Giblets in Pet Food, Everything You Should Know

Someone may have suggested to you that you should feed your pet giblets. Alternatively, you may have seen poultry, chicken or turkey giblets listed as ingredients in your pet’s favorite food. If either of the above is true, then you might be wondering what exactly giblets are? Whether they are a nutritious ingredient that should be a part of a dog or cat’s diet. Why don’t we answer all those questions?

What are Giblets?

“Giblet” is a term that is used to describe the edible innards of poultry birds. The most common types of poultry that giblets come from are chicken, turkey, duck, and goose but there are others. Pet food that lists poultry giblets, such as chicken or turkey, most likely contains organs such as the liver, heart, kidneys, and gizzards as well as potentially other smaller and less significant innards. 

Most people are not familiar with the specifics of giblets as they are almost always removed from meat that is produced for human consumption prior to it reaching the shelves of your grocery store or your butcher’s cabinet.

While they may not be on display, your best chance of purchasing raw giblets is from your local butcher. Most consumers consider giblets to be an undesirable ingredient for human consumption and as a consequence, there is little to no demand for giblets. This lack of demand explains giblets absence from grocery stores or supermarkets. 

Nevertheless, butchers are masters at minimizing waste, and many butchers w ensure that giblets are not wasted. Instead, they find niche uses for them, and one of those uses is that they can be utilized as a protein and vitamin-rich ingredient in dog and cat food.

A group of young chickens

Are Giblets A Nutritious Ingredient In Pet Food?

Giblets share similar protein values with other meat cuts. As we regularly preach on this site, protein should be at the core of any dog or cats diet and animal protein from ingredients such as giblets is considered superior to plant-based protein as it contains a more complete range of amino acids.

 However, Giblets do contain less fat than some other more traditional meat ingredients. This could be advantageous to animals hoping to limit their calorie intake such as senior dogs or dogs attempting weight loss. 

Also, Giblets have the added benefit of providing a host of essential vitamins and minerals.

The liver is rich in Vitamin A, Chromium and Copper. Vitamin A is vital for a pet’s vision and immune system. Chromium helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and Copper can help fight off Arthritis.

However, it is important to note that excessive amounts of Vitamin A can be damaging so it is important not to overfeed a pet with food that is very rich in this vitamin. If an animal gets too much Vitamin A, the ordinarily healthy vitamin can turn toxic inside of your pet’s body.

The effects of excessive amounts of Vitamin A might sound scary, and this might put you off of giblets and other organ meat, but please note to consume enough Vitamin A to cause serious harm your dog or cat would have to be eating a significant quantity of liver meat every meal for a substantial length of time.

The kidneys contain high amounts of Vitamin D and the commonly recognized Omega 3 Fatty Acids. The Omega 3 Fatty Acids have been proven to have a range of benefits in humans and dogs. This includes the improved health of skin, fur, and hair as well as improved cognitive function. One of Vitamin D’s uses is to aid your pet’s ability to absorb Calcium. Calcium is crucial for the development and growth of healthy bones, teeth, and claws.

Heart meat is rich in Vitamin B9, Iron, and Zinc. Vitamin B9 is essential in the development of fetuses and younger animals. Iron is crucial to maintaining healthy blood and muscle.

What are Gizzards?

Gizzards are not commonly understood or identifiable by the average person. Gizzards form part of the digestive system of poultry and make up part of the term “giblet”. The gizzard’s primary purpose in live poultry animals is to help grind up food. Poultry birds need this functionality because they do not have teeth like humans or other mammals do. In addition to this functionality, some consider the gizzard to share similarities to a stomach.

Although they are not nearly as nutritious as most of the other potential ingredients that make up giblets such as the liver or the kidneys, they do still hold some nutritional value which should not be dismissed.

Gizzards, however, can contain bones and bone fragments which can be potentially dangerous if consumed by your dog or cat. These fragments could become lodged in your dog or cats throat and cause some severe damage. However, you can be thankful that it is highly unlikely that any giblets you’d find in commercial pet food products would contain bone fragments capable of such damage.

Should I Choose a Pet Food That Contains Giblets?

You should certainly not let the fact that a cat or dog food contains giblets or organ meat dissuade you from buying it. They are a common ingredient in many commercial cat and dog foods and are safe for pets to consume. That being said, unless you firmly believe your dog needs an increase in certain vitamins or minerals, you do not need to seek out pet food with giblets as an ingredient.

Many pet food brands and formulas are far more specific with their ingredient list and take the decision to not to use a general term like giblets. Instead, they list the more specific components of giblets. This could include ingredients such as Chicken Liver or Turkey Hearts. This is an arguable advantage as being more specific and accountable lets consumers know exactly what’s in the products they are feeding their pets. To add to this some organs that makeup giblets are more desirable than others. For example, the liver is far more common and abundant in beneficial minerals than other organs such as the lungs.

If you do not want to choose a pet food with giblets, you can also use them as a nutritious snack alongside your pet’s usual diet.

If you do go down this route, be sure to find a reliable source to acquire your giblets from, and make sure that your giblets haven’t been treated with any potentially dangerous or toxic chemicals. To best take advantage of all of the benefits of giblets, serve them to your pet fresh or freeze them if they aren’t going to be used right away to ensure they do not go bad.

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