Raw and Real Food for Cats and Dogs

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The 5th Dietary Revolution and It’s Impact on our Fur Kids

If we look at what the world eats, we can see carbohydrates dominate, even for our pets. But perhaps surprisingly there are just four “foods” that contribute to most of the carbohydrate consumption: wheat, corn, rice, and sugar!

Think of the 5th revolution in terms of a split-second in the toxic time dietary continuum of feeding nations. Wheat, corn, and rice are grains. And grains are thought of as ancient foods, daily staples since the beginning of human existence. But if you put all of human existence on a 24-hour clock, grains didn’t become any significant part of the human diet until 5 minutes ago.

For 23 hours and 55 minutes, huumans didn’t eat grains, neither did our dogs and cats. Besides requiring agricultural techniques to consume in any meaningful way, grains are laced with plant toxins and anti-nutrients to prevent herbivores and humans from eating the plant’s offspring. After all, grains are the seeds of grasses.

However, 5 minutes ago we took these plant seeds and made them a significant part of the human, dog and cat diet by artificially breeding and selecting for size and abundance. In this process we realized that there is lots of waste (milling, etc), and found a creative way to make pet food (McKibble and McCan) from this waste.

Then in the last second, during the Industrial Revolution, we began refining them, thereby further concentrating carbohydrates and their prepackaged toxins. During this last second, the Dog Food Pyramid was born to justify switching dogs and cats to McKibble and McCan.

In this last split-second we altered them even further. We began genetically modifying them. Now about 90% of major crops are GMO. We’ve engineered new traits into plants that wouldn’t otherwise naturally occur. We’ve engineered higher lectin loads to deter insects. We began spraying them with pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides. We’ve added preservatives, so we can store and ship these foods around the world. And all of these changes came with a heavy price. For our pets, we furthered the justification of these toxic ingredients through perceived “research” and other “forms of justification” kept from the general public.

Let’s consider some of the building blocks

While gluten is an energy storage protein (not a carbohydrate), it comes packaged in wheat which is a carbohydrate-based food. It’s a good example of how we have fundamentally changed plant-based foods into artificial, synthetic, dangerous foods. When some people eat gluten it triggers an immediate, severe attack on the lining of the small intestines. It’s known as Celiac disease.

Celiac disease dramatically increased in humans in the US in the 1960s and 70s. This is the same time that genetic breeding further transformed wheat. The 4.5 foot “amber waves of grain” turned into 2 foot, semi-dwarf, wheat. Yields went up. Profits went up. And so did the gluten concentration. And it was not only more abundant, but the gluten was fundamentally different. The molecular structure of gluten was chemically altered. It is cheap and abundant, and even more waste became available that started to make its way into McKibble and McCan.

The ability to tolerate gluten is now commonly seen on a spectrum from those who can tolerate it in certain quantities to those who cannot tolerate even the smallest doses. We know that our digestive tract doesn’t handle wheat proteins (prolamins) like gluten and other lectins very well, for humans and our pets alike. Genetically modified wheat and altered proteins are like foreign invaders to the body. They cause damage to the gut (“leaky gut”) that can lead to widespread inflammation, autoimmune disorders, and disease.

But it is not just wheat that we have transformed. There is a big difference between eating an organic ear of corn vs high fructose corn syrup extracted from genetically modified corn. That said, an ear of corn is quite unnatural itself. Originally corn was small, about the size of your little finger. The seeds of this wild grass easily fell off and dispersed.

Today we’ve engineered it to give us massive ears of corn. The seeds cling to the cob so tightly it cannot even exist on its own in the wild. So although an ear of corn is quite unnatural today, it is not even close to the other versions of corn that make up so much of our human diets.

Today most of us, humans, cats and dogs, eat the version of corn that results from steeping it, taking the starch, refining the syrup, and further processing it to yield High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). This is the version of corn that is served in mass.

Corn is a good example of what we tend to do with many plant-based foods. In the wild the plant part is relatively scarce, small, and low in carbohydrates. It would be difficult to eat in large quantities. But we selectively breed, genetically modify, and change these natural plants into unnatural variations for bigger versions, sweeter versions, higher yield versions.

Just look at some of the things we use corn for:

  • We take the corn starch made from the endosperm and use it as a thickening agent in human and pet feed. It’s also the main ingredient in biodegradable plastic.
  • We squeeze the germ of corn to get oil. We fry our food in it. We coat the McKibble with it. It gets further hydrogenated to make margarine, or synthetic fat that is sprayed on McKibble.
  • We use corn to make cereals, snack foods, salad dressings, soft drink sweeteners, gum, peanut butter, dog food, cat food, imitation meat, and flour products.

When we eat these end products, the fact that we are eating a high carb, plant-based food becomes obscured.

Rice, like corn and wheat, is a seed of a grass and it is a worldwide staple food. And like all seeds (grains, nuts, and legumes), it comes with potential problems. Remember – grains are the seeds of grasses. Seeds are vital for the survival and success of a plant species. And because seeds are so important, plants take extra measures to ensure they get protected, spread, and have the best chance of growing and producing their own seeds. Ensuring the offsprings’ survival and success is of paramount importance to the plant, and so Nature lace them with phytochemicals to deter predators from eating them. Contrary to popular belief, the nutrition in seeds is intended for the growing plant, not for human, dogs or cats’ health and nutrition. And trying to steal that nutrition for ourselves often has dire consequences.

