Helping you stay healthy …
There are currently 13 known vitamins. Vitamins don’t give you calories or energy but do help you stay healthy. You cannot make vitamins so you must get them from the foods you eat (see: Wikipedia), each of which serves a crucial role in your fur kids health (and yours of course):
- Vitamin A: Necessary for vision, growth, immune function, foetal development, healthy skin and coat;
- B Vitamins (x8): Are primarily involved in metabolising, or deriving energy, from the foods you eat;
- Vitamin C: Vital for a robust immune system;
- Vitamin D: Important during skeletal development, phosphorus balance, necessary to absorb calcium in the intestine;
- Vitamin E: Defence against oxidative damage;
- Vitamin K: Is involved in bone development and blood clotting.
Vitamins act as:
Since most metabolic reactions are but one part of a sequence of reactions, slowing of any one reaction through the absence of a vitamin can have widespread effects on the body.
A lack or poor absorption of a vitamin causes a deficiency – an excess is known as hyper-vitaminosis.
Vitamins can be classified by solubility:
- Fat-soluble vitamins – A, D, E and K. These are absorbed from the gut along with fat and be stored in the body, so that a daily intake is not required. Over-supplementation can lead to hyper-vitaminosis and toxicity;
- Water-soluble vitamins – B complex and C. These are not stored in the body significantly and excesses are excreted in urine. A daily intake is required and a deficiency may occur at times of excessive water loss, e.g. polyuria and diarrhoea or when gastrointestinal disorders alter microbial populations.
Did you know? Vitamin toxicities can occur if pet parents supplement the diet with excessive amounts of huuman or animal vitamin preparations.
Much has been written about the role of vitamin C in supporting the immune system, in part because it has been promoted as an immune stimulant by the noted scientist and Nobel Prize Laureate, Linus Pauling (see: Wikipedia). Vitamin C appears to support a decrease in the length of time and severity of symptoms associated with upper respiratory viral infections, promote phagocytic cell functions, and support healthy T-cell function. Vitamin C also provides antioxidant activity to support healing at sites of inflammation.
Many of the B-vitamins are also important in supporting a healthy immune system. For example, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) promotes the production and release of antibodies from B-cells, and deficiency of vitamin B5 results in reduced levels of circulating antibodies. Folic acid deficiency leads to a decrease in T-cells and can result in reduced effectiveness of the soluble factors as well. Vitamin B6 deficiency consistently impairs T-cell functioning and results in a decrease in blood lymphocyte counts. Deficiencies in vitamins B1 (thiamin) and B2 (riboflavin) may impair normal antibody response, and low vitamin B12 appears to inhibit phagocytic cells and possibly T-cell function.
Vitamin Requirements For Growing and Adult Cats and Dogs
(amounts per kilogram body weight per day)
|Vitamin||Growing Cat||Adult Cat||Growing Dog||Adult Dog|
|A||200 IU||75 IU||202 IU||75 IU|
|D||20 IU||8 IU||22 IU||8 IU|
|E||1.2 IU||0.5 IU||1.2 IU||0.5 IU|
|Ka||2 µg||2 µg||2 µg||2 µg|
|Thiamin||200 µg||200 µg||54 µg||20 µg|
|Riboflavin||160 µg||160 µg||100 µg||50 µg|
|Pantothenate||200 µg||200 µg||400 µg||200 µg|
|Niacin||1600 µg||1600 µg||450 µg||225 µg|
|Pyridoxine||160 µg||160 µg||60 µg||22 µg|
|Folic acid||32 µg||32 µg||8 µg||4 µg|
|Biotin||2.8 µg||2.8 µg||-||-|
|B12||0.8 µg||0.8 µg||1 µg||0.5 µg|
|Choline||96 mg||96 mg||50 mg||25 mg|
What you need to know about Organ Meats in the BARF diet
Compared to regular cuts of muscle meat, organ meats are more densely packed with just about every nutrient, including heavy doses of B vitamins such as: B1, B2, B6, folic acid and vitamin B12.
