Chicken livers and gizzards can make nutritious, tasty treats and additions to your dog’s diet. Like any treat though, they should only be fed in moderation.
Understanding what chicken livers and gizzards are, their health benefits, and how to feed them safely can help you make good decisions about these chicken parts for your dog.
What are Chicken Livers and Gizzards?
Chicken livers are an organ meat that come from inside the main cavity of a chicken. The liver is a vital organ that has many essential functions, including:
- Removing toxins from the blood
- Aiding digestion by producing bile
- Storing vitamins, minerals, and iron
- Regulating blood clotting
Livers are very rich in nutrients because of their role in the chicken’s body. In particular, chicken livers contain high amounts of:
- Protein – essential for building muscles and tissue
- Vitamin A – supports vision, reproduction, immune function
- Iron – helps transport oxygen in blood
- Vitamin B12 – maintains healthy nerves and blood cells
Chicken livers are milder in flavor than beef liver. Their texture is smooth and tender when cooked properly.
Chicken gizzards are the portion of the chicken’s stomach that contains tough muscle fibers and cartilage. The gizzard’s function is to grind up food that the chicken eats.
Chicken gizzards are considered a delicacy in some cuisines. They have a chewy texture and rich, savory flavor when cooked. Nutritionally, chicken gizzards contain:
- Protein – provides amino acids for muscle growth and maintenance
- Iron – supports oxygen circulation and metabolism
- Zinc – boosts immune health and wound healing
- Glucosamine – helps maintain joint cartilage
Health Benefits of Chicken Livers and Gizzards
Feeding your dog chicken livers and gizzards can provide some great health benefits. Here are some of the main advantages:
- Excellent source of high-quality protein – Both chicken livers and gizzards contain all the essential amino acids dogs need from protein. This makes them a complete protein source.
- Packed with vitamins and minerals – Chicken livers and gizzards contain a powerhouse blend of nutrients like iron, vitamin A, zinc, and B vitamins that support your dog’s health in many ways.
- Promotes heart health – Chicken hearts are rich in CoQ10, which protects heart function. Chicken livers contain vitamin B12 and iron to support healthy blood and oxygen circulation.
- Supports joint health – Chicken gizzards are a natural source of glucosamine, which helps maintain cartilage in joints. This makes them great for dogs with arthritis.
- Boosts immune system function – The wide range of vitamins and minerals in chicken livers and gizzards help keep your dog’s immune system strong and resilient.
- Aids digestion – The high protein and moisture contents of chicken livers can add bulk to your dog’s stool and stimulate digestion.
So in small amounts, chicken livers and gizzards can provide some great supplemental nutrition for your dog.
Are There Any Risks With Feeding Chicken Livers and Gizzards?
Chicken livers and gizzards don’t generally pose any risks for dogs, but there are some things to keep in mind:
- May cause loose stools – Too much organ meat at once can cause digestive upset in some dogs, resulting in loose stool or diarrhea.
- Risk of salmonella – Raw chicken livers and gizzards may contain salmonella bacteria, which can cause food poisoning in dogs if infected. This risk is eliminated by cooking.
- Contains purines – Chicken livers are high in purines, which can contribute to bladder stones in dogs prone to them. This is not a concern for most dogs though.
- High in cholesterol – Chicken livers are very high in cholesterol. Excess cholesterol can contribute to heart disease. But for dogs eating normal commercial diets, this is not an issue since their regular food contains no cholesterol.
So the risks are minimal if fed properly and in moderation. It’s also a good idea to introduce chicken livers and gizzards gradually to avoid digestive upset.
How to Feed Chicken Livers and Gizzards Safely
Chicken livers and gizzards can be fed to dogs raw or cooked. Here are some tips for safe feeding:
- For raw chicken livers and gizzards, freeze them for 2 weeks before feeding to kill any salmonella bacteria present. Thaw in the refrigerator before feeding.
- Cook chicken livers and gizzards by sautéing, baking, or boiling until cooked through. Avoid frying them as this adds a lot of fat.
