Chicken liver should make up no more than 5% of your dog’s diet. This is roughly 10-15g for small dogs, 25-30g for medium dogs, and up to 40-60g of chicken liver for large dogs. If you feed your dog anything more than this, you risk overdosing your dog on Vitamin A.
Chicken liver is a very healthy, delicious addition to your dog’s diet. Some people are reluctant to give liver to their dogs due to various myths they’ve heard from friends or found online, but liver is not toxic to your dog, and it cannot poison him.
But how much chicken liver should you feed your dog? First, let’s start with the basics.
Is Chicken Liver Good for Dogs?
Rich with Nutrients and Protein
As part of a well-balanced diet, yes, chicken liver is healthy for dogs to eat. Liver is very nutrient dense and is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals that dogs need. Liver packs a lot of vitamin A, iron, zinc, and copper, to name just a few. It’s also a great source of protein.
You Can Have Too Much of a Good Thing
High in Fat
Liver is also fairly high in fat. So, if you feed your dog too much, or if he’s already eating a very fatty diet, adding liver could lead to weight gain.
As with any high-fat treats, giving your dog liver could also lead to an upset stomach if he eats too much of it too quickly. Make sure that you’re monitoring your dog and that you feed him liver in moderation.
Dogs can have too much vitamin A in their diet, a condition called hypervitaminosis A. While vitamin A is necessary for a dog’s diet to promote healthy eyes and maintain a strong coat, it can be detrimental in high doses.
Liver and other organ meats contain a lot of vitamin A, but as long as you’re feeding it to your dog in moderation, they shouldn’t have any problems.
Hypervitaminosis A is usually caused by eating large quantities of organ meat, so make sure liver doesn’t make up a large portion of your dog’s diet.
Trouble Metabolizing Copper
Due to genetics, some dogs have trouble metabolizing copper. This is common in Dobermans, Labrador Retrievers, and some Terrier breeds.
The copper accumulates in their liver, eventually causing damage and cirrhosis. If your dog is susceptible to this condition, only feed liver sparingly, or not at all.
Chicken liver has less copper in it than beef liver, making it a better option for anyone concerned about their dog metabolizing copper.
Busting The Common Myth About Liver
Since one of the liver’s primary functions is to filter out toxins and heavy metals from the body, many people worry that feeding their dog chicken liver could accidentally poison him.
But the liver does not store most toxins. It converts them into harmless compounds or releases them from the body.
Heavy metals can accumulate in the liver, but that’s also true for lean meat from that same animal.
If this concerns you, you can opt for liver from organic or grass-fed animals. If you make sure that you’re sourcing the liver from a reputable place, you can have peace of mind that it’s only providing essential nutrients to your dog.
Do Dogs Even Like Chicken Liver?
Most dogs think chicken liver is delicious. But like with any other treat, not every dog will love it. Chicken liver can be a tasty treat for your dog or a healthy way to add variety to his diet, but always start with small portions to gauge your dog’s interest.
How Much Chicken Liver Can I Feed My Dog?
As we shared above, there can be some negative health effects to feeding your dog too much chicken liver.
To make sure that you’re giving it to your dog in moderation, remember the 10% rule. To maintain a well-balanced diet for your dog, make sure that 90% of his calories come from commercial dog food. Anything else, treats or meal toppers, should only make up 10% of his diet.
Assuming chicken liver is not the only extra food or treat that you’re feeding your dog, it should not make up more than about 5% of his daily calorie intake. This is roughly 10-15g for small dogs, 25-30g for medium dogs, and up to 40-60g of chicken liver for large dogs. But if you’re ever in doubt, consult with your veterinarian.
Be sure to check the ingredients of your dog’s commercial food, too. If his regular dog food already contains liver, only give small pieces of chicken liver to your dog a couple times per week rather than regularly mixing it into his food.
What Is the Best Way to Feed Chicken Liver to Dogs?
If your dog has never had chicken liver, start in small increments. Introduce it gradually to make sure it agrees with him and doesn’t cause an upset stomach.
You can use chicken liver as a high reward training treat, a tasty snack, or a topper for your dog’s regular meals. Just make sure you’re following the guidelines above on how much to feed him.
Raw vs. Cooked
Your dog has a tough stomach and can handle liver raw or cooked. You can try both and see if he has a preference in texture or taste between the two.
Deciding to serve raw chicken liver to your dog or cooking it beforehand comes down to your own preference.
Many people serve raw foods to their dogs because high heat in the cooking process can reduce the levels of some beneficial nutrients. And let’s be honest, raw is easier.
On the other hand, cooking eliminates the risk of infection from bacteria that could be present in raw meat. That’s a risk for your dog and, more importantly, the rest of your family that might come in contact with leftovers of the raw meat in the dog bowl.
Cooking Chicken Liver
The best way to cook chicken liver is by simmering it in water. Start by washing the raw liver under cool water. Then, add it to a pot with enough water to cover it by about an inch.
Bring the pot of water and chicken liver to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 15 minutes until tender.
Drain the chicken liver, let it cool, and cut into appropriate size portions to serve your dog.
Other Options for Serving Liver
If you don’t want to deal with raw chicken liver or just can’t find good options for meat at your local stores, you can also look for commercial options.
Many reliable brands offer commercial dog treats made from liver. These are often freeze-dried or dehydrated, so there’s no mess, and your dog still gets to enjoy the flavor and nutrition packed in those pieces of chicken liver.
Where Can I Find Raw Chicken Liver?
If you have a local butcher shop, that’s typically going to be your best bet for finding high-quality raw chicken liver. Some supermarkets might have a small selection, but you could also check farmer’s markets or try going directly to a local farmer.
If you can’t find chicken liver, consider other alternatives that would give your dog the same health benefits.
Beef liver, calf liver, lamb liver, and pork liver all have varying levels of different vitamins, minerals, and fat, but they can all be incorporated into a well-balanced diet for your dog.
Chicken liver contains the least calories and copper per serving, so make sure you’re still feeding the right amount for your dog if you switch to one of these other types of liver.
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