The meat and bones you feed your dog help to keep him strong.
But a diet of only muscle meat and bones could be lacking important nutrients.
That’s where organs and glands come in.
The problem is many raw feeders don’t feed their dogs enough organs. And if your dog eats kibble, he may be missing out on the benefits of organs entirely.
So today I want to talk about why organs are important and how much your dog should be getting.
1. Organ Meat Is Full Of Nutrients
Organs and glands are some of the most nutrient-dense foods you can feed your dog. They’re full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that your dog needs to stay healthy.
Here are some of the many nutrients your dog gets from organs and how they help him stay healthy.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s absorbed and stored along with fats in your dog’s body. It’s also a powerful antioxidant.
It helps to …
- Enhance immunity
- Prevent eye problems
- Reduce skin disorders
- Slow aging
- Improve bone and teeth formation
- Protect against infection
- Aid digestion
- Keep the reproductive organs healthy
Organs are a rich source of vitamin A. Especially the liver and kidney.
Important: It’s possible for your dog to get vitamin A toxicity if he has too much in his diet. If you feed a pre-made raw diet with an added vitamin A supplement, you may not want to add a lot of extra vitamin A rich foods.
B vitamins help regulate many of your dog’s bodily functions.
B1 (thiamine) promotes growth and strengthens the immune system. It also improves mental wellbeing and prevents stress.
B2 (riboflavin) helps form red blood cells and aids in the prevention of cataracts. It also promotes healthy skin, hair and nail growth.
B5 (pantothenic acid) enhances stamina. It also aids the immune system, heals wounds and fights infection.
B9 (folic acid) helps in the production of red blood cells and helps the body use iron. It’s commonly used during pregnancy to reduce the likelihood of birth defects.
B12 (cyanocobalamin) plays a role in digestion and improves concentration. It also helps with nerves and mental health.
Liver is full of B vitamins. The heart and kidney are good sources of B2, B5, B6 and B12. And the brain is rich in B12.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals. It also …
- Strengthens the immune system
- Helps form iron and calcium
- Produces anti-stress hormones
- Improves adrenal gland function
Organs like the liver, kidney, heart and adrenal glands contain vitamin C.
Vitamin D is a hormone precursor and helps your dog’s body function.
When your dog doesn’t get enough vitamin D, he can suffer from a deficiency. And vitamin D deficiencies can lead to …
- Muscle weakness
- Common cancers
- Autoimmune diseases
- Infectious diseases
Sun exposure is the best source of vitamin D. But depending on where you live, what time of year it is and whether your dog is sensitive to the sun … your dog may not always get enough.
Organ meats have a higher concentration of vitamin D than any other food.
You can find amino acids in proteins. They help regulate your dog’s metabolism and they form and repair tissue.
There are many amino acids and they are broken into two groups …
- Non-essential amino acids which your dog produces in his body
- Essential amino acids that your dog can’t produce. You must add them to his diet. There are 10 essential amino acids for dogs.
If your dog has an amino acid deficiency, it will affect all his organs. If it impacts his gut, it can lead to leaky gut syndrome.
To add more amino acids to your dog’s diet, use liver and heart.
Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
Omega-3s are good fats that help your dog’s body and brain function the way they should. Omega-3s also plays a role in maintaining a normal inflammatory response.
And because modern diets are rich in omega-6, it’s a good idea to add more Omega-3s. It’s why many pet owners started using fish oil for their dogs … it’s a source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) … both of which are Omega-3s.
DHA and EPA have many health benefits …
- Improved brain health
- Reduced inflammation
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Normal eye health
- Lower risk of cancer
- Promotes healthy bifidobacteria levels
EPA and DHA also work hand in hand with probiotics. EPA and DHA help probiotics attach to intestinal cells. In turn, probiotics increase the absorption of these acids into the brain and body.
But fish oil isn’t the only (or best) source of these fats. Your dog can get them from organs like brains and eyes too.
Iron is a very important trace mineral. It brings oxygen to your dog’s blood cells and helps to …
- Produce hemoglobin
- Improve brain development and function
- Regulate body temperature and muscle activity
If your dog has an iron deficiency, it will diminish the number of T-cells and antibodies. This will weaken his immune system.
Liver is one of the richest and most absorbable sources of iron. Iron is also found in the kidney.
Zinc is a trace mineral that improves mental alertness and encourages growth. It also aids in healing, fighting illness and enhancing the immune system.
Zinc is in organs like the liver and brain.
Selenium is another trace mineral that your dog needs to properly function. It helps protect the immune system and regulates thyroid hormones.
Selenium is also an antioxidant. That means it protects your dog from oxidative stress by scavenging harmful free radicals.
Without antioxidants, the free radicals in your dog’s system could get out of control. This would cause extensive cell damage and could lead to …
- Premature aging
- Inflammatory disease
The brain is a good source of selenium.
Coenzyme Q10 is also an antioxidant. It helps …
- Maintain the heart’s rhythm
- Protect neurons
- Regulate cell function
As your dog ages, his CoQ10 levels decrease. The same happens to dogs with chronic illnesses and diseases.
The heart is a concentrated source of CoQ10.
2. Organs Keep Organs Strong
The other interesting thing about organs is … when you feed an organ to your dog, it benefits the same organ in your dog.
If you feed brain, it provides your dog’s brain with the nutrients it needs to stay strong. The heart nourishes the heart. The liver feeds the liver.
So not only does organ meat give your dog rich nutrients, it will keep his organs strong as well.
3. Organs Are A Natural Source Of Vitamins
Commercial food often has added vitamins and minerals to help round out your dog’s diet.
The problem is that these vitamins are often synthetic. And the body doesn’t recognize or absorb synthetic vitamins like it does their natural counterparts.
That means your dog isn’t getting all of the nutrients he needs. Not to mention that synthetic vitamins can actually cause more harm than good.
How To Add Organs To Your Dog’s Diet
Most raw feeders feed their dog 80% muscle meat, 10% bone and 10% organ. Experts refer to this as a species-appropriate diet. But there’s one major problem …
Animals in the wild are about 50% muscle meat, 16% skin and about 12% bone. This leaves almost 25% of organ weight.
And that means many dogs are missing out on a lot of nutrient-rich organs!
To ensure your dog is getting the most out of organs, make sure he’s getting enough. And that he’s getting a good variety … don’t just feed one kind of organ as 25% of the diet.
Each organ has its own special blend of vitamins and minerals. If you feed a variety of organs, it helps your dog get the most from his organ meat.
If your dog is on a raw diet, head to the local butcher and ask about getting a variety of organ meats.
Feeding your dog a kibble diet? Or feeling a bit squeamish about feeding your dog organs?
Try an organ supplement with freeze-dried organs (this maximizes the nutrients).
That way your dog will get all the nutrients he needs to stay strong and healthy.