- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Liver is a canine superfood that makes a tasty, healthful addition to a their daily diet. That’s something most commercial dog food makers already know: many dog foods and treats are made with liver. Whether you’re looking to enhance your dog’s diet, to prepare your own fresh dog food or to up the quality of your treats, liver is a great choice.
Can My Dog Eat Liver?
Yes! Liver is a vitamin-rich protein that’s safe for your dog to eat. In addition to containing iron, copper, zinc and essential fatty acids, liver cleanses the blood of toxins and supports healthy vision.
Why Is Liver Good for Dogs To Eat?
Relative to meat produced from animal muscle, organ meats like liver are jam-packed with nutrients. Beef liver, for example, has six times more iron, 23 times more calcium and 1200 times more vitamin D than the same amount of ground beef. Among its most important nutrients are:
- Vitamin A – This antioxidant supports vision and the healthy functioning of the heart, kidneys and reproductive organs.
- B Vitamins – Nutrients like riboflavin (B2) and folate (B9) play an essential role in the growth and function of the body’s cells. They can also help to prevent fatigue and anemia.
- Iron – This mineral transports oxygen to the blood cells, regulates body temperature and supports brain function. Increasing iron intake can improve a dog’s strength and endurance.
- Copper and Zinc – These essential minerals that help to support healthy bones and joints.
What Is The Most Nutritious Kind Of Liver For Dogs To Eat?
Two types of liver, chicken and beef, are readily available at most grocery stores. Both types of liver are full of essential vitamins and minerals, protein and iron. Both types of liver are relatively low in calories and saturated fat. And both types of liver are excellent options to add a nutritional punch to your dog’s diet.
However, if you must choose one over the other, go with beef liver. Compared with chicken liver, it is lower in calories and fat and higher in Vitamins B2, B12 and A. It also has nearly 20 times the copper as chicken liver, a mineral which supports brain, heart and skin functions and which the body does not produce naturally.
If you have a dog who is in need of increased protein, selenium or iron, though, chicken liver may be a better option. This organ meat has about twice the selenium and iron as beef liver and approximately four grams more protein per serving.
In your local grocery, you may be able to find other types of liver, including pork, lamb and duck. These organ meats provide similar nutritional benefits to chicken and beef liver and can be home cooked the same way.
What’s The Best Way To Feed My Dog Liver?
Preparing liver for your dog at home is easier than you may think. But even if you’re not quite ready to jump into the cooking and preparation of organ meats, there are still options for adding liver to your dog’s diet:
Dog Food Containing Liver – Many nutritionally complete wet dog foods sell formulas that contain a healthy dose of beef or chicken liver. Some of our favorites include Purina Beyond Wild Turkey, Liver & Duck Pate, Wellness CORE Turkey, Chicken Liver & Turkey Liver Formula and Natural Balance Liver Formula.
Freeze-Dried Raw Liver – More than one reputable dog treat company sells 100% freeze-dried raw liver containing no additives, including Stewart Pro-Treat Beef Liver and PureBites Freeze-Dried Beef Liver. Use them as training treats, stuff them into puzzle toys or sprinkle them on top of your dog’s daily meals for tons of flavor and nutritional benefit.
Home-cooked Liver – Liver can be cooked on the stovetop or in the oven. Pop it in a pot of boiling water and simmer for about 15 minutes until tender, pan-fry it over low-medium heat, or place it on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees. When preparing liver for your dog, avoid adding butter, oil, salt or any other spices. Once cooked, dice the liver into small pieces.
Home-baked Treats – Get more creative with liver by preparing your own healthy dog treats at home. Our Liver Training Treat Recipe below is an easy way to go the extra mile for your pup.
How Much Liver Should My Dog Eat?
Like a lot of foods that are healthy in moderation, too much liver can be a bad thing. Or, more precisely, too much of the vitamin A in liver can be a bad thing.
Consuming too much vitamin A can lead to hypervitaminosis A, an overdose of A vitamins. Over time, too much vitamin A may lead to bone deformities or spurs, weakened muscles, digestive trouble and weight loss.
To prevent the possibility of hypervitaminosis A, your dog’s diet should contain no more than 5% organ meats. For a medium-sized dog, that’s approximately one ounce of liver per day max.
Homemade Liver Dog Treats Perfect for Training
If you don’t have a food processor, start by finely chopping the meat, then follow along with the rest of the recipe in a large mixing bowl.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 1 tray 1x
- Category: Training Treats
- 1 cup beef or chicken liver
- 2 cups oat flour (pulverize rolled oats in the food processor to make your own)
- 1 cup AP flour (you can substitute with whatever flour you dog digests best)
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil
Preheat oven to 190ºC (375ºF)
- In a food processor, blend the liver into a paste.
- Add the flours and pulse until combined.
- Crack in the eggs and pulse until just incorporated.
Turn the dough out onto a board lined with baking paper and roll to an even 0.5cm ¼in thickness.
Cut with biscuit cutters, or if you’re in a hurry, score with a bench scraper or butter knife and turn out lots of little rectangular treats pronto.
Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 20 minutes or until just cooked through. Keep these soft baked treats in the fridge, or cook until crispy to store on the counter and use within a week.
For More Information
We’ve got tons of articles about which foods are safe or dangerous for your dog, from common snacks to fruits. You might also be interested in “Can My Dog Eat Beef?”
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.