Are you making a major mistake in your dog’s raw diet?
You could be getting the organ meats wrong. If you are, your dog is missing out on some important nutrients and health benefits.
So let’s take a closer look at organ meats, which ones to feed, and how much you should be adding to your dog’s raw diet.
The main questions dog owners have about feeding organs are:
- What’s the best organ meat for dogs?
- How much organ meat to feed dogs?
So let’s start with the amount of organ meat to include in your dog’s raw diet …
How Raw Feeders Get Organ Meats Wrong
Many raw feeders follow the “prey model” or “species appropriate” diet. They follow an 80-10-10 guideline, meaning they feed 80% muscle meat, 10% bone and 10% organ meat. They assume this is how dogs would eat wild prey in the wild.
But that’s not what happens …
About 50% of the makeup of most wild animals is muscle meat. Then bone is about 12% (this varies depending on type of animal, sex, age, condition …). Skin is about 16%. So that leaves about 25% organ meat by weight.
When you only aim to feed 10% organ meat, your dog is missing out on 15% of this component. And it’s a significant 15%. Have a look …
The Nutrient Value Of Organ Meat
If we compare beef liver, kidney, heart and brain with muscle meat, organs come out on top. They’re more nutrient dense … they’re nature’s multivitamins!
Plus each organ has its own nutritional specialty. For example liver is high in retinol, known as vitamin A, and folate. Organs are also rich in mineral content. And each organ is unique in its minerals. Heart and kidney is where you’ll get the most zinc. Copper and iron are more concentrated in the liver.
Organs are much more nutrient-rich than muscle meat. And that’s why in the wild, carnivores eat the organs first … they’re the most important part of the prey animal.
So why would organs only make up 10% of your dog’s diet? If you only feed 10% organs, he’s missing out on more than half of what he’d eat in nature.
How Much Organ Meat To Feed Dogs
So that gives you a clue as to how much organ meat to feed dogs …
It should be more than 10% and closer to 25%. But only if you feed a variety of organs. If you’re only giving 1 or 2 organs, then 10% may be enough.
Can I Feed My Dog Too Much Organ Meat?
Yes, you can definitely overdo the organ meat if you feed more than 25% organs … or more than 10% of just one or two organs. If you overdo the organ meats, especially at first, you’ll likely see some loose stool or diarrhea. Start gradually if your dog isn’t used to it, and don’t go over these suggested amounts.
So now let’s address question #1. Which organs should dogs eat?
What Are The Best Organ Meats For Dogs?
It’s really quite simple. All of them! Raw organ meats for dogs are far more nutritious than muscle meat. Plus they have other health benefits.
As an example, let’s look at the brain. Dog owners add fish oil to their dogs’ meals because of its DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) content. It’s an important omega-3 fatty acid that fights inflammation. But if you compare beef brain (3.9 mg of DHA) to mackerel (6.4 mg DHA) you’ll see brain gives your dog more than half the amount. Plus brain is richer in iron, zinc, copper and folate than mackerel.
DHA supports brain health. It improves cognitive function … especially in growing puppies and older dogs. Brains are tiny organs with lots of DHA … but you won’t find much in the liver or other organs.
Include Glandular Therapy
The eyes. Like the brain, they’re rich in DHA. And feeding them can be gross. Even putting them through a grinder is kind of messy. (Though it’s fun to have a freezer full of eyeballs when you send dinner guests out to get some ice.)
When you look up the benefits of DHA, you’ll find it supports the brain, nervous system and eyes. So it’s not surprising these organs are rich in a nutrient that helps them function. In fact, this is the basis of glandular therapy. Eating an organ like the brain or eyes supports that organ.
Think about chondroitin. It’s been popular for years for joint and soft tissue support for dogs. And where does chondroitin come from? Joint cartilage. And that’s where hyaluronic acid comes from too.
Feed Glands To Support Glands
Try not to restrict your dog’s raw organs to liver and just 1 or 2 other organs. Giving him glands can help support his hormones.
These glands are important to your dog’s hormonal (endocrine) system:
- Adrenal (above the kidneys; regulate stress and metabolism)
- Thyroid (in the neck; stores and produces most hormones in the body)
- Parathyroid (in the neck, controls calcium levels)
- Pituitary (part of the brain; controls adrenals and other glands)
- Hypothalamus (part of the brain; links the pituitary to the nervous system)
- Pineal (in the brain; affects sleep and seasonal cycles)
- Pancreas (produces insulin and enzymes)
- Ovaries (produce female reproductive hormones)
- Testes (produce male reproductive hormones)
Ratios Of Organs
These are the approximate ratios of muscles, bone, organs and glands in a prey animal …
- Muscle 50%
- Skin 16%
- Bone 12%
- Intestines 10%
- Lungs 3%
- Liver 2%
- Brain 2%
- Heart 1%
- Pancreas <0.5%
- Eyes <0.5%
- Kidneys 0.5%
- Spleen <0.5%
- Uterus <0.5%
- Ovaries <0.5%
- Testicles <0.5%
- Prostate <0.5%
And don’t measure an organ’s importance by its size. The tiny thyroid can make a big impact on health and hormone function. And as you can see, organs make up about 25% of the animal by weight … not 10%.
Now you’ve got to find as many organs as possible to feed them as 25% of your dog’s raw diet. But where do you start?
How To Prepare Organ Meats For Dogs
First, how can you find a good selection of raw organ meats for dogs?
How To Source Raw Organ Meats
Get to know your local abattoir or slaughterhouse. Most organs might not make it to your local butcher. But you’ll get good deals if you go right to the slaughterhouse. And many are becoming quite savvy about the needs of pet owners. You can also find online specialty raw dog food suppliers who carry many types of raw frozen organs. Some of them offer mixed organ meat grinds.
Try to get your hands on brain, eyeballs, spleen, pancreas, kidney, liver, heart, lung. Get the organs in the same percentage you’d find in the whole animal. Take them home and chop them up or grind them. Put them in containers and freeze.
How Often Can Dogs Eat Organ Meat?
Your dog can eat organ meat every day as part of his meals. Add a varied organ mix to your dog’s meals to make up 25% of his daily diet.
Should You Cook Organ Meat For Dogs?
It’s best to feed organ meats raw if your dog will eat them. Most dogs enjoy organ meats, but some may not like the mushy texture of some organs. if he objects, you can try lightly searing them until he adapts to the new rich flavors in his diet.
If your dog’s not used to organ meats in his diet, start out slowly … otherwise these rich foods can cause loose stool. Build up gradually until your dog’s digestive system adjust to the extra nutrients organ meats provide.
What If You Can’t Find Raw Organ Meats?
If you can’t find an abattoir in your area, whole fish can provide these nutrients. This may be the only way some raw feeders can get all the organs and glands into their dogs. Use the whole fish from head to tail fin. Your dog will get lots of vitamin D and DHA. So if you can only source 1 or 2 organs, just add an ounce of fish for every pound of raw food.
Or, for greater convenience, add freeze-dried organs and glands to your dog’s meals. But make sure these products are from grass-fed animals.
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As you see, feeding raw can be part scavenger hunt … but it’ll bring you great satisfaction in building your dog’s good health. It gives new meaning to the expression no guts, no glory!