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6 Food Sources of Magnesium for Dogs: Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ


Apr 3, 2023
French bulldog eating from a bowl


French bulldog eating from a bowl
Dr. Amanda Charles Photo

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Just like humans, dogs require essential minerals and vitamins to function. Magnesium, along with calcium, phosphorus and potassium is an essential macromineral. Magnesium is important for bone formation as well as muscle and nerve function. It must be included in the diet in sufficient amounts to avoid deficiencies. Commercially available complete dog foods will contain enough magnesium for healthy dogs. Too little magnesium can be seen in sick dogs for various reasons including chronic diarrhea, kidney failure, and diabetes.

This article takes a look at some magnesium-rich foods. Not all of these foods will be suitable for all dogs, depending on their age and health condition. Always speak to your vet before adding additional foods to your dog’s diet and especially if they are showing any signs of illness.

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Top 6 Magnesium-Rich Food Sources for Dogs

1. Fish

Cooking Salmon
Image Credit: Bakhrom Tursunov, Pixabay
Types: Mackerel, salmon, pollock
How To Prepare: Cooked and plain

Choose a fresh, boneless fish fillet but make sure you still check it for tiny bones before cooking it. Then you can grill, poach, bake, or steam it with no oil, pepper, salt, or onions and garlic1, which are toxic to dogs2.

The fish’s fins, head, bones, tail, and scales shouldn’t be included because they pose a choking hazard and risk damage to the gastrointestinal tract.

It’s important to avoid feeding your dog raw fish, as raw or undercooked fish poses a risk of carrying harmful bacteria such as salmonella and listeria. These are harmful to both dogs and humans- especially children or people with compromised immune systems.

2. Organ Meats

beef liver on wooden board
Image Credit: Sergey Lapin, Shutterstock
Types: Liver, heart, kidneys
How To Prepare: Cooked or raw

Organ meats such as liver, heart and kidneys are rich in magnesium. Liver should be fed in small amounts and not every day. Liver also has a high content of vitamin A and consumption of too large amounts can lead to vitamin A toxicity.

If you do decide to feed organ meats raw then it is important to be aware that bacteria such as salmonella, E Coli and Listeria are commonly found on raw meats and so it is important to take excellent hygiene precautions when handling and feeding it. These can be of particular concern to children or people who have low immune systems.

You don’t need to feed your dog organ meat every day. Instead, aim for a variation in their diet. If this is the first time your dog has had raw meat, start with small amounts and gradually increase them as your dog gets used to it.

3. Whole Grains

brown rice
Image Credit: Bom taraissara, Pixabay
Types: Whole wheat, brown rice, barley
How To Prepare: Follow instructions and keep plain

You can prepare the grains similarly to how you cook them for humans; for example, you could boil rice in water. Avoid adding in other ingredients like dairy or fats. Once they’re prepared, you can add them to your dog’s food. Give a small amount as a treat if your dog enjoys it. If feeding as part of a home-cooked diet, follow a recipe from a veterinary nutritionist to ensure your dog’s diet is balanced.

4. Beans

green beans
Image Credit: flockine, Pixabay
Types: Black beans, green beans
How To Prepare: Cook black beans and serve fresh green beans

Beans can be prepared for dogs the same way they’re cooked for people. Dogs can have beans that have been soaked and then cooked but avoid uncooked beans because they’re nearly indigestible.

Green beans are also a good option; despite their name, they aren’t in the bean family. Serve them fresh or cooked, and avoid canned beans since they generally have added sodium and preservatives. The ideal green bean is raw from your store’s produce section, but if you choose flash-frozen green beans, steam or microwave them to thaw them out until they’re ready to serve.

5. Vegetables

sliced cucumbers
Image Credit: monicore, Pixabay
Types: Cucumber, spinach, peas
How To Prepare: Depends on the vegetable

Cucumbers are an excellent treat for your dog because there are only 8 calories per ½ cup. Make sure you cut the cucumber into manageable sizes, especially if you have a small dog or one that likes to wolf down their meals.

The best way to prepare spinach for your dog is to steam it. Boiled spinach loses most of its nutrients, and raw spinach is hard to digest. When you steam it, keep it plain, and chop it, so it’s easier for your dog to digest. You should only add small amounts of spinach to your dog’s diet as too much can damage the kidneys or cause digestive problems.

Green peas are a good option, and you can feed your dog frozen, fresh, or thawed peas. Avoid canned peas since they add sodium or preservatives, which can harm dogs.

6. Fruits

Image Credit: PublicDomainImages, Pixabay
Types: Bananas, cantaloupe, pumpkins
How To Prepare: Raw

You can have fun with the way you feed your dog fruit. There are a few options that are rich in magnesium. For example, bananas are a healthy snack you can mash up in your dog’s food, stuff into a dog toy like a Kong, or slice and freeze. Avoid the peel; while it’s not toxic, it can be difficult to digest and could cause a blockage.

You can cut up a cantaloupe into half-inch pieces and feed them to your dog. Make sure you remove the rind and seeds. If your dog is a little fussy, you could mash it up and add it to your dog’s food.

Cooked pumpkin ( avoiding the stem, leaves, and skin) is also safe for dogs and a source of magnesium among other nutrients. You can also feed canned pumpkin as long as it is plain- avoid pumpkin blends and mixes such as pumpkin pie filling which contains other ingredients that can be harmful to dogs.

Remember fruits are higher in sugar so should only be an occasional treat.



Will My Dog Get Magnesium From a Commercial Dog Food Diet?

Magnesium is an essential mineral and complete and balanced commercial pet foods should contain the right amounts to keep your dog healthy. There should be a breakdown of all the vitamins and minerals your dog food has on the packaging, speak to your vet if you have any concerns

What Are the Signs of Magnesium Deficiency?

Magnesium deficiency is also known as hypomagnesemia, and it is rare, generally only occurring in very ill dogs. Sometimes it doesn’t cause many signs but low magnesium can worsen other conditions and lead to low blood levels of other important electrolytes such as potassium and calcium.

Signs that might be seen include:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Heart arrhythmia ( abnormal rhythm)
  • Lethargy/abnormal behavior
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle weakness/trembling
golden retriever not eating its food
Image Credit: Phuttharak, Shutterstock

Can Dogs Suffer From a Magnesium Overdose?

Excess magnesium in a dog’s body is known as hypermagnesemia. Conditions that can be associated with excess magnesium in the blood include kidney failure, Addison’s disease, and hypothyroidism Possible signs that your dog is suffering from hypermagnesemia are:

  • Low heart rate
  • Hypotension
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Respiratory depression
  • Vomiting

If your dog’s magnesium levels are high, they are at a higher risk of cardiac arrest, so it’s crucial that you contact your vet if you notice any of these signs.



Magnesium is a very important mineral to have in the right amounts in your dog’s diet. If your dog is on a good quality complete dog food, they should be consuming the right amount. You can feed your dog various foods if you’re thinking of introducing more magnesium into their diet. It’s vital to include your vet in this decision. Any changes you make to your dog’s diet should be discussed with your vet to ensure it’s a good idea. Too much of anything, even something healthy, can become a bad thing, so you want to ensure you get your portions right and balance these treats and their regular food.

Featured Image Credit: Karsten Winegeart, Unsplash

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