Kelp is a common vitamin and mineral supplement in a raw pet food diet. It is a natural seaweed that replaces the synthetic supplements used in kibble. If you look at a bag of kibble, you are likely to see ingredients such as “vitamin A supplement, vitamin B supplement, iron proteinate, etc”. These supplements are required because the cooking process depletes the natural nutrients found in the meat. Kelp is also a source of iodine, which helps to promote healthy thyroid function. When feeding a raw diet, these nutrients are maintained for your pet’s benefit. Kelp is an inexpensive way to boost the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in the diet. When paired with a complete diet, it ensures your pet gets everything they require.
Adding kelp provides great benefits for dogs who are only able to eat 2 or 3 protein sources due to food sensitivities. Each protein source provides different benefits, but much of the vitamins and minerals come from organ meat. If you aren’t including organ meat in your pet’s diet, you could be compromising their health. Kelp is NOT a substitute for organ meat.
The Canadian Nutrient File (CNF) provides nutritional data for many foods. The following chart shows a comparison of minerals and vitamins found in a 100g serving of raw beef liver, kelp, and raw chicken liver.
Through the study of a canine’s ancestral diet, we can identify that they consume the majority of a carcass. This includes the nutrient dense organ meat, most of the bone content, and nearly all of the muscle meat. While some may argue that fruits and vegetables are not appropriate for dogs, it is important to look at their natural diet. Dogs typically eat the stomach contents of small prey, which would include pre-digested fruits, vegetables, seeds, etc. They would also consume the fur of small prey. Adding pureed fruits and vegetables to our dog’s diet provides fibre to help regulate digestion.
Our dog’s diet would naturally consist of approximately 10% organ meat. For a 55lb. dog eating 2% of their ideal body weight, they would be consuming 500g per day. The recommended amount of organ would be 50g per day. We follow Mountain Dog Food’s recommended daily feeding guidelines for kelp. 1/8tsp for dogs under 25lbs, 1/4tsp for dogs between 25lbs. and 50lbs. and 1/2tsp for dogs over 50lbs. For our 55lb. dog, that 1/2tsp translates into approximately 3g per day. Now, let’s look at that chart again with the data updated to reflect our 55lb dog’s daily intake.
Now we can better understand the role kelp plays in supplementing a raw diet. For our dogs, a diet will not be complete without the addition of organ meat. Meat and bone alone cannot provide the required nutrients and kelp cannot replace the role of organ meat.
The bottom line is, feeding a wide variety of protein sources will help to provide your dog with everything they need. However, formulating a balanced diet is not easy. It requires a lot of knowledge and it should have a complete nutritional analysis to ensure it contains appropriate nutrient levels. Kelp is a good supplement to boost the nutrients in your dog’s overall diet, but should not be relied on to complete an unbalanced diet.
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