I’ve been getting quite a few questions about raw liver for dogs, including:
- What type of meat is liver?
- What’s in liver?
- How much raw liver do dogs need per day (adult dogs & puppies)?
- How do I feed raw liver for dogs?
- What types of liver can my dog eat?
- Can I cook raw liver for dogs?
- Raw liver alternative
- What if my dog doesn’t want to eat raw liver?
- How long can I refrigerate and freeze raw liver?
- Can I re-freeze raw liver for dogs?
- What happens when my dog eats too much liver?
- Where do I buy raw liver for dogs?
So today, I’m combining them all into one blog post – if you have any additional questions, please leave them below this blog post in the comment section.
For anyone who’s new to the blog: Hi, I’m your host Barbara! I’m a raw dog food nerd and have been feeding my 3 pups homemade and store-bought raw dog food since 2015.
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Liver for Dogs: All Your Questions Answered
Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn compensation when you click on some of the links at no additional cost to you.
What Type Of Meat Is Liver?
You probably know that liver is an organ. However, it’s not JUST an organ, but in raw feeding circles, it’s known as a secreting organ.
All organs that secrete a substance fall into that category. Others are:
- Testicles & ovaries
How Much Raw Liver Do Dogs Need Per Day?
Adult dogs need to eat 10% of secreting organs per day.
Since half of that needs to be liver, dogs need 5% of liver in their daily allowance of raw dog food.
The other 5% need to be covered by a different secreting organ like the ones I mentioned above. It’s best to rotate between them! For example, feed liver and kidneys one week, liver and spleen the next, liver and pancreas the one after that, etc.
-> Puppies need to eat 12% of secreting organs per day, 6% of which needs to be liver.
How to Do The Math
So how much liver does Y O U R dog need to eat in ounces per day?
Here’s how to do that math:
Take your dog’s target body weight and divide it by 100. Then multiply it with 2.5.
-> Why 2.5?
Well, 2.5% is a maintenance percentage that keeps your dog at their current weight. Pregnant dogs and working dogs who use significantly more energy need to be fed at a higher maintenance percentage, up to 4%. But the average adult dog will be fine with 2.5%, maybe 3%.
If you feel like your dog’s a bit too chunky, redo the math with a maintenance percentage of 2.
This formula will give you your dog’s daily food allowance in pounds. Of that, 5% needs to be liver.
Let’s calculate that amount for a 60lb dog:
60(body weight)/100 = 0.6×2.5(feeding percentage)=1.5lb.
That’s 24oz (1lb=16oz).
Now, 5% of those 24oz is the amount of liver your adult dog needs to eat per day.
That’s 1.2oz of liver per day for a 60lb adult dog.
If your dog eats two meals per day and you want to meal prep ahead of time, you’ll need to add half of that, 0.6oz, to each food storage container.
What’s in Liver?
Liver is one of Mother Nature’s multivitamins and rich in nutrients, particularly in Vitamin A.
Vitamin A is a powerful anti-oxidant that supports your dog’s digestion and reproductive organs.
By the way, when I became raw dog food nutrition certified by Dogs Naturally Magazine, I learned that wolves eat the organs of their prey first, because they instinctively know how nutrient-rich they are.
Good to know: Organs that don’t secrete a substance like lung and heart are considered muscle meat in raw feeding. You can feed about 10-15% of these cuts as part of the muscle meat allowance.
What Types Of Raw Liver Can Dogs Eat?
Dogs can eat liver from a large variety of animals, for example:
As a matter of fact, it’s highly recommended that you switch between as many different animals as you can source and that your pup does OK with.
That’s because different animals have varying levels of nutrients.
Chicken liver, for example, is not nearly as nutritious as liver from other animals.
If your dog has severe food sensitivities to a variety of protein sources, you’ll have to stick to the animal your pup does fine with. This will most likely be rabbit because it’s considered to be a hypoallergenic type of meat.
However, you’ll have to provide an alternative source of the nutrients your pup is missing out on. You can easily do this with dehydrated veggie & herb or nut mixes from brands like Dr. Harvey’s or The Honest Kitchen.
How Do I Feed Liver To My Dog?
Ideally, you want to feed the liver RAW.
I personally alternate between both options. Whenever I can get a good deal on pre-made raw meals, I buy some! Likewise, when I find discounted individual cuts of raw meat, I buy them as well!
That’s a great way of keeping your raw dog food on budget, but it obviously requires a freezer.
Pre-Made Raw Dog Food With Liver
I’m not aware of any reputable raw dog food brands that wouldn’t include raw liver in their formulas, so you can’t go terribly wrong here. Again, that’s because raw liver is an essential part of raw feeding!
You can find pre-made raw dog food meals from Raw Paws Pet Food here. They’re called “Signature Blends” (their green tripe blends are not complete foods, but can also be found in that section).
Raw Feeding Miami calls their pre-made raw meals “grinds”.
Darwin’s offers an overview of their pre-made raw dog food here.