Today, these 3 carb-based foods – wheat, corn, and rice – make up about half of the world’s and our pet’s food. Not sure you want to believe us? Have a read at the TruthAboutPetFood.Com on the latest research available.

Metabolic Derangements …

With every carb-loaded meal we create a metabolic panic for our pets, stressing the pancreas to unload insulin to re-establish homeostatic blood sugar. The insulin dump immediately halts fat burning, drops blood sugar, and urges hormones to tell the brain to eat more. In humans, we feel this as a strong craving for more sugar, and we have to assume that our dogs go through similar processes.

Since fat burning is largely turned off thanks to the insulin – the craving can feel more like a panic due to low blood sugar. In humans we cannot use our fat energy reserves to supply the energy we need. With this drop in blood sugar our energy drops, we get tired, our brain gets foggy, and we get “hangry” for more sugar. Willpower gives way, we reach for more sugar, and feel the “reward” from the brain reinforcing this behavior. What results is binging, cravings, and addiction. Imagine the foreign and unnatural feelings that our dogs must go through, given that they would experience similar symptoms!

In this vicious sugar cycle, we are always hungry and always storing more fat. We disrupt hormonal signaling and lose the ability to tap the abundant energy stored in our fat cells. Besides leading to chronic hunger and fat gain, this massively unnatural carbohydrate load and blood sugar rollercoaster wreaks havoc on human health, and even more so on our dogs and cats!

The net result? Metabolic hormones become dysregulated.

The high blood sugar levels disrupt cellular water balance, impair the immune system, and damage vision, kidneys, and nerves. Obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and dementia all became increasingly common step-wise with the ever-increasing consumption of carbohydrates.

Permission to Lie …

Because the public has become comfortable with the idea that commercial pet foods can provide complete and balanced nutrition for the life of the animal, basic diet is no longer generally considered an important source of disease. Pet owners and veterinarians have literally been trained to look elsewhere for causes and treatment options.

— Susan Wynn, World Small Animal Veterinary Assn. World Congress Proceedings, 2001

Digestive Differences …

Huumans are omnivores and monogastrics, in other words, we have one stomach. The same is true for our cats and dogs. Digestion is primarily enzymatic, which simply means that we and our fur kids employ enzymes to break down food into simple compounds that can then be either absorbed as nutrients or eliminated from the body.

Herbivores can be monogastrics or ruminants, which have a complex four-chambered stomach. Herbivores digest cellulose – which makes up most of a plant’s cell walls – from plant matter via fermentation. Herbivores need microbes to ferment plant matter, and their nutrients come from that process of microbial fermentation.

There are two types of fermenters: foregut and hindgut. They all digest cellulose with the help of their gut microbiota, but it happens in different parts of the digestive system. Because of this, the plants they eat will be necessarily different from each other to obtain the nutrients they need.

When we or our fur kids eat cellulose, our gut systems cannot break them down using enzymes. Only a small part of the cellulose will be broken down by our gut microbes in the large intestine.

The small quantity of cellulose we as huumans do eat is important to our health because it contains much-needed insoluble fiber, which helps move things along in our digestive systems. The same is not true for our fur kids. However the fact remains that most of our nutrients still come from enzymatic digestion.

Simply put, our pets do not digest like cows. And if we expect our fur kids to eat ‘like a cow’ , in other words, only grasses or the seeds of plants, it would be virtually impossible to get all the nutrients they need.

Sugar me Nice …

And so enter one of the most contentious topics in the whole debate about real food. Carbs! The really sad bit here, is that human food makers is trying to mimic human food making in dog food. The reality is that most ruminants (yes, herbivores), omnivores such as gorillas, and obligatory carnivores such as cats (lions), all eat low or zero carb diets. It is just since the Industrial Evolution that carbs, and thereby sugar, became the cheap caloric content of food. And do not forget, that all study and research materials for canine and feline nutrition clearly state that “dogs have no need for carbs”.

Take cows for instance. Cows are ruminants. They graze on roughage, grasses and shrubs. They eat a lot of cellulose. Humans, dogs and cats cannot use cellulose or fiber for any significant amount of energy, but cows (herbivores or ruminants) can. Ruminants are “foregut digesters”, meaning that they use their rumen, which consist of multiple stomachs filled with bacteria, to ferment fiber. This fermentation produces short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which make up the bulk of the cow’s nutrition.

Via ruminal fermentation, cows are eating a diet that consists of about 70 to 80% fat, mostly saturated, 20 to 30% protein, and virtually zero carbohydrates. And yet, we expect our dogs and cats to thrive on a diet consisting of 28% to 55% of carbs!

And wild gorillas? Normally, a gorilla eat a lot of leaves. Leaves are about 60% protein and 40% carbs, with a minuscule amount of fat, typically less than 5%. And while we might be tempted to equate eating leaves (i.e. salads) and this high protein, low fat diet with a small gut and trim waist, the opposite is closer to the truth. Think again what the wild gorilla actually looks like. Due to the gorilla’s LARGE GUT (yes, they are hindgut digesters), they can take all that fiber, which makes up about 75% of the leaves dry weight, and FERMENT it into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).

So in reality, the gorilla eats a diet that is about 20% protein, 10% carbs, and wait for it …. 70% fat! Nearly all of which is saturated fat.

