Can Dogs Eat Liver

Picture of beer liver

Think of eating liver and many people have a negative reaction. Although liver from all kinds of animals is packed with iron and vitamins, it’s often unpopular as a food. Dogs, however, have a completely different view of liver. Most dogs will happily eat liver in nearly any form. But is it good for dogs? Can dogs eat liver safely ? Find out below.

Liver nutrition

Whether you have stared at a plate of liver and onions as a kid or tried liver pate, many Americans are squeamish about eating liver. That’s too bad because it’s highly nutritious and less expensive than most cuts of meat today.

Liver is also readily available in supermarkets whether you are interested in chicken livers, beef liver, or calf liver. With a little effort you can also find other kinds of liver, including organic and liver from other animals such as pork, lamb, and duck. Rabbit liver is also an option. It has a lighter flavor, similar to chicken, though it can be slightly gamey.

Both beef and chicken liver are nutritional powerhouses. If you’re trying to decide between them, beef has a slightly better overall nutrient profile.

Beef liver is high in protein and low in calories. It has 64 percent protein, 24 percent fats, and 12 percent carbohydrates. 100 grams of beef liver (about 3 ounces) contains 135 calories.

Beef liver is low in sodium. It’s a very good source of protein, vitamin A, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, copper, and selenium. It’s also a good source of iron, zinc, and manganese.

On the down side, it’s very high in cholesterol and contains trans fat.

A 100-gram serving of beef liver contains 3.9 grams of carbs and 3.6 grams of total fat. It has 7 mg of omega-3 fatty acids and 318 mg of omega-6 fatty acids. It also has 20.4 grams of protein.

Some people are concerned about eating liver because they fear that the liver contains the toxins it removes from the body. The liver doesn’t store toxins. It processes them. Eating liver is perfectly safe for you and for your dog.

Liver is considered to be possibly one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. It provides much more than 100 percent of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of many essential nutrients for humans. The protein it provides is very high quality.

There are some people who should avoid eating liver. Pregnant women (because of the high vitamin A content) and people with gout (because of purines in liver which form uric acid in the body) should use caution when eating liver.

If you don’t really like the taste of liver but you want to benefit from its nutrition, soaking it in milk before cooking can make the flavor milder. Calf liver and lamb liver also have a milder flavor than beef liver.

Can dogs eat liver?

By golly, yes. Dogs can definitely eat liver. Not only can they eat it but most dogs absolutely love it.

Liver is a regular ingredient in many dog foods and dog treats. Glance at any list of ingredients and you will often find liver somewhere in the list even if it’s not on the front of the label.

Liver provides the same high quality protein for your dog that it provides for humans. Your dog also benefits from the powerful punch of vitamins and minerals in liver.

Some of the dog foods that feature liver include:

Tender & True Organic Grain-Free Chicken & Liver Recipe Dry Dog Food

 Bil-Jac Picky No More Medium & Large Breed Chicken Liver Recipe Dry Dog Food

 Wellness CORE Grain-Free Turkey, Pork Liver & Duck Formula Canned Dog Food

 Dave’s Pet Food 95% Premium Turkey & Turkey Liver Grain-Free Recipe Canned Dog Food

 Newman’s Own Organics Grain-Free 95% Chicken & Liver Dinner Canned Dog Food

 Weruva Amazon Liver with Chicken & Chicken Liver in Pumpkin Soup Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

 Purina Beyond Wild Prey-Inspired Grain-Free High Protein Turkey, Liver & Duck Pate Recipe Canned Dog Food

 Cesar Classic Loaf in Sauce Chicken & Liver Recipe Dog Food Trays

If you don’t want to buy dog food with liver, you can easily boil, pan-fry, or bake some liver to add to your dog’s regular meals. Liver does leave an odor in the home so be prepared to open a window to air out your house for a couple of hours after you cook it or use some air freshener.

There are also many recipes online to make dog cookies and treats using liver.

There are some dogs that should not eat liver. If your dog has low blood pressure or kidney disease, liver should be off their menu. That’s because liver is high in phosphorus. Phosphorus lowers blood pressure and it can worsen kidney disease in dogs.

If your dog has liver disease, eating liver is also a bad idea. That’s because liver is rich in copper which can make liver disease worse.

If you want to add liver to your dog’s diet on a regular basis, please talk to your veterinarian first to make sure your dog doesn’t have any health issues that might make liver a bad idea.

How much liver can you give your dog?

Liver is very nutritious but it has so much of some nutrients that you shouldn’t allow your dog to over-indulge. It’s especially high in vitamin A. Too much vitamin A can lead to toxicity. Too much in the short term results in hypervitaminosis A or vitamin A toxicity. The chronic version results when the vitamin A builds up over a long period of time.

Symptoms include changes to vision, bone pain, and changes to the skin. Chronic toxicity can lead to liver damage and increased pressure on your brain. Vitamin A toxicity can be diagnosed with a blood test. The problems usually resolve when the vitamin A level is reduced.

Vitamin A toxicity usually occurs because of taking too many vitamin A supplements but since liver is high in vitamin A, eating too much liver could be a cause. For this reason, you should monitor how much liver your dog eats.

Liver is also very high in iron. If your dog overeats liver and takes in too much iron, it can result in diarrhea and vomiting.

For dogs that eat liver as part of a raw diet, organ meats, such as liver, shouldn’t make up more than 5-10 percent of a dog’s daily meals . For dogs that are eating liver as a topper or mixed into their dog food, the liver should be less than 5-10 percent since the commercial dog food already contains the daily amount of vitamin A your dog requires. For a medium-sized dog, 5 percent of their daily meals is only about 1 ounce of liver.

Eating too much liver can also lead to loose stools.

How often can you give your dog liver?

As long as you use small amounts (less than 5-10 percent of his daily meals in terms of calories), you could give your dog a small amount of liver every day.

If you want to be cautious and make sure that you don’t accidentally give your dog too much liver, you could give him some as a topper or mix it in his regular dog food 2-3 times per week. Or, you could make some dog cookies or treats using liver once per week.


Whether you give your dog liver as a special treat or make it a regular part of his diet, this superfood is full of high quality protein, vitamins and minerals that are good for your dog. Too much liver can lead to loose stools and vitamin A toxicity so use caution. Given in moderation, liver is a great food for dogs.



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