Dogs need a variety of nutrients in their diets including vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids and enzymes. Many of these nutrients are destroyed in the processing of commercial pet food. Organ meat is a great addition to any pet’s food as it is a good source of vitamins A, B and C and the minerals iron, manganese, selenium, phosphorus and zinc and an excellent source of high quality protein and essential fatty acids.
Organ meat/offal is particularly valuable during times of growth, reproduction and stress. Offal should only form 10% to 15% of the food eaten by an adult non-reproducing, non-active dog. Growing or reproducing dogs needs more. It is important to feed a range of organs (as they all have different nutrients) over a period of time; a month is a good timeframe.
The nutrients found in offal include:
Liver: best known source of vitamin A, contains substantial quantities of vitamins E, D and K, an excellent source of all the B vitamins and a good source of vitamin C. Contains iron, manganese, selenium and zinc. Should be given to dogs with anaemia or skin problems. Liver is also a source of good quality protein, and the essential fatty acids, Omega 3 and 6.
Kidney: supplies good quality protein, a good supply of essential fatty acids, and many vitamins including vitamins A, D, E and K. Also a rich source of iron and all the B vitamins and good levels of zinc. Vitamin A is less than in liver.
Brain: supply protein, fat and water but are high in cholesterol (3 times that of eggs) and should not be fed to dogs with high cholesterol. They are a good source of the B vitamins, vitamin C, virtually no vitamin A, a little vitamin E and an excellent source of essential fatty acids. Brains are good for healthy brain and skin.
Heart: excellent source of protein, B vitamins and iron. Contain some EFA's, and a little vitamin A.
Tripe: the stomach of a grazing animal including cows, buffalo and sheep. It is important to feed green tripe to your pet and not the white, bleached tripe found in the grocery store. Tripe, when fed raw, contains digestive enzymes and beneficial bacteria (probiotics) that digest food. Adding digestive enzymes to your pets diet assists the digestive process by helping to take strain off the digestive system. In addition to digestive enzymes, green tripe has the perfect ratio of 1:1 calcium to phosphorus and contains the essential fatty acids, Linoleic and Linolenic, in their recommended proportions. In Australia, green tripe is not sold raw but can be added as a supplement in a dehydrated form.
Remember to feed offal raw as cooking destroys many of its nutrients.
Billinghurst, Dr. Ian, 1993, Give Your Dog a Bone, 22nd Print, Warrigal Publishing, Bathurst, NSW, Australia
Lazarus, Pat, 1999, Keep Your Dog Health the Natural Way, The Ballantine Publishing Group, New York, USA
Mindell, Earl, RPh, PhD, Elizabeth Renaghan, 2007, Dr. Earl Mindell’s Nutrition and Health For Dogs, Basic Health Publications, Inc, California, USA
Syme, Dr. Bruce, 2011, Scientific Guide to Natural Nutrition, Vet’s All Natural P/L, VIC, Australia