Written by Dr. Josie Gollan.
The use of offal in pet food has been a long-time sufferer of poor perception, particularly in countries with low human consumption of organ meats. Often perceived as a cheap, secondary by-product, inferior to muscle meat, this could not be further from the truth!
Offal or organ meats are a nutritional powerhouse that should be included in both our feline and canine companions' diets for optimal health - let me explain why.
Let's start with what happens in nature... an eternally robust reference point! Feline and canine species are carnivorous animals that consume whole prey. You don't see lions simply gnawing on an eye fillet or wolves only tearing at the tenderloin. No, they devour the entire animal; flesh, connective tissue, bones and organs - including the ingesta found in the gastrointestinal tract. Consuming their prey in their entirety provides a plethora of nutrients. Whilst our domesticated cats and dogs have evolved away from their wild ancestors, it holds true that consuming a variety of whole prey could still provide them optimal nutrition. For many reasons, this is an obviously unattractive prospect. Instead, most of our furry companions are fed commercial pet food diets which, because of consumer perception, are often devoid in meat, especially organ meat.
Liver is richer in minerals and vitamins than any other tissue and is the best dietary source of vitamin A; critical for vision, immune function and foetal development. It is also high in vitamin B12, iron and the antioxidant superstar glutathione. Importantly, liver is highly palatable meaning your cat or dog is likely to LOVE the flavour bomb it provides.
Heart is the best natural source of co-enzyme Q10 which plays a critical role in energy production in the mitochondria of cells . It is essential for the health of virtually all your four-legged friends' tissues and organs. It is also an immensely powerful antioxidant, preventing free radical damage to cells and DNA. Consuming hearts is particularly beneficial to cats due to the high levels of taurine. This is an essential amino acid for cats, meaning they must get it from their diet, and when deficient can lead to retinal degeneration and a heart condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy... not good!
Green tripe is the untreated, nutrient rich stomach lining of a ruminant animal, usually a cow or sheep. Since it has literally been bathed in the chewed and fermented grassy food material the animal is eating, it is abundant in probiotics, fantastic for your pet's gastrointestinal and immune health . It is also a good source of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. If you've ever smelt it, you'll know it does have a particular pong, however this is highly appealing to our four-legged friends which also makes it great for fussy eaters! My dog Albus LOVES K9 Natural Green Tripe sprinkled over anything... or straight out of the bag.
Protein rich kidneys are another excellent addition to dog and cat diets, as are lungs, which are high in B12 and iron. Whilst the benefits I have described above are by no means exhaustive, I hope I have changed some perspectives and provided some insight into the undeniable advantages a diet containing offal can have for your furry family member. In addition, we should also consider that from an ethical and environmental perspective; all edible parts of food producing animals should be consumed .
So how should you feed offal you ask?
The easiest and safest way is by looking for inclusion in your pet's complete and balanced diet. The freeze drying process of K9 Natural and Feline Natural Feasts preserves the nutrients of both the offal and meat inclusion in these diets. By only using high quality human grade ingredients, you can rest assured your pet is getting the best of the best. The thermal processing in the canned range means the nutrients in this format are also largely preserved if your pet is more partial to a wet diet. Furthermore, like all things in life, balance is key as an offal overload can lead to certain nutrient toxicities, which is why it is better (and easier) to leave the science to the experts at K9 Natural and Feline Natural.
If you're still with me, I apologise this has gone on a little longer than I intended, there is just SO much to say about the benefits of offal for our beloved pets... ridiculously nutritious and totally delicious...
My dog Albus certainly agrees!