Focus on Nutrients Part 2: Selenium


Focus on Nutrients Part 2: Selenium


Steve Brown
Steve Brown is a renowned dog nutrition expert who has been in the raw dog food industry since its start. He’s been called the Godfather of Raw Dog by many, but is most known for his book “Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet” and “See Spot Live Longer.”

Three of Three Reference Charts To Be Utilized With My Focus on Nutrients Series

If you are intending to reference these please start with my Focus on Nutrients Part: 2 Introduction or access the full series below. I have also included the links to the other two charts for your convenience.

Focus on Nutrients Full Series

Chart 1 Iron

Chart 3 Choline


Selenium (Se) is an essential trace mineral of fundamental importance to human, canine, and feline health. It is receiving considerable attention for its possible role as an effective naturally occurring anti-carcinogenic agent. Recently, the American Association for Cancer Research reported that high selenium consumption may protect humans from bladder cancer.

Recent studies suggest that, as a result of climate change, concentrations of the trace element selenium in soils are likely to decrease. Because the selenium content of crops may also be reduced, the risk of selenium deficiency could be increased. Those making their own pet foods should pay particular attention to table below and try to include several selenium-rich foods.

Dogs evolved consuming two organic forms of Se:

  • Selenium methionine (from yeast, plants and animals)

  • Selenium cysteine (amino acid found mostly in organ meats).

Most dry and canned dog foods today use an inorganic type of Selenium, sodium selenite or sodium selenate. These forms of selenium are considered toxic by the national toxicology program of the US Department of Health and human services. The body reacts differently to the Selenium in food as compared to food supplemented with sodium selenite. Studies have shown that the absorption, distribution, and excretion of selenium in food were distinctly different from those in sodium selenite.

Many dog and cat foods contain sodium selenite, partially because it was the only supplement form approved by AAFCO until recently. Look for the better foods to replace the sodium selenite with selenium yeast.

Se When Making Your Own Dog Food

If you are making your own meat-based dog foods, and your diets contain organ meats, they will contain ample Se. If the diet does not contain organ meats, it may lack Se. This may be especially true if you’re feeding puppies game meats without organs.

If you think that your diets may lack Se, add liver if possible. Adding 1 ounce of liver to a diet consisting primarily of 1 pound of 85% lean beef or game meats will provide ample Se. Another alternative is to add 1 finely ground Brazil nut per pound of 85% lean ground beef or per pound of game meats.

For dogs and cats, the Se recommendations are in parts per billion: 80 parts per billion for adult dogs and all cats, and 90 parts per billion for growth and reproduction stages for dogs.

Selenium content of selected foods, all raw unless noted. mcg is micrograms (a millionth of a gram). The middle column is grams of the food that provide 100 mcg.

dog food Selenium chart by Steve brown

Steve Brown

Steve Brown is a dog food formulator, researcher, and author on canine nutrition. In the 1990s he developed one of the leading low-calorie training treats, Charlee Bear® Dog Treats, as well as the first AAFCO-compliant raw dog food. Since 2003 he has focused on research and education. He is the author of two books on canine nutrition (See Spot Live Longer, now in its 8th printing, and Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet (Dogwise Publishing, 2010); and a 40-page booklet, See Spot Live Longer the ABC Way. 

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