Can Dogs Eat Chicken Livers, Hearts & Necks?

by Sandy Vigil
Raw chicken necks serve as a type of dental floss for your dog.

Raw chicken necks serve as a type of dental floss for your dog.

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Commercially prepared dog foods have been recalled and brought under scrutiny for the ingredients used. Because of this, many dog owners are looking at alternative methods of feeding their pets. So many dog diets exist that it can be confusing as to what you can feed your dog. Chicken is an inexpensive meat source that's frequently used in dog food. Some parts of the chicken are prime, some are not so prime.

Chicken Necks

Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst, who says dogs wouuld be healthier if they followed the diet of their predecessors in the wild, maintains that raw chicken necks are soft enough for most dogs to chew and digest. Pet owners nervous about feeding neck bones, can grind meat or purchase it already ground. According to Natural Dog Health Remedies, chicken neck bones become too brittle once they are cooked and should only be served raw. Brittle bones can cause numerous problems, ranging from choking to stomach and intestinal issues. Raw chicken necks provide calcium and act as a tooth brush to keep your dog’s teeth clean. If you choose to feed raw chicken necks as part of your dog’s diet, select necks from chicken raised without antibiotics or hormones. The necks should make up no more than 30 percent to 50 percent of your dog’s nutritional intake.

Chicken Livers

You can serve chicken livers raw or cooked. These nutrient-dense organs provide protein, B vitamins, vitamin A, zinc, iron, niacin, copper and phosphorus. Chicken livers are a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and amino acids vital to your dog’s health. Feed small amounts daily or every other day.

Chicken Hearts

Chicken hearts share many of the same benefits as livers, although they are less dense in nutrients by comparison. The heart of the chicken is a lean protein that contains fatty acids and vitamin A along with iron and B vitamins. Because they also contain taurine, chicken hearts are good for your dog’s heart. Serve chicken hearts cooked or raw as part of your dog's dinner or as an occasional treat.

Caution

While many veterinarians are supportive of pet owners feeding chicken hearts, livers or necks, each dog has specific nutritional needs based on breed, age and health. Consult your vet before feeding any these chicken parts to your dog. The VetInfo website warns that dogs who are fed chicken livers as more than 5 percent of their overall diet can suffer from loose stools or overdose of vitamin A. Bone spurs and deformities, stiffness, weak muscles, upset stomach and weight loss are symptoms of vitamin A overdosing. A dog that eats chicken heart as more than 5 percent of his overall diet is at risk for loose stools. Small dogs and puppies are not good candidates for feeding chicken necks, as they can easily choke on them.

Photo Credits

  • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

About the Author

Based in Las Vegas, Sandy Vigil has been a writer and educator since 1980. She taught high school and middle school English and drama for 11 years. Vigil holds a Master of Science in teaching from Nova Southeastern University and a Bachelor of Arts in secondary English education from the University of Central Oklahoma.

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