AMA Files: Can You Feed a Raw Diet Without Organ Meats?
with Savannah Welna of FeedThyDog, Nutrition Advocate

We are taking a break from the vitamins and minerals course because people are feeling overwhelmed (understandable).


Today I will be working through questions that I have received here or on Facebook.


AMA Files: Can You Feed a Raw Diet Without Organ Meats?


Short answer: Yes


A raw (or cooked diet for that matter) can be made without organ meats and a ton of supplements, but if you find yourself in this situation, I really recommend using nutrient guidelines or asking a professional for help. Organ meats are fantastic- contributing essential nutrients and beneficial compounds.


Liver


Liver is very important in a raw diet. Liver will contribute vitamin A and copper. These two nutrients are hard to find elsewhere.


Dogs can convert vitamin A from plant foods (beta-carotene), but doing so requires resources. Instead, using cod liver oil will provide the same form of vitamin A that is found in liver. Make sure to use cod liver oil that is not fortified, as those can contain dangerous amounts of vitamin D. Regular cod liver oil will have vitamin D as well, so keep that in mind. I like Rosita extra virgin cod liver oil, nordic naturals arctic cod liver oil (pet), and green pastures fermented cod liver oil (with butterfats if dairy is tolerated).


Copper will need to be provided as well. Copper (and zinc, so keep that in mind) can be found abundantly in eastern oysters.


Note: diets that rely on chicken or pork liver are often low in copper, but not vitamin A.


Other Secreting Organ


This category is broad. Another secreting organ is not "needed" in the same way that liver is, therefore I will just go down the list and explain what a diet without these commonly selected organ meats may look like. It is quite easy, though, to make a balanced diet with just liver if we have to.


Kidney: Selenium. A diet that is low in pork or kidney can sometimes be low in selenium. A very small amount of brazil nuts, crushed, contributes quite a bit of selenium. 2 g of crushed brazil nut in place of 1 oz of kidney will produce similiar selenium levels depending on the soil content (can be higher or lower).


Spleen: Spleen provides lots of iron. Often times, feeding 5% spleen in a diet will actually provide too much iron! Spleen is useful for diets low in red meat. Chicken and turkey hearts (but chicken mainly) provide quite a bit of iron as well. Game meat is very high iron, and I would not combine that with spleen. I don't like to supplement with iron unless it is our very last option. A lot of iron supplements are harmful to the gut and the ones that aren't are pricey. I really like ancestral supplements spleen capsules if we cannot source spleen and need it.


Brain: Brain is high in DHA, a high quality omega 3 fatty acid. Simply feeding fish or fish body oil provides plenty of DHA.


Pancreas and Thymus: These don't provide a ton of essential nutrients unique to organ meats.


So there you have it! A few pointers on raw diets that may be a little less traditional.


Have any questions? Feel free to comment new or related questions or email me at savannah@feedthydog.com