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Friday, May 25, 2012

THE IMPORTANCE OF ORGAN MEAT

I think my previous post Liver, Kidneys & Stomache has probably got some of you wondering whether or not our precious poochies should be fed such "vile" things.

While most people believe that we humans should not consume organ meat on a regular basis for various reasons, we also know that organ meat is a good source of Vitamin B12. Additionally, they tend to provide quality levels of potassium, iron, protein and some of the other all-important B vitamins.

Liver in particular is always recommended for new mothers by the Chinese to "replenish blood levels".

Of course on the flip side, the liver is a metabolizing organ, meaning it is there to filter out the toxic substances that enter a body. Sometimes these toxins remain in the liver and so as a result when you do eat animal liver you may be ingesting some leftover residue of any drugs or hormones fed to the animal.

With the exception of really well made patés and maybe tongue, I am personally not a fan of organ meat. But just because I do not like organ meat, it doesn't mean that I should not feed them to my dogs.

As we all know, all dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are descendants of  the gray wolves (Canis lupus). And while we would like to think that our canine companions have evolved significantly from wolves, the truth of the matter is that dogs have only been domesticated about 15,000 years ago. This clearly has not allowed for a significant evolution, and the DNA makeup of the domestic dog proves this as the domestic dog's DNA is still 99.8% wolf.

"Since a dog's internal physiology does not differ from a wolf, dogs have the same physiological and nutritional needs as those carnivorous predators, which, remember, need to ingest all the major parts of their herbivorous prey, except the plants in the digestive system" to grow and maintain their own bodies.

Wolves usually tear into the body cavity of large prey and...consume the larger internal organs, such as lungs, heart, and liver. The large rumen [, which is one of the main stomach chambers in large ruminant herbivores,]...is usually punctured during removal and its contents spilled. 

The vegetation in the intestinal tract is of no interest to the wolves, but the stomach lining and intestinal wall are consumed, and their contents further strewn about the kill site." (Mech, L.D. 2003. Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation.).

 
I know I was quite grossed out initially at the thought of even feeding my kids raw meat, let alone raw organ meat.

However, since they have been on a raw diet, I now cannot imagine switching them back to a kibble based diet simply because I can see that they are in fact thriving on raw food.

This is most evident in the fact that their poop is significantly reduced from when they were kibble fed, therefore proving that their digestive systems are much better equipped to handle a raw diet.

And while I have not quite reached the comfort level I personally need to feed them raw organ meat (although they have had raw chicken liver once and Belle absolutely hated it), I do understand the importance of feeding them organ meat.

As such I have been cooking some liver for them once every two weeks. And I finally got round to getting them some kidney and stomache (tripe) last week. I am slowly working myself up to feeding them raw organ meat and hopefully I will be able to do this soon.

I hope that this blog post will be useful to those of you who might be considering a raw diet for your dogs. Additionally, I am attaching an article from the Dogs Naturally Magazine on  Why Organ Meat is Important for the Raw Fed Dog.
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Why Organ Meat is Important for the Raw Fed Dog

Extracted from Dogs Naturally

Raw feeders do have to be careful with what goes into their dogs however.  I think this is especially true for prey model feeders as omitting all plant matter from their dogs’ diets could potentially set them up for some nutritional deficiencies.  Unless they feed a good amount of organ meats.

Meat and bone are lacking in many important nutrients.  This is why it is important to to to feed your dog all of the organs and all of the parts of an animal that they would eat had they tracked and killed that animal in the wild.  Although some organ meats can be difficult to find, they are the most nutrient-dense part of the animal.  Best of all, because organ meats are relatively inexpensive, they give you the most bang for your raw feeding buck.

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.

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.
Try all of the organ meats, including lung, kidney, pancreas – anything you can get your hands on!  Here is a look at the benefits of the most common organ meats:  liver and heart.

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, can 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 omega-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.

If your dog doesn’t like the taste or texture of organ meat, you can add smaller amounts of ground organ meats to your dog’s meals daily.

What about liver?

People usually ask about the safety of liver in particular of all of the organ meats. It is the liver’s job to neutralize toxins in the body (or an animals body) from drugs or other chemicals, so obviously the best choice for liver is the grass fed kind, without added antibiotics or hormones.

Liver is known to be one of the most concentrated sources of natural vitamin A of any food.  Natural vitamin A works to aid digestion, keeps 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 to 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.

While liver is highly nutritious, its precious nutrients are very much affected by heat, so never cook it or the digestive enzymes and nutrients will be lost.

Get liver into your dog’s regular diet at least once a week if possible for maximum benefit of its high levels of nutrients.

Beef heart

Because it is a muscle, beef heart is somewhat similar to muscle meat, although it is a heavier, more dense muscle. But heart meat carries a bigger punch of protein and unique nutrients.
The heart is a very concentrated source of the supernutrient, CoQ10.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) 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 & 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 good for the skin and connective tissue.

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