4 min read

Can Dogs Eat Liver?


By Kevin Hughes

Published: 05/10/2024, edited: 06/14/2024

Reviewed by a licensed veterinary professional: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

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Liver is packed with nutrition — including protein, Vitamin C, Phosphorus, Copper and Potassium — making it a healthy, lean meat. Although this organ meat has a distinctive, strong flavor that isn’t to everyone’s liking, it’s still popular, classically served grilled with bacon and onions, and with a side order of mashed potato.

But, can dogs eat liver too? Many dog food recipes — both dry dog food and wet food — feature liver as a main ingredient. If your pup has a poultry allergy, a dog food recipe that includes beef or pork liver is a good alternative to one that features chicken. Dog food aside though, can you give your dog chicken liver or beef liver to eat? How about raw liver, is that okay?

Let’s find out more here.

Can dogs eat chicken liver?

Can dogs eat chicken liver? Yes, they can! Unless your dog is allergic to chicken (you can read more about various food allergies here), there’s no reason you can’t feed your dog small amounts of chicken liver.

It’s better to feed your dog cooked chicken liver instead of raw — the same applies to all chicken meat. Make sure the chicken liver is cooked thoroughly, and plainly. It’s best to boil or steam the chicken liver, without adding any seasoning, such as salt and pepper, or oil (for this reason, don’t fry the liver you feed your dog). As people tend to like their chicken liver — like most meat — cooked with seasoning to add flavor, you’ll probably find that it’s safer to cook any liver intended for your dog completely separately.

A reminder — under no circumstances should you let your dog consume garlic or onions. These might be classic ingredients in many meat-based recipes — liver and onions is a big favorite — but both garlic and onions are toxic to dogs.

Once cooked, you can slice the liver into smaller pieces so that it’s easier for your dog to eat. Don’t give your pup whole or large chunks of chicken liver as that’s a choking risk.

Can dogs eat raw chicken liver?

While some dogs are on a raw diet, it doesn’t suit all canines and as a general rule, it’s best that meat is cooked. When meat is cooked, a lot of the bacteria that can be harmful is killed, making it safer to eat. Eating raw meat, especially chicken, opens up the risk of food poisoning. Contrary to what some might believe, dogs can get salmonella, which is a particularly nasty condition.

So, can dogs eat raw liver of any kind? Raw beef liver is safer than raw chicken liver — beef is often served raw or close to raw, chicken never is — but unless your dog is used to raw meat, it’s not recommended. If you’re considering a raw diet for your dog, you should really discuss it with your vet first, and not just start giving your pup uncooked meat. That could easily upset a dog’s sensitive stomach.

Can dogs eat beef liver?

Yes — dogs can eat beef liver. It can be really good for a dog. Beef liver is packed with iron, calcium, Vitamin D, zinc and other vitamins and nutrients; it also has more vitamin A than chicken liver, though this isn’t always a positive — we’ll explain why later.

If you’re feeding your dog beef liver, the same guidelines that apply to chicken liver should be followed here. Cook the beef liver without any extra oils and seasoning, and cut it into small pieces when feeding it to your dog.

Again, only give your dog beef liver in small portions, and occasionally. 

How much liver should my dog eat?

Their pleading eyes and eager faces may try to persuade you otherwise, but dogs shouldn’t eat the same amount as humans — a dog’s portion of any human food should always be smaller than an adult person would consume.

How much liver you feed your dog should be proportionate to its size; it stands to reason that larger breeds can eat more of this meat than a small breed. Ask your vet for feeding advice, but generally, around an ounce (28g) of liver a day is a good guideline for a medium size 

What happens if my dog eats too much liver?

Liver may provide lots of nutritional value, but eating too much of it isn’t recommended. It’s quite a rich type of meat, and so because dogs typically have delicate digestive systems, consuming too much of it can lead to loose stools and diarrhea.

Eating too much liver also increases the risk of a more serious condition than a bout of diarrhea. We already know that liver contains lots of vitamin A, which is an important nutrient; it helps to power a dog’s immune response, and supports vision and skin health, among other things.

But, consuming too much liver can, in extreme cases, lead to a condition called Vitamin A toxicity, or ‘Hypervitaminosis A’. You can read more about vitamin overdose and poisoning here — our advice is to be careful not to feed your dog too much liver, or any food containing lots of vitamin A.

Looking for a dog food with liver as an ingredient? Read our guide to choosing the best food for your dog here.

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