Gizzards are a common ingredient in dog food, but many people are unsure if their dog can eat them. In general, dogs can eat gizzards raw, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
If you ask me what the most common mistake people make when feeding their dogs homemade diets, I'd have to say that it's not only common, but also dangerous, especially for puppies, but also for adult dogs when too little calcium is given long term.Giving an inappropriate amount of calcium (either too much or too little) can cause orthopedic problems in growing puppies, especially large-breed puppies during the first six months when they grow the fastest; however, giving too little calcium can lead to bone disease and other problems in adult dogs as well.I reviewed more than 30 books on homemade diets for WDJ some years ago.1 Of the 24 books I reviewed that were not exclusively about feeding a raw diet that includes bones, only 10 included adequate calcium guidelines!
Why is Calcium Important in Canine Nutrition?
I'm aware that some people who feed home-prepared diets rely on annual blood tests to determine whether their dogs are getting enough calcium; they believe that if their dogs' blood calcium levels are normal, the dogs must be getting the right amount of calcium in their diet.
Adult dogs can control their blood calcium levels by absorbing a greater or lesser percentage of dietary calcium, depending on the amount fed; however, this can also be influenced by the amount of vitamin D in the diet, as vitamin D promotes calcium absorption.It should be noted that puppies lack the ability to control their calcium absorption prior to puberty, and thus can suffer the negative effects of too little or too much calcium and vitamin D very quickly.
Calories from treats, chews, and shared snacks can quickly add up, especially for small dogs and couch potatoes, throwing off the balance of whatever diet you feed. Limit treats to healthy foods in small amounts.Dogs prefer two or three small treats to one large one!
When adult dogs are given too little calcium for long periods of time (such as months), they develop a condition known as nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism.In this case, the body produces an excess of parathyroid hormone to draw calcium from the bones, which can result in elevated phosphorus levels in the blood.
The name parathyroid hormone is given because the parathyroid glands are located adjacent to the thyroid glands. Parathyroid hormones are responsible for regulating calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood.Hyperparathyroidism (excess parathyroid hormone) can also be caused by a tumor on one of the parathyroid glands (primary hyperparathyroidism) or advanced kidney disease (renal secondary hyperparathyroidism). Nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism is usually associated with a calcium deficiency, sometimes combined with insufficient vitamin D.
When the body produces too much parathyroid hormone, it causes bone demineralization, which can cause lameness, bone pain, swelling, stiffness or limping, not wanting to move, and even spontaneous fractures in adult dogs.Puppies are more likely to develop leg and joint deformities that prevent them from walking normally, and if the condition is not corrected quickly, it can lead to long-term orthopedic disorders.
Now that I've scared you into putting the right amount of calcium in your dog's homemade diet - at least, I hope I did! - what kind of calcium should you put in, and how much is enough?
When It Is NOT Necessary to Add Calcium to Your Dog's Food
Never add calcium to commercial "complete and balanced" diets - these already have the proper amount of calcium! Adding calcium to a "complete and balanced" diet is especially dangerous for large-breed puppies.
However, with a few notable exceptions, most homemade diets require added calcium. DO NOT add calcium to a home-prepared diet if:
When using supplements or base mixes that claim to complete a homemade diet, make sure the product includes a complete nutritional analysis showing appropriate amounts of calcium. Don't rely on the verbal assurances of the company's owners or representatives, or those of pet food store employees; if they can't or won't provide you with complete nutritional analyses of their products, we wouldn't use them for anything more than an occasional meal.
Following Calcium Guidelines
You must add calcium to your dog's homemade diet, with very few exceptions (see "When You Don't Need to Add Calcium," above).
Calcium guidelines can be determined in a variety of ways, including the dog's body weight, the dry matter percentage of the food, and the calories that the dog requires, each with its own set of complications:
In 2006, the National Research Council (NRC) issued updated nutritional guidelines for dogs, recommending that adult dogs consume at least 1 mg of calcium per calorie (kcal), which is equivalent to 1 gram (1,000 mg) per 1,000 kcal (Mcal).
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutritional guidelines, which were finally modified in 2016 to reflect the most recent NRC recommendations, increased this to 1.25 mg calcium/kcal (1.25 grams/Mcal).
