The Benefits Feeding Raw Meat

Why Your Dog Needs Organ Meats

 

 

Compared to regular cuts of muscle meat, organ meats are more densely packed with just about every nutrient, including heavy doses of B vitamins such as: B1, B2, B6, folic acid and vitamin B12.

Organ meats are also loaded with minerals like phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium and iodine, and provide the important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It is important to note that animals raised outside on grass contain even higher levels of these essential nutrients than their grain-fed counterparts.

Try all of the organ meats, including lung, kidney, pancreas – anything you can get your hands on!  You and your dog will get over the ickiness factor once you see the great health benefits!

 

When most of us, as humans, think about organ meat we scoff – or maybe get a little sick to our stomach. Human beings don’t normally eat organ meat as a part of the primary diet, at least not in North America. However, for pets, organ meat is not only essential, it can prove to be the difference in your dog’s overall health. We’re not just saying that, though. We’ll tell you why.

First, let’s remember something we often forget. Dogs are carnivores. This doesn’t mean that dogs hunt; it means they eat meat. Dogs are scavengers and have been since the beginning of their species. A dog in the wild could find a dead animal carcass and will scavenge all sorts of things including meat, bone, stomach contents, and organ (offal). In fact, the dog often goes for the organs first. They may do this because they are easily accessible, but it could also be because the organ meat provides some of highest levels of essential nutrients for the dog.

Organ meat provides several essential B vitamins including B12, B1, B2, B5, B6, as well as biotin and choline. It also contains Vitamin A, C, D, E, and K as well as omega fatty acids. All of these vitamins offer the optimal nutrition for a dog. Perhaps most importantly, organ meat is a wonderful source of protein.

Let’s take a look at some of the different organ meats, what they provide, and why they are important:

 

Liver as Dog Food

Liver is necessary when feeding organ meat, and for good reason. It is rich in many different vitamins and fatty acids including:

Feeding liver promotes health for the digestive system and the coat, as well as essential vitamin content needed to sustain health overall. Not only that, feeding liver can help with your dog’s temperament. You’re not you when you’re hungry, as the Snicker’s commercials say, so why would your dog be himself if he isn’t getting the essential nutrients he needs?

 

Kidney as Dog Food

Kidney is next in line when it comes to importance of feeding. Like liver, kidneys provider a wide range of vitamins:

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin E

  • Vitamin K

  • Vitamin B12

  • Iron

  • Zinc

As you can see from the list, kidney provides some similar benefits as liver, but with the added benefit of vitamins like zinc and iron. Kidney is also a great source of essential fatty acids which can help maintain a healthy skin and coat, and digestive system.

 

Hearts as Dog Food

Feeding hearts is another common practice in the fresh/raw dog food world. They are easily accessible and relatively inexpensive. Available examples would be chicken or beef hearts.

Hearts are usually fed in smaller amounts with other organs to supplement liver. Heart is an excellent source of protein, B vitamins and iron. It contains some essential fatty acids and a little vitamin A. Heart contains good levels of taurine which is an important food… for the heart!

SAMPLE MENU – STARTING OUT

For a 15kg adult dog at 2% - 15,000g x 0.02 = 300g of food per day

 

Morning

Evening

 

Week 1  

150g bone-in chicken breast

150g bone-in chicken breast

 

Week 2 

150g chicken thigh & breast meat

150g chicken thigh & breast meat

 

Week 3-4

150g small chicken quarter with beef trim

150g small chicken quarter with beef trim

 

Week 5-6

150g chicken wing & beef trim

150g chicken wing & beef trim

Increase food to 2.5% - 15,000g x 0.025 = 375g of food per day

 

Week 7-8

225g small chicken quarter with pork meat

150g small chicken quarter with pork meat

 

Week 9-10

225g pork ribs with beef trim plus occasional raw egg

150g pork ribs with beef trim

 

Week 11-12

275g pork ribs with beef trim and tiny piece beef liver

100g chicken wing & breast meat

 

Week 13-14

310g pork ribs with beef trim and 15g beef liver

Alternate 50g small chicken breast with ribs or whole egg

 

Week 15-16

285g pork ribs with beef trim 25g kidney & 15g beef liver

Alternate 50g small chicken breast with ribs or whole egg

 

Week 17-18

335g chicken quarter, 25g beef heart & 15g beef liver

Training treats (e.g. slow baked organ or meat slices)

 

Week 19-20

295g chicken quarter, 50g heart, 15g kidney & 15g liver

Training treats (e.g. slow baked organ or meat slices)

 

Notes:

-  the main meal can be either morning or evening – in this example it is in the morning.

