Beef liver just sounds gross right? But dogs love it! Here’s everything you need to know about Beef Liver for Dogs…
In the wild, canines eat the whole animal as their food source. Nature didn’t intend for dogs to eat an isolated diet. No animal parts are wasted as dogs will eat head to toe and that includes Beef Liver.
Beef liver is incredibly nutritious but you must be careful how much you feed and the source it comes from. The right amount at the right time can add many benefits to your dog’s overall wellbeing (I know from personal experience).
Can I Feed My Dog Beef Liver?
I don’t like being an alarmist. Instead, I am a realist when it comes to nutrition for myself and my dogs.
I’ve been feeding beef liver, turkey liver, turkey and duck hearts, and other organ meats to my dogs for years. It wasn’t until I read an article from Peter Dobias (who I respect a great deal and have had amazing results with his supplements and advice) that I began to question my feeding regimen of the liver to my dogs.
Dr. Dobias says “The reasons why liver treats, especially the dehydrated ones, put our dogs in danger of hypervitaminosis A are that they are greatly reduced in volume during dehydration, and they contain ten times or more vitamin A than raw liver or cooked liver.”
That got me thinking. So it’s not that beef liver is bad or toxic to dogs, it’s the dehydration process that raises Vitamin A levels and because Vitamin A is fat-soluble, it can be harder for your dog to eliminate. But, in the right amounts, Dr. Dobias admits Beef Liver and Vitamin A can be very beneficial.
Nature never intended for your dog to eat copious amounts of beef liver. In the wild, canines only eat a small amount. It can be easy to over-feed these treats to your dog since A. dogs love it and want more and B. we humans get lazy when it comes to feeding our dogs (I am guilty of that too).
So is it OK to feed my dog beef liver? I say Yes absolutely! But don’t feed too much. If you are currently feeding beef liver as a treat and it’s dehydrated, I would reduce the amount you feed to 1-3 times a week. Dr. Dobias even suggests if you’ve been over-feeding liver that you should stop for 1-3 months and do a liver cleanse. But I already include many liver detoxing foods like dandelion and milk thistle in my pooches diet.
Just knowing that hypervitaminosis A can be a problem if you feed too much or only feed liver without other food, you can avoid this problem and your dog can get all the AMAZING BENEFITS OF BEEF LIVER!
Now let’s talk about the benefits of beef liver because I don’t want to scare you away from feeding it as it’s an excellent source of nutrition.
What Is Beef Liver?
First, let’s discuss what the liver does in a healthy animal. The key role of the liver is to detox blood and the body, produce vitamins and amino acids, and manage nutrients and energy resources for the rest of the body. It neutralizes artificial and toxic chemicals from food and the environment. That’s a big responsibility!
Because of this, it’s vitally important that you source your liver from a pasture-raised animal, ideally, one who has not been exposed to pesticides, added hormones or antibiotics.
Is Beef Liver Good For Dogs? Benefits and Uses for Dogs
You can’t beat the nutritional profile of beef liver. It’s a true superfood. Nutritionally speaking, liver is a very rich source of essential nutrients like amino acids, fats, vitamins and minerals.
Why do I give my dogs beef liver? Primarily for energy. Vitamin B12 is abundant in beef liver and I always notice a surge of energy after feeding a small amount.
But it also contains many other vitamins and minerals. Here is an overview of beef liver nutrition in a 100-gram serving (2):
- Protein: 27 grams
- Protein: 27 grams
- Vitamin A: 26091 IU | 522% DV
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 3.4 mg | 201% DV
- Vitamin B6: 1 mg | 51% DV
- Vitamin B9 (folate): 260 mcg | 65% DV
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): 83.1 mcg | 1386% DV
- Choline: 418 mg
- Copper: 14.6 mg | 730% DV
- Iron: 6.2 mg | 34% DV
- Selenium: 32.8 mcg | 47%
How to feed beef liver to your dog
Beef liver is perfect for picky eaters because they love the smell! It may be gross to humans, but I haven’t met a dog who won’t devour his food with beef liver in it.
My most favorite way of feeding beef liver to my dogs is to crush up a small portion just enough to sprinkle on the top of my dogs food. They LOVE the smell and will eat anything with beef liver in it. This is very helpful for me because not only am I adding nutrients to the existing meal, but I am also encouraging my picky eater to include other helpful nutrients in the food (like spirulina for example). So if you have a picky eater do this!
