfood because they contain a huge variety of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, Omega-3 fats, antioxidants, enzymes, and many more nutrients" (source).