Many dog owners want to feed their dogs a healthier diet than commercial dog food offers on its own. Others simply want a healthy treat to give their pooch. You may be wondering if chicken gizzards are safe for your dog, and if they are healthy.
Can I feed cooked chicken gizzards to my dog?
My mother used to tell me she would “Get my gizzard”. I knew it was a part of a chicken, but never knew exactly what it was. In fact, I didn’t learn about gizzards until I began research into feeding my dog a healthy diet.
Gizzards are not commonly eaten in the U.S., but they are popular in other parts of the world. In fact, if you are from America, you may not even know exactly what a gizzard is, let alone if they are a good choice for your pooch.
What is a Gizzard?
Gizzards are a part of a chicken’s digestive tract. They do not have teeth the way most animals do. It’s actually a muscle that allows the chicken to grind up their food before digesting it.
You may have noticed chickens pecking the ground, seeming to eat dirt or gravel. They are actually picking up small bits of rock and gravel. This travels to their gizzard. When they eat food, the gizzard contracts, similar to a fist. The rock inside the gizzard grinds the food.
Gizzards are a very small organ, but they have some big benefits. They taste similar to dark chicken meat.
Benefits of Chicken Gizzards
Chicken gizzards, along with other types of organ meat, is one of the best things you can feed your dog. It is much more nutrient dense than muscle meat. It contains high quality protein and fat. It’s also an excellent source of vitamins and essential minerals.
Protein is essential for your dog’s diet. In the wild, protein makes up most of their diet. It’s an important energy source for dogs, and helps build and maintain muscle. It’s also high in amino acids. Some of these can’t be created by your dog’s body, so they must get them from their diet.
Fat is another source of energy for your pooch. It’s essential for many processes in your dog’s body. It’s a source of amino acids which aid brain function and development, immunity, and heart health.
Gizzards are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. It is high in Vitamins A, B, D, and E. Vitamin A helps keep your dog’s eyes and skin healthy. It also contributes to immune function and even organ development.
B vitamins support energy and healthy metabolism. They are also great for dogs who have a low appetite, because they stimulate their appetite.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant. It’s helpful for skin problems, and inflammation.
Gizzards are a key source of minerals. These include copper, iron, phosphorous, selenium, and zinc.
Iron is a key component of a healthy pooch. It helps create red blood cells and hemoglobin. It transports oxygen throughout the body, and contributes to enzyme function.
Calcium and phosphorous are essential for dogs bones and teeth. Deficiences can lead to weak, brittle bones, which are easily fractured. Tooth problems will also develop without these minerals.
Glucosamine is a popular supplement for both dogs and humans. It’s also found in chicken gizzards. It’s believed to be an effective treatment for arthritis in dogs. It can relieve the pain from arthritis or other joint disorders. If your pooch requires orthopedic surgery, glucosamine can speed the healing process.
If your dog has healthy joints, glucosamine can help keep them that way. It helps repair damaged cartilage. This can prevent arthritis, because it prevents the cartilage from wearing down and causing pain.
Because gizzards are so nutrient dense, your dog doesn’t need to eat a large amount to get the nutrition they need. If your dog is very active, they have a higher calorie need than average.
Foods like gizzards can help them get the needed calories, without having to eat a large amount of food.
This is also great for pregnant or nursing mothers, who also have a high calorie need. During the first days after birth, mothers may be reluctant to spend time away from their puppies. A quick snack of gizzards can help keep them going.
How to Cook Gizzards
Gizzards must be cooked carefully. If you use high heat, you’ll end up with tough small balls due to the connective tissue.
If they haven’t been cleaned, or are whole, you’ll need to cut them in half. Then rinse all the debris out of them. If you see a yellow lining, you may want to remove it as well.
Put them in a pot with water. Bring the water to a simmer, and let it cook for at least one hour. If you are planning to eat the gizzards as well, you can serve them as is, or bread and fry them.
Once they are cooled, they are ready to feed to your pooch.
How to Know if Chicken Gizzards are Bad
Like any other meat, chicken gizzards can go bad over time. One sign they’ve turned is an offensive smell. They may also change from their typical brown color to white or green. They can have a shiny look, or develop mold.
If the gizzards are bad, they have a much higher likelihood of containing bacteria that can make your dog sick. If you notice these signs, toss the gizzards and get fresh ones.
Can I feed raw chicken gizzards to my dog?
There’s a raging debate about feeding dogs raw meat. Proponents point out that it’s their natural diet in the wild. Critics of the diet worry about the risk of salmonella and other bacteria that can be present in raw meat.
Benefits of Raw Chicken Gizzards
Raw chicken gizzards have all the benefits of cooked chicken gizzards. In fact, they are even more nutritious than cooked gizzards. The gizzards lose some nutrients during the cooking process.
It’s also natural for your dog to eat raw meat. This is the diet they’ve survived on for thousands, if not millions, of years. Their bodies are designed to consume and digest raw meats.
Can Raw Chicken Gizzards Make My Dog Sick?
There’s a slight chance that your dog can get sick from raw organ meats. Organ meats, including gizzards, seem to have the same risk of carrying bacteria as other types of raw meat.
This makes it risky for humans to eat. You may have experienced a bout of salmonella, e. coli, or other food borne bacteria, at some point. Vomiting and diarrhea are common symptoms of these illnesses.
Humans can become very sick from these diseases. However, dogs are at a much lower risk. Their stomach is much more acidic than ours, making it less likely that bacteria will survive and colonize in their digestive tract.
If your dog is at a higher risk of illness, you may want to avoid raw gizzards. This includes dogs who are puppies, elderly, or those who have a chronic health or immune condition. If you have a healthy adult dog, it’s up to you to decide if you want to feed them raw gizzards.
Raw vs. Frozen
Raw chicken gizzards can be either raw or frozen. Both are great for your dog. If you choose to feed them frozen gizzards, there’s no need to thaw them. It is a good idea to slice them into smaller pieces, however. This will prevent them from choking on them.
Proper Handling and Storage
If you want to feed your pooch raw meat of any sort, you’ll need to follow proper handling and storage procedures. Gizzards can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 days. They can be kept in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Once it’s taken out of the fridge or freezer, it should be consumed within 2 hours. Your pooch will likely gobble it up immediately. If they don’t, be sure to dispose any uneaten meat within 2 hours.
Be sure that you wash your hands and any surfaces that the raw meat has touched after serving.
Can I feed my dog chicken gizzards every day?
Yes, you can feed your dog chicken gizzards every day. They are highly nutritious, and helps your dog get the needed nutrients. Because they are nutrient dense, you should limit the amount of gizzards you feed them.
You can feed them a small serving of gizzards each day, or feed them a larger serving once or twice a week.
However, if you are feeding a raw diet, it’s best to combine gizzards with other types of organ meat. They all have their own nutrients and benefits.
How much chicken gizzards should a dog eat?
The recommendations for chicken gizzards usually involve organ meat as a whole, including, but not limited to, gizzards. Gizzards are an excellent source of nutrition, and can be a key part of your pooch’s diet, in the correct amounts.
Recommendations for serving chicken gizzards center around a raw diet. If you feed your dog a raw diet, you can feed them 10-15% organ meat. This includes gizzards, heart, and liver, all of which are a healthy part of your dog’s diet.
If you want to supplement your dog’s commercial dog food diet, you can give them gizzards as a snack or treat. In this case, 10% or less of their diet can consist of organ meat.
You can combine gizzards with other types of organ meats, or simply feed them gizzards.