There's Nothing Awful About Offal

There's Nothing Awful About Offal
Put some heart into your dog's diet


Your dog can take part in the whole-animal movement too. If meat-centric restaurants like LA’s Animal can serve up chicken liver toast, veal tongue, and sweetbreads to acclaim, organ meats deserve rethinking where your dog’s dinner is concerned. Referred to as “offal,” organ meat such as liver, heart, kidney, stomach, intestines, lungs, tongue, and spleen are very rich in protein, minerals, vitamins, and fat. Offal is a great source of valuable nutrients. On average, 1 gram of cooked organ meat contains 1.5 calories, so it doesn’t take much to feed a lot of calories.


Liver is the most commonly fed organ meat. Kidneys, heart, and tripe are all much less nutrient dense. 100 g (about the size of a deck of cards) of beef liver contains 135 C, while the same amount of cheddar cheese has a whopping 403 C. Liver should be fed sparingly due to its high nutrient concentration, but it makes a tasty treat that most dogs are crazy for. Feeding too much organ meat can be dangerous, especially for smaller dogs, so liver should be a once-in-a-while special treat. For the harder-to-find organ meats, ask your local butcher. CAUTION: Brain and spinal tissue should not be fed to dogs because of the unknown risk of BSE (Mad Cow) transmission.

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Comments (10)

I have a 9yr old Yorkshire Terrier and I have recently started feeding him chicken liver once a day, every day, for the last 2 weeks. I started because my dog is a picky eater and does not always eat a lot of his food and therefore is a little too skinny (he's only about 6lbs). And it has been working for him. He just loves it and he has already started putting on a little bit of weight. I would just like to know WHY it's dangerous to feed too much to a small dogs? And what is considered too much?
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Wed, 10/17/2018 - 01:46
I'm not a professional, but what I've read is that "too much" is anything they don't eat within a certain amount of time. I'm not 100% sure what time they said...maybe between 10 - 30min (I would guess 15min at the most for a small dog), and then you're supposed to take away their bowl & they'll learn that they need to eat what they want for the day w/in that amount of time. Much easier said than done though!
Tue, 02/12/2013 - 10:08
Organ meats, liver in particular, have extremely high levels of iron. Dogs have no nutritional requirements for iron, so it can build up in their bodies quickly and affect their red blood cell count. Perhaps rather than feeding your Yorkie only chicken livers, you could just add a small amount to her food and mix it up. I bet the flavor of the chicken liver would entice him to eat the rest of the food.
Thu, 02/14/2013 - 11:15
I'm curious what you identify as 'extremely high' levels of iron. USDA data indicates 90mg/kg of Iron in Chicken Livers. And, dogs do, in-fact, have a nutrtional requirement for Iron - you can feed too little and you can feed to much, so you have to know what you are doing. Functions as synthesis of blood components; energy metabolism. Deficiencies/Excess can lead to: Poor growth; pale mucous membranes; lethargy; weakness; diarrhea - source NRC.
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