Why raw hearts for dogs are a powerful raw organ meat

Why Raw Hearts For Dogs Are A Powerful Raw Organ Meat

Raw hearts for dogs are muscular organs and a must for raw feeders like myself!

They are part of any premade raw dog food I know. For example, all 10 brands I mention in my blog post All about raw beef dog food feature raw heart in their complete recipes.

For a good reason!

They certainly make it into my raw dog food rotation too when I make my own raw meals.

Raw dog food recipe featuring duck hearts
Homemade raw dog food with duck hearts

That said, here’s what I’ll cover in this blog post:

  • Benefits of raw hearts for dogs
  • How much heart to feed dogs + recipe idea
  • Looking at nutrient profiles from hearts of different animals
  • Where to buy raw hearts for dogs besides the grocery store/farm
  • Dehydrated or freeze-dried heart alternatives for dogs

Why Raw Hearts For Dogs Are A Powerful Raw Organ Meat

Why raw hearts for dogs are a powerful organ meat

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.

Benefits of Raw Heart for Dogs

For starters, let’s define what raw hearts are and what buckets they fall into in raw feeding.

If you’re not aware of the different components and meat categories in raw feeding, here’s a super quick run down of what raw dog food for adult dogs consists of:

  • Muscle meat, 70%
  • Raw meaty bones, 10%
  • Secreting organs, 10% (5% liver, 5% other secreting organs)
  • Plant matter (8% veggies & fruit, 2% seeds & nuts)

For much more detailed information about the different components in raw feeding, check out What does balanced raw dog food consist of?

Now, back to classifying raw hearts.

Heart is a muscular organ.

As such, it’s fed as muscle meat, not as a secreting organ although it falls into the offal category. Offal are the consumable organs of animals.

While hearts ARE a heart working organ, they don’t secrete a substance.

That’s a prerequisite in order to be considered a secreting organ in raw feeding.

That means hearts are not fed as secreting organs like liver, kidney, spleen, pancreas, brains, thymus, eyeballs and reproductive organs.

However, while muscle meat makes up 70% of raw dog food for adult dogs, you can’t just feed 70% of hearts in that category.

That would be way too much because:

  • Organs are very rich and can cause diarrhea if they’re overfed
  • That raw meal would be nutrient deficient as different cuts of meat from different animals have different nutrient profiles

Instead, you’ll want to feed a mix of different cuts of muscle meats.

For example, some trim, some lung, some heart, some breast meat, some green tripe, etc. More on how much heart to feed your pup in a moment.

But first, let’s take a look at what you’ll find in hearts.

Raw hearts in general are rich in the following nutrients:

  • Zinc. Supports a strong immune system & a healthy thyroid.
  • Iron. Helps enzymes function normally, creates red blood cells, boosts oxygen supply & promotes a healthy liver.
  • Taurine. Boosts normal heart function and acts as an antioxidant.
  • Magnesium. Helps absorb other minerals and vitamins.
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Functions as an antioxidant that supports heart health, helps regulate blood pressure & boosts collagen for skin, coat and joint health.
  • B Vitamins including Folate. They have a strong cardio protective effect and support tissue growth, cell division, normal blood & immune function.

They’re also used in glandular or organ therapy.

That’s the concept of “like supports like”.

So a dog with liver problems benefits from eating liver, puppies whose brains are still developing benefit greatly from eating raw brains, just like senior pups who are prone to dementia, etc.

Likewise, dogs with heart conditions such as DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy) can benefit from eating hearts.

Good to know: The harder a muscle works, the richer it is in taurine. Besides heart, ruminant tongues are very rich in taurine as well! That’s because they’re busy chewing their cud.

How Much Heart to Feed Dogs

Since organs like hearts are a lot richer in nutrients than cuts of muscle meat, dogs need to eat considerably less of them.

Makes sense, right?

I find that it helps to picture the internal anatomy of an animal. For example, that of a cow, of a chicken or of a pig.

How much heart to feed dogs

This is a good guide when you’re figuring out how much of what you can feed.

Think about what all it consists of. Mostly skin and muscles, along with its internal organs like the heart, the lung, kidneys, spleen, pancreas, etc.

Keeping that in mind, you can feed about 5-10% of your dog’s daily raw dog food intake in heart.

For a 60lb adult dog who’s moderately active, that would be 1.2-2.4oz per day.

The next section explains how to do that math.

Raw Dog Food Recipe Idea with Raw Heart

Let’s stick with the 60lb adult dog who’s fed at a maintenance percentage of 2.5% of his target body weight. More on percentages in raw feeding here.

To figure out how much raw dog food he needs to eat on a daily basis, we divide his weight by 100, and then we multiply it by 2.5%:

60/100 = 0.6 x 2.5 = 1.5lbs or 24oz

Of those 24 oz, he needs roughly the following amounts per day. I say roughly because it’s OK to achieve balance (for adult dogs, puppies are different) over the course of 7-10 days:

  • 70% muscle meat = 16.8oz.
  • 10% raw meaty bones = 2.4oz
  • 5% liver & 5% other secreting organs = 1.2oz of each
  • 10% plant matter = 2.4oz

As far as heart, you can feed 5-10% of the 24% = 1.2-2.4oz.