Carnivores, such as cats and dogs, cannot use fiber as an energy source. Carnivores have a much simpler digestive system. But that is not an issue, because wild carnivores eat nutrient-rich prey, typically herbivores, which provide the carnivore with a HIGH FAT, LOW CARB diet. The cow, the gorilla, and the lion all eat a HIGH FAT, moderate protein, LOW CARB diet.

But we must remember that dogs are not human, nor are they wolfs, nor are they omnivores. They are the SPECIES dog, a scavenger, a survivor and a facultative carnivore. And the dog is not the only carnivore that can change his dietary behaviors for a relative short period of time to survive. We tend to ONLY view the DOG and the WOLF when looking at similarities. But the fox, the ferret, the panda, and the polar bear have demonstrated similar survival capabilities, and all have the same ancestry.

Our conclusion?

We need to acknowledge that dogs are not humans, cats are not small dogs, and dogs have different nutritional programming than humans. Dogs are also not WOLVES, they are their own SPECIES and evolved to survive like the fox, the ferret, the panda and the polar bear. Dogs are scavengers and should officially be classified as FACULTATIVE CARNIVORES. Their primary dietary sources must be real unadulterated animal fat and meat, not carbs and sugars.

What is Collagen?

More About Collagen

Collagen (Wikipedia) can simply be described as a protein that acts as a glue that “holds our body together“. The benefits are not only touted for the skin, but also for the heart and some says it can even improve athletic performance. Other benefits associated with collagen are:

  • It is said to help with Healthier and younger-looking skin.
  • It is rich in calcium and protein, without the carbohydrates.
  • It is said to improve blood supply by strengthening the blood vessels.
  • Assist the body in metabolizing fats, therefore good for weight loss.
  • It is said to slow the effect of arthritis.
  • It is said to help reduce pain and swelling (inflammation).

References:

  • Optimum Condition of Extracting Collagen from Chicken Feet and its Characteristics (National Chung-Hsing University) (PDF);
  • Broth is Beautiful (Weston A. Price Foundation);
  • The protective effects of long-term oral administration of marine collagen hydrolysate from chum salmon on collagen matrix homeostasis in the chronological aged skin of Sprague-Dawley male rats. (PubMED);
  • Collagen Benefits (HerbWisdom);

Chicken feet are not only rich in collagen but also a good source of hyaluronic acid, and chondroitin sulfate. Hyaluronic acid is touted as the fountain of youth – it is said to prevent the effects of aging. Chondroitin sulfate helps with osteoarthritis so it should be good for huumans and pets with joint problems.

Krill as a Food Supplement

Krill as Food Supplements

Small package, big kicks …

The ongoing “my-fat-is-better-than-your-fat” debate has many twists and turns. The latest is vilifying krill (WikiPedia) in lieu of plant-based materials, such as flax and others. An active, and well-orchestrated campaign, convinced us that we are depleting krill resources in the oceans, and endangering wildlife as a result.

Why Krill?

Krill might be tiny, but they comprise one of the largest bio-masses on our planet. If you were to weigh the population of any animal on earth – any fish, whale, insect, bird, rat, or even huumans – krill would still weigh the most. Present in all oceans, this crustacean holds a vital position in the marine food chain. Through millions of years of evolution, krill’s bio-active components and molecules have sustained nature’s diverse species in, and out, of the ocean. Because krill is a superior source of omega-3s, krill might be the answer to the growing awareness of, and demand for marine omega-3s for both pets and huumans.

Not only is krill the largest biomass in the world, but krill harvesting is one of the best regulated on the planet, using strict international precautionary catch limit regulations that are regularly reviewed to assure sustainability!

Besides the fact that krill are a thriving, highly sustainable food source, there are specific reasons why it is an optimal source of omega-3s for your pet ​1​.

  • Krill is very well-absorbed, so your pet only needs about a fifth the dose of regular fish oil to receive the same benefits;
  • Krill contains more EPA than fish oil;
  • Krill delivers its abundant EPA and DHA as phospholipids directly into your pet’s cells;
  • Krill provides natural antioxidant protection including vitamins A and E, plus astaxanthin and canthaxanthin;
  • Choline is another essential nutrient that pets require for optimal health. It is a natural component of krill. Choline is essential for a healthy liver and important for brain health;
  • Krill do not accumulate heavy metals.

The biggest advantage of krill omega-3s is the phospholipid form in which they are delivered.

Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA can be consumed in either the triglyceride form, typically found in traditional omega-3 sources, or in the phospholipid form delivered by krill. Phospholipid-bound omega-3s are more efficiently incorporated into the body’s cells, tissues, and organs. Another distinguishing benefit: omega-3 phospholipids are water soluble, making them gentle on pets’ stomachs and readily absorbed by their body.

Krill is available in several forms ​2​ for our pets, including frozen, various grades of ‘meal’, whole freeze-dried, flaked / ground freeze-dried and oil. Cats will often eat pieces of freeze-dried Krill as a nutritious treat.

What is the difference between krill and shrimp?

The main difference between krill and shrimp is that the krill is a shrimp-like crustacean, whose body is segmented into three: Cephalon, thorax, and abdomen, whereas the shrimp is a crustacean, whose body is segmented into two; cephalothorax and abdomen. Furthermore, krill is smaller than a shrimp. Krill and shrimp are two types of crustaceans with a tough exoskeleton. They are food sources for many animals including humans.

Should I food seafood to my dog?