- Remove any membranes, veins, or connective tissues – these are difficult to digest.
- Cut cooked livers and gizzards into small pieces to reduce choking risk.
- Avoid seasoning with onions, garlic, or salt, as these are unhealthy for dogs.
- Wash hands and clean prep surfaces thoroughly after handling raw chicken.
Follow the same commonsense food safety practices you would use in preparing chicken for human consumption.
How Much Chicken Liver and Gizzard Can Dogs Eat?
It’s generally recommended to limit chicken livers and gizzards to no more than 10% of your dog’s total daily calories. Anything above this amount risks nutrient imbalances.
As a general guide, most experts recommend feeding:
- Small dogs (under 10 lbs) – 1-2 teaspoons of chicken liver/gizzard pieces 2-3 times a week
- Medium dogs (10-50 lbs) – 1-2 tablespoons of chicken liver/gizzard pieces 2-3 times a week
- Large dogs (over 50 lbs) – 1-2 oz chicken liver/gizzard pieces 2-3 times a week
The calorie count of chicken livers and gizzards should factor into the amount you feed. For example, a 3 oz portion of chicken livers contains about 110 calories.
Monitor your dog after eating chicken livers and gizzards. Reduce the amount if loose stools result. Completely removing chicken from the diet for a few days usually resolves this.
Key Takeaway: Limit chicken livers and gizzards to less than 10% of your dog’s total calorie intake per day. Start with smaller amounts and adjust as needed.
Tips for Serving Chicken Livers and Gizzards
Here are some different ways you can serve chicken livers and gizzards to your dog:
- Mix into their regular dog food – Dice cooked chicken livers and gizzards into small pieces and add to your dog’s kibble or canned food. The liver adds moisture for picky eaters.
- Create healthy training treats – Cut cooked chicken livers and gizzards into small bite-size pieces for use as tasty training treats. Dogs love the rich flavor.
- Stuff in food dispensing toys – You can stuff chicken liver pieces into food puzzle toys like Kongs. Freezing them first makes it a fun challenge for dogs to extract the liver.
- Offer as a topper on special occasions – Top your dog’s food with a few pieces of chicken liver on holidays or birthdays for something extra enticing and nutritious.
- Puree into homemade dog food – Blend cooked chicken livers into homemade dog food recipes. The pureed liver adds moisture and nutrition.
Follow basic food safety guidelines by refrigerating any leftovers promptly and avoiding any spoiled portions. Most dogs go crazy over the taste of chicken livers and gizzards!
Can dogs eat raw chicken livers and gizzards?
Dogs can eat raw chicken livers and gizzards but it’s safest to freeze them for 2 weeks first to kill any salmonella or other pathogens. Defrost before feeding. With raw foods, strict hygiene practices are essential too.
What happens if my dog eats too many chicken livers?
Eating too many chicken livers can cause vitamin A toxicity and loose stools in dogs. Limit portions to avoid this. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, and lethargy. Seek vet advice if these occur after eating an excessive amount of liver.
Can dogs with liver disease eat chicken livers?
Dogs with existing liver disease should not eat chicken livers or other organ meats containing vitamin A. Vitamin A can further damage a compromised liver. Check with your vet before feeding any liver to a dog with liver issues.
Are chicken giblets safe for dogs?
Chicken giblets usually include the liver, heart, gizzard, and neck. Cooked giblets are safe for dogs in moderation. Raw giblets carry a risk of salmonella infection. Never feed dogs chicken bones, including the neck.
Can puppies eat chicken livers and gizzards?
You can introduce small amounts of cooked, chopped chicken livers and gizzards to puppies over 12 weeks old. This introduces them to new flavors and nutrients. But avoid overfeeding organ meats to puppies, as the high nutrient contents can lead to imbalances.
Chicken livers and gizzards can provide some excellent health benefits and nutrition for dogs when fed properly. In moderation, they make a tasty, protein-packed supplement
Be sure to introduce these chicken parts gradually and avoid overfeeding. Feed only cooked chicken livers and gizzards to eliminate any foodborne illness risks.