When you choose food for your dog, you probably have a few different factors that weigh in on your decision making. The primary factor for many people is cost, but the brand, nutritional content, and environmental concerns probably also cross your mind. If you’ve had your dog refuse to eat store bought food, you know that your dog’s tastes are just as important too.
Organ meat dog food meets every one of these criteria, and more. While some people might shy away from the idea of eating organs, it’s important to remember that your dog’s nutritional needs differ from your own. Humans have been feeding their pets organ meat from the very first moment dogs were domesticated, over 20,000 years ago.
What Organ Meat is Safe?
When discussing the consumption of organs, it’s important to be clear about which organs you are referring to. The healthiest to consume and easiest to purchase organ meats include:
These are meats that are rich in essential vitamins and minerals and that can often be purchased from your local grocery store or butcher. There are other less common organ meats such as the eyeball, pancreas and thymus gland (better known as sweetbreads) that are also great for dogs.
What About the Brain?
The question of whether feeding brain meat to dogs is safe is trickey. The brain is very high in fat and amino acids, and your dog would likely love the taste. However, consuming brain meat can carry significant risk.
BSE, better known as Mad Cow Disease, is what scientists call a Prion Disease. Prion diseases are a family of degenerative and always fatal conditions that are most commonly contracted by the consumption of tainted brain and spinal tissue. There are safe ways to prepare brain meat for consumption, but it’s important to understand the risks involved beforehand.
All the Nutrients a Pup Could Ask For
The main reason you should be feeding your dog organ meat, also known as offal, is because it’s the most nutrient dense food they can have. Feeding your dog a healthy variety of organ meats means that they will get all of the Vitamin A, B Vitamins, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K that they need to stay healthy.
In addition to vitamins, offal is also an excellent source of minerals, including several uncommon but vital compounds that they may not get anywhere else. Beef lung, as an example, is an excellent source of Iron, Phosphorus, Copper, Magnesium, and Zinc. Kidneys are also rich in similar minerals with added benefit of being a good source of selenium.
Working Food for Working Dogs
Dogs that have physically demanding jobs often have much more serious dietary needs than their more sedentary cousins. Organ meats are very rich in fat which means they are also very, very calorie dense.
Offal is a staple food for herding dogs, sled dogs, police dogs, and hunting dogs. Less active dogs will still appreciate organ meat, but should have it more as a treat and less of as an everyday food.
Feed the Craving
Your dog probably likes a wide range of foods, from dry kibble to wet food and from popcorn to mango popsicles. But if your dog could pick out their own food, they would probably choose organ meat.
Consider this scene: It’s 15,000 years ago. You and your faithful dog companion have just successfully harvested a large wild animal. While they might certainly be begging around the fire later, the thing your dog would want to eat the most would be the liver, eyes, heart, and other organs.
Carnivores have evolved to naturally love the taste of organ meats because they are the fattiest, richest and most nutritious part of the animal.
Moderation is Key
While organ meat is probably your dog’s favorite food, you need to be mindful of how often you are feeding it to them. Less active dogs run the risk of becoming obese if they eat too much fat rich food. Obesity destroys joint health, puts your dog at higher risk for heart disease, and will shorten their lifespan.
Even if your dog isn’t overweight, feeding them excess offal can lead to the build of hard mineral deposits in their kidneys, bladder, and urinary tract. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease can also result from eating too much organ meat.
Healthy, Wholesome, and Natural
Organ meat is a necessary part of your dog’s diet. The vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients found in organs are essential to your dog’s health and can sometimes be difficult to find from other sources. Offal can be fed to your dog as a healthy treat or mixed in as a regular ingredient in their food.
While organs are often considered ‘superfoods’, they should not make up the bulk of your dog’s diet. As always, if you have concerns about your pet’s nutrition, you should consult your veterinarian before making decisions.