B compounds, or B vitamins, are found not only in the dog’s own intestine (bacteria produce some B vitamins) but also in the meat and organs of prey animals. Feeding a variety of organ meats as part of a proper raw diet will cover the B-vitamin requirement quite easily.
One has to wonder: how much of the B compounds in grain and starch and veggies is actually available to the dog? Compared to something more bioavailable like liver?
Organ meats are also loaded with minerals like phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium and iodine, and provide the important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It is important to note that animals raised outside on grass contain even higher levels of these essential nutrients than their grain-fed counterparts.
A Natural Source Of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins (actually a hormone precursor) and regulates numerous functions in the body. Vitamin D deficiency is related to muscle weakness, fractures, common cancers, autoimmune diseases and infectious diseases. It’s especially important for those who live at higher latitudes and receive less sun (since sun exposure is the best source of Vitamin D).
Organ meats are known to have some of the highest concentrations of naturally occurring vitamin D of any food source, and including a source of organ meats into your dog’s diet once or twice a week, is a great idea – especially in the winter time when vitamin D deficiency is most likely to happen.
Organ meats also contain high amounts of the essential fatty acids such as arachidonic acid, and omegorgan meat raw dog fooda-3 fats, including EPA and DHA. Despite popular belief, fish and fish oils are not the only source of the important EPA and DHA … organ meats are loaded with these important nutrients.
People usually ask about the safety of liver. It is the liver’s job to neutralize toxins in the body from drugs or other chemicals, so obviously the best choice for liver is the grass fed kind, without added antibiotics or hormones. But don’t let that scare you away from liver: it filters toxins but doesn’t store them. Muscle meats are typically higher in unwanted toxins than liver.
Liver is also known to be one of the most concentrated sources of natural vitamin A of any food. Natural vitamin A works to aid digestion, keeps sex organs/reproductive organs healthy, and is a powerful antioxidant.
Liver is a great source of folic Acid, B vitamins and especially vitamin B12, which help with fatigue, mental ability and nerve health, as well as preventing anemia.
Liver also contains one of the best, most usable sources for the body, of iron. Iron is necessary for many functions in the body including formation of hemoglobin, brain development and function, regulation of body temperature, muscle activity and catecholamine metabolism, to name just a few. A lack of iron will have a direct effect on the immune system; it diminishes the number of T- cells and the production of antibodies.
Iron is essential for oxygen to the blood cells. The primary function of iron is oxygen transport and cell respiration. For an anemic person, fatigue is one of the most noticeable symptoms. The iron in liver is one of most easily absorbable and usable sources of iron.
Do you have a performance dog? Liver contains an anti-fatigue factor, which is likely to do with improving the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood cells; increasing endurance and strength in athletes of all species.
Liver contains many nitrogen containing compounds that are building blocks for DNA and RNA. In combination with the B vitamins, this makes it extremely helpful to people with Alzheimers or other types of dementia. Dogs can suffer from dementia as well, so be generous with the liver.
While liver is highly nutritious, its precious nutrients are affected by heat, so never cook it or the digestive enzymes and nutrients will be lost.
If you are feeding D.I.Y., make sure you get liver into your dog’s regular diet at least once a month if possible for maximum benefit of its high levels of nutrients. But don’t overdo it – if you feed liver as up to 5% of your dog’s diet, you’ll be doing great.
Because it’s a muscle, beef heart is somewhat similar to muscle meat, although it’s a heavier, more dense muscle. But heart meat packs more protein and unique nutrients.
The heart is a highly concentrated source of the super-nutrient, CoQ10 (see: Wikipedia) 1. Coenzyme Q10 is necessary for the basic functioning of cells, as well as optimizing the heart’s rhythm. CoQ10 levels are reported to decrease with age and to be lower in some patients with some chronic diseases such as heart conditions, cancer, diabetes, and immune disorders.
