Treatment and Diet
High doses of a bioavailable zinc are needed during a breakout. Those include zinc gluconate, zinc picolinate, zinc citrate and zinc methionine. Once the condition is under control, maintenance doses of zinc should be supplemented for life. In severe cases, an infection can set in and a course of antibiotics is needed. Topical zinc-based creams are often beneficial during the healing process.
IMPORTANT! Zinc sulfate and zinc oxide are not bioavailable and are not properly absorbed during the digestive process in dogs. These two zinc forms will not treat ZRD. Zinc contained in zinc sulfate and zinc oxide (both inorganic zinc sources) is rendered unavailable by the dog’s gut. Extra supplementation of these inorganic sources tends to cause digestive upsets such as diarrhea. Also, inorganic chemicals (sulfates and oxides) have a shorter shelf life than organic chemicals, therefore preservatives must be added.
The optimal maintenance dose of zinc is 50 mg based on an average dog weight of 50 lbs (22.5 kg). During a breakout, the dose needs to be doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled depending on the severity of the condition. Here are more precise supplementing directions: For dogs suffering from ZRD, supplement 1 to 4 mg/lb body weight or more.
ZINC TOXICITY: Higher doses of bioavailable zinc can be supplemented without the fear of toxicity. Toxicities due to over supplementation are very rare. Zinc excess is not of major clinical concern. Much of this excess zinc passes through the gastrointestinal tract and is excreted in the feces. The excess fraction that is absorbed is excreted in the urine. The only known effect of excessive zinc ingestion relates to the fact that zinc interferes with copper absorption.
The dog’s leaky gut must be repaired; therefore, a grain-free diet is a must for dogs suffering from ZRD. However, avoid feeding food high in phytates. Phytic acid binds zinc and forms poorly soluble complexes that result in reduced absorption of zinc. Phytate is found in varying amounts in plant products, with grains and legumes having especially high levels. BE AWARE! Most grain-free dry dog foods currently on the market are based on legumes, such as chickpeas, peas, and lentils.
Feeding a protein rich (meat based) diet is important for a dog suffering from ZRD. The presence of even modest amounts of animal protein can substantially enhance the efficiency of absorption, in addition to increasing the absolute amount of zinc.
The best way to feed a ZRD dog is by utilizing a home-cooked RAW diet to a dog suffering from ZRD. But be careful, feeding RAW can be quite challenging, as it might be somewhat complicated to properly balance such diet. Put emphasizes on uncooked meat (muscle and organ meat), fruits, vegetables, raw eggs, and fish oils in your RAW meals. Look for RAW diet recipes online.
IMPORTANT! Calcium interferes with the absorption of zinc (do not feed bones or dairy to a dog suffering from ZRD).
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