-  only change the menu each week if stools are ok, if not, keep to the same weeks menu until they are ok, before proceeding.

- when introducing any new meat or organ meat, test with thumbnail pieces first, and check stools before slowly increasing.

- when introducing egg, test with a small amount of beaten egg first, and check stools before increasing to a whole egg.  Eggs can be served whole, and used as a complicated meal where they have to figure out how to get at the contents.  Sometimes you have to make a tiny hole in the shell so they can smell the egg inside and figure it out.

 

Remember, you’re aiming for:

80% meat, sinew, ligaments, fat, can also include heart meat
10% edible bone
5% liver
5% other organ meat 

So for 375g of food a day this equals:

300g meat, sinew, ligaments, fat, heart meat
37.5g edible bone
18.75g liver
18.75g other organ meat 

These measurements don’t have to be exact, just to bear in mind.

 

    

AIM FOR VARIETY...

  1. Raw bones are living tissue composed of living cells and just like any other part of the body, they are a complex source of biologically balanced minerals, especially calcium, yet also copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, zinc, and manganese. It is highly probable that bones in a dog’s diet play a similar role to fiber, that is, a role of bulking out the food, thereby removing toxins and promoting general bowel health.  The easiest way to provide balanced calcium is by feeding raw meaty bones that have around 10% edible bone in them – such as whole chickens, halves or quarters, with perhaps some extra meat added in to allow for the bird having being processed (i.e. the innards missing) – a whole processed chicken is considered to be 33% bone, with some parts higher in bone content such as the wings (46%) whereas the bone-in breast portion is lower, perhaps 20%

  2. Raw, meaty bone choices - all poultry, pork, lamb/mutton, cow, deer, fish etc.  Whilst the flesh of any animal is fine, bone type should be restricted to the type of animal a dog pack could realistically hunt in the wild – a cow would be unlikely and the bones are said to be too dense for a dogs teeth (especially small dogs) so could cause teeth chipping or breakage.  Common cuts can include chicken backs, wings and necks (or even whole carcasses), lamb necks, pork necks, turkey necks, pork hocks, pork ribs, ox tails, turkey tails, even lamb, pork or poultry heads for the adventurous; any meaty bone that can be completely consumed by your dog in fact. If you are feeding meaty parts then you can feed them alone, if your choices are bonier (such as chicken backs, pork necks, wings or ribs), then you will need to add meat or heart to correct the ratios.  Basically, you are trying to replicate whole prey, so look at what you’re about to feed and visualize the actual bone content – if a third or even half of it would be bone, then you know you need to add more meat.  Remember you are aiming for 10% bone, although for robust dogs there is some tolerance for slightly higher bone content .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
  3. Whole prey, as the name suggests, is the whole un-gutted animal or bird.  Depending on the size of the dog, this could be anything from small birds to a rabbit or hare.  Some people feed larger prey and then remove what isn’t eaten and store for the following days until the whole prey is eaten.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
  4. Raw muscle meat from a variety of sources should be fed daily. You can feed heart as a muscle meat yet not exclusively.  Cheap sources are waste trim from the butcher – this is often fatty, yet also has some lean, sinewy content.   Muscle meat is a great source of protein, and protein contains essential amino acids, the building blocks of your dog. Muscle meat also contains a lot of phosphorus and is low in calcium. When fed with 10% bone you have the exact ratios of calcium to phosphorus required by a dog.  Free range grass-fed meat is also rich in omega 3 and beta-carotene – intensively farmed grain-fed meat has very little, if any.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

  5. Raw Fat is an excellent natural source of energy for a dog, however too much fat too soon can cause loose stools so you need to build up fat content nice and slowly – this includes chicken skin which is considered a fat, so for sensitive dogs should be removed in the early stages of raw  feeding.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