Even if there was no ongoing debate about the benefits and healthiness of marine foods, the question remains: is it safe for a dog to eat fish, shrimp, or any other type of seafood? The short answer is that dogs can eat some types of seafood, but it all depends on the species, and the method of preparation. Unsurprisingly, dogs do best with fish such as sardines, pilchards and herring, whereas clams, shellfish, shrimps and other aquatic critters usually come with a set of warnings before serving.

Here are some general pointers as to what to look for in marine foods before you feed it to your fur kids:

  • Lifespan – always go for shorter-lived species of fish, such as sardines, pilchards or herring. In species with longer lifespans, such as tuna, mackerel, or sea bass, high levels of heavy metals and toxins accumulate over their lifetime.
  • Size – the same rule applies when it comes to size. Smaller fish have less mercury, while bigger specimens tend to accumulate it, as they eat massive quantities of other fish.
  • Bones – fish that are hard to clean of bones are a safety risk for dogs. Brittle bones can tear through your dog’s intestine wall and pose a choking hazard. Which is why we prefer sardines and pilchards, even fully grown, they are “immature” fish, and the bones do not harden.

Of course, even with seafood and fish that are safe for dogs, moderation is key. While your fur kids might benefit from an occasional meal, this type of food shouldn’t make up most of their diet.

Some pet parents, guardians and slaves refrain from giving fish to their dogs, whether because of the hassle or because they can’t find trusted sellers in their area. But, our pets still need essential fatty acids, and the easiest way to introduce it to their diet is supplementing their meals with a tablespoon or two of oils or powder rich in omega-3. Krill is a popular alternative to fish oil because it contains all the nutrients without the risk of toxins.

  • Stimulates the immunological system in pets
  • Provides exceptional cardiovascular support
  • Beneficial dietary supplement during pet pregnancy & lactating
  • Increase in newborn pet survival and healthy growth rates
  • Natural treatment of arthritis / joint conditions in pets ​3​
  • Improved skin and coat condition (through improved collagen production)
  • Improved appetite / intake / palatability (masks the taste of medication)
  • Maintains healthy blood lipid levels
  • Krill naturally improves chemioperception in pets
  • Decreased recovery time in pets when fed krill pre & post-operative
  • May naturally decrease hyperactivity, anxiety and minor aggression in pets
  • Overall revitalization & improved alertness
  • Krill naturally protects pets from UV rays
  • Natural treatment of pet nutritional disorders

Articles and Videos

There is much information and disinformation on this topic available across the net. Please use common sense when delving deeper into this topic.

What to Look for in a Krill Oil Supplement

References and Research

  1. 1.
    Köhler A, Sarkkinen E, Tapola N, Niskanen T, Bruheim I. Bioavailability of fatty acids from krill oil, krill meal and fish oil in healthy subjects–a randomized, single-dose, cross-over trial. Lipids Health Dis. 2015;14:19. doi:10.1186/s12944-015-0015-4
  2. 2.
    Burri L, Johnsen L. Krill products: an overview of animal studies. Nutrients. 2015;7(5):3300-3321. doi:10.3390/nu7053300
  3. 3.
    Calder PC. Marine omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes: Effects, mechanisms and clinical relevance. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids. April 2015:469-484. doi:10.1016/j.bbalip.2014.08.010

What is Offal?

Offal Super Foods for Cats and Dogs

Super-Licious Food for Cats and Dogs!

We are often quizzed by pet parents about these unique ingredients. What is it and what are the befits? If you’re a gen X (or Y) or Millennial, then these items might be foreign to you. Won’t see them on the shelves at your favorite retailer either. Our desire for consumerism, packaging and presentation has alienated and orphaned these nutritional gems to dark little corners in old rusty shacks.

The sad state of meat affairs is that this long-forgotten food group is every bit as nutrient dense as fruits and vegetables that most of our westerners eliminated from our diets. Liver for instance, is enormously healthy and full of an array of B vitamins, vitamin A, selenium and folate. In our world of real, biologically species appropriate raw food, we believe that liver is a superfood that is much more nutrient dense than kale and spinach. Misinformation has led pet parents to believe that animals’ livers store toxins, which one would consume if eaten. But the liver metabolizes and helps the body excrete substances that pass through it and it not only is free of toxins but also gives your fur kids’ body key nutrient to support their own liver in detoxification. Instead of sending dangerous substances further through your digestive system, the liver changes them into something less dangerous and chooses where they will go from there .

Read More: How does the liver work? NCBI Bookshelf (Books)

Other organ meats, like heart, have copious amounts of CoQ10, an antioxidant that is used as a natural way to prevent and treat certain diseases and kidney is loaded with selenium and other key nutrients which support adrenal and thyroid health. Spleen, pancreas, thymus and brain, are all incredibly nutritious organ meats as well that have tremendous health benefits.

Consider this – organ meats are far higher in nutrients than the muscle meats we’re used to eating. For instance, beef liver contains 50 times as much vitamin B12 as steak and more folate and b vitamins than other food on the planet. Beef liver is known as nature’s B-complex vitamin. It’s more densely packed with vitamins and minerals than kale, spinach and broccoli!

Let’s define offal

For our article, we will use beef, chicken and lamb to describe some of the nutrient nuggets that might find their way into our supreme pet cuisine. These three animals represent most of what is available today: – beef, lamb, duck, chicken, turkey, lamb, venison and ostrich. Note: nutritional amounts are based on human RDA’s.

