If there’s one food that ranks as most desirable by most dogs, it is liver. While there are probably a few dogs out there who don’t care for it, the vast majority of dogs go absolutely nuts for the taste of liver.
So what is the best type of liver to cook for dogs?
It is possible to purchase liver from chicken, beef, pork, and lamb, all of which are considered good sources of protein for your dog. However, this does not mean that all liver is suitable for canine consumption; it is best to avoid liver from wild animals such as venison and turkey as you can’t guarantee its freshness.
We’ll look at the best organs to feed your pooch, and teach you how to cook liver for your dog. We’ll also review the health benefits of liver for dogs and how much of it you should feed your canine friend.
Why Feed Your Dog Cooked Liver?
Feeding your dog cooked liver can be extremely beneficial for a number of reasons, as it is the kind of food they would be expected to consume in the wild.
However, because dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, they have evolved to the point where eating raw meat can be dangerous for their digestive system, which is why we recommend cooking the liver before giving it to your pup.
The Nutritional Benefits of Feeding Liver to Your Dog
As a food, cooked liver contains 10 to 100 times the amount of nutrients that are in other muscle meat products, which is the kind of meat found in chicken breast and ground beef.
Liver is also bursting with vitamins and minerals, which include notable additions such as iron, protein and vitamin A. Beyond this, the organ is also rich in natural phosphorus, as well as copper, niacin and healthy fats such as omega-3s.
Other organs such as the heart, brain and kidneys can also be good components in your dog’s diet as they are full of nutritional value as well.
What Liver is Best for Your Dog?
If you are interested in feeding your dog cooked liver, it is best to purchase liver that has come from a grass-fed or free-range source. However, other kinds of liver can also be used as nutritious alternatives.
Beef and chicken liver are probably the the most commonly available livers. Beef liver is lower in fat and calories, so you may prefer to feed your dog it over chicken.
Other types of liver that are available in grocery stores and butchers are pork, duck, and lamb. While more fatty than beef, they are still very nutritious and your dog is not likely to refuse them on the basis of taste!
Are All Types of Liver Safe for Dogs?
While most liver is safe for dogs, it is best to avoid liver from wild animals such as venison and turkey as you can’t necessarily guarantee its freshness.
Why You Should Avoid Feeding Your Dog Liver from Wild Animals
Liver from wild game is also prone to infections and parasites, which can be dangerous and fatal if your dog were to consume them.
So for the best results, we recommend that you only use liver that has come from farm animals, especially those that were given a decent existence. The same basic principle also applies when it comes to purchasing liver for your own consumption.
How Much Liver Can You Feed Your Dog?
Only 5% of your dog’s diet should contain the liver, which means the overall amount will vary depending on the size of the breed that you own. A small breed of dog will need ⅕ ounce of liver a day, while medium-sized breeds should be given 1 ounce. Larger dogs can be fed a maximum of 2.5 ounces of liver a day.
Like most food products, liver should only be given to your dog in moderation. Otherwise, you could risk endangering your pooch’s health and well-being. This is because the liver contains high amounts of vitamin A, which can give your dog a condition known as hypervitaminosis.
This is when a pet overdoses on the titular substance and is unable to properly absorb the vitamins into its body, which can result in deformities, weight loss, digestive problems and weakened muscles.
However, you should not let this scare you when it comes to giving your dog cooked liver, as it still remains a canine superfood when given in small doses. Beyond this, liver also has other nutritional benefits and can be used as a supplement in your dog’s diet when tracking their weight.
Can You Store Raw Liver?
Raw liver can be safely stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 days, which can help maintain the liver’s freshness and quality. It is also recommended that you keep the liver in its original packaging, as this can help to preserve the meat during storage.
Can You Freeze Cooked Liver?
The best way to preserve the liver after it has been cooked is by storing it in the freezer, which helps to transform the organ into a quick and healthy snack. Not only is frozen cooked liver loaded with nutrients, but it also contains no additives or preservatives, which makes it the perfect dish for your pup.
Can Liver Give Your Dog Diarrhea?
Too much liver can result in your dog suffering from diarrhea, vomiting, internal bleeding and seizures, as the liver contains high amounts of iron. Even if larger portions of liver don’t cause your dog to suffer from any of these conditions, you should only provide them with small quantities of liver in their diet, or seek professional advice.
How To Cook Liver For Dogs
Now that you understand the benefits of giving your dog cooked liver, let’s take a look at how you can cook it yourself from scratch.
When it comes to cooking liver for your dog, you need to remember that it is not the same as cooking a meal for a human, which means you should use no seasonings. It is also important to note that additives such as salt and butter can be harmful to your pup’s health.
So let’s take a look at our cooked liver recipe.
- Chicken liver (or any other)
- Take your livers and remove it from its packaging (if they were frozen, you will need to thaw them in the refrigerator first).
- When the packaging has been removed, take your livers and rinse them in cool water to remove any dirt or sinew from the plastic.
- Transfer the livers to a large pot and cover them with an inch of water.
- Place the pot over high heat and allow the water to boil, then reduce the heat and allow the livers to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- When the livers are ready (they should be tender and soft) remove the pot from the heat and drain the boiling water.
- Place the cooked livers on a plate and wait for them to cool down.
- When the livers are of a decent temperature, dice them and serve them to your dog.
If you use the above recipe to cook your liver, then you can take any leftovers and place them in an airtight container before freezing them, which will give you a small supply to use in the future. Whenever you need to re-use the liver, take it out of the freezer and thaw it in the refrigerator.
LIver can also be cooked on a baking sheet in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees. Again, do not add any seasonings to the liver (trust us, your dog will love it as-is), and be sure to let it cool before serving it to your dog.
Liver is a great source of protein for both humans and dogs, especially when it has been sourced from animals that have been treated well during their lives. Not only is the organ filled with nutrients, but it is super tasty and easy to prepare and store.
While cooking liver for your dog can be extremely simple, you need to make sure that you are using the best liver available to yield the best results. One of the great things about cooked liver is that you can also freeze it, which helps to make it a delicious snack for your lucky dog.
Just make sure to feed the organ in moderation, as too much liver can be toxic to your dog and their health. If you are still unsure about cooking the liver yourself, you can purchase freeze-dried liver snacks and doll them out to your pup as treats without the hassle of cooking.