  6. Raw fish (preferably whole, small, oily fish) can be fed for one or two meals per week. You may also opt to feed fish body oil such as Salmon oil. This supplementation is recommended if the meat you feed is not grass-fed because grain-fed animals lack Omega-3 fatty acids which protect the dog’s joints and immune system. It is preferable to feed smaller whole fish, than portions of a larger fish since the mercury and toxin levels in fish are a  concern.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

  7. Raw offal (organ meat such as liver, heart, kidneys, brains, lung, pancreas, spleen) from a variety of meat sources should be fed for one or two meals per week or 10% of the diet. Some dogs do not like the texture of organ meats and need to have it lightly seared to change the texture. Other dogs don’t tolerate offal in larger quantities well, so it may be best to divide it up and feed a little each day to avoid loose stools.  Liver is particularly important and should form 5% of the overall diet as it is the main source of water-insoluble vitamins in organs that a dog needs. Organs in general provide an enzyme-rich mixture of protein, B-complex vitamins, vitamins A and D, vitamin E, some vitamin C, and essential fatty acids EPA, DHA, and AA, along with minerals such as manganese, selenium, zinc, potassium and copper. Like muscle meat, organs contain a lot of phosphorus (and potassium) and are low in calcium.

 

Essential organ meats in particular:

  • Liver has a vast range of important nutrition – it has the most concentrated source of vitamin A as well as vitamins D, E, and K in substantial quantities. Liver is an excellent source of the minerals zinc, manganese, selenium and iron. It also contains all the B vitamins, particularly B1, B2, B3, B5, B12, biotin, folacin and is a good source of vitamin C. Liver provides a source of good quality protein and the essential fatty acids, both the omega-3 and omega-6 type. It's a fantastic food for your dog!

  • Kidneys supply good quality protein, essential fatty acids and many vitamins including all the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Kidneys are a rich source of iron and all the B vitamins. They also have good levels of zinc.

  • Heart is an excellent source of protein, B vitamins and iron. It contains some essential fatty acids and a little vitamin A. Heart contains good levels of taurine which is an important food... for the heart!

  • Raw whole eggs with shells (a perfect ratio of phosphorous to calcium) can be fed two or more times per week. You might have heard that raw egg whites contain a protein that binds with biotin and that is true. To avoid deficiencies, feed the entire egg, yolk and everything. The yolks are where most of the nutrition is found anyway. Egg yolks are an excellent source of magnesium, calcium, iron, folate, vitamins A, E and B6 and free-range eggs have lots of beta-carotene.  If you buy your eggs commercially, they are likely sprayed with wax and other chemicals to improve their appearance.  These chemicals are harmful for your dog so if you cannot find fresh farm eggs, feed commercial eggs without the shell and count them as a meat meal. 

  • Raw green tripe has long been quoted as being "the finest of natural foods". It should be unprocessed, unbleached – basically straight out the animal and is a great food as it is the edible lining and accompanying content of a cow or other grass eating animals’ first or second division of the stomach. Paunch tripe comes from the large first stomach division and honeycomb tripe comes from the second division.  Both wild canids and domestic dogs benefit from eating tripe as it contains a very diverse profile of living nutrients including digestive enzymes, omega- 3 and 6 fatty acids, vitamin B, probiotics, and micronutrients. Raw tripe is considered as meat yet has a very good calcium/phosphorus ratio - it's not an essential part of the diet; yet is extremely nutritious if you can get it.  Tripe should be from grass-fed herbivore animals (not grain fed) to get maximum nutritional benefit.                                                                                                                                                                  THE “DETOX”

You may have heard of dogs “detoxing” when they first start a raw diet.  This all depends on the current health levels of the dog, particularly how many toxins it has been exposed to, and this in particular includes the number of vaccines, heart worm medications, flea preventatives etc they have been given which all have chemicals in them that are difficult for the dog to expel from the body. 

With the increased health that raw provides, occasionally this build up of toxins will start to be excreted, usually through the body’s largest organ; the skin.  Typically, this will present itself as unexplained itchy skin, itchy ears with or without discharge and runny eyes.  These are all signs that the body is cleaning itself naturally and no oral steroid or injections, antibiotics or topical treatments are needed, and in fact, if used, will suppress the detoxification process and cause it to internalize

into the major organs to cause organ disease later in life.  Please see the herbal health section for more information.