Can Dogs Eat Liver?

Can Dogs Eat Liver?

Amy Thompson

Liver is full of health benefits, so it's natural to ask: can dogs eat liver?

The answer is yes! Dogs should absolutely eat liver.

If your dog isn't eating liver, he's missing out on a nutrient-rich treat that offers immense health benefits.

Why Is Liver Good For Dogs?

Liver is a crucial component of a balanced raw diet for dogs. It’s a true superfood, offering a wealth of nutrients that support overall health. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Vitamin A: A powerful antioxidant that supports vision, reproduction, and immune function. Vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy vision, especially in low-light conditions. It also plays a significant role in the functioning and repair of vital organs such as the heart and kidneys. For dogs, Vitamin A supports a shiny coat and healthy skin, contributing to an overall vibrant appearance.
  • Vitamin D: Vital for immune health, cancer prevention, and strong bones and muscles. Vitamin D enhances the body's ability to absorb calcium, crucial for the development and maintenance of strong bones. In dogs, adequate levels of Vitamin D are associated with better muscle function and a robust immune response, making them less susceptible to infections and diseases.
  • B Vitamins and Folic Acid: Essential for mental and nerve health, reducing fatigue, and preventing anemia. B Vitamins, including B12, B6, and folate, are vital for energy production, red blood cell formation, and proper nervous system function. These vitamins help ensure that your dog remains energetic and mentally sharp, reducing the likelihood of behavioral issues related to fatigue or nervous system deficiencies.
  • Iron: Crucial for oxygen transport, brain function, and maintaining body temperature. Iron is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. In dogs, adequate iron levels contribute to increased stamina, better cognitive function, and effective regulation of body temperature, which is particularly important for active breeds.
  • Other Minerals: Copper, zinc, and more support skin health, joint function, and immunity. Copper is essential for the formation of red blood cells and maintaining healthy bones, blood vessels, and nerves. Zinc plays a pivotal role in immune function, skin health, and wound healing, ensuring that your dog's body can fend off infections and recover quickly from injuries.

Liver vs Muscle Meat

Comparing 100g of lean ground beef to 100g of beef liver highlights liver’s nutritional superiority:

  • Iron: 6 times more
  • Calcium: 23 times more
  • Vitamin D: 16 times more
  • Copper: 100 times more
  • Vitamin A: 1200 times more

Liver from pasture-raised animals offers even higher nutrient levels, though any liver is beneficial. For instance, pasture-raised liver often contains more omega-3 essential fatty acids and less harmful fat, making it an even healthier choice for your dog.

Is Liver Safe For Dogs?

Yes, liver is very safe for dogs. It doesn’t store toxins, contrary to popular belief. The liver’s primary function is to filter and neutralize toxins, not store them. In fact, muscle meats often contain more unwanted toxins due to the animals' diets and environments.

Even non-organic liver is a healthy choice, but organic or grass-fed liver is preferable to avoid toxins like herbicides and antibiotics.

Eating Liver Helps Your Dog’s Liver

Feeding your dog liver supports his liver health. This principle, recognized in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, posits that consuming an organ benefits that organ. Thus, feeding liver helps maintain your dog’s liver health by providing specific nutrients that support the liver’s functions, such as detoxification, metabolism, and bile production.

This ancient wisdom is backed by modern science, which shows that organ meats contain unique peptides and cofactors that are beneficial to the corresponding organs.

What Kind Of Liver Can Dogs Eat?

Dogs can eat liver from various animals, including:

  • Beef liver
  • Goat liver
  • Lamb liver
  • Pork liver
  • Chicken liver
  • Turkey liver
  • Duck liver
  • Venison liver

Since liver is one of the most nutritionally dense foods, diverse liver sources provide a broader range of essential nutrients. Each type of liver offers a slightly different profile of vitamins and minerals, making variety beneficial. For example, venison liver might be richer in certain amino acids compared to chicken liver, while duck liver could offer more iron and copper.

This variety of nutritious food ensures your dog receives a well-rounded nutrient intake, enhancing overall health.

Is Beef Liver Or Chicken Liver Better For Dogs?

Both are excellent choices. Beef liver has more minerals like iron and zinc, while chicken liver offers more vitamins A and D. Rotating between different types of liver is ideal, as it ensures your dog benefits from the unique nutrient profiles of each. 

For instance, beef liver’s higher zinc content is excellent for immune system support, while chicken liver’s high vitamin A and D levels promote skin health, bone strength, and joint health.

