Can Dogs Eat Liverwurst? The Worst Of The Wurst!

Liver sausages tied together
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As you carefully, painstakingly layer the pepper-dotted slices of liver sausage onto its bed of bread, mustard and pickles, you notice your mouth watering in anticipation of the meal that is about to take place.

A protective, sixth-sense-like instinct alerts you to something else.

A pair of large, brown, suddenly wolf-like eyes zeroed in on your plate, glued to your every move.

It’s your dog, of course. Always materializing when there’s food.

Always wanting a piece.

But can dogs eat liverwurst? Should you succumb and give him a meaty slice of heaven?

As enticing as liverwurst may smell to dogs (and no doubt to your secret delight), it would be best to avoid giving them any of the rich sausage of European origin.

Although liverwurst contains a range of vitamins, minerals and proteins, liverwurst also has a high fat and salt content. Furthermore, certain liverwurst recipes may use ingredients that are unhealthy or even toxic to dogs.

Initial consequences of consuming high-fat or high-sodium foods like liverwurst and Funyuns include diarrhea, vomiting and acute pancreatitis.

In a development that you’ll surely not welcome, eating liverwurst can also cause dogs to become particularly gassy and contaminate your whole house with infamous doggy farts.

Over the long-term, eating liverwurst increases the risk of weight gain and associated diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The high sodium content also brings with it a heightened risk of kidney failure.

Liverwurst does have its uses, as vets sometimes recommend using it to feed pills to dogs due to its strong aroma that has the ability to hide the smell of medication. Furthermore, the soft texture of liverwurst allows you to mold it into any shape necessary around capsules.

It can also be used as an effective treat for training, or for overcoming certain fears. However, at the end of the day, liverwurst should only be given in small amounts and very occasionally. There are many better options out there for your precious pup.

What’s In Liverwurst, Anyway?

Liverwurst slices on bread
Photo courtesy of Stu Spivack (Direct link:[1]) / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Liverwurst, or Leberwurst/Braunschweiger, are seasoned sausages made using liver as the primary ingredient. Pork or beef liver is typically used and mixed with ingredients including fat, meat and various spices like salt, black pepper and ground mustard seed.

Liverwurst is primarily consumed in two ways: As a spread topped on bread and crackers, or as hearty slices in soups or sandwiches. Different regions have different recipes and different ways of consumption.

It is important to examine the ingredients used to make liverwurst to ensure it is safe for your dog to consume. For example, many recipes incorporate onion, which is toxic to dogs and can lead to anemia and in extreme cases, death.

Nutritional Profile of Liverwurst – Major Categories

Liverwurst Nutritional Information (Per 100 Grams)

Name

Amount

Unit

Calories

327

kcal

Carbohydrate

3.1

g

Total Fat

28.5

g

Saturated Fat

9.3

g

Monounsaturated Fat

12.7

g

Polyunsaturated Fat

3.2

g

Protein

14.5

g

Sodium

977

mg

Iron

11.2

mg

Source: USDA Foodbank Central Database

As you can see from the above table, liver sausages can just about burst through their casings with the amount of calories, fat and sodium contained within. Every 100 grams of the dish packs a whopping 28.5 grams of fat (9.3g saturated), 977mgs of sodium, and 327 total calories!

Is Liverwurst Good For Dogs? The Benefits of Liverwurst

Can dogs eat liverwurst?

Consuming liverwurst can have some benefits for your dog as it contributes a significant portion of their required daily nutrient intake- notably protein, iron and vitamins.

Your dog is unlikely to experience the effects of overdose from these nutrients as they are in relatively low concentrations. Furthermore, excess nutrients in dogs are often excreted through their urine.

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As long as you keep an eye on the amount of liverwurst they consume, overdosing from protein, irons or vitamins should not be a problem.

Source of Protein

Liverwurst is a good source of protein as it contains 14.5g of protein per 100g. A guide by the National Research Council (NRC) [FC6] has suggested the average 33lb adult dog should consume around 25g of protein daily.

Protein is an important building block of many organs and microscopic bodily structures. It is important for maintaining healthy hair, skin and nails. Furthermore, it is an essential component of musculoskeletal and immune systems.

Source of Iron

With over 11.2mg of iron in 100g of liverwurst, it makes a notable contribution to the recommended daily intake for dogs. The NRC suggests a daily intake of 0.5mg per kg of body weight in adult dogs.

Iron plays an essential role in transporting oxygen around the body and promotes proper growth and development. Iron also helps with collagen synthesis and supports the immune system.

Other foods high in iron include fish heads and sugar cane.