Homemade Raw Dog Food With Liver
Simply cut the liver up into smaller pieces and then use them come meal prep time. If you’re not squeamish, you can even tear liver into smaller pieces with your hands, that’s how soft it is.
However, some dogs are fussy with secreting organs and will take some time getting used to eating them. That’s particularly true for smaller dogs.
What you can do in the meantime is chop it up or purée it with a food processor, then mix it in with the rest of the raw dog food you’re feeding.
Which brings me to the next question!
Can I Cook Raw Liver For My Dog?
Yes, you can.
Cooking liver for dogs is another alternative for getting them to warm up to this secreting organ, pun intended.
Dogs whose immune systems are compromised because of cancer or other illnesses sometimes do better with cooked food as opposed to raw food.
But it really depends on the dog – some continue to do fine with raw meat, and others don’t.
Side note: I do not cook or recommend that anyone cook raw bones. That’s because the cooking process turns them brittle and sharp.
When they’re raw, they’re super soft and pliable – even I can break a raw duck neck in half with just my hands, and I’m not the strongest person!
Alternative: Liver Dog Treats
If you’re not crazy about handling raw liver, you can also treat your pup with store-bought dehydrated or freeze-dried liver dog treats.
Make sure that they’re single-ingredient treats made with just liver!
Liver For Dogs: Where Can I Buy Raw Liver?
It’s fairly easy to source raw liver locally, either in grocery stores or from local farms. Another option are hunters and wildlife processors as well as raw dog food retailers such as Raw Paws Pet Food and Raw Feeding Miami (by far my two favorite ones).
Grocery stores + Walmart
Most grocery stores carry chicken and calf or beef liver, and that includes Walmart.
Raw Paws Pet Food
Tip: Use my discount code K9Savings for 15% off.
Local Butcher Shops
You can usually find beef liver and pork liver at butcher shops. Just pop into your local butcher’s and see what’s available.
Hunters + Wildlife Processors
You can get your hands on deer liver from hunters or wildlife processors, but do make sure that you freeze it for 3 weeks before feeding it.
That ensures that it’s free of parasites. You can read more about safely feeding your dog wild venison here.
Local Farms (e.g. Ostrich Farms)
Since ostrich farms are starting to become more of a thing here in the US, chances are there’s one not too far away from you. Most sell ostrich liver and ostrich heart, as well as some ground version of ostrich meat.
I found one super close to me here in Central NC who sell their ostrich meat at a local Farmer’s Market.
Raw Feeding Miami
It gets a lot more tricky to find raw liver from other animals like rabbit and goat locally unless there’s a specific farm nearby, which is why I personally get mine from Raw Feeding Miami.
They’re an online raw dog food supplier who offers a huge variety of different cuts of meat, including other secreting organs besides liver, from just as many different animals.
Tip: Save 10% on your RFM orders with my referral link.
What If My Dog Doesn’t Want To Eat Liver?
Well, may I suggest you use some tough love!
Liver is essential to raw feeding and ideally shouldn’t be substituted by other foods.
However sometimes, this is necessary, for example when feeding Dalmatians raw dog food. But that’s a different story, and if you’re interested in finding out more about that, please click here.
But back to the tough love.
The good thing about feeding liver is that your pup doesn’t require a whole lot of it.
For example, a 10 lb adult dog only needs 0.2 oz of liver per day, and even a 50 lb adult dog only needs 1 daily oz of liver!
Keeping that in mind, the easiest way of hiding liver is to purée or chop it, and then mix it in with the other cuts of meat you feed your dog.
Try mixing it with some green tripe – that should do the trick because green tripe is stinky and irresistible to dogs!
Tip: Use my affiliate discount code K9Savings for 15% off.
How Long Can I Refrigerate And Freeze Liver For Dogs?
You can keep thawed liver in the fridge for up to 4 days.
In the freezer, it lasts up to a full year, probably even a little longer.
The longest I personally have kept liver in my chest freezer is around 9 months.
Can I Refreeze Thawed Liver?
Yes, you can.
I’ve done this many times since I usually have some liver left over after raw meal prep.
Liver For Dogs: What Happens When My Dog Eats Too Much Liver?
When your pup gets too much liver, he’s going to have loose bowels.
If he truly ate a ginormous meal of liver, chances are he’ll come down with Vitamin A toxicity since liver is very rich in Vitamin A.
Symptoms of Vitamin A toxicity are:
- paralysis, and
- ultimately death.
That’s why you don’t want to overfeed liver!
Also be mindful of how many dehydrated or dried liver treats you hand out.
Liver For Dogs: Bottom Line
Liver for dogs is one of the essential secreting organs in raw feeding.
You don’t need a lot for your pup, but that doesn’t mean that you can overlook it, at least not on a regular basis. And certainly not when you’re feeding your puppies raw dog food (up to 12 months of age)!
It’s important to know how much liver you can give your dog on a daily basis. The exact amount will depend on your pup’s (target) weight.
They’ll only need 5% of liver of their daily raw dog food allowance.
Feeding too much liver can cause diarrhea “at best” and Vitamin A toxicity at worst.
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