Here’s a raw dog food recipe idea for the 60lb dog featuring chicken hearts:

  • 10oz Ground beef
  • 1oz Mackerel
  • 2oz Chicken hearts
  • 7oz Turkey neck (includes 2.8oz bone & 4.2oz muscle meat)
  • 1.2oz Deer liver
  • 1.2oz Deer spleen
  • 2.4oz Puréed Spinach/red beets/soaked ground almond mix

Looking At Nutrient Profiles of Hearts from Different Animals

Here’s the moment where I start preaching about the importance of rotating again!

Because here’s the deal.

Different cuts of meat within an animal have different nutrients.

So do different animals.

For example, pork liver has different nutrients from pork heart and pork ribs.

And each of those differ from turkey liver, turkey heart and turkey bones.

That’s why it’s important to rotate not only the different cuts you feed within an animal, but also the animals (=protein sources) themselves!

When you rotate on a regular basis, you ensure that your dog doesn’t have any nutritional imbalances.

Especially when you feed meat from happy animals that were grass-fed/allowed to roam and help themselves to insects etc.

Pair that with a yearly checkup at the vet’s that includes a blood panel, and you’ll be on your way to successfully feeding your pup raw dog food.

Next up, let’s look at the nutrient profiles of hearts from:

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Turkey
  • Pork
  • Deer
  • Lamb

You’ll see that chicken hearts, for example, are a lot richer in Folate and Vitamin A than beef heart, and turkey & lamb hearts don’t have any Folate at all. So if, for example, you only fed turkey hearts, your pup would be missing out on Folate.

Just FYI, I was also looking for detailed nutrient profiles of hearts from rabbit, duck and goat as I’ve fed hearts from those animals as well. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find them anywhere. Once/if I do, I’ll add them to this blog post.

I’ll also mention which US raw dog food retailers carry the respective raw hearts for dogs.

One more thing up front: While I find it interesting to look at the different nutrient profiles of specific cuts of meat, you don’t have to do that to successfully feed raw dog food!

I do it every now and then because I enjoy nerding out about it, but again, YOU don’t have to.

It’s fine to use a common sense approach and just rotate your cuts of meat and your protein sources regularly.

If nothing else, remember this: Raw feeding can be as complicated as you allow it to get!

Looking at the different nutrient profiles of raw hearts from 6 different animals

Raw Chicken Hearts for Dogs

100grams/3.5oz of raw chicken hearts have the following key nutrients (FYI: micrograms is smaller than milligrams):

  • Zinc: 6.59mg
  • Iron: 5.96mg
  • Vitamin A: 9.0mcg
  • B1 (Thiamin): 0.152mg
  • B3 (Niacin): 4.883mg
  • B9 (Folate): 72.0mcg
  • B12 (Cobalamin): 7.29mcg
  • Magnesium: 15.0 mg
  • Vitamin D: 0mcg

US raw dog food retailers who carry chicken hearts:

Value-priced Chicken Hearts & Giblets for homemade raw dog food

Raw Beef Heart for Dogs

100grams/3.5oz of raw beef heart have the following key nutrients (FYI: micrograms is smaller than milligrams):

  • Zinc: 1.70mg
  • Iron: 4.31mg
  • Vitamin A: 0mcg
  • B1 (Thiamin): 0.238mg
  • B3 (Niacin): 7.530mg
  • B9 (Folate): 3.0mcg
  • B12 (Cobalamin): 8.55mcg
  • Magnesium: 21.0 mg
  • Vitamin D: 0mcg

US raw dog food retailers who carry beef hearts:

Raw Beef heart
Cutting up a raw beef heart

Raw Turkey Hearts for Dogs

100grams/3.5oz of raw turkey heart have the following key nutrients (FYI: micrograms is smaller than milligrams):

  • Zinc: 3.21mg
  • Iron: 3.70mg
  • Vitamin A: 82mcg
  • B1 (Thiamin): 0.165mg
  • B3 (Niacin): 6.440mg
  • B9 (Folate): 0.0mcg
  • B12 (Cobalamin): 13.3mcg
  • Magnesium: 21.0 mg
  • Vitamin D: 0.40mcg

US raw dog food retailers who carry turkey hearts:

Raw turkey hearts for dogs
Turkey hearts from Raw Paws Pet Food

Raw Pork Hearts for Dogs

100grams/3.5oz of raw pork heart have the following key nutrients (FYI: micrograms is smaller than milligrams):