You may also give beef liver as a treat. But just be careful of the brand you use and where it is sourced from. And don’t over-feed it.
Side effects of too much beef liver in dogs:
I’ve heard some stories where a dog got diarrhea from beef liver. I’ve had this happen before a few times because “you only know what you know at the time.”
Diarrhea can happen when you feed too much liver and also when you only feed liver without any other food source. For example, if you feed your dog liver and go for many hours without feeding anything else, he may get diarrhea.
Can I give beef liver and tripe to dog with high liver enzymes?
One of my dogs has high liver enzymes and I’ve noticed the diarrhea or “hunger pukes” can happen if I just feed liver and nothing else. Please be careful here and only mix in a small amount of liver 1-2 times a week in his normal mix of dog food. It’s ok to feed a very small amount as a treat.
Best Beef Liver Dog Treats
Remember earlier I wanted you to pay attention to the source of the beef liver (or any dog food for that matter)? Here is a list of some of the brands of beef liver dog treats I have used and can recommend. It’s probably best to feed raw liver or cooked liver (your preference) but there’s nothing wrong with buying packaged treats as well (for convenience).
Be very careful with the brand you choose because oftentimes the beef liver becomes very hard and difficult to chew. It can also splinter off into tiny pieces if not properly packaged and processed. If you have a dog who doesn’t like to chew (like my Beagle) and swallows whole, this can be a hazard. For example, one review on PureBits Beef Liver Dog Treats shows what I am talking about.
Sourcing: just because it says “Made in the USA” doesn’t mean the animal was raised without hormones, antibiotics or was grass-fed. In fact, New Zealand is the best source of beef liver due to its strict standards (see my #1 recommendation below for a beef liver supplement from New Zealand). Here is my recommendation for the best beef liver brands to feed your dog (if you don’t want to make it from home):
#1 Recommended Beef Liver Supplement (Human Grade)
Ancestral Supplements Grass Fed Beef Liver (Desiccated) – The Absolute Best Beef Liver Supplement You Can Buy
If you can afford it, this is my #1 recommendation. It’s formulated for humans so you can take it too! Ancestral Supplements has the highest purity standards anywhere. And if you didn’t know, New Zealand is the best possible source of grass-finished beef you can find. Pasture-raised in New Zealand, grass-fed and grass-finished, undefeated, hormone-free, pesticide-free, GMO-free. 100% ULTRA PURE means no fillers, no flow agents and no magnesium stearate. 100% FREEZE DRIED to optimally preserve heat-sensitive nutrients, co-factors, and biological activity.
Best of all you can open the capsule and sprinkle it on their food (instant nose reaction and eating will take place I promise you that). Or you can just feed the whole capsule with their meal (capsule is just gelatin). No additives. Absolutely pure amazing beef liver.
#2 Stella and Chewy’s Beef Liver Treats
Stella and Chewy was one of the first brands I fed my dogs. They have high-quality standards and I would not hesitate to try their Beef Liver Dog Treats. I’ve tried them in the past and my only complaint was how hard the liver was to chew. Instead, I just crushed up the liver pieces (you can also put them in a blender or food processor to make a topper) and sprinkled it on their food.
#3 Primal Beef Liver Munchies
Another brand similar to Stella and Chewy is called Primal. I like this company a lot. Their packaging states “All Primal Treats Are Produced Using Usda Meats, Poultry And Game Raised In The United States And New Zealand Without Antibiotics Or Added Hormone.”
The Bottom Line
Raw beef liver, from a clean source, is a game-changer for your dog’s overall well-being. It’s also a critical tool for any dog owner with a picky eater. Sprinkle some on their food and I don’t care what else was in the food, your dog will smell that liver and devour his whole bowl!
Beef liver contains copious amounts of vitamins and minerals. B12, in particular, is excellent for energy and vitality.
Some dogs with high liver enzymes may need closer dosage monitoring. The rule of thumb, don’t feed beef liver by itself and spread out feeding to 1-2 times a week. Or simply crush or sprinkle some on their food so they eat more than just beef liver. When you isolate a food source from the wild and don’t feed anything else with it, your dog may throw up, get diarrhea or have other issues.
I prefer the Ancestral Supplement as the sourcing is from New Zealand and it is a nutritional powerhouse. Plus it’s easy to administer.
Now over to you! Do you feed beef liver to your dog? Are you considering it? Leave a comment below!