Feeding your dog organ meat, as opposed to muscle meat, is a treat, not a balanced meal, says Dr. Jessica Taylor, vice president of veterinary medicine at Petfolk Veterinary and Urgent Care, which has locations in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.
Organ meat for dogs typically includes chicken, duck and turkey liver, heart and gizzards, but encompasses other internal organs and entrails from larger farm animals, such as cattle and sheep.
Is organ meat safe for dogs?
Dr. Taylor says that organ meat is high in vitamins dogs need like iron, vitamins C and E, as well as protein, which benefits active dogs who participate in dog sports or exercise and play throughout the day. But too much of these nutrients can also cause problems like obesity, so give your dog organ meat as a food additive (for example, mixed in with kibble) instead of a complete meal.
Chicken gizzards are a tough muscle from a bird’s digestive tract, which can present a choking hazard, says Dr. Taylor. Cut chicken gizzards and other tough organ meat into small pieces before feeding it to your dog.
Raw organ meat vs. cooked organ meat for dogs
Dr. Taylor does not recommend feeding any dog raw organ meat, due to the increased health risks from bacteria, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even death in both humans and dogs. Although cooking removes some of the nutrients, Dr. Taylor says it’s the safest option.
Read our article on which raw dog foods to avoid.
How much organ meat can dogs eat?
Feed organ meat to dogs occasionally like once a month, says Dr. Taylor. How much organ meat you feed your dog will depend on your dog’s size and health, so ask your veterinarian before including this type of meant into your pup’s diet, she adds.
Organ meat alone is not a balanced diet. Feed your dog chicken liver and other organ meat as a dog food additive, not a complete meal. A balanced pet food diet ensures your dog is getting proper nutrients.
Final note: Organ meat for dogs a great treat that utilizes your leftovers if you’re cooking a whole chicken for your family, but should be seen as just that, a treat.