When it comes to eating liver in my family, my dad hates it with a vengeance, my mom only eats it stir fried and I only eat foie gras. Hence, we made a unanimous decision to only have the rare liver dish for family dinners.
My dog on the other hand, just can’t seem to get enough of it cooked or raw. When I add some liver to his food, that is the first thing that he eats before anything else.
But can dogs eat raw chicken liver without any problems? Raw chicken livers are fine for dogs to consume. In fact, animal livers contain a lot of good minerals and vitamins that are good for our dogs. Make sure to not overfeed raw chicken livers to your dog as it can cause vitamin A toxicity.
In this article, we will be covering the benefits of feeding raw chicken liver to your dog and what you should not do.
What Does The Liver Do?
The liver plays a couple of very important roles in the body of a living thing.
- removes and eliminates toxins from our food and drinks
- stores important vitamins and carbs for energy
- metabolizes the individual macronutrients
- produces bile to aid in digestion
As you can see, the liver is a very essential organ for any living thing that has one.
What Are The Benefits Of Eating Chicken Liver?
When it comes to eating chicken liver, I doubt it is the most exciting dish on the menu. Most of my friends do not like the soft texture and gamey aftertaste.
Thankfully, most dogs and cats that I know of are always asking for more liver than they should consume, mine included.
Chicken liver is rich in minerals like iron and copper. Chicken liver also contains important vitamins like vitamins A, B12, C and E.
Although chicken liver is considered organ meat, it doesn’t contain as much protein as compared to muscle meat.
It also contains selenium which helps to prevent heart disease, high cholesterol and stroke.
Can Your Dog Eat Chicken Liver Safely?
To understand the effects that chicken livers can have on your dog, we will need to further understand the natural diet of your canine companion.
Our domesticated dogs are the direct descendants of wolves or the gray wolf to be precise. Over the years, dogs got smaller and their muzzles grew shorter but there is one thing that remained constant throughout.
The dog’s diet.
Despite what some dog owners might think, dogs are first and foremost carnivores. This means that they need a diet that is high in protein from animal meat to thrive.
Cats on the other hand are obligate carnivores which means that they need animal protein to survive.
That being said, when it comes to dogs, they definitely have more leeway when it comes to eating carbohydrates. Many dog owners feed their dogs a small serving of vegetables or rice in their daily diet which is fine.
However, do not overfeed your dog on carbs as they don’t really have the ability to digest carbs effectively. And too much carbs makes your dog fat which can lead to many health issues.
Since our dogs are direct descendants of wolves, they are also adept at hunting for small prey in the wild. Once the prey is caught, the dog will pretty much eat all the meat, organ meats and bones of the prey.
So you don’t really have much to worry about if you want to feed raw chicken livers to your dog. It is something that coincides very nicely with your dog’s natural diet. My dog loves it when I add chicken broth to his raw meat and liver. Chicken broth adds some flavor to his food and has a couple of health benefits too.
It just seems weird or unhealthy to many dog owners because we ourselves don’t eat our food raw, unless you are a fan of sashimi.
But it is time to change that misconception.
How Do You Prepare Raw Chicken Liver For Your Dog?
There are a couple of things that I do before I feed raw chicken liver to my dog. I just don’t dump it straight in my dog’s food bowl when I get it from the butcher.
I will thoroughly give the chicken livers a good rinse first. After doing so, I will cut away any dried blood, fats or membrane that’s stuck in or on the liver.
Yes, I know that when dogs eat chicken liver in the wild, they eat it whole. But my dog isn’t wild so I do prefer giving him a little more of a personalized service
Once that is done, I will give it another quick rinse, pat the liver dry before storing them in a couple of air-tight containers in the freezer.
I prefer to spread out the chicken liver into smaller servings so that I can just take what I need and thaw it.
I find that organ meats like liver can be rather delicate and tend to spoil a lot more easily and faster than muscle meat.
How Much Liver Should Your Dog Eat?
A safe amount of raw chicken liver to be feeding your dog is about 5-10% of its daily food intake. This means that if your dog eats about 300g of food daily, that would mean 15-30g of liver daily.
Personally, I have gone up to 20% worth of chicken liver for my cat and dog on some days. But do start off small if your dog isn’t used to it.
The digestive system of some dogs might not be used to the richness of organ meat. Just give your dog more time to beef up its stomach.
If you are already feeding your dog good quality canned food, there might already be some vitamin A in it. So make sure to take a look at the nutrition label before adding more vitamin A to your dog’s diet.
Why Feeding Your Dog Too Much Chicken Liver Is Dangerous?
Ever heard of the saying ”Too much of a good thing can be bad?”
The same rule applies when feeding your dog liver be it cooked or raw for a couple of reasons.
Raw chicken liver contains a lot of fat and cholesterol. 100g of chicken liver has 4.8g of fat and 354 mg of cholesterol. That is too much fat and cholesterol for your dog which can lead to unnecessary weight gain and health problems.
The same caution should be applied when it comes to feeding your dog fatty treats like pig feet. It is very easy for dogs to eat food that is high in fat content due to how good it tastes.
Believe me when I say that eating 100g of chicken liver is chicken feet for most dogs. It will be gone in one gulp.
Furthermore, chicken liver is very high in vitamin A and too much of it in your dog’s body can lead to vitamin A toxicity.
According to the American Control of Feed Control Officials, the dog would need to have eaten 2500-113000 IU of vitamin A per pound of food to suffer from toxicity. And it has to be over a period of a few weeks to a few months.
Truth be told, I doubt anyone would feed their dogs that much liver or organ meat to hit that kind of dangerous levels. But if your dog or puppy accidentally consumes a bottle of vitamin A supplements, that would be very dangerous.
This can cause the following symptoms:
- Unable to move properly
- Unprovoked aggression
If you think your dog has eaten too much chicken liver and is at risk of vitamin A toxicity, please take it to the vet for an examination and treatment.
Should I Give My Dog Cooked Or Raw Liver?
I don’t really think that it matters that much but it depends on which your dog prefers. When I first started giving my pets chicken liver, I started off feeding them both cooked chicken liver and as of now, they are happy with raw liver.
A few things to note.
If you prefer to feed your dog cooked chicken liver, make sure to only blanch it in hot water. Vitamins and minerals are very sensitive to heat.
So when you cook chicken liver for too long in hot water, it will destroy most of the nutrients in it.
When you feed your dog chicken liver that is raw, always make sure that it is fresh. They tend to start smelling funky after a few days in the fridge.
And do not let the liver sit out in the open for more than an hour as raw chicken liver won’t last long when exposed to the elements.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Hates Liver?
All is not lost if your dog doesn’t like chicken liver. There are other organ meats available that you can feed your dog.
I know of dog owners that feed their dogs chicken hearts, chicken kidneys and chicken gizzards. Some can even go as far as feeding brains and intestines to give their dog the whole complete raw food experience.
I tend to only use organ meat from chicken and beef as I’m not too comfortable giving my dog raw pork stuff due to food born diseases.