What We Buy In The ShopsWhat We Don't See
Real Food for Cats and Dogs
Beef Prime Cuts
Raw Food for Cats and Dogs
Beef Offal Cuts
Real Food for Cats and Dogs
Chicken Prime Cuts
Raw Food for Cats and Dogs
Chicken Offal Cuts
Real Food for Cats and Dogs
Lamb Prime Cuts
Raw Food for Cats and Dogs
Lamb Offal Cuts

(Image credit – Socket Software Pty Ltd, Queensland, Australia)

If you are an avid Do-Yourself-Raw-Feeder, then you will agree that there are dozens of “accepted” types of offal. We are not going to provide an exhaustive offal handbook, but we’ll briefly review some of the more common forms: liver, heart, kidneys, tongue, sweetbreads, brain, tripe and gizzard. Robert Sietsema wrote some beautiful articles on this topic specifically focused on human foods!

Offal items include:

  • (a) Glandular Offal’s – internal body parts which are related to the animal glands, they don’t have any muscle tissue or fiber. Glandular meats have low shelf life hence it should be consumed within a day or two. Example of glandular meats are Liver, Kidney, Sweetbreads, Brain, marrow, etc.
  • (b) Muscle Offal’s – these are the external body parts which are attached to the carcass of the body but are not included in the major cuts of the animal or the birds. These are made from the same muscle tissue as the main body and have better shelf life than glandular offal’s. Examples of muscle offal’s are Oxtail, Tongue, Tripe, Testicles, Ears, Head, etc.

Edibles include:

CutDescriptionCutDescription
AmouretteFrench term used for marrow from the spine of animals which is part of the nervous system, especially from calf, cow, ox, bison.Animelles French term for testicles of animals, even termed as Fries or Oysters, example Lamb’s Fry, Calf’s Fry, etc.
Bath Chap It is a particular cut from the cheeks of the pig, chap is a variation of “chop”. Blood Of the animal is used to make blood pudding, soup, etc. Sometimes blood is reduced to make pie.
Brain NO you are not zombie if you eat brain, so chill and enjoy this delicacy.Caul Internal folded membrane inside of pig’s intestine, packed with fat, gives a look of netted lace. It is used as a wrap, which helps to keep the food moist due to its fat content.
Chitterlings Also known as Chitlins, it is the large Intestine of Pig, it is used as the sausage skin.Cocks Comb The flowery part above the head of birds like Rooster, Turkey, Quail, Pheasant, Grouse, etc. It is made of muscle and is used for making sauce, garnish.
Ears Of animals like Pig, calf and goat is preferred, the skin is gelatinous and the cartilage is crunchy when cooked. Oreilles is the French term for Ear.Eyes Of certain birds and animal is eaten, eyes of fish is preferred among all, best is to fry and eat, popular in Russia and Arab.
Feet Gelatin content is rich in feet especially in young animals, used for making for stock and soup. Feet of Pig is known as Trotter.Foie Gras French term for “Fatty Liver”. Liver of a goose and sometimes duck is termed as foie gras. Used in making pate.
Gizzard An organ found in stomach of any bird, animals is known as gizzard.Head Of animals or birds is used as they cannot be included in the main carcass. Calf, Pig, Goat, Fish, Chicken are common. This include the face, cheek and forehead.
Heart Tough offal, full of fibers and veins, heart of beef, veal is preferred.Hogs Maw or Saw’s Maw Stomach of pig is known as hog’s maw or Saw’s Maw
Intestine Of animals especially pig’s is used as an outer covering of the sausage, also used in making silver foil.Kernels Small kidney like gland, found inside of veal’s shoulder, it is beside the blade bone of shoulder and is covered in fat.
Kidney Finest of all kidney is obtained from goat, lamb, chicken and pig.Liver Finest of all the offal’s, delicious, smooth and buttery texture.
Lungs Mainly used sausage making, soft and spongy texture and have red color when raw. Also known as Lights.Marrow (Bone Marrow) Soft fillings of the bone, has muddy taste and texture, brown in color. Used in making of soup, also used as spread.
Melt Spleen of the animal is known as melt, not very popular, used in sausage making. Pig, Calf, veal if preferred. Beef spleen is known as Miltz.Mesentery Found inside the stomach of the animal, it is a membrane that joins the small intestine to the abdominal wall also acts as a supporting system.
Ox Name given to less preferred cuts of beef like oxtail, nothing to do with the animal “OX”.Ox Palate The roof of the cow’s mouth is termed as ox palate.
Oxtail Tails of beef is called oxtail, not included in main carcass. Tails of other animal is also termed under offal’s.Pluck Another term for Offal’s.
Skin Animal skin is used as offal’s, fried pig skin is known as chicharrones.Snout Nose of the pig.
Sweetbreads Thymus gland and pancreas found only in young animals like calf, lamb, veal. Neck sweetbread is thymus gland and heart & belly sweetbread is pancreas. Tongue Cured tongue is very popular calf, beef and pigs tongue is very popular.
Tripe Internal layer of animal stomach, the first layer which is smooth is called Blanket Tripe and the second layer which has appearance like honeycomb or net is called Honeycomb Tripe.Udder Mammary gland of female cattle.
Vessie Bladder of the animal is called vessie.

Liver

Liver contains only 116 calories but has more than double the daily recommended value for vitamin A and vitamin B12. In addition, folate and riboflavin in chicken liver equal out to over 100 percent of what the average pet parent needs each day. Chicken liver also contains high amounts of vitamin B6, niacin, pantothenic acid, iron, phosphorus, selenium and copper.

