Organ meats are an important part of any raw diet, no matter the carnivore that you are feeding. Many raw feeding plans emphasize feeding liver, indeed, most will want you to feed at least 5% liver. This is because organ meat is, basically, the carnivore multi-vitamin. But let me tell you there are a lot more organs than just liver! All the organs will have different nutritional profiles that can all be beneficial to your carnivore.
As with any diet you should aim for as much variety as possible when it comes to the organ meat that you provide. You want to feed as many types of organ meat as you can find. You also want to feed as many different organs from as many different animal sources as possible. This will offer your pet the most optimal nutrition possible.
How Much Organ Meat Should You Feed?
Organ meats are very rich so if it is your first time to feed organ meat then you want to start small. Otherwise your pet might have some digestive upset. Perhaps start with 5% and then work your way up. Most feeding models want you to feed about 10% organ meat which is a good starting point.
You may want to stay at 10% organ meat or increase to as much as 25% or vary the amount you feed everyday. Normal prey animals can vary from 10-25% organ meat, so adding this variation into your carnivores diet is normal and healthy. Try to make sure that no one organ accounts for more than 5% of your pet’s diet.
What Organ Meats Should You Include In A Raw Diet?
Most raw feeders are attempting to recreate similar nutrition to that of a whole prey animal. This is often called “Frankenprey.” Since our goal is to recreate a whole prey animal that means that you should feed any kind of organ that comes in an animal… a.k.a. All of them! Yep, if you can find it to feed to your pet then you should feed it.
A Look At The Nutrition Of Some Organs And Their Benefits:
Below is a list of organs and a short discussion of each organ’s nutritional qualities and the benefits it offers when fed to your pet. Note that some of these organs are fed as part of the meat portion in many raw diets. Examples of this are heart, lung, skin, and tongue. However, each of these has somewhat different nutritional content than regular meat so they are included for this discussion.
As with all raw feeding, variety is key. Below we will have a generalization of nutrients in each organ, but the nutritional qualities in an organ will vary slightly from one animal to another and from one species to another. For instance, a kidney for a cow will have similar but slightly different nutritional content than that of a goat.
Skin is an organ that covers us, our pets, and pretty much all prey animals. Skin generally accounts for about 16% of the overall animal. Skin is a really important organ that is one of the first lines of defense against invaders. Which is an important job.
Skin typically contains a lot of fat. We do not always think of fat as being beneficial. However fat plays an important role in the overall health of our pets skin, heart, brain, and bodily functions. Too little fat can cause many health issues. For best results source skin from animals that have been raised outside, are organic, and where fed a species-appropriate diet. Skin from these animals will offer the best omega 6 to omega 3 fat ratio. Their skin will also contain less toxins and it will contain more vitamin D.
We all know what the intestines are for, digesting food and compacting any waste that we may have eaten. The intestines typically take up about 10% of the entire animal. Now, intestine is not typically something that you can find to feed your carnivore and even if it is… well… poop. So, let’s talk about tripe instead.
Tripe is what lines the stomach. You will want to feed green tripe from roumanet animals. Green tripe contains loads of digestive enzymes and probiotics that are helpful for your pets' digestion. It is due to this that tripe is often fed to animals with digestive issues. But really it is a great organ to feed to any pet. Some people choose to feed tripe alone as a meal while others like to feed tripe as part of the meat portion of a meal. It all depends on your pet and how they react to tripe.
Lungs carry oxygen to all parts of the body and typically make up about 3% of an animal. Lungs are a good source of calcium and iron and contain lots of arteries. It’s a great idea to feed your carnivore lungs to help support his heart and lung health. Especially feed lungs if your pet is suffering from any sort of upper respiratory infection or if he suffers from any kind of breathing difficulty.
Liver is one of the most concentrated sources of vitamin A of any food and accounts for about 2% of an entire animal. Vitamin A aids digestion, keeps the reproductive organs healthy and is a powerful antioxidant. Beef liver is also extremely rich in folate, CoQ10, vitamin D, selenium, and vitamin B12, which are very important to the health of the nervous system, and they help to produce red blood cells. Additionally, liver is an abundant source of copper and iron. Both are vital for the oxygen transportation in the bloodstream.
Feeding liver is a great way to support digestion, heart health, brain function, and, of course, liver health! However, be sure not to feed more than 5% liver as this can provide your pet with too much vitamin A. Be sure to feed pasture-raised liver from animals fed a species-appropriate diet. Liver is one of the major detoxifying organs and if the animal has lived in a toxic environment and eaten toxic food, these toxins will be passed to your pet.
