Cart empty
Shopping cartCart empty

Why feed your dog with beef liver treats for nutrition? There's an analysis included.

beef liver dog treat feeding timeBeef liver treats for dogs are the world's leading dog training dog treats. But urban whisperers have it that they are bad for your dog.  This is polar incorrect.

Raw feeder considerations

Raw meat feeders often work by the rule of a meat to offal to bone ratio of 80 : 15: 5

I am a dog walker and I regularly feed our pack dried beef liver as a recall treat. And my own dog goes on several walks per day, and he often gets a fair amount of beef liver treats but how much is safe and is there any value nutritionally in beef liver?

My dog is a relatively active 20 Kg dog, but he is 8 so his energy requirements are relatively low.   The amount of energy he requires from food works out at about 500g wet food per day. Which is close to 200 g dry food (remove the 75% water content from meat).

Small packs of beef liver dog treats often are around 100-150g in size.  My dog also gets lamb kidney as part of his raw diet so raw kidney plus dried beef liver are the two components that make up the 15% of offal in his diet. 15% of dry matter (200g) means that he could have up to 30g of dried beef liver (if that was his only offal), but since he gets kidney too, let's put that value at 20g (on the high side of what he usually gets ) which is  20/ 150 =  13% of the packet of liver per day.

How much beef liver should a commercial dog food fed dog get?

This question is more applicable to the 93-97% of dog owners out there.

Other sites suggest that the main issues of beef liver are if your dog has an allergy to HIGH protein foods (very few breeds do) or to beef in particular (very few dogs do).

"some dogs may get diarrhoea when they have them for the first time"   They say the issue is wiht Vitamin A potential overdoses.  But lets look at the reality of the nutrion make up of BEEF LIVER.

BEEF LIVER nutrition profile versus AAFCO table nutrition requirements

AAFCO is the group that decides the minimum and maximum nutrient levels (protein, vitamin, minerals) for dogs either in growth or pregnancy AND "adult maintenance".  They dont do tables for different breeds or activity levels like many dog food manufacturers suggest.

A lot of nutrition experts believe that the aafco tables are flawed.  They under present the protein requirements so that a lot of grain can be used, and over state the minerals and vitamins,so that NO combination of vitamins and minerals from natural food (any combination of meat and vegetable) can meet the minimum requirements - hence requiring  you to buy commercial dog food packed fll of extra artificially inflated vitamin and mineral levels.

Beef liver dog treats & DOG PROTEIN requirements

Firstly you will see that there are NO MAXIMUM protein levels (ie you cant overdose a dog by feeding it a high protein diet) - unless it has a disease or is a very rare breed that cant have protein levels that every other dog needs.

In the tables below, I show the AAFCO essential amino acids profiles for Growth and for Maintenance dog stages and the Beef liver % on the right of that.  There 22 amino acids that make up protein and TEN of them are essential amino acids that need to be in a dogs diet because the dogs body can't make them. To put the beef liver into perspective I have divided the % values of cooked beef liver by 10, to represent giving a 20 Kg dog on a 200g dry food diet,  20g of beef liver a day (on the high side to allow for safety margins in calculations).

You will see that if you feed your dog ONLY beef liver (never do that) Almost every amino acid level will exceed the minimum required by the aafco group. When divided by TEN they are still reasonably close to the minimum essential amino acid requirements.  THAT is why beef liver is such a fantastic nutritional food !

  Units DM Basis Growth & Repro Min Adult Maint. Min. MAX. BEEF LIVER COOKED 20g/ 200 g
Crude Protein % 22.5 18   % %
Arginine % 1 0.51   1.58 0.16
Histidine % 0.44 0.19   0.80 0.08
Isoleucine % 0.71 0.38   1.23 0.12
Leucine % 1.29 0.68   2.44 0.24
Lysine % 0.9 0.63   2.05 0.20
Methionine % 0.35 0.33   0.69 0.07
Methionine-cystine % 0.7 0.65   0.48 0.05
Phenylalanine % 0.83 0.45   1.38 0.14
Phenylalanine (tyrosine) % 1.3 0.74   1.03 0.10
Threonine % 1.04 0.48   1.11 0.11
Trytophan % 0.2 0.16   0.34 0.03
Valine % 0.68 0.49   1.61 0.16
Crude FAT % 8.5 5.5   4.70 0.47
Linoleic acid - Omega 6 % 1.3 1.1   21 mg  
alpha-Linolenic Omega 3 % 0.08 NDd   10 mg  