  • Zinc: 2.8mg
  • Iron: 4.68mg
  • Vitamin A: 8mcg
  • B1 (Thiamin): 0.613mg
  • B3 (Niacin): 6.765mg
  • B9 (Folate): 4.0mcg
  • B12 (Cobalamin): 3.79mcg
  • Magnesium: 19.0 mg
  • Vitamin D: 0mcg

US raw dog food retailers who carry pork hearts:

Raw Deer Hearts for Dogs

100grams/3.5oz of deer hearts have the following general key nutrients (FYI: micrograms is smaller than milligrams):

  • Zinc: 1.57mg
  • Iron: 5.19mg
  • Vitamin A: 15mcg
  • B1 (Thiamin): 0.46mg
  • B3 (Niacin): 4.42mg
  • B9 (Folate): 2.81mcg
  • B12 (Cobalamin): 7.0mcg
  • Magnesium: 20mg
  • Vitamin D: 0.2mcg

Venison hearts are rarely available for sale from raw dog food retailers, at least from the ones I’m aware of. That’s why your best bet is to locate a wildlife processor and ask them if they have any and are willing to part with them.

Alternatively, you can hunt your own. That’s what my boyfriend does and we also made friends with a wildlife processor in NC.

Check out my blog post on more information about feeding your dog wild raw venison here.

Cuts of wild, raw venison I feed my dog
Cuts of raw venison I feed my dog

Raw Lamb Hearts for Dogs

100grams/3.5oz of raw lamb heart have the following key nutrients (FYI: micrograms is smaller than milligrams):

  • Zinc: 1.65mg
  • Iron: 3.29mg
  • Vitamin A: 5.0mcg
  • B1 (Thiamin): 0.520mg
  • B3 (Niacin): 5.757mg
  • B9 (Folate): 0mcg
  • B12 (Cobalamin): 8.40mcg
  • Magnesium: 20.0 mg
  • Vitamin D: 0mcg

US raw dog food retailers who carry lamb hearts:

Cutting up raw lamb heart

Raw Rabbit Hearts for Dogs

I haven’t found a detailed nutrient profile for raw rabbit hearts yet.

US raw dog food retailers who carry rabbit hearts:

Raw Goat Hearts for Dogs

I haven’t found a detailed nutrient profile for raw goat hearts yet.

US raw dog food retailers who carry goat hearts:

Raw Duck Hearts for Dogs

I haven’t found a detailed nutrient profile for raw duck hearts yet.

Update: One of my readers, SonJa, shared the nutrient profile for raw duck hearts with me via the animaldietformulator app- thank you!!

  • Zinc: 3.44mg
  • Iron: 5.00mg
  • Vitamin A: 32.45mcg
  • B1 (Thiamin): 0.28mg
  • B3 (Niacin): 3.26mg
  • B9 (Folate): 90.36mcg
  • B12 (Cobalamin): 23.74mcg
  • Magnesium: 13.2 mg
  • Vitamin D: 10mcg

US raw dog food retailers who carry duck hearts:

Duck hearts and other cuts of raw meat from Raw Paws Pet Food

Dehydrated or Freeze-Dried Heart Alternatives for Dogs

Besides feeding your dog raw hearts, you can also make your own dehydrated hearts (and/or other dehydrated treats). All you need is cut up fresh raw heart etc. and a dehydrator.

Slice the hearts up, place them onto the dehydrator trays and let the low heat tool work its magic!

Dehydrated ostrich hearts and gizzards as well as dehydrated beef liver treats

This makes a great homemade Valentine’s Day dog treat for your pup, too.

For more DIY cute dog treats, check out my blog post 20 Easy No Bake Valentine’s Day Dog Treats. Obviously, you can offer them whenever, not just on V Day!

Another alternative are store-bought freeze-dried hearts – these are great to use as food toppers for picky eaters or to use in treat-dispensing dog toys!

For example:

Filling Wally's KONG Wobbler Dog Toy with freeze-dried beef heart dog treats from Montana Dog Food Co

Another favorite in our pack is Real Dog’s air-dried treat/chew subscription box. Pictured below is Missy with some of their air-dried pork hearts.

What's Inside Our Real Dog Treat Subscription Box This Month? - Pork Hearts
Missy with air-dried pork heart treats

Why Raw Hearts For Dogs Are A Powerful Raw Organ Meat: Bottom Line

So there’s my take on raw hearts for dogs!

Heart is a nutrient-dense power house that’s frequently added to premade raw dog food recipes.

I also include it in my own raw dog food rotation where I feed it alongside a plethora of other cuts of meat.

Unlike secreting organs like liver, kidney, pancreas and others, remember that raw heart is a muscular organ that’s fed as muscle meat in raw feeding.

That said, you can add 5-10% of raw heart to your adult dog’s daily raw meals.

Remember to rotate between the animals you feed heart from as their nutrient profiles differ.

Hearts also make great snack rewards for dogs as well as training treats.

If you’re up for it, you can make your own heart treats using a dehydrator. Or you can offer store-bought ones.

Both options have their pros & cons, so go for the one that works best for you!

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.


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