Should I Give My Pets Zinc?

It depends on what you feed your animals. 

Zinc is an essential mineral for dogs and cats. It plays a role in many different bodily functions, including the immune system, fertility, and skin health. Though it is possible for pets to get too much zinc, it is more common for them to be deficient in this mineral. Symptoms of zinc deficiency can include hair loss, skin problems, and a weakened immune system. (1)

Most animals are able to get the zinc they need from their diet. However, some animals may be at risk for zinc deficiency due to illnesses or conditions that interfere with the absorption or utilization of this important mineral. Zinc deficiencies can also occur if your pet’s diet does not contain enough zinc-rich foods. Signs of zinc deficiency in dogs and cats include poor growth, hair loss, skin problems, and a decreased sense of taste and smell, which, of course, are hard to detect. If you suspect that your pet may be deficient in zinc, please consult your holistic vet or animal naturopath.

Raw-fed dogs will normally get enough zinc. Zinc is found in most animal tissues, it is particularly concentrated in the liver, kidney, and pancreas. Zinc is also found in high levels in the egg yolks of chickens. If you feed raw, make sure you also add organ meats and an egg every other day or so. If you do not feed raw but looking to change, I wrote a book just for you. You can see it here.

Zinc supplements are available in many forms, including tablets, capsules, powders, and liquids. The best way to give your pet a zinc supplement will depend on their individual needs and preferences. Zinc supplements are generally safe, but it is always best to speak with your health professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

There is a relationship between zinc and copper. If you feed too much zinc, copper levels can drop. To make sure that your pet gets enough copper in their diet as well, look for foods that are rich in both zinc and copper. Some good sources of copper include oysters, liver, and other organ meats. Some have figured that the ideal ratio between zinc and copper should be 8:1. I don’t know how that came about. (2)

Signs of copper deficiency or imbalance in humans are things like feeling tired, depressed, anxious, and achy.

What does copper do?

Copper not only plays a vital role in the proper function of various enzymes and carbohydrate metabolism but is also necessary for overall healthy functioning of the body–such as being an important component in liver tissue, brain tissue, kidney tissue, and hair.

Copper appears to play a vital role in the mental decline sometimes seen with age, as well as in many mood and behavioral disorders. This is because copper is necessary for the creation of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine.

There is some evidence but conflicting that the zinc-copper ratio is in sleep duration in adults. (5)

If you have too much copper in your body, it can cause a host of problems ranging from chronic fatigue to nausea to mood disorders. Copper can also interfere with proper bone remodeling and may contribute to the development of osteoporosis.

In summary, zinc is an essential mineral for dogs and cats

This is the Zinc supplement I recommend and give to my pets.

There are many good zinc supplements on the market.  

What I like about this product ia that it contains two forms of a more easily digestible zinc

One is zinc picolinate which is the form of zinc that is normally found in food sources like eggs and liver. Other forms are not as well absorbed by the body, so I prefer to use this form for my pets.

The other is zinc citrate which is easily absorbed by the body and is gentle on the stomach.

These two forms of zinc combined provide a powerful combination.

This supplement also contains B6 (from the coenzyme pyridoxal5-phosphate), which helps to support the conversion of zinc into a usable form, as well as provides antioxidant support and helps with your pet’s overall health.

Here are some of the things Zinc can be helpful with.

May Help the Immune System

Zinc is essential for a strong immune system. It helps white blood cells function properly and fights off infection. Pets who are deficient in zinc are more susceptible to infections, such as pneumonia and ear infections. Zinc also helps wounds heal more quickly. If your pet has a cut or scrape, giving them a zinc supplement can help them heal faster. (1)

Anti-Cancer Defense Mechanisms

As cancer therapy becomes more targeted, zinc is becoming an increasingly important element. Zinc has been shown to be a second messenger that can activate many signalling pathways within minutes of receiving an extracellular stimulus. This means that it could play a key role in cancer treatment.

The release of zinc from stores inhibits many tyrosine phosphatases, preventing the inactivation of tyrosine kinases. This encourages further activation of signalling pathways that depend on tyrosine kinases. All of this data points to zinc and zinc signalling as new, crucial targets to prevent aggressive cancer growth. These pathways are not only known for driving cancer growth–they usually serve as the main driver. (10)

Zinc is crucial for enzyme function, DNA coding metabolism, immune cell signaling ( which helps protect the body), and programmed cell death ( a typical process called apoptosis). (7), (8), (9)

May help with Cardiovascular Health

Zinc is integral to human health and has been shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Cardiovascular disease has been linked to zinc deficiency in many scientific studies. Adding zinc to your diet can help reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis, as well as protect against heart attacks and ischemia/reperfusion injury. The same should apply to animals, but again there are not many studies we can refer to. There is a rise in heart attacks in dogs (myocardial infarction) that is concerning. If zinc deficiency is related to this in dogs is not known, but it would make sense if it did.

May Help with Fertility

Zinc is also important for fertility in both male and female dogs and cats. In males, zinc helps produce testosterone and healthy sperm. In females, zinc helps with ovulation and the development of healthy eggs. Pets who are deficient in zinc may have trouble reproducing. If you are trying to breed your dog or cat, talk to your veterinarian about whether giving them a zinc supplement would be beneficial.