Brain accounts for about 2% of the overall animal. Brain is particularly fatty about a 1:1 ratio of protein to fat. The fat that is in the brain is especially high in DHA and EPA, omega-3 fatty acids. This is the type of fat that you think of when you think of healthy fat and the healthy fats in fish. However, if you have a carnivore that cannot eat fish, the raw brain is a great alternative!
The fats in the brain are important for heart, skin, brain, and overall health. Brain also contains selenium and copper; these are essential for healthy brain cells. Thus, feeding a baby carnivore raw brain is a great way to help the baby develop a healthy brain. Feeding brain throughout your pet's life can also help prevent cognitive decline.
Heart accounts for about 1%of the total animal. Heart is packed with amino acids and unique nutrients. Heart contains iron, phosphorus, selenium and zinc. These minerals are important for multiple important functions including the oxygen transport, reducing oxidative stress, healthy bone structure, and the provision of cell energy.
Heart is also a great source of CoQ10, B vitamins, taurine, and magnesium. All of which are used as supplements to support heart health. Heart also boosts collagen production which supports skin, coat, joint, and digestive health. Feeding heart is a great way to regulate blood pressure.
Kidney accounts for about 0.5% of overall body weight. Kidneys are a wonderful source of iron and selenium. Iron is vital for oxygen transport. Selenium plays an important role in aiding the body in fighting inflammation and to support cell health. Even though the levels are well below that of liver, kidneys are still a very rich source of vitamin A.
Kidney is a wonderful source of vitamin B12 and can also be a great source of vitamin D, especially when from animals that were pasture-raised. Be sure to source the kidney you feed from organic, pasture-raised animals that have been fed a species-appropriate diet. This is because kidneys are also responsible for detoxifying the body. So, if they are full of toxins and your dog eats it, the toxins will be passed to your dog.
The remaining organs account for less than 0.5% of the whole animal. Let’s start with spleen. Spleen is a great source of iron, selenium, vitamin B3, and zinc. Spleen is also high in tryptophan, which is an amino acid that helps the body produce melatonin, which helps your pet sleep better.
If for some reason your pet has had to have a splenectomy it is important to feed your pet this organ. Feeding your pet spleen will help support his compromised immune system after having his spleen removed. That said, spleen is a great organ to feed any carnivore.
Pancreas is not as concentrated a source of vitamins or minerals as many other organs. Indeed, the main benefits of feeding pancreas is the digestive enzymes in the pancreas. These digestive enzymes are particularly helpful for those pets that suffer digestive issues from EPI to irritable bowel disease to pancreatitis.
Eyes are similar to brain, in that they are high in EPA and DHA, omega-3 fatty acids. Eyes are also a good source of zinc and magnesium. Feeding eyes can help support eye, brain, heart, and overall health.
Testicles, often called fries, are a great source of vitamin B12 and protein. They are responsible for creating male hormones. Feeding testicles may be helpful for regulating mood and helping ease any reproductive issues your male is having. Feeding a neutered male testicles can also be quite beneficial to help balance his hormones.
Ovaries are a female's reproductive organ and produce many female hormones. It is helpful to feed a spayed female ovaries to help balance out her hormones. Likewise, feeding an intact female that you intend to breed ovaries can also prove helpful for her overall fertility.
Thymus is similar to pancreas in that it is not overly concentrated in minerals or vitamins. However, the thymus produces hormones that can help to support your carnivores immune function, thyroid health, and blood sugar control. Thymus is also relatively high in healthy fats.
Tongue is typically fed as a muscle meat, though technically it is an organ. Tongue is a great source of many amino acids, fatty acids, vitamin K, and magnesium.
Sourcing Organ Meats:
Try to source organic organ meats. Many organs of the body are responsible for helping the body to detoxify. This means that if the animal encountered a lot of toxins in its life those toxins will still be in the detoxifying organs, even after death. Then if your dog eats those organs the toxins will be in your dog.
For maximum nutritional content, organ meats should come from animals that have lived outside and been allowed to eat a species-appropriate diet.
Feeding your dog an assortment of different organs from a variety of species is a great way to optimize your pet’s diet. You can also use organ meats to help support your pet if he is ill. For instance, if your pet has heart issues, feeding him a little extra heart can be very helpful for nutritionally supporting his heart health. This is because while the heart of one species differs a bit from the next, they are still relatively similar in nutrients. So, by feeding your heart compromised pet a little extra heart you can be sure that you are providing your pet with the nutrients his heart needs.
As always feed a variety of organs from a variety of different species for maximum health!