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Organs - An Important Piece in a Raw Dog Food Diet

People who feed their dogs a raw dog food diet typically do that because they want to ensure their dogs are fed the most nutritious, species appropriate foods possible. But to ensure your dog gets all the nutritional needs, you must still maintain a balance of those nutrients over time.

The recommendations for prey model feeding are 80% raw meat, 10% raw non-weight bearing bones, and 10% raw organs, with half of the organs being liver. If you leave out any part of this balance, your dog will not be getting all the things she needs for a healthy life!

Organs, even though they should only amount to 10% of your dog’s diet, are packed full of vitamins and minerals she might not otherwise receive. And these vitamins and minerals are essential to your dog’s health. Let’s go through a few of the common organs and discuss the importance of each. Remember, balance over time is what is important, so it is not necessary to feed each of these organs all the time. Variety in the daily diet will go a long way to total nutrition for your dog!

Liver - The Most Important of the Organs

Pig Liver

Liver is the most important of the organs recommended in feeding your dog, and should make up half of all organs fed.

I know some of you are thinking “But liver filters out a lot of bad things. I don’t want to feed my dog something with all those bad things!” Well, rest easy! The liver does indeed remove harmful materials from the blood, but it does not store them. It does, however store things that are vital, such as vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, etc. This is what makes it such an important part of a diet.

Liver is an excellent source of Vitamin A, Iron, and Potassium. It also contains concentrated amounts of other essential minerals and vitamins, as we will show later.

The USDA nutritional database shows that pig liver (pictured) is made up of 71% water, 21.5% protein, 3.5% fat and 2.5% carbohydrates. That’s a lot! If you remove the water, then the amount of protein jumps to 74%!

The database shows the following nutrient amounts contained in pig liver. The requirements column for minerals comes from the Natural Research Council, and are daily requirements for a 33 pound dog.

Minerals amount / 100 grams Requirements
Calcium 9 mg 1000 mg
Iron 23.3 mg 7.5 mg
Magnesium 18 mg 150 mg
Phosphorus 288 mg 750 mg
Potassium 273 mg 1000 mg
Sodium 87 mg 200 mg
Zinc 5.76 mg 15 mg

Vitamins amount / 100 grams
Vitamin A 6502 µg
Thiamin
(Vitamin B1)
0.283 mg
Riboflavin
(Vitamin B2)
3.001 mg
Niacin
(Vitamin B3)
15.301 mg
Vitamin B-6 0.690 mg
Folate
(Vitamin B9)
212 µg
Vitamin B-12 26 µg
Vitamin C 25.3 mg

Kidneys Provide Your Dog Some Much Needed Nutrients

Beef Kidney

Kidneys, similar to the liver, perform as a sophisticated trash collector. They constantly filter the blood and get rid of potentially toxic waste. In the case of the kidneys, this waste, along with excess water from the blood is drained to the bladder, where it is eventually eliminated. Again, as in liver, the toxic wastes are not stored in the kidneys, simply removed from the blood and sent to the bladder.

Kidneys are an excellent source for Vitamin B12, Niacin, and Riboflavin.

The USDA nutritional database shows that beef kidney (pictured) is made up of 78% water, 17.5% protein, 3.1% fat and 0.25% carbohydrates. If you remove the water, then the amount of protein jumps to 79.5%!

The database shows the following nutrient amounts contained in beef kidney. The requirements column for minerals comes from the Natural Research Council, and are daily requirements for a 33 pound dog.

Minerals amount / 100 grams Requirements
Calcium 13 mg 1000 mg
Iron 4.6 mg 7.5 mg
Magnesium 17 mg 150 mg
Phosphorus 257 mg 750 mg
Potassium 262 mg 1000 mg
Sodium 182 mg 200 mg
Zinc 1.92 mg 15 mg

Vitamins amount / 100 grams
Vitamin A 419 µg
Thiamin
(Vitamin B1)
0.357 mg
Riboflavin
(Vitamin B2)
2.84 mg
Niacin
(Vitamin B3)
8.03 mg
Vitamin B-6 0.665 mg
Folate
(Vitamin B9)
98 µg
Vitamin B-12 27.5 µg
Vitamin C 9.4 mg

Brains are Great Sources of Vitamins and Minerals

Veal Brain

Brains are high in phosphorus, niacin, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin C.

The USDA nutritional database shows that veal brain(pictured) is made up of 80% water, 10.3% protein, 8.2% fat and no carbohydrates. If you remove the water, then the amount of protein becomes 51.5%, still significantly protein rich.

The database shows the following nutrient amounts contained in veal brains. The requirements column for minerals comes from the Natural Research Council, and are daily requirements for a 33 pound dog.

Minerals amount / 100 grams Requirements
Calcium 10 mg 1000 mg
Iron 2.13 mg 7.5 mg
Magnesium 14 mg 150 mg
Phosphorus 274 mg 750 mg
Potassium 315 mg 1000 mg
Sodium 127 mg 200 mg
Zinc 1.92 mg 1.11 mg

Vitamins amount / 100 grams
Vitamin A 419 µg
Thiamin
(Vitamin B1)
0.130 mg
Riboflavin
(Vitamin B2)
0.26 mg
Niacin
(Vitamin B3)
4.3 mg
Vitamin B-6 0.28 mg
Folate
(Vitamin B9)
3 µg
Vitamin B-12 12.2 µg
Vitamin C 14 mg

A Brief Discussion on Vitamins B12 and D

Vitamin B12 is the largest of the B-Complex vitamins, and is extremely important in regulating a dog’s metabolism, especially in conjunction with Folate (Vitamin B9). An interesting fact is that plant sources do not contain any Vitamin B12; it must be obtained from meats and organs, and, to a limited extent, dairy products.

Vitamin D has sometimes been referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, since humans and some other mammals produce all they need by spending 15 minutes in the sun. However, the process for converting ultraviolet light to Vitamin D is not very efficient in dogs, so dietary supplementation needs to occur. You may have noticed that Vitamin D was not listed in the tables above from the USDA. This is because the database is for humans, and dietary Vitamin D is not necessary, so is not listed. Rest assured that the organs discussed, especially the liver, contain ample amounts of Vitamin D.

Conclusion

We have seen that organs, especially liver, are great sources of many minerals and vitamins, some that may be missing in the “raw meat” portion of the 80/10/10 proportions of a raw food diet for dogs. So make sure you include a variety of organs in your dog’s diet. Don’t go overboard with it though! Remember, balance over time is what is important.

Visitor Comments

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