A Guide to Cooking Liver for Dogs

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While organ meat may seem a little icky, it’s chock-full of essential nutrients and dogs absolutely love it, so it’s not hard to get them to eat this delicious and nutritious treat.

Let’s cover a few of the reasons why cooking liver for dogs is a great idea, what kind of liver is best, how to prepare liver, and how much to feed your pup.

If you think you can stomach it, try taste testing a little sample for yourself – you might be surprised how much you enjoy it!

cooking liver for dogs

Is it worth cooking liver for dogs?

Yes, without a doubt!

Liver isn’t really all that different from other meat when you think about it, other than being super high in nutrients.

What would your dog eat in the wild? Mostly raw meat.

Since dogs have been domesticated, their digestive systems have evolved a little bit, so raw meat isn’t as good for them and cooked meat is much better.

Liver contains 10 to 100 times1 the amount of nutrients of muscle meat, the type of meat that’s in chicken breast, hamburger, and more.

It has tons of vitamin A, B vitamins, and is high in iron and protein. It’s also a great source of choline, copper, and other important micronutrients.

However, be sure to feed your dog not only liver meat, but other organs as well, such as the heart, kidney, and spleen to give your dog other essential nutrients and balance their diet.

Recommended reading: How to Start Cooking Dog Food at Home

What kind of liver is best for dogs?

Like any source of protein, it’s best if you can procure grass-fed and/or pasture-raised sources of liver, but if not, other types of liver are still healthy food options.

Liver from chicken, beef, pork, or lamb are all good choices for your dog.

However, you should probably avoid liver from wild game, such as deer or turkey since you can’t guarantee its quality. It may be infected with parasites or toxins that could make the liver unsafe for your dog.

Stick to farm animals, preferably from high-quality sources, when you’re buying liver for your dog, and for yourself.

Can raw liver make my dog sick?

Although raw liver is a good source of nutrients, you should be aware that it can potentially make your dog sick.

Raw liver has the potential to carry certain bacteria, such as salmonella, E. coli, and listeria. This can cause gastrointestinal problems including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The best way to avoid this is to buy organic, grass-fed liver from a reputable source.

How much liver can I give my dog?

Although liver is considered healthy, like most things, it can be harmful to dogs if consumed in large quantities.

Because liver meat is so rich in vitamin A, if your dog eats too much of it they could develop a condition known as hypervitaminosis A, which basically refers to an overdose of vitamin A.

This means your dog has consumed so much vitamin A that their body can’t absorb or process it properly.

Too much vitamin A can lead to bone deformities, weight loss, bone spurs, weakened muscles, digestive issues, and more.

But don’t let this scare you off completely from feeding liver to your dog though, as it’s still a good food choice in moderation.

Feed liver to your dog as a supplement to their diet rather than as a meal replacement and make sure to consider their weight.

Can my dog eat liver every day?

As a rule of thumb, organs should account for around 5% of your dog’s diet.

For a small breed dog, that might mean only 1/5 ounces a day. A medium-sized dog can have about 1 ounce of liver, while a large dog can have up to 2.5 ounces of liver per day.

Boiled chicken liver for dogs

Ingredients

  • Chicken (or any other) liver
  • Water

Instructions

  1. Remove the livers from packaging (if they’re frozen, thaw them first).
  2. Thoroughly rinse the livers with cool water to remove any dirt or debris from the packaging.
  3. Place the livers in a boiling pot on the stove, and cover them with about an inch of water.
  4. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow the livers to simmer for about 15 minutes.
  5. When the livers are tender, remove the pot from heat and drain the water.
  6. Place the livers on a plate to cool and dice them up before serving.

Notes

Storage

Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 4 months.

Here’s another recipe, this time for liver dog treats.

Homemade liver dog treats

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. liver
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Put the washed livers in a food processor or blender, and run until smooth.
  3. Using a large mixing bowl, combine the ground livers, flour, egg, and water. This should make a thick paste.
  4. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  6. Cut into bite-sized pieces and serve to your dog.
  7. For crispier treats, turn off the oven and leave them in for another 10 minutes

Notes

Storage

Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 4 months.

Can you freeze cooked liver?

Yes, definitely!

Frozen cooked liver is a great, healthy treat with no additives or preservatives.

If you use the above recipes, you can place the diced liver pieces in an airtight container and freeze them. Whenever you’re ready to use them, pop a few pieces in the fridge to thaw.

Freeze-dried beef liver treats are an excellent alternative when you don’t have time to cook.

Stewart Freeze Dried Dog Treats, Beef Liver, Healthy, Natural, Single Ingredient, Grain Free Dog Treat, Liver Treats for Dogs, 21 Ounces, Resealable Tub

In summary

Cooking liver for dogs is extremely easy, especially since when preparing any food for your dog, it’s best to add as few seasonings as possible. You can also freeze it and use it later as a nutritious snack or a reward for your good boy.

When procured from the right sources and fed in the proper amounts, liver is a superfood for dogs (and humans). It’s full of vitamins and minerals your dog needs and is a great source of protein.

Just remember that too much liver can be toxic and that raw liver and livers from wild game could be dangerous.

Also, be sure to feed your dog other organ meats for a balanced diet.

Sources

  1. Liver: Nature’s Most Potent Superfood

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About the author

Li-ran Bukovza

Li-ran believes that our dogs can teach us more than we could ever teach them. He's fascinated by the dog-human bond and loves researching and writing about new pet trends. With the help of Richie (his trusty Maltese sidekick), he hopes to help as many people as possible understand the beautiful, complex world of canine companionship.

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