May Help with Skin Health

Pets who are deficient in zinc may also experience problems with their skin health. Zinc plays a role in the production of collagen, which is important for healthy skin and fur. Zinc deficiency can cause dryness, itchiness, hair loss, and a dull coat. Giving your pet a zinc supplement can help improve their skin health and make their fur shiny and soft. Zinc also seems to help to speed up wound healing, but that is from my experience. I like to use it with colloidal silver

Conclusion:

Zinc is an essential mineral for dogs and cats that plays a role in many different bodily functions, including the immune system, fertility, and skin health. Pets who are deficient in zinc may experience problems with their skin health, fur quality, fertility, or immunity. Zinc supplements are available in many forms and are generally considered safe when used as directed by your veterinarian. also, be aware of the zinc-copper relationship. Excess zinc and copper deficiency usually go hand-in-hand because they are antagonists of each other. This term means that when levels of one element decrease, the levels of the other increase (and vice versa). However, it’s not uncommon for people to have too much zinc or too little copper. What is more common, though, is for a person to have excess copper and deficient zinc.

From my experience with many clients

One of the main reasons people contact me for help with their pets is due to itchy skin, they often refer to it as allergies. Almost every case I get involves a kibble-fed dog or some form of processed commercial food. When I see this, I know the dog most likely can heal itself just by switching the diet to a raw meat-based diet. if you want to see this, go to my IG account (@longlivingpets). Here I have posted more than 400 cases where dogs healed themselves from a wide range of health issues just by switching to a raw food diet. The majority of these cases are dogs with allergy symptoms.

My theory is that these dogs, due to the poor nutritional diet the have been on are deficient in zinc plus other minerals. But zinc which is rich in meats and organ meats, will speed up the healing process. Some of these dogs fully recovered in a few weeks.

Citations

  1. Muhamed PK, Vadstrup S. [Zinc is the most important trace element]. Ugeskr Laeger. 2014 Mar 3;176(5):V11120654. Danish. PMID: 25096007. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25096007/
  2. Escobedo-Monge MF, Barrado E, Alonso Vicente C, Escobedo-Monge MA, Torres-Hinojal MC, Marugán-Miguelsanz JM, Redondo Del Río MP. Copper and Copper/Zinc Ratio in a Series of Cystic Fibrosis Patients. Nutrients. 2020 Oct 30;12(11):3344. doi: 10.3390/nu12113344. PMID: 33143143; PMCID: PMC7692365. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33143143/
  3. Zhang L, Shao J, Tan SW, Ye HP, Shan XY. Association between serum copper/zinc ratio and lung cancer: A systematic review with meta-analysis. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2022 Dec;74:127061. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2022.127061. Epub 2022 Aug 12. PMID: 35987182. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35987182/
  4. Malavolta M, Piacenza F, Basso A, Giacconi R, Costarelli L, Mocchegiani E. Serum copper to zinc ratio: Relationship with aging and health status. Mech Ageing Dev. 2015 Nov;151:93-100. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2015.01.004. Epub 2015 Feb 7. PMID: 25660061. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25660061/
  5. Jia YN, Sun J, Chen L, Xue Y. Associations of Serum Zinc, Copper, and Zinc/Copper Ratio with Sleep Duration in Adults. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2022 Jun;200(6):2651-2659. doi: 10.1007/s12011-021-02897-7. Epub 2021 Aug 27. PMID: 34453310. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34453310/
  6. Mocchegiani E, Malavolta M, Lattanzio F, Piacenza F, Basso A, Abbatecola AM, Russo A, Giovannini S, Capoluongo E, Bustacchini S, Guffanti EE, Bernabei R, Landi F. Cu to Zn ratio, physical function, disability, and mortality risk in older elderly (ilSIRENTE study). Age (Dordr). 2012 Jun;34(3):539-52. doi: 10.1007/s11357-011-9252-2. Epub 2011 May 5. PMID: 21544579; PMCID: PMC3337923. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21544579/
  7. Skrajnowska D, Bobrowska-Korczak B. Role of Zinc in Immune System and Anti-Cancer Defense Mechanisms. Nutrients. 2019 Sep 22;11(10):2273. doi: 10.3390/nu11102273. PMID: 31546724; PMCID: PMC6835436. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31546724/
  8. Gelbard A. Zinc in Cancer Therapy Revisited. Isr Med Assoc J. 2022 Apr;24(4):258-262. PMID: 35415986. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35415986/
  9. Li D, Stovall DB, Wang W, Sui G. Advances of Zinc Signaling Studies in Prostate Cancer. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Jan 19;21(2):667. doi: 10.3390/ijms21020667. PMID: 31963946; PMCID: PMC7014440. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31963946/
  10. Ziliotto S, Ogle O, Taylor KM. Targeting Zinc(II) Signalling to Prevent Cancer. Met Ions Life Sci. 2018 Feb 5;18:/books/9783110470734/9783110470734-023/9783110470734-023.xml. doi: 10.1515/9783110470734-023. PMID: 29394036. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29394036/
  11. Choi S, Liu X, Pan Z. Zinc deficiency and cellular oxidative stress: prognostic implications in cardiovascular diseases. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2018 Jul;39(7):1120-1132. doi: 10.1038/aps.2018.25. Epub 2018 Jun 21. PMID: 29926844; PMCID: PMC6289396. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29926844/
Thomas Sandberg CSAN, CCNC, AADP

Thomas Sandberg CSAN, CCNC, AADP

Thomas Sandberg is a board certified animal naturopath and the founder of Long Living Pets Research Projects, a 30-year observational study into raw-fed dogs and cats. Thomas also consults in animal naturopathy, including the prevention of chronic diseases and longevity using all-natural modalities. With more than 20 years of experience with hundreds of cancer cases, he has a deep understanding of why so many dogs and cats get cancer today and how we can lower the risk significantly.

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