Can My Dog Eat Raw Organ Meat?

Author: Mikael Öling

This article is part of a series “Can My Dog Eat X” by Pala Petfoods, where our experts review the benefits and dangers of different foods to dogs. Our mission is to help you make informed decisions that prioritise your furry friend's health and break some bad myths in the process.


The Benefits

  • Nutrient-Rich: Organ meats are packed with vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, B vitamins (particularly B12), iron, copper, magnesium, and more. We mix beef organ meat with salmon to produce high quality dog food for all ages.
  • High-Quality Protein: They provide a high-quality source of protein, which is essential for your dog's muscle development and energy.
  • Beneficial Fats: Some organ meats, like liver, contain healthy fats that are good for your dog's skin and coat.
  • Taste: Many dogs find organ meats particularly tasty, which can be helpful for picky eaters.
  • Variety: Including organ meats can add variety to a dog's diet, which can improve nutrient intake and enjoyment of meals.
  • Economical: They are often less expensive than muscle meats, providing a cost-effective way to add quality nutrients to your dog’s diet.

The Dangers

  • Potential for Toxins: Since organs such as the liver and kidney filter toxins from the body, there's a risk they might contain harmful substances if not sourced from healthy, well-raised animals.
  • Vitamin A Toxicity: Liver, in particular, is very high in vitamin A and feeding too much can lead to vitamin A toxicity.
  • Higher in Cholesterol: Organ meats are typically higher in cholesterol than muscle meats.
  • Portion Control: It's important to feed organ meats in moderation as part of a balanced diet, as too much can cause dietary imbalances.
  • Allergic Reactions: While not common, some dogs might be allergic or have a sensitive reaction to certain organ meats.

The Details

When considering feeding raw organ meats to your dog, here are some important aspects to take into account:

  • Source Quality: Choose high-quality, fresh organ meats from reputable sources to minimize the risk of pathogens such as bacteria and parasites.
  • Balance Is Key: Organ meats should only make up a small portion of your dog's diet. A common guideline is that organ meats should not exceed 10% of the overall diet, with liver making up no more than 5%.
  • Variety: Offer a variety of organ meats (liver, kidneys, heart, etc.) to provide a range of nutrients.
  • Safe Handling: Practice safe food handling to prevent contamination; wash your hands, use clean utensils, and clean surfaces thoroughly after preparation.
  • Gradual Introduction: If your dog is not used to raw foods, start slowly, introducing small amounts to prevent digestive upset.
  • Freezing: Freeze organ meats for at least 2 weeks before feeding to your dog to kill any parasites that may be present.
  • Storage: Store raw organ meats separately and properly in the refrigerator or freezer to maintain freshness and prevent spoilage.
  • Monitor Health: Keep an eye on your dog's health and digestion as you introduce organ meats. Look for signs of gastrointestinal distress or allergies.
  • Avoid Processed Meats: Do not feed your dog processed organ meats, like those meant for human consumption, as they can contain harmful additives.
  • Cooking Option: If you're concerned about the risks of raw feeding, consider gently cooking the organ meats to kill potential pathogens while still preserving most of the nutrients.

Other Things To Note

Are some sources better than others?

  • Beef Organs: Typically high in nutrients, beef organs like liver and kidneys are commonly fed to dogs. Our products include 100% beef liver and 100% beef heart dog treats made from hand-picked quality ingredients.
  • Chicken Organs: Usually smaller and less rich in vitamins than those from larger animals. They're a good starting point for dogs new to organ meats because of their mild flavor and lower calorie content.
  • Pork Organs: They can be nutritious but have a higher risk for parasites like Trichinella spiralis. It's particularly important to freeze pork organs for an extended period or to cook them to ensure safety.
  • Lamb Organs: Can be rich in nutrients and generally well-tolerated by dogs. They tend to be a good middle ground between chicken and beef organs in terms of nutrient density.
  • Fish Organs: Fish liver oils, like cod liver oil, are high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D but can contain heavy metals or other ocean pollutants. They should be given in controlled doses to avoid vitamin A and D toxicity.

As always, it's best to consult with your veterinarian before introducing any new foods to your dog's diet to ensure they're safe and beneficial for your pet specifically. Check out our other articles in this series for more information on what you should or should not feed your dog.