Heart

While it may not have as much of each nutrient as liver, the heart (especially beef) provides you with the most CoQ10 of any of the offal meats. And it still has a ton of great nutrients — over 100 percent daily value of the vitamin B12 pet parents need and over half the riboflavin (not to mention significant amounts of niacin, iron, phosphorus, copper and selenium).

Kidneys

Eating kidneys is a concept you may need a bit of time to wrap your head around. But beef kidney has over five times the amount of B12 pet parents need each day, as well as almost two times your value for riboflavin. Beef kidney also contains 228 percent of the daily value recommended for selenium intake for pet parents. This trace mineral has a huge number of benefits attributed to it, including the prevention of certain cancer types, lowering risk of cancer, defense against oxidative stress and boosting immune responses.

Tongue

As variety meats in the offal family go, tongue is a popular but slightly less nutritious option than other organ meats. This tough-surfaced organ contains about ¾ daily value of vitamin B12, along with a quarter of the niacin, riboflavin and zinc. Another factor making this offal less of a home run is that it has over 250 calories in one relatively small serving – but only as far as pet parents concerned. For mutts, pups, nobles, masters and muggles, this is a must-try.

Sweetbreads

This deceptive name refers to the organ meat found in two separate areas of the body: the thymus and pancreas. While they aren’t sweet, nor made from bread, these meats are not high on the human nutrient winner list. These do, however, contain a large amount of dietary cholesterol and fat. We’re slowly learning that eating foods high in fat is not that bad for you at all, but it’s worth noting. This is also the first offal meat in which vitamin C wins the top spot for nutrient loads, making it ideal for those wishing to boost immunity and decrease cancer risk.

Brain

Surprisingly, brain may not be the smartest choice when selecting offal. While it has somewhat significant amounts of several nutrients, it also contains over 800 percent of the average human’s daily recommended value for cholesterol intake. Not that cholesterol is a problem in fur kids, still …

Tripe

Tripe is another common organ meat that’s popular without much nutritional science to back up its popularity. While it does contain almost 14 grams of protein, the other nutrients it offers aren’t found in very high amounts in a serving. But we love tripe, and so does our fur kids – and that’s what is most important!

Gizzard

Ranking above tripe for a few nutrients and carrying an astounding 44 grams of protein per serving, gizzard is a fairly worthwhile offal meat to keep in mind. It does contain quite a bit of cholesterol in a serving but also includes 85 percent of the selenium pet parents need each day.

Our final thoughts on offal

  • While they’re often considered “lesser” meats or perceived as dangerous, many of the organ and variety meats known as “offal” are densely packed with nutrients;
  • Liver, one of the most popular types of offal, contrary to popular belief, is not laden with toxins, but a superfood one would equate on the same lines as kale and spinach;
  • Because farming standards greatly impact the quality of organ meats, it’s important to only use meats raised ethically, meaning free-range animals fed species-appropriate diets (not grain-fed);
  • Several types of offal are extremely high in vitamin A, an antioxidant that’s linked to decreasing cancer risk, protecting eyes and reducing chronic inflammation;
  • Offal generally contains significant amounts of B-complex vitamins, known for their roles in helping prevent cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease and help the brain function at peak levels;
  • Offal is also known to often contain minerals that aid in fertility and pregnancy, as well as those that may help treat anemia;
  • Liver, heart, kidneys, sweetbreads and gizzard are some of the types of offal with the best nutritional profiles.

One day, when we have some time on our hands, we will map their nutritional values into the National Research Council Profiles for Canine and Feline Nutrition for reference.

Nutritional Values

The What and Why of Organ Meat ..

Raw and Real Food for Cats and Dogs

Healthy Delectable Food for Cats and Dogs!

When we think of organ meat, most of us scoff at the thought of offal and / or meat by-products. In today’s’ convenience society, traditional dishes are no longer served such as tripe, and as a result, pet parents no longer consume organ meat as part of our primary diet. However, for our pets, organ meat is not only good, but it also very beneficial to their health.

With today’s farming methods, meat and bone can be lacking in many important nutrients as well. Therefore, it is important to food your mutts, pups and nobles all the organs and all the parts of an animal that they would eat had they tracked and killed that animal in the wild when you make your own meals. Or alternatively, use herbs as a natural substitute. Dogs are after all facultative carnivores. Organs are also good as treats and top-ups with full meals.

Of course, today’s dogs no longer hunt, however, as facultative carnivores, it means they eat meat (or should be!). Dogs are also opportunistic scavengers and have been since the beginning of their species. If not hunting, 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 soft meaty bits and 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 and minerals. All these vitamins offer the optimal nutrition for mutts, pups and nobles. Perhaps most importantly, organ meat is a wonderful source of protein.

Some raw fooding philosophies call for 5% of the diet to be liver and 5% of the diet to be other secreting organ(s). However, balance over time is the driving principle when considering real food diets, and as such, organ does not have to form part of the daily allowance. Our observation and recommendation are that the 5% / 5% rule is not foolproof, and just because you feed 5% liver, 5% other organ does not mean you are not feeding an excess or deficiency of certain nutrients. Balance over time.

As a reminder:

Food as OrganFood as Meat
LiverHeart
KidneyGizzards
SpleenTongue
Brain and SweetbreadsLung and Trachea
TesticlesTripe

Let’s look at the different organ meats and what they can provide as part of the diet.

