Feeding a Dog for Healthy Muscles

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Continuing our series on foods that support a healthy body, today we are focusing on the nutrients that are required to support healthy muscle function. As most of us know, protein and the building block amino acids that protein is made of, are the foundations for muscle growth. However, there are several vitamins and minerals that are needed to ensure proper muscle function, without which a dog’s nervous system would go awry as would the dog’s ability to contract their muscles appropriately.


Some of the key nutrients that are needed by dogs to support a healthy muscular system are listed below.

healthy muscles

Vitamin E. The major fat soluble antioxidant, Vitamin E helps with energy metabolism, promotes tissue repair and increases cellular activity overall. As a result, Vitamin E is crucial for proper muscle function in a dog’s body.


Diet’s deficient in Vitamin E can lead to many muscle and connective tissue disorders including a degeneration of muscles and weakness in tendons and ligaments (which could lead to tearing). Vitamin E deficiency can also cause irritability and other neuromuscular disorders. Low levels of Vitamin E are also associated with cardiac disease in dogs.


Foods high in Vitamin E that are present in some dog food recipes include spinach, kale, broccoli, and nuts,


Thiamin (Vitamin B-1). Thiamin aids in energy and carbohydrate metabolism and supports nerve integrity and energy reactions at the cellular level. Thus, thiamin is crucial in order to support a healthy muscular and neurological system in a dog.


Dog’s eating a diet deficient in thiamin are often eating a high carbohydrate diet. Symptoms include slower growth and even weight loss, irritability, and noticeable muscular weakness.


Foods containing abundant thiamin that are included in some dog food recipes include organ meats (e.g. liver), fish and pork, and peas.


Pyridoxine (Vitamin B-6). Biologically, pyridoxine is necessary for a body to maintain the muscle tone of the involuntary muscles which are crucial for sustaining life. Pyridoxine also supports overall nervous system function, lipid (fat) metabolism, and other key cellular functions.


Diets deficient in pyridoxine can lead to anemia, muscle twitching, and a generally slower immune system.


Foods high in pyridoxine and that are included in some dog food formulas include fish, poultry and beef, sweet potato, and spinach.


Inositol (Vitamin B-8). Inositol acts as the main instigator of the energy generating ATP processes. It aids in the utilization of glycogen which allows the body to energize when the muscles need the energy.


Diets deficient in inositol can lead to muscular pains and even muscular dystrophies. Diabetes is also linked to insufficient inositol.


Foods high in inositol and that are included in some dog food formulas include beef, liver, leafy vegetables, and nuts.


Calcium. Besides supporting bone health, calcium is crucial for proper muscle contraction and nerve transmission.


Calcium deficient diets can lead to an improperly functioning muscular system, a degraded nervous system, increased secretions (e.g. saliva, tears), and of course, weak bones.


Foods high in calcium and that are included in some dog food formulas include sardines and salmon, green leafy vegetables including kale, dandelion greens, and broccoli, as well as nuts and seeds, including almonds and pumpkin seeds.


Choline. Choline is a vitamin like compound that is used by the body to produce acetylcholine, which enables the brain to communicate with the muscles and make them contract when needed. Without choline, acetylcholine cannot be produced and the body cannot function normally. Choline also helps in the process of breaking down fat for energy.


Without choline, the body would not be able to move. Besides proper muscle function, insufficient choline is linked to liver disease and mental degradation (memory loss, dementia).


Foods high in choline that are present in some dog food recipes include organ meats (e.g. liver), spinach, cauliflower, and nuts.

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  1. thank you for this great information, good to know for those people who feed raw what nutrients they still need.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Beef And Bone Bunny Pops~Tasty TuesdayMy Profile

  2. Never thought about adding peas – hummmmm? I will give that a try. I predict Jax to be an extremely active doodle. Gotta make sure I do everything right in the beginning to help with strong healthy muscles and bones. Thanks Slim

  3. Choline is interesting. I guess we never knew about it before and it is so important!
    Emma recently posted…DIY Glitter Easter Eggs MessMy Profile

  4. This is especially good to know and remember with older dogs that tend to lose some muscle mass. Haley’s eight years old now and her vet is always impressed with her muscle tone for her age. It’s nice to know what foods she can eat to help maintain that muscle mass.
    Elaine recently posted…Adopting a Dog When You Have a CatMy Profile

  5. I checked our current food and am happy to see that it has all of these ingredients!
    Jan K recently posted…Making Each Day CountMy Profile

  6. All but one of our dogs will eat leafy vegetables. We thought peer pressure would get to her, but no….
    jan recently posted…Golden Poodle awards for MarchMy Profile

    • Jack will eat anything…Maggie is a bit more discriminating – she won’t eat leafy greens either unless mixed in her food.
      mkob recently posted…Feeding a Dog for Healthy MusclesMy Profile

  7. Good information, it is especially nice that you include which specific foods are high in the nutrients. I worry that my aging dogs are losing some muscle mass. Now I can make a specific plan to help them out nutritionally.
    Leah recently posted…Sick as a DogMy Profile

  8. Great article!
    I just checked our doggy food has lots of great ingredients including vitamins but it doesn’t have B8 is that a huge concern?
    We’re on the Merrick Lamb, brown rice, and apple recipe.
    DZ Dogs recently posted…Poisoned Words – Agility Part VMy Profile

  9. Lots of great information as always! We just transitioned to a homemade diet with a grain-free pre-mix, and it contains peas!
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Our Pups LOVE Dr. Harvey’s Organic Coconut Smiles!My Profile

  10. Thanks for the great info!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Hard to find good help these days…My Profile

  11. Great information for people considering feeding raw or looking to supplement their kibble! Thanks for sharing!
    MyDogLikes recently posted…They’ve Got the Stomach For It: Evanger’s Beef Tripe For DogsMy Profile

  12. Mom checked my food and she says I am good!
    Buddy recently posted…Happy 3rd Birthday, Buddy!My Profile

  13. This has been a concern as we try to get Leroy’s muscle mass back up. Since his diet has to be low protein and low fat we’ve been careful to monitor most of these things, especially the B’s 🙂
    Jen recently posted…They’ve Got It All WrongMy Profile

  14. Great info. One reason we feed kibble is because we want to make sure the dogs get enough of these nutrients.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…This Better Be An April Fool’s JokeMy Profile

  15. If only Sam would eat peas but then my kids didn’t like ’em either. 😉
    Monika recently posted…April FoolsMy Profile

  16. Great information ! And nutrients are required to support to maintain your pet’s healthy muscles.All vitamin like B-1,B-6,B-8 etc. are necessary to pet’s health growth.

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