Beef heart also contains selenium, phosphorus and zinc, along with essential amino acids that help build muscle, store energy and boost stamina and endurance. The heart also contains twice as much collagen and elastin than regular meat, which is important for healthy joints.
If you’re feeding a commercial raw diet, look for whole animal choices so the valuable organ meats are kept intact. Making your own? Just make sure you ask for a wide variety of organ meats.
Overall, organ meats (not including heart) can make up about 15% of your dog’s total diet.
Did You Know? Vitamins and Minerals are freely available in raw and real pet cuisine. The table below demonstrate which vitamins and minerals are found in which raw produce.
|Nutrient / Vitamin / Mineral||Present in:|
|Vitamin A (Retinol)||chicken, pork, egg, salmon, halibut, haddock, sardines, liver, kidney, brain, tuna|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||liver, rabbit, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, goat, ostrich, buffalo, egg, beef, salmon, halibut, haddock, sardine|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||liver, heart, kidney, rabbit, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, goat, ostrich, buffalo, egg, beef, salmon, halibut, haddock, sardine|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||rabbit, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, goat, ostrich, buffalo, egg, beef, salmon, halibut, haddock, sardine, tuna|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||liver, heart, kidney, rabbit, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, goat, ostrich, buffalo, egg, beef, salmon, halibut, haddock, sardine|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||liver, heart, kidney, rabbit, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, goat, ostrich, buffalo, egg, beef, salmon, halibut, haddock, sardine|
|Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)||liver, rabbit, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, goat, ostrich, buffalo, egg, beef, salmon, halibut, haddock, sardine|
|Vitamin B12 (cobalt/choline)|
|Vitamin C||liver, kidney, heart, fish|
|Vitamin D||egg, sardine, liver, kidney, salmon, tuna|
|Vitamin E||ostrich, buffalo, egg, halibut, haddock, sardine, kidney, liver, brain|
|Vitamin K||egg, halibut, haddock, sardine, liver|
|Calcium||rabbit, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, goat, ostrich, buffalo, egg, beef, salmon, halibut, haddock, sardine|
|Chlorine||egg, salmon, tuna|
|Copper||chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, goat, ostrich, buffalo, egg, beef, salmon, halibut, haddock, sardine|
|Iodine||salmon, haddock, seafood, egg|
|Iron||rabbit, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, goat, ostrich, buffalo, egg, beef, salmon, halibut, haddock, sardine|
|Magnesium||rabbit, chicken, turkey, pork, goat, ostrich, buffalo, egg, beef, salmon, halibut, haddock, sardine|
|Manganese||rabbit, chicken, turkey, pork, goat, ostrich, buffalo, egg, beef, salmon, haddock, halibut, sardine|
|Phosphorus||rabbit, turkey, pork, lamb, goat, ostrich, buffalo, egg, beef, salmon, halibut, haddock, sardine|
|Potassium||rabbit, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, goat, ostrich, buffalo, egg, beef, salmon, halibut, haddock, sardine|
(Source: USDA Database – (USDA))
Additional Articles and Videos
Good reference articles and videos further reading available at:
- 10 Things You Should Know About Vitamins for Dogs by Dr Peter Dobias (Dr Peter Dobias);
- How to Choose the Right Vitamins for Your Dog by Dr Peter Dobias (Dr Peter Dobias);
- F.E.D.I.A.F Canine and Feline Nutritional Guidelines (FEDIAF Nutritional Guidelines) (requires Adobe PDF Reader);
- The Merck Veterinary Manual, Nutritional Requirements and Related Diseases of Small Animals (Merck);
- AAFCO Dog and Cat Food Nutrient Profiles (AAFCO) (requires Adobe PDF Reader);
- “Natural Vitamins May Be Superior to Synthetic Ones“, by Center for Natural Health Research, Down Syndrome-Epilepsy Foundation (Health Research).