Feeding a Dog for a Healthy Liver

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One of the workhorse organs in the body, and one that normally doesn’t get much thought unless there is a problem with it, is the liver. A well balanced diet can ensure that the liver is functioning properly. There are specific food ingredients that are particularly supportive of proper liver function and including these in a dog’s diet can help to keep this vital organ healthy.


Role of the Liver

The liver performs many tasks in the body including:

  • Detoxification and elimination of toxins and impurities
  • Catabolism (i.e. breakdown) and regulation of carbohydrate stores
  • Bile formation, which is used in the digestive process to break down fats into usable fatty acids


Degradation in any of these functions can cause problems with a dog’s overall health. Luckily, there are several foods and herbs that contain nutrients that the liver needs to function properly. Some of these are commonly found in dog food recipes or can be added to the dog’s meal if need be.

Dog Internal Organs

Dog Internal Organs

Foods that Support the Liver


Leafy Greens:

Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and dandelion greens contain choline, which is crucial in keeping the liver healthy. Insufficient choline can impede the liver’s ability to process fats and the resulting buildup of fat can hinder the metabolism and lead to kidney disorders and other ailments. Leafy greens that are rich in chlorophyll, have the ability to assist in the detoxification of metals, plastics and chemicals present in the body and bloodstream, thus providing a huge assist to the liver.


Cruciferous Vegetables:

Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts can increase the amount of glucosinolate (organic compounds) which helps enzyme production for digestion and can help the liver flush away carcinogens.


Citrus Fruits:

Citrus fruits are full of the antioxidant vitamin C, but they also contain limonene, which is responsible for the fruits’ pleasant scent. Besides smelling great, limonene helps prevent build-up of fat that results in a fatty liver while also preventing insulin resistance (related to diabetes).



Tumeric and its active ingredient curcumin, aids in the digestion of fats and stimulates the production of bile. It is also thought to improve the liver’s detoxification abilities.



Carrots may help to protect the liver from the toxic effects of environmental chemicals. They make great snacks as well.



The pectin in apples helps to eliminate chemicals and heavy metals (e.g. mercury) from the body, thus taking some of the load off the liver itself.  Like carrots, apples are a great snack choice.


Olive Oil

Olive oil has been shown to reduce the oxidative stress (from free radicals in the body) on the liver. Although rare in dog food, sprinkle some in the dog’s bowl for added flavor and to keep your dog’s liver healthy.


Check to see how many of these ingredients are in your dog’s food. Add them to their regular meals, or use them as treats when possible.

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  1. Excellent information. I guess Storm must have a healthy liver because she loves to snack on dandelions when we are out training. 🙂
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Show DayMy Profile

  2. Turmeric is a pretty amazing spice. It was one ingredient in the cancer-fighting diet I fed my last dog, Shadow. Thanks for the reminder. It’s the only item on your list that isn’t a normal part of our or our dog’s normal diet.
    Pamela recently posted…What Does My Dog Really Think?My Profile

  3. That is a great list that I should start feeding. I’ve been seeing a number of people on facebook swear by turmeric.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…#FuelTheCure With Zuke’s Loving Life Contest & FundraiserMy Profile

  4. Fortunately Easy loves carrots… he mostly makes carrot-confetti, but he likes it cooked in his food too :o)
    easy rider
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  5. My huskies absolutely love carrots and I love learning the benefits of them along with other veggies and foods too.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…If Dogs Could Talk, What Would They Say?My Profile

  6. I’m going to incorporate some of these ingredients in the next batch of dog treats I make for Sam. He has never been a fan of veggies or fruit, but hopefully in treats he’ll start to enjoy them. 🙂
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  7. So far, they’re consuming the kale, broccoli, apples and carrots among other ingredients. I still want to get the turmeric and start sprinkling/mixing into their food. Let me ask you this: do I need to special order it from somewhere? Can you help a sister out?

    • You can get it in the spice rack at your local grocery store…easy-peasy.
      mkob recently posted…Feeding a Dog for a Healthy LiverMy Profile

      • NO WAY!!!! I thought this was a “different” version from what you and I would use on our food. Wegman’s here I come….

  8. We get quite a few apples around here, my sisters get carrots, I won’t eat them. I’m not into veggies, but they are.
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  9. The pups have pineapple, carrots, spinach, apples, turmeric, and olive oil on a regular basis 🙂
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Why I Choose Organic Meat For Our Home Cooked K9 Diet #petcancerawarenessmonthMy Profile

  10. Great info! Definitely going to check our dog’s food for these ingