Organ meat, or offal, is an incredibly important component to your dog’s food bowl, whether cooked or raw. It is nutrient-dense; therefore providing essential vitamins and minerals to your dogs diet. The popular models of raw diet (BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food), and PMR (Prey Model Raw)) follow the rule to feed 10% organ meat, with half (or 5%) of it being liver. Dogs in the wild don’t measure out their food proportions in the percentages, and cannot eat a balanced meal every time they eat. Their meals are shared among a pack, and because they are typically famished prior to a hunt, the first part of the kill that a pack will consume is the organ meat for its nutrients!
In Appendix B of Tom Lonsdale’s book, Raw Meaty Bones, there are observations of the eating habits of captive small carnivores which include the Timber Wolf, and the African Wild Dog. Both canines have been observed to consume the organs first.
Wild dogs and wolves are famished prior to completing a successful hunt, so of course they want the part of the kill that will sustain them the most. The organs are usually consumed first by the alpha. Then they may be shared with the pups, or any sick or elderly members of the pack.
10% Organ in the Raw Diet
If you’ve done even a little bit of research on making your dog’s food yourself, you’ve probably found that every recipe contains some amount of organ meat. For example:
The BARF diet is based on a 70:10:10:10 ratio of muscle meat (70%), edible bone (10%), and organ meat (10%, 5% liver), and fruits/vegetables/nuts (10%).
Prey Model Raw also follows a 10% ratio of organ meat (5% liver), following the biological properties of natural prey and including no plant matter, and limits supplementation.
Why do both diets place emphasis on the liver?
Liver is nutrient dense and has a high concentration of Vitamin A which is essential for cell, immune functions, and growth. Liver is also an important source of iron and copper; however, not all liver is created equally! For example, Beef liver has 9.755 mg of Copper per 100 grams, while pork liver only contains .677 mg. Copper is important for dog health because it helps the body absorb iron. However, excess copper or certain vitamins can also cause some health problems. This is why it is important to feed a diverse array of proteins. 5% of the diet should be liver to ensure appropriate essential vitamins and proteins are being fed. The other 5% of organ meat can be varied, but should also include secreting organs like kidney or spleen.
Why is fresh, raw organ meat best?
It is best to feed your dog raw organs. Organ meat is delicate, and most nutritional value will be lost with cooking it. You can also offer organ meat pureed and frozen (see photo below), or air-dried. Real Dog Box offers a variety of different air-dried organ meats including beef spleen, beef liver, lamb spleen, pork kidney and pork liver. You can use these treats as high-value training treats, or even as a meal-topper dry, or rehydrated to add a boost of nutrition to your pup’s meal.
Most kibble companies use synthetic supplements because the high-heat process to make kibble removes almost all of the nutritional value of any organ meat that is included. This is why it is important to feed fresh organs when, and if you can. Remember, fresh is best!
Treat Yo’self to Organ Meat
Organ meat has nutritious benefits for humans too, and considered delicacies in many cultures. They are popular in fine-dining restaurants because of their strong flavors.
In America, consuming offal has strong socio economic and racial ties. Because it is inexpensive, Americans believed it was food for poor people. It’s time that stigma be broken! Why supplement your diet with expensive vitamins, when you can get them directly from the natural source?
Check out this recipe for Chicken Livers. Organs make a fast meal, because you only lightly brown the liver for 2 minutes on each side. This recipe only takes 25 minutes to complete! Next time you’re at the store, look for chicken liver and you can share your next meal with your pup!