On a dry matter basis, that equates to 4 to 5 grams of calcium per kilogram of food, or 0.4 to 0.5 percent DM.
Another factor that influences how much calcium your dog requires is phosphorus; there should always be at least as much calcium in the diet as phosphorus, up to twice as much for healthy dogs (or three times as much for dogs with kidney disease).
Most homemade diets I've looked at have between 0.5 and 1.25 mg phosphorus per kcal, so giving 1.25 mg calcium per kcal will provide most dogs with enough calcium and a proper calcium:phosphorus ratio.
See Table I on the following page for the approximate amounts of calcium to add to homemade diets for dogs of various sizes and activity levels in order to provide 1.25 mg of calcium per kcal.While nutrient requirements are not affected by activity level, dogs who eat more food require more calcium to balance out the amount of phosphorus in the diet.
If you need to feed fewer calories than shown to keep your dog at a proper, lean weight, it's time to cut back on the number of calories your dog gets from other sources.
It is fine to give a little less or a little more calcium than shown; it is not necessary to be exact.Most commercial adult dog diets I've looked at have between 2 and 3 mg of calcium per kcal (diets designed for puppies or "all life stages" will have even more), as well as an equivalently higher amount of phosphorus.
If you feed a mixed diet, adjust the calcium amounts shown in Table I accordingly; for example, if you feed half homemade, give half the amount of calcium shown.
Calcium for Puppies is Trickier
All of these guidelines apply only to adult dogs; puppies are more difficult.Puppies require at least 3 mg of calcium per calorie (three times the amount of calcium that adult dogs require on a caloric basis), according to the NRC and AAFCO.
The maximum amount of calcium that puppies should receive is 4.5 mg per kcal (4.5 g/Mcal). It is especially important not to give too much calcium to large-breed puppies during their first six months, as they are the group most likely to develop bone and joint abnormalities if given the incorrect amount of calcium and phosphorus.
Puppies require more phosphorus than adult dogs and should never be given plain calcium in their homemade diet.To provide the proper amount and ratio of calcium to phosphorus, puppies require bone meal or another type of supplement that contains both calcium and phosphorus.
Which Calcium Should You Give Your Dog?
There are numerous forms of calcium that can be added to your home-prepared diet to meet your dog's needs; any form of plain calcium that is free of other ingredients such as vitamin D is acceptable.Dogs require vitamin D, but because they require more calcium but not more vitamin D than humans, the amount of vitamin D provided by a combination product would be excessive.
Calcium carbonate is usually the cheapest and easiest to administer because it contains more elemental calcium than most other calcium compounds, requiring less powder to be added to the food. is usually the cheapest and the easiest to give, as it has more elemental calcium than most other calcium compounds, so you will need to add less powder to the food.
One simple way to get calcium is to use eggshells that have been washed, dried, and ground to powder in a clean coffee grinder or blender. One large eggshell will yield about one level teaspoon of eggshell powder weighing 5.5 grams, which will provide about 2,000 mg calcium:eggshells that have been washed, dried, and ground to powder in a clean coffee grinder or blender. One large eggshell will make about one level teaspoon of eggshell powder weighing 5.5 grams; this will provide approximately 2,000 mg calcium:
1/8 teaspoon eggshell powder contains approximately 250 mg calcium.
Some people feed their dogs whole eggs with the shell, but I don't think that's a good way to ensure that your dog gets enough calcium. The calcium in eggshells that haven't been ground to powder may not be absorbed, especially if you notice bits of shell in your dog's stool.If it is absorbed, you may end up giving your dog too much calcium, especially if he is small.
It's fine to give a dog a whole egg, including the shell, as a treat on occasion, but it's best to grind the shells to a powder when using eggshells to provide dietary calcium needed to balance out a homemade diet.