Beef liver dog treats & DOG  VITAMIN &  MINERAL requirements

In the minerals column you will see that calcium to phosphorus should be a ratio of between 1:1 and 2:1  Bones are mostly balanced between these two minerals, so that is why a raw feeder uses bones in a dogs diet (and why carnivore dogs evolved to have them as part of their diet).  You dont feed a dog enough beef liver during regular training to affect this balance too negatively.  In beef liver the amount of Phosphorus is much higher than Calcium, but even  if you gave up to 20g of beef liver (for a 20 Kg dog) the phosphorus % would be one tenth of the minimum required - so it doesn't cause any issues.  They get the right balance from the kibble/ wet food you mainly feed your dog.

Potassium even at 10% of dog food intake, provides near the minimum amount required. That is very good news.

When it comes to required vitamins only Vitamin A and D have maximum values (because they are oil based and accumulate in the dogs body).  Excess of these can damage the liver or a dog.  Beef liver has almost no vitamin D and   26,000 IU of Vitamin A.   The aafco minimum levels of Vitamin A for any dog is 5,000 IU/Kg and a maximum of 250,000 IU/ Kg.

If you feed a 20 Kg dog 20g of beef liver (10% of dry food amount by weight) -  it will be equivalent to 26,000/ 10/  20 Kg  =   130 IU/ Kg  well less than the maximum value of 250,000 IU/ Kg

AAFCO 2014           BEEF LIVER      
Minerals Units DM Basis Growth & Reproduction Minimum Adult Maintenance Mini MAX.   Minerals   % 20g/ 200g food
Calcium % 1.2 0.5 1.8   Calcium 6 mg 0.6 0.06
Phosphorus % 1 0.4 1.6   Phosphorus 485 mg 0.485 0.0485
Ca:P ratio 1:01 1:01 2:01          
Potassium % 0.6 0.6     Potasium 351 mg 0.51 0.051
Sodium % 0.3 0.08     Sodium 77 mg 0.077 0.0077
Chloride % 0.45 0.12     -      
Magnesium % 0.06 0.06     Magnesium 22 mg 0.022 0.0022
Iron mg/kg 88 40     Iron 6.2 mg    
Copper mg/kg 12.4 7.3     Copper 14.6 mg    
Manganese mg/kg 7.2 5     Maganese 0.4 mg    
Zinc mg/kg 100 80     Zinc 5.2 mg    
Iodine mg/kg 1 1 11   -      
Selenium mg/kg 0.35 0.35 2   Selenium 32.8 mcg    
            Flouride 5 mcg    
Vitamins & Other       MAX.   Vitamins   Unit  
Vitamin A IU/kg 5000 5000 250000   A  (IU) 26,000 IU  
Vitamin D IU/kg 500 500 3000   D -    
Vitamin E IU/kg 50 50     E 0.5 mg 1
Thiamine H mg/kg 2.25 2.25     Thamin 0.2 mg  
Riboflavin B2 mg/kg 5.2 5.2     Roboflavin 3.4 mg  
Pantothenic Acid B5 mg/kg 12 12     Pantothenic Acid 6.9 mg  
            C 0.7 mg  
Niacin B3 mg/kg 13.6 13.6     Niacin 17.5 mg  
Pyridoxine B6 mg/kg 1.5 1.5     B6 1 mg  
Folic B9 mg/kg 0.216 0.216     Folate 260 mcg  
Vitamin B12 mg/kg 0.028 0.028     B12 83 mg  
Choline mg/kg 1360 1360     Choline 418 mg  
            Betaine 6.3 mg  
            Vitamin K 3.9 mcg  


The reason people use beef liver for a dog training treat is that it is relatively inexpensive, breaks off easy into small mounts, and has a strong scent and taste, making it very attractive to most dogs, and so a good reward. It also happens to be very healthy as you can see.

Recommended Products