Multivitamin Content

Liverwurst contains a range of vitamins including Vitamin A, B, D, E and K. Eating liverwurst can help to top up daily vitamin levels. The required daily intake of vitamins vary between dog breeds, dog sizes and different stages in life.

Liverwurst Nutritional Information – Vitamins (Per 100 Grams)

Name

Amount

Unit

Vitamin A (Retinol)

4220

µg

Vitamin B Total

10.516

mg

Vitamin D (D2 + D3)

1.2

µg

Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)

0.35

mg

Vitamin K (phylloquinone)

1.6

µg

Vitamin A

Vitamin A exists in the form of a variant, Retinol, in liverwurst. Retinol is converted into vitamin A by internal biochemical processes.

Vitamin A is beneficial for maintaining eye health, the dog’s skin and coat, as well as supporting the immune system. Vitamin A is also required for the proper functioning of muscles and nerves.

Based on advice by The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), dogs should obtain around 1500µg of vitamin A per kg of their diet.

This means by simply feeding your dog 100g of liverwurst, it should meet the daily optimal intake of vitamin A without needing to eat anything else to further supplement vitamin A.

Of all the listed vitamins, it is possible that if you feed moderate portions of liverwurst to your dog, they may absorb too much vitamin A and suffer from Vitamin A toxicosis.

Vitamin A is difficult to remove from a dog’s body as it is fat-soluble. This means that it easily binds to stored fat and will take time before internal processes can remove the excess.

It is difficult to identify Vitamin A toxicity until later stages of the illness. Some early signs include gastrointestinal issues and poor liver function.

Late clinical signs of Vitamin A toxicity include paralysis and poor mobility with stiffness around the joints. As it is difficult to identify, you will need to consult with a vet and receive scans early to know if your pet has this condition.

To prevent Vitamin A toxicosis, liverwurst should only be fed in small amounts occasionally. Our recommendation is to not feed your dog liverwurst at all unless necessary.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B jar

Liverwurst contains a range of B vitamins, ranging from B1 to B12. Consuming 100g of liverwurst contributes a small portion of the required daily intake of vitamin B in adult dogs.

You can check out the recommended daily intake for various vitamin Bs for your dog, as proposed by AAFCO and NRC, by clicking the link here.

In general, B vitamins are primarily important for maintaining skin health. Other secondary roles Vitamin B has in dogs include protein synthesis and formation of red blood cells.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D regulates the balance between calcium and phosphorus. These are required to maintain healthy bones, teeth and muscles.

For all dogs, the NRC recommends 13.8µg of Vitamin D per kg of diet whilst the AAFCO recommends 12.5µg of Vitamin D per kg of diet.

100g of liverwurst provides around 10% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin D in an adult dog. This means you would need to feed your dog at least 1kg of liverwurst to meet the recommended daily intake.

Probably not a good idea.

Unlike humans who can create their own Vitamin D from absorbing sunlight, dogs can only get Vitamin D from their diet. A mixed diet comprising foods with Vitamin D would therefore be recommended to ensure your dog has healthy bones and muscles.

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Vitamin E

Vitamin E is essential to help your dog defend against cell damage and promote cell repair. Vitamin E also specialises in metabolizing fat and supporting the immune system.

The recommended allowance for Vitamin E for all dogs differs between the NRC and AAFCO. NRC recommends 30mg per kg of body weight whilst AAFCO recommends a minimum of 39mg per kilogram.

100 grams of liverwurst would only contribute around 1% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin E. A diet of only liverwurst would mean your dog would need to eat around 10kg of liverwurst before it receives the optimal amount of Vitamin E for that day.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is important for blood coagulation to prevent excessive bleeding from injuries, and is important in all cellular processes.

Both AAFCO and NRC do not have a minimum or maximum daily allowance for Vitamin K for dogs. Eating a small portion of liverwurst should therefore be more than enough to top up your dog’s Vitamin K stores.

Can Dogs Eat Liver Sausage? The Dangers of Liverwurst

Liverwurst spread on bread

Like with ramen noodles, the high fat and sodium content should persuade you against feeding liverwurst to your dog. The negative consequences that could arise significantly outweigh the potential benefits of consuming the sausage.

The extent of the negative consequences of consuming liverwurst depend on the amount your dog has consumed, as well as the ingredients that were used to make the liverwurst in question.

High Fat Content

Fat is a necessary macronutrient for dogs to maintain optimal health and wellbeing. It will help to keep the eyes and brain in optimal health, and is good for the skin and coat as well.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, the average 33-pound dog should be eating a total of 14 grams of fat per day.

When a dog has too much fat in its diet, it will get fat- that’s just inescapable physics. Physics will also dictate that increasing amounts of pressure become laden onto different parts of the body. Bones, organs, and joints will all suffer as a negative flow-on effect.

