What Are Organ Meats?
Organ Meats are the Organs that are harvested from various livestock animals during meat processing. Some of the most common examples include the liver, the heart, the kidneys, and the lungs.
These organ meats are not usually eaten by humans, but some, like kidney and liver, are often used in specialty dishes.
However, the engine of capitalism is efficient and has found various other purposes for these organ meats, including in pet food recipes and as pet food treats.
Why Are Organ Meats Ingredients In Pet Food?
While their use varies, there are many types and brands of pet food that make heavy use of organ meat ingredients.
Some of the most popular examples are Chicken Liver, Beef Liver, Turkey Liver, Chicken Heart, and more.
There are several reasons why these organ meat ingredients are included by pet food brands, and the first of these is the effect they can have on the taste of the food.
Organ meat ingredients are very palatable and appealing to dogs and cats, and so these organ meat ingredients are therefore used to enhance the palatability of a pet food recipe.
As any pet owner will know, palatability is an important factor, and many pets can be very picky or particular with their food, so some additional enticing ingredients can go a long way.
A second reason that Organ Meat ingredients are found in pet food recipes is that they are dense sources of animal-based protein and fat and can supplement the other meat ingredients included.
Lastly, organ meat ingredients, and particularly organs like the Liver can be dense sources of other nutrients such as beneficial vitamins and minerals.
The Liver is a dense source of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Copper, Iron, and Potassium. While pets may be able to pick up these vitamins and minerals in other ingredients and foods, these organ meats tend to be far denser and reliable sources.
Are There Any Risks From Organ Meats Ingredients?
Eating smaller portions of organ meat ingredients, such as those found within commercial pet food recipes, poses virtually no risks to dogs or cats and is almost certainly a beneficial addition.
However, if, for some reason, you tried to feed your pet a diet with very large portions of organ meat ingredients, such as 50%+, then there may be some adverse effects.
This quantity of organ meat could lead to excessive levels of some vitamins and minerals, and while a dog or cat’s body is quite effective at disposing of excess, it may become overwhelmed.
A general rule of thumb is that organ meats should not make up more than 25% of a dog or cat’s diet, and each individual type of organ meat, such as liver or heart, should not make up more than 10% of their diet.
If you follow these precautions, the risk of any kind of toxicity caused by eating too much organ meat is likely to be eliminated.
Pet Food Brands That Use Organ Meat Ingredients?
There are a huge number of pet food brands across the industry that utilize organ meat ingredients in their recipes. This use is not limited to certain types of pet food like dry pet food or wet/canned pet food.
Some well-known examples of pet food brands that use organ meat include Orijen, Acana, Purina Pro Plan, Royal Canin, Wellness, Stella & Chewy’s, Earthborn Holistic, Nutro, Hill’s Science Diet, Blue Buffalo, and Fancy Feast.
One of our favorite examples of the use of organ meat ingredients is Ziwi Peak which is a smaller New Zealand-based brand that produces air-dried and wet pet food.
In Ziwi Peak’s recipes, they often include several organ meat ingredients, including liver, heart, kidneys, and lungs.
You can see a perfect example of this below in the ingredient list of their air-dried Lamb recipe.
As you can see, this recipe contains Lamb Heart, Lamb Tripe, Lamb Liver, and Lamb Kidney, along with a large portion of Whole Lamb.
Liver is by far the most common organ meat to be found in pet food recipes, especially Chicken Liver. While the benefits of the Liver are clear, it’s not as clear why brands do not utilize other beneficial organ meats as much in their recipes.
If you are interested in feeding your pet a recipe that contains organ meat ingredients, we’d recommend reviewing the ingredient lists of any prospective recipes to see if they contain any.
If you are struggling to find if a particular brand utilizes organ meat ingredients in at least one of their recipes, check out our Pet Food Brand Review Index, where we analyze each brand in detail.
Organ Meat Based Pet Treats
In addition to many pet food brands utilizing organ meat ingredients in their pet food recipes, many others produce dog or cat treats with organ meat.
In many cases, these treats are made up entirely of these organ meats rather than just a small portion as is found in pet food.
The below example is a prime example of this and is Stella & Chewy’s Beef Liver Treats. These Beef Liver treats are freeze-dried to ensure they remain safe for eating while retaining their appealing taste and nutrition.
However, it is important to study the ingredient list of these treats as many are often “liver-flavored” rather than being made up of actual liver.
Once again, we would caution pet owners to ensure that a pet does not consume too many of these organ meat treats over time.
However, for the typical number of treats that most dogs or cats eat on a daily basis, there is little to fear, and they are likely to benefit rather than suffer any ill-effects.
Homemade Organ Meat For Pets
If you can’t find any high-quality organ meat-based treats for your pets, you may want to consider producing your own homemade food.
While organ meat may not be available at your local grocery store, it can often be bought at your local meat store or butcher, and you will be pleasantly surprised to find out how cheap it can be.
Many recommend feeding organ meats raw to dogs which will make them extremely enticing and ensure all of their nutrition is maintained.
However, most experts recommend chopping or grinding up these organ meats to make them easier to consume and avoid any overly eager dog choking on a large chunk of meat.
You can feed this organ meat in isolation as a treat, or you can combine it with your typical dry food recipes as a topper which may make your pet’s dinner time even more enthusiastic.