Is Chicken Liver Bad for Dogs?

by Brenna Davis, Demand Media

    Chicken liver is a common ingredient in many dog foods and offers many nutritional benefits. As long as you feed it in small quantities, it can be a healthy part of a balanced diet.

    Chicken Liver Benefits

    Chicken liver is high in protein, fat and vitamin A. Its high fat content makes it a particularly good choice for young, growing dogs and underweight dogs. Vitamin A plays an important role in supporting eye health, and all dogs need high quantities of protein to remain healthy. Wild dogs and wolves consume small quantities of organ meat such as liver on a regular basis because they usually eat all or most of their prey.

    Chicken Liver Risks

    Because chicken liver is high in fat, it can easily contribute to weight gain, particularly in obese dogs. Its high fatty content can also cause stomach problems if it is fed in large quantities. Perhaps the biggest risk posed by chicken liver is vitamin A hypervitaminosis, a life-threatening condition that occurs when dogs eat very large quantities of the food or subsist only on liver.

    Raw Chicken Liver

    There is an ongoing debate in the veterinary community about the benefits of raw food. Many veterinarians have expressed concern about food-borne illness, while others, such as veterinarian Tom Lonsdale, emphasize that dogs eat raw food in the wild. Some dog owners opt to incorporate raw foods into their dog's diet or feed an entirely raw foods diet. If you opt to feed chicken liver, the liver should constitute no more than 5 percent of the dog's daily consumption, and you should not give other organ meats such as beef heart or liver.

    Cooked Chicken Liver

    Cooked and dried chicken liver works well as a training treat. Simply give your dog very small pieces of this rich, tasty food as a reward or as part of his daily diet. If your dog's prepackaged food contains liver, give liver only once or twice a week. If the food does not contain liver, liver can be up to 5 percent of the dog's daily diet.

    References

    About the Author

    Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.