  • Heart – selenium, zinc, thiamine, co-enzyme Q10, phosphorus, folate and B vitamins;
  • Liver – vitamin A, iron, copper, co-enzyme Q10, B vitamins and folic acid;
  • Brain – DHA, vitamin B12, vitamin A, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and calcium;
  • Kidneys – Vitamin B12, B6, iron, riboflavin, niacin and folate;
  • Pancreas – Vitamin C, thiamine, folate, niacin, calcium, iron, magnesium and selenium;
  • Thymus – Vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and selenium;
  • Tripe – folate, choline, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium;
  • Tongue – B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, calcium and iron;
  • Lungs – vitamin A, C and B, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, magnesium, iron and calcium;
  • Testicles – potassium and iron.

Liver as part of the diet

Liver is rich in many different vitamins and fatty acids. One of the most notable differences between liver and other organs is the vitamin A content. Liver is jam packed with vitamin A, while other organs are not. Vitamin A is one of only two vitamins which are possible to overdose on if given in excessive quantities, and vitamin A toxicosis can cause severe health issues ​1​ .

However, before sparking a panic, the toxicity level of vitamin A is extremely high ​2​ , and you would need to feed excessive liver for months or even years before the dog began to show symptoms of vitamin A toxicity. Still, it is very easy to end up with an extremely high amount of vitamin A when feeding liver as the entire 10% organ content.

Occasionally including liver in the diet promotes health for the digestive system and the coat, as well as essential vitamin content needed to sustain health overall.

Kidney as part of the diet

Like liver, kidneys provider a wide range of vitamins:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B12
  • Iron
  • Zinc

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.

Benefits of Adding Organ Meats to the diet

Adding organ meats to your own and your pets’ diet has several benefits:

  • Excellent source of iron: Meat contains heme iron, which is highly bioavailable, so it’s better absorbed by the body than non-heme iron from plant foods ​3​ .
  • Keeps you fuller for longer: Many studies have shown that high-protein diets can reduce appetite and increase feelings of fullness. They may also promote weight loss by increasing your metabolic rate ​4​ .
  • May help retain muscle mass: Organ meats are a source of high-quality protein, which is important for building and retaining muscle mass ​5​ .
  • Great source of choline: Organ meats are among the world’s best sources of choline, which is an essential nutrient for brain, muscle and liver health that many people don’t get enough of ​6​ .

When not to feed organ meat?

There are some medical conditions that require a specific diet, and organ meat would not be appropriate for mutts, pups and nobles with those conditions.

If your dog is not eating organ meat, you must supplement the diet to make up for the nutrients that organ meat would otherwise provide in a raw diet – otherwise, the diet will be severely deficient in many important vitamins and minerals. The nutrients you will have to supplement and in what quantities will depend on your dog’s condition and what the rest of the diet consists of. We supply two herbal and one commercial supplement for this purpose.

Kidney disease

Organ meat is very high in phosphorus, which means it is not appropriate for dogs with kidney disease because damaged kidneys don’t efficiently metabolize phosphorus. This will result in high phosphorus in the blood, which can cause calcium to be pulled from the bones.

Hyperuricosuria

Dalmatians with hyperuricosuria, a genetic condition that affects the metabolism of protein waste products, should avoid foods high in purines. This is because their condition prohibits the body from properly breaking down purines into uric acid and then into allantoin, resulting in a build-up of uric acid waste products, which can cause urate stones. Urate stones can form urinary blockages; they are very painful and can even result in death if not treated. Since organ meat is high in purines, Dalmatians with this condition should generally not be fed organ meats.

Copper storage hepatopathy

Liver is also high in copper, thus dogs with copper storage liver disease should not be fed liver because of their accumulation of copper in the liver. However, there are low copper organ meat choices which may be able to be fed sparingly (and careful measurement), such as chicken liver, turkey liver, or pork liver. Beef liver, duck liver, and lamb liver all contain high levels of copper and should be avoided completely.

I don’t want to use organs, what about herbs?

Not to stress. Unlike synthetic vitamins and minerals, whole foods and herbs provide essential nutrients complete with the cofactors and phytonutrients they need to make a healthy change in your dog. We discuss some of the herbal options available to you. Now, key to remember that vitamins are divided into two categories: water soluble and fat soluble.

The fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat soluble vitamins are stored in the body tissues, and if your dog’s gets too much of a fat-soluble vitamin, a vitamin excess can accumulate over time.

The water-soluble vitamins are the B vitamins and vitamin C. These vitamins aren’t stored in the body like the fat-soluble vitamins, so they should typically be in the diet every day. If excess water-soluble vitamins are fed, the body will take what it needs, and the kidneys will excrete the rest in the urine. This doesn’t mean excesses will never happen, but they are much less likely in water soluble vitamins.

Vitamins

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is fat soluble and can accumulate in the body over time (our discussion about excess liver in the diet). It’s hard to get vitamin A toxicity from food, but don’t add a lot of foods rich in vitamin A if you are fooding a pre-made raw food that has added vitamin A.

Herbal sources include alfalfa, borage leaves, burdock root, cayenne, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, hops, horsetail, kelp, lemongrass, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, peppermint, plantain, raspberry leaves, red clover, rose hips, sage, uva ursi, violet leaves, watercress, yellow dock (list not exhaustive).

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Herbal sources include alfalfa, bladder wrack, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, hops, nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaves, red clover, rose hips, sage, yarrow, and yellow dock (list not exhaustive).