PRO TIP: Look for organic, free-range chicken with an omega-3-rich diet. This will enhance their omega-3 fat content. Additionally, free-range chickens might benefit from sun exposure, which can contribute to solving your dog's potential vitamin D deficiency, although it's worth noting that many free-range chickens rarely experience sunlight. Chickens reared on pasture are your best option.

Feeding A Dog Liver Raw

Raw liver retains more nutrients than cooked liver. Cooking can significantly reduce the levels of iron, magnesium, vitamins A, and B6, among others. A study by the USDA showed that cooking liver resulted in the loss of:

  • 40% of iron, magnesium, and vitamin A
  • 55% of niacin and B6
  • 35% of folate
  • 30% of phosphorus
  • 25% of copper and vitamin C

Whether it's raw beef liver or other raw foods, feeding raw ensures your dog receives the maximum nutritional benefit. However, it’s important to source raw liver from reputable suppliers to avoid potential contaminants.

My Dog Doesn’t Like Raw Liver

Try these methods to encourage your dog to eat liver:

  • Grind and mix it with other meats: Disguising liver by blending it with other meats can make it more palatable.
  • Use “whole prey” grinds: Available from raw dog food suppliers, these include ground-up whole animals, providing a balanced mix of muscle meat, bones, and organ meat.
  • Lightly sear the outside: Quickly cooking the liver’s exterior in a hot pan can change its texture and flavor, making it more appealing without significantly reducing its nutritional value.
  • Make dehydrated liver treats: Dehydrating liver at low temperatures (around 145°F) preserves most of its nutrients while making it a convenient treat. Dehydrated liver treats are especially useful for training and can be stored for longer periods.

If your dog doesn't like raw liver, you could try to feed your dog cooked options.

How Much Liver To Feed Your Dog

For balanced nutrition, liver should constitute 5-10% of your dog’s diet. Introduce liver gradually to avoid digestive upset. Start with ½ tbsp a few times a week for medium-sized adult dogs and adjust based on their tolerance.

If your dog is new to eating liver, monitor for any signs of digestive issues, such as loose stools or tummy gurgling, and adjust the amount accordingly.

2 Reasons Not To Feed Too Much Liver

It's great to let your dog eat liver, but like anything else, you still don't want to overdo it. Here's why.

Copper Toxicity

Certain breeds like Bedlington Terriers are prone to copper toxicity. Monitor your dog’s health and consult your holistic vet if you notice symptoms of liver disease such as weight loss, reduced appetite, excessive peeing, diarrhea, or intermittent vomiting. Regular bloodwork can help detect elevated liver enzymes, indicating potential issues.

Vitamin A Excess

While unlikely from feeding liver alone, vitamin A toxicity can occur with excessive consumption over time. Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity include bone abnormalities, muscle weakness, and digestive issues. Ensuring that liver is a part of a balanced diet helps prevent these problems.

What If You Find Liver Disgusting?

If handling liver is unappealing, consider using a glandular supplement made from desiccated organ meats to provide the same nutritional benefits without the mess. Glandular supplements are available in various forms, ideally look for a freeze-dried option, making them easy to incorporate into your dog’s diet.

Final Thoughts

Liver is a nutrient-dense food that can significantly benefit your dog's health.

So whether you decide to let your dogs eat raw liver or give it as a supplement, incorporating liver into your dog's diet is a wise choice for their well-being.

When feeding liver for dogs, start gradually, monitor your dog’s response, and enjoy the health benefits that this superfood provides.


Can dogs eat cooked liver? Yes, dogs can eat cooked liver, but it’s best to feed it raw to preserve its maximum nutritional benefits. Cooking liver reduces its vitamin and mineral content, diminishing its health advantages for your dog.

Is liver toxic for dogs? No, liver is not toxic for dogs; it is a nutrient-rich superfood that offers numerous health benefits. Contrary to some beliefs, liver does not store toxins but helps filter them out of the body.

How to prepare liver for your dog? To prepare liver for your dog, serve it raw to ensure maximum nutrient retention or lightly sear the outside to enhance its texture and flavor. If your dog dislikes raw liver, look for a freeze-dried powder so it is easy to hide in his bowl.

Is dried liver good for dogs? Yes, dried liver is good for dogs as it retains most nutrients and makes for a convenient, healthy treat. Freeze-dried liver treats are especially beneficial for training and can be stored for long periods without losing their nutritional value.