If you use a calcium supplement that also contains phosphorus, such as bone meal powder or dicalcium phosphate, you will need to give more calcium to maintain the proper calcium:phosphorus ratio. To calculate how much to give, first subtract the amount of phosphorus from the amount of calcium, then use the remaining amount of "extra" calcium to calculate how much to give based on Table I.bone meal powder or dicalcium phosphate, you will have to give more calcium than if you use a plain calcium supplement in order to keep the calcium:phosphorus ratio in the proper range. To determine how much to give, you must first subtract the amount of phosphorus from the amount of calcium, then use the remaining amount
of “extra” calcium to calculate how much to give based on Table I.
Calcium Supplementation Goal: 1.25 mg Calcium per kcal fed to adult dogs
For example, if the bone meal supplement you're using contains 800 mg calcium and 300 mg phosphorus per teaspoon, there's 500 mg "extra" calcium to use to calculate how much to give. If your dog requires 1,000 mg calcium added to his diet based on Table I, you'd need to give two teaspoons of bone meal powder (500 mg extra calcium per teaspoon) to provide an adequate amount of calcium while keeping the calcium:phosphorus ratio within the proper range.
It's worth noting that bone meal products marketed to humans may not list the exact amount of calcium and phosphorus they contain, but rather percentages of the daily recommended value for adults.
For example, NOW Foods Bone Meal Powder claims that 1 level teaspoon provides 80% of the RDA for calcium and 30% of the RDA for phosphorus. Since the RDA for both calcium and phosphorus for humans is 1,000 mg (1 gram), 80% would be 800 mg and 30% would be 300 mg.
This calculation will soon become more complicated, however, because the FDA recently increased these recommended amounts to 1,300 mg calcium and 1,250 mg phosphorus, which must be reflected on new labels by July 2020.If NOW Foods does not change its formulation, the same product will now provide 62 percent of the RDA for calcium and 24 percent of the RDA for phosphorus.
Because many bone meal products contain roughly twice as much calcium as phosphorus, you can simply double the calcium recommendations shown in Table I to determine how much to give.
If you use bone meal powder to supplement calcium, look for brands that have been tested and found to have low levels of lead. Never use bone meal products intended for fertilizer.
Dolomite is another calcium supplement that may contain excessive levels of lead. is another type of calcium supplement that may contain unacceptably high levels of lead.
The amount of lead in plant-based calcium supplements varies greatly; contact the company and request test results before using one of these supplements on a daily basis. show considerable variety in the amount of lead they may contain; contact the company to ask for test results before using one of these supplements on a daily basis.
Again, these guidelines apply only to dogs fed a homemade diet that lacks an adequate source of calcium, such as raw meaty bones or a supplement designed to balance a homemade diet. There's a lot more to feeding a homemade diet that we'll try to address in future articles, but getting the calcium right is a big step toward feeding a complete and balanced diet.
Mary Straus, the owner of DogAware.com, lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her mixed-breed dog, Willow.
Can a dog consume raw chicken gizzard?
Liver and hearts from chicken, turkey, and beef are good sources of vitamins and minerals for your dog, as are chicken gizzards, which are high in cartilage and are sometimes sold with hearts.Chicken gizzards are rich in cartilage. It is sometimes sold with hearts and is an important component of a healthy pet diet.
Can dogs eat raw giblets?
Dogs can consume turkey giblets, which are a catch-all term for the organs or offal from a turkey and include the gizzards, heart, and liver.Organ meats like this are completely safe for dogs to eat and extremely nutritious.. Giblets is a catch-all term for the organs or offal from a turkey and include things like the gizzards, heart and liver. Organ meats like this are all paw-fectly safe for dogs to eat and they are highly nutritious.
Is gizzard good for dogs?
Powerfully Nutrient-Dense Liver, gizzards, and hearts are not only high in protein, but also in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids; in fact, they are significantly more nutrient-dense than muscle meat!excellent sources of protein; they are packed with important vitamins, minerals and amino acids. In fact, they're significantly more nutrient-dense than muscle meat!
Can I feed raw chicken organs to my dog?
The entrails and internal organs of larger farm animals such as cattle or sheep are commonly thought to be suitable organ meat for dogs, but gizzards, hearts, and livers of fowl such as chicken, duck, or turkey are also thought to be suitable organ meat for dogs.gizzards, hearts and livers of fowl like chicken, duck or turkey are also considered suitable organs to be fed to dogs.