Manganese for Dogs by Steve Brown

Steve Brown


Steve Brown is a renowned dog nutrition expert who has been in the raw dog food industry since its start. He’s been called the Godfather of Raw Dog by many, but is most known for his book “Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet” and “See Spot Live Longer.”

Manganese (Mn)

Manganese (Mn) is a trace mineral, required in small amounts measured in parts per million, that is necessary for the health of all animals, including being vital for development, metabolism, and the antioxidant system. Lack of manganese may create health problems such as:

* Abnormal blood clotting

* Abnormal sex hormone production

* Reduced calcium absorption

* Poor blood sugar regulation and metabolic health

* Nerve deficits

* Connective tissue dysfunction

* ACL tears

I am starting this series with manganese because almost all homemade and prey model diets, and many commercial raw diets, are deficient in manganese. The reason is that the ancestral dog consumed the entire small prey animal, the whole rat, mouse or bird, which included manganese-rich parts. These parts are now difficult for commercial manufacturers and homemade recipe makers to get and use, Table 1.

Focus on Nutrients Mn by Steve Brown Table 1

Standards: on caloric basis, adult dogs require 1.25 and puppies 1.8 mg of Mn per 1000 kcal; cats and kittens 1.9. A typical 40-pound dog consumes 1000 kcal per day, see what is 1000 kcal below. On dry matter basis (and we must use caloric basis for meat-based diets), the minimum for puppies is 7.2 ppm.

Commercial, Prey Model, and Homemade Raw Dog Food

Unless commercially produced pet food, homemade or prey model diet contain the whole prey animal, including the hair, wool and feathers, (which is not possible when using all human grade standards) one must add manganese-rich ingredients. Look for commercial made raw foods, and don’t see manganese supplements on the label, look for one of the foods at the top of table 2. If you don’t see one, write and ask the manufacturer the source and amounts of Mn in their foods.

Prey model and homemade recipe feeders, note how little manganese is contained in meats, even in liver.

Adult dog food makers who use lean meats, and some vegetables, add ¼ mg of Mn per 1000 kcal (if no vegetables add 1 mg). For puppies add 1 – 1 ¾ mg; cats and kittens add 1 ½ mg of Mn per 1000 kcal to at least reach the AAFCO minimum suggested amounts, which are still far below ancestral amounts.

Foods to Add for Manganese

Try to add foods with the most Mn per calorie. Manganese is one of 7 essential nutrients that we worry about when making meat-based diets. We want to provide these nutrients with whole foods, but not add a lot of calories, throwing the diet further out of balance. Therefore, we need to solve each nutrient with foods providing the most nutrient per calorie. This is especially important for fat dogs and cats.

What is 1,000 kcal (Calories)?

     kcal = kilocalories = Calorie

     The amount of Calories a typical 40-pound dog consumes in one day

     1000 kcal of ground beef, raw

          93% lean, 1 pound, 8.5 oz. (703 grams)

          90% lean, 1 pound, 5 oz. (600g)

          85% lean, 1 pound, 1 oz. (482g)

          70% lean, 2/3 pound (300g)

     Typical vegetable, raw

          12 pounds

     My typical recipes,, with 13% vegetables

          1.5 – 1.6 pounds

Blue mussels are an excellent source of manganese, but they’re often expensive and hard to find. Some spices (just add a pinch), some green vegetables, especially spinach, and brans, such as rice bran, are manganese rich. (Darwin’s believes that most dogs do best on grain free diets). Another option is to use a manganese supplement. But be careful with supplements, we usually want to add 1 – 2 mg of Mn per 1000 kcal (and most supplements are 10 mg are more per tablet.

Focus on Nutrients Mn by Steve Brown Table 2
Focus on Nutrients Mn by Steve Brown Table 2

Table 2: Manganese content of selected foods from most to least, mg per 1000 kcals; the amount of that food needed for 1 mg of Mn; and the amount of calories added with that 1 mg of Mn. Note that the manganese content, like the iodine content, of kelp varies. Check with the manufacturer / supplier to get specific data. Otherwise, use USDA data for kelp.

Steve Brown - Dog NutritionistSteve Brown is a dog food formulator, researcher, and author on canine nutrition. In the 1990s he developed one of the leading low-calorie training treats, Charlee Bear® Dog Treats, as well as the first AAFCO-compliant raw dog food. Since 2003 he has focused on research and education. He is the author of two books on canine nutrition (See Spot Live Longer, now in its 8th printing, and Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet (Dogwise Publishing, 2010); and a 40-page booklet, See Spot Live Longer the ABC Way.