As weight rises, the bigger the problems that will begin to emerge. As more fat gathers inside the body, conditions like obesity, diabetes and heart disease become increasingly likely.

Less than 50g of Liverwurst can take a dog over its daily fat requirements, depending of course on its size. That would be slightly less than the weight of a tennis ball.

If a dog eats too much fat too quickly, it can be at risk of developing acute pancreatitis. This is where the pancreas becomes irritated and inflamed by the fat that it suddenly has to process, and decides to digest itself instead.

A dog with pancreatitis can experience symptoms such as stomach pain, lethargy, vomiting, and fever.

Serious instances of pancreatitis will need to be treated with anti-inflammatories, painkillers and IV fluids by the vet. Though dogs are usually able to recover with the right treatment, it can become lethal.

High Salt Content

Like fat, sodium is only needed in very small amounts by a dog’s body in order for it to function properly. It helps to maintain nerve and muscle health and prevents cells in the body from swelling or dehydrating.

While dogs usually encounter sodium in the form of ordinary table salt (sodium chloride), they have been known for getting into Epsom salts meant for your relaxing Friday night bath .

The average 30-pound dog only needs a grand total of 100mg of sodium per day. In just 100 grams of Liverwurst (slightly less than the weight of 2 tennis balls), there are 977 mg of sodium. This is 9.97 times a dog’s daily limit in 100 grams of Liverwurst.

Herein lies the true danger of liverwurst for dogs- like sand in your ice cream at the beach, it is just TOO salty.

If your dog consumes too much sodium, it can experience effects ranging from neurological disorder to gastrointestinal distress- and even cardiovascular damage. It will also cause extreme thirst and urination, which can then lead to severe dehydration.

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Eating too much sodium is especially dangerous for older dogs, or dogs that have underlying kidney, liver and heart disease.

The common signs of sodium poisoning include:

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of coordination
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Tongue swelling

In very serious cases, seizures, coma and death are all possible outcomes.

If your dog has eaten even a measly 50g of Liverwurst, make sure that it drinks as much water as possible to flush the sodium out of its system. You may even have to proactively make it rehydrate through methods such as using ice cubes or a turkey baster.

As signs of salt poisoning may not be obvious to an untrained eye until it’s too late, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet as soon as you discover that it has eaten way too much liverwurst.

Unhealthy Or Toxic Ingredients

Garlic and onions on wooden plate

For many liverwurst recipes, the ingredients used (such as onion or garlic) can be harmful to your dog. Furthermore, certain recipes use filler ingredients which are generally lower quality and are unhealthy- particularly the carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are complex sugars, and some carbohydrates commonly found as filler ingredients in liverwurst include flour and vegetable oil. Excessive consumption of carbohydrates exacerbates the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic belong to the Allium family of plants, and when eaten in moderate to large portions by your dogs they can cause serious medical issues. Some dogs like the Shiba Inu and Akita have extra sensitivity to onions and leeks where even small amounts can be dangerous.

When onions and garlic are eaten, they have the ability to cause gastroenteritis or inflammation of the GI tract. This reflects through signs such as excessive drooling, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

However, the deadliness of alliums comes from how they affect the blood of dogs.

Alliums contain chemicals that attack the red blood cells inside dogs, thinning cell walls and destroying them. This results in fewer red blood cells that are available to carry oxygen throughout the body, causing anemia, lethargy and overall weakness.

It also relaxes the heart muscles of a dog and enlarges blood vessels, making circulation more difficult. Everything considered, onions are definitely one food that you want to keep far away from your pup.

It doesn’t take a whole lot of onion to make a dog sick, either. VCA Hospitals states that a quantity of onions equal to 0.5% of a dog’s body weight is enough to make it ill.

In Conclusion

Although liverwurst is an excellent source of protein, minerals, and vitamins, the dense fat and high sodium content in Liverwurst makes it an overall very unhealthy food choice for dogs.

After eating liverwurst, your dog can suffer from a range of negative consequences including diarrhea, vomiting and acute pancreatitis. It can also significantly increase the risk of obesity, diabetes and kidney failure.

The severity of consequences from eating liverwurst is dependent on the amount your dog has eaten and other ingredients used to make liverwurst. Common ingredients in liverwurst such as onion and garlic are toxic to dogs.

Liverwurst should only be fed to your dog if there are no toxic ingredients, given in small amounts occasionally and as one of the last options to make your dog ingest pills or to train them.

Overall, our recommendation is to avoid feeding your dog any liverwurst, and to find healthier alternatives instead!

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