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Herbal sources include alfalfa, bladder wrack, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, ginseng, hops, horsetail, mullein, nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaves, red clover, rose hips, sage, yellow dock (list not exhaustive).

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Herbal sources include alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, hops, licorice, mullein, nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, red clover, rose hips, slippery elm, yellow dock (list not exhaustive).

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

Herbal sources include alfalfa, burdock root, nettle, yellow dock (list not exhaustive).

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Herbal sources include alfalfa, catnip, oat straw (list not exhaustive).

Vitamin B9 (Folate, Folic Acid)

Herbal sources include rosemary, dandelion, parsley, spirulina (list not exhaustive).

Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)

Herbal sources include alfalfa, bladder wrack, hops (list not exhaustive).

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Herbal sources include alfalfa, burdock root, cayenne, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, hops, horsetail, kelp, peppermint, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, pine needle, plantain, raspberry leaf, red clover, rose hips, skullcap, violet leaves, yarrow, yellow dock (list not exhaustive).

Vitamin D

Our pets cannot manufacture vitamin D from sunshine like pet parents can, so they need to get it from their diet. If you feed home-prepared raw, unless your meat is from grass-fed animals or you feed pastured eggs, you’ll need to add fish or supplement with fish oil for your dog to get enough vitamin D. But be careful if you are fooding a pre-made raw diet as some have added vitamin D (or D3) already.

Herbal sources include alfalfa, horsetail, nettle, parsley (list not exhaustive).

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is not easily absorbed and less than half the amount in food is available to the body. Grass-fed meats are about four times higher in vitamin E than grain-fed.

Herbal sources include alfalfa, bladder wrack, dandelion, flaxseed, nettle, oat straw, raspberry leaf, rose hips (list not exhaustive).

Vitamin K

Herbal sources include alfalfa, green tea, kelp, nettle, oat straw, shepherds’ purse (list not exhaustive).

Minerals

Like vitamins, minerals can also be obtained through herbs. Minerals builds and protects bones and teeth. Minerals also helps maintain regular heartbeat and prevents muscle cramping.

Calcium

Herbal sources include alfalfa, burdock root, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, chicory, dandelion, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, flaxseed, hops, horsetail, kelp, lemongrass, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, peppermint, plantain, raspberry leaf, red clover, rose hips, shepherd’s purse, violet leaves, yarrow, yellow dock. (list not exhaustive).

Copper

Herbal sources include sheep sorrel (list not exhaustive).

Iodine

Herbal sources include calendula, tarragon leaves, turkey rhubarb (list not exhaustive).

Iron

Herbal sources include alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, chicory, dandelion, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, horsetail, kelp, lemongrass, licorice, milk thistle seed, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, peppermint, plantain, raspberry leaf, rose hips, sarsaparilla, shepherd’s purse, uva ursi, yellow dock (list not exhaustive).

Magnesium

Herbal sources include alfalfa, bladder wrack, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, eyebright, fennel, fenugreek, hops, horsetail, lemongrass, licorice, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, red clover, sage, shepherd’s purse, yarrow, yellow dock. (list not exhaustive).

Manganese

Manganese is a very important mineral for ligament and tendon strength because it activates the enzymes that build collagen. If your pet tends to get tendon or ligament injuries (like cruciate tears), he or she may be manganese deficient.

Herbal sources include alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, ginseng, hops, horsetail, lemongrass, mullein, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, red clover, rose hip, wild yam, yarrow, yellow dock (list not exhaustive).

Phosphorus

Herbal sources include burdock root, turkey rhubarb, slippery elm bark (list not exhaustive).

Potassium

Herbal sources include catnip, hops, horsetail, nettle, plantain, red clover, sage, skullcap (list not exhaustive).

Selenium

Herbal sources include alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, fennel seed, ginseng, garlic, hawthorn berry, horsetail, lemongrass, milk thistle nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, rose hips, sarsaparilla, uva ursi, yarrow, yellow dock (list not exhaustive).

Zinc

Herbal sources include alfalfa, burdock root, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, eyebright, fennel seed, hops, milk thistle, mullein, nettle, parsley, rose hips, sage, sarsaparilla, skullcap, wild yam (list not exhaustive).

What have we learned to date?

In summary, before spending money on supplements, make sure you try whole foods first for your pack. They may prove to be the solution your mutts, pups and noble’s needs. If whole foods do not provide enough support, then find the best herbal or organ supplement for your pack.

Articles and Videos

References and Research

  1. 1.
    Cho D, Frey R, Guffy M, Leipold H. Hypervitaminosis A in the dog. Am J Vet Res. 1975;36(11):1597-1603. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1190603.
  2. 2.
    Morris P, Salt C, Raila J, et al. Safety evaluation of vitamin A in growing dogs. Br J Nutr. 2012;108(10):1800-1809. doi:10.1017/S0007114512000128
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    Monsen E. Iron nutrition and absorption: dietary factors which impact iron bioavailability. J Am Diet Assoc. 1988;88(7):786-790. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3290310.
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    Weigle D, Breen P, Matthys C, et al. A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;82(1):41-48. doi:10.1093/ajcn.82.1.41
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    Lord C, Chaput J, Aubertin-Leheudre M, Labonté M, Dionne I. Dietary animal protein intake: association with muscle mass index in older women. J Nutr Health Aging. 2007;11(5):383-387. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17657359.
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    Zeisel S, da C. Choline: an essential nutrient for public health. Nutr Rev. 2009;67(11):615-623. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00246.x