As more dog owners start to dive deeper into canine nutrition, they understand the importance of feeding their dogs a diet that does more harm than good.
The raw diet has been gaining in popularity over the years due to how close it is to a dog’s natural diet. One common question that arises frequently is the safety of feeding raw liver to our dogs.
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.
While raw chicken livers boast benefits, they aren’t without risks.
Dive deeper with us as we share the important dos and dont’s of feeding raw liver to your dog.
Can My Dog Eat Chicken Liver?
Our dogs are first and foremost carnivores that have evolved from wolves. In fact, the DNA of a dog is almost 9% identical to that of a wolf.
This means that they need a diet that is high in protein from animal meat to thrive.
There’s no doubt that dogs can handle carbs better than cats. As a dog owner myself, I do give my dog the occasional carb treat.
Since our dogs are direct descendants of wolves, they are also adept at hunting for prey in the wild.
The dog will pretty much eat all the meat, organs and bones of the prey.
You don’t really have much to worry about if you want to feed raw chicken livers to your dog as it’s part of your dog’s natural diet.
If you are feeding your dog a raw meat diet, you need to be feeding it raw liver to make its diet more complete and balanced.
I won’t be surprised if many raw feeders are not feeding enough raw liver to their dogs.
What Are The Benefits Of Eating Chicken Liver?
Chicken liver might not seem very nutritious to most of us but it is one of the most nutritionally dense food on earth.
Below are some of the essential nutrients that liver provides to your dog:
Rich In Iron
Iron plays a pivotal role in oxygenating your dog’s blood.
A lack of iron in your dog can lead to canine anemia with symptoms such as lethargy, pale gums, and weakness.
Chicken liver can be a potent source of iron, helping to ensure good blood health in your dog.
Loaded With Vitamin B
Chicken liver is rich in many types of vitamin B such as B12, ribofalvin and folate.
Vitamin B is important for dogs as it helps with thyroid function, digestion, coat and skin health, and cognitive functioning.
High In Vitamin A
Besides vitamin B, chicken liver is also high in vitamin A which is needed for healthy organ systems, vision and skin health, brain and skeletal development, etc.
It also helps to bolster your dog’s immune response which reduces the risk of many chronic ailments and cancer.
Most of us are not aware of this mineral but selenium is a trace mineral that is found in soil. It is essential for your dog’s immune system and overall health.
A study has also shown that it is important for preventing and treating cancer in dogs.
Many dogs with cancer do not have much of an appetite which isn’t ideal as nutrition is key in the road to recovery.
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, a 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.
I doubt anyone would feed their dogs that much liver or organ meat to hit that kind of dangerous level.
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.
How To Prepare Raw Chicken Liver For My 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, and 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.
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 Other Types Of Liver Can My Dog Eat?
When it comes to liver, there are a few options that you can consider besides chicken liver.
There is also lamb, beef and pork liver.
When considering the different liver options for your dog, lamb liver emerges as a lower-fat alternative compared to chicken liver but it isn’t as nutrient-dense.
Beef liver brimming with vitamins that even exceed human daily recommendations but chicken liver often holds the edge due to its balanced vitamin A content.
It is a good idea to rotate them both for your dog to get the best of both worlds.
Pork liver is lower in fat and cholesterol but isn’t as nutritious as chicken liver.
I don’t recommend feeding your dog raw pig liver due to health risks like trichinosis. Alway ensure that it is cooked first.
What Should I Do If My 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.
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.