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How Do I Calculate Phosphorus in Dog Food? Important Facts to Know

Brooke Billingsley

By Brooke Billingsley

dry dog food in bowl

Most of us don’t have to be concerned with how much phosphorus is in our dog’s food. This is because most dogs don’t have special phosphorus level needs. However, dogs with kidney disease and other specific medical conditions may have difficulty processing phosphorus properly, which means they’re required to have a lower phosphorus diet.

If you’re concerned about the phosphorus in your dog’s food, your best starting point is to talk to your dog’s vet to ensure the food they are on meets appropriate phosphorus levels for your dog’s needs. If you’re interested in learning about calculating phosphorus in your dog’s food for your own purposes, then keep reading.

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How to Calculate Phosphorus in Commercial Dog Food

The simplest answer to this one is that you don’t need to calculate phosphorus in your dog’s commercial food. Why? Because the phosphorus content is usually right there on the label. This is especially true if the diet is a prescription diet made to meet low phosphorus standards.

If you’re struggling to find the phosphorus content on the dog food label, then you still have options to find out the answer. Most dog food companies will have detailed nutrition facts listed online, even if those detailed nutrition facts aren’t on the food packaging. You also have the option to reach out to the manufacturer of the food or the vendor you purchase the food from to learn the phosphorus content.

woman buying dog food
Image Credit: Caftor, Shutterstock

How to Calculate Phosphorus in Homemade Dog Food

It can be extremely difficult to properly balance phosphorus levels in your dog’s homemade diet. It becomes even more complex when you learn that calcium and phosphorus impact each other, and it’s important to have an approximately 1:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio, with some nutritionists recommending slightly more calcium than phosphorus.

Meats are high in phosphorus but generally low in calcium, which means that it can be easy to improperly balance the calcium to phosphorus ratio in your dog’s food. For those feeding raw diets, it’s often recommended to feed raw meaty bones to ensure an appropriate calcium to phosphorus ratio. However, many vets recommend against raw diets and feeding raw or cooked bones.

If you’re feeding your dog a homemade diet, your safest option for properly balancing calcium and phosphorus levels is to consult with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist through balanceit.com. This site is veterinarian-recommended and employs board-certified veterinary nutritionists to create general diets for dogs and customized diets for individual dogs. It’s important that you don’t attempt to balance your dog’s raw or homemade diet on your own, especially if your dog has specific phosphorus needs.

Why Is Phosphorus Important?

Phosphorus is an important chemical that is essential to proper body functioning. It’s necessary for all growth, maintenance, and repair of all types of cells within the body. It’s also essential for DNA and RNA production. Phosphorus helps balance the levels of other chemicals within the body, like zinc, magnesium, iodine, and vitamin D. It works to maintain a proper blood pH and helps your nerves function properly. Needless to say, phosphorus is extremely important to proper body function.

In dogs with kidney disease, the body loses its ability to properly process phosphorus because vitamin D levels drop. When phosphorus levels rise in the body, levels of parathyroid hormone rise. When this hormone increases, it leads to calcium being leached from the bones into the bloodstream, leading to bone weakness. High blood calcium levels can also lead to dangerous nervous and metabolic conditions. Proper management of phosphorus levels, in conjunction with a restricted phosphorus diet, is essential to keeping dogs with kidney disease healthy.

dogs eating
Image Credit: Phuttharak, Shutterstock

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In Conclusion

Phosphorus levels are properly balanced for the average healthy dog in commercial dog food. It’s recommended by most vets to stick to commercial foods since they are already properly balanced. If you are interested in feeding a raw or homemade diet to your dog, then it’s best to discuss your dog’s nutritional needs with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist who can help you properly balance appropriate levels of all essential nutrients. If your dog has kidney disease, then it’s especially important that you are properly balancing the calcium and phosphorus levels within your dog’s food.

Featured Image Credit: 279photo Studio, Shutterstock

Brooke Billingsley

Authored by

Brooke Billingsley spent nine years as a veterinary assistant before becoming a human nurse in 2013. She resides in Arkansas with her boyfriend of five years. She loves all animals and currently shares a home with three dogs, two cats, five fish, and two snails. She has a soft spot for special needs animals and has a three-legged senior dog and an internet famous cat with acromegaly and cerebellar hypoplasia. Fish keeping...Read more

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