I’ve been getting quite a few questions about raw liver for dogs, including how to feed it, how much of it to feed, and where to source it!
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.
Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn compensation when you click on 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 circles, it’s known as a secreting organ.
All organs who secrete a substance fall into that category. Others are pancreas, kidneys, testicles & ovaries, brains, eyes, spleen, and thymus.
As such, it makes up 5% of your pup’s 10% daily allowance of secreting organs in raw dog food.
The other 5% needs to be covered by a different secreting organ like the ones I mentioned above.
It’s 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, according to Dogs Naturally Magazine, wolves eat the organs of their prey first, because they instinctively know how nutrient-rich they are. Interesting, huh?!
Good to know: Organs that don’t secrete a substance like lung and heart are considered muscle meat in raw feeding.
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.
Good to know:
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 Prepare Raw Liver For My Dog?
Ideally, you want to feed the liver RAW.
Simply cut it 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, 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.
I also used to gently cook liver and other cuts of raw meat for my late pup Missy when she was diagnosed with cancer.
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 did not cook raw meaty bones, nor do I recommend that anyone cook them. 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 out there!
Where Can I Source Raw Liver For My Dog?
It’s fairly easy to source raw liver locally, either in grocery stores or from local farms.
Most grocery stores carry chicken and calf or beef liver, and that includes Walmart.
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.
Since ostrich farms are starting to become more of a thing here in the US, chances are that 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.
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 from just as many different animals. Goat liver, beef eyeballs and kangaroo chunks, anyone?!
What If My Dog Doesn’t Want To Eat Liver?
Well, may I suggest to use some tough love in this case!
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! If you want to take it up a notch, stuff a beef or lamb trachea with the green tripe/liver mix.
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 meal prep.
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 lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, tremors, 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 his (target) weight. He’ll need only 5% of liver out of his total daily raw dog food allowance.
Feeding too much liver can cause diarrhea “at best” and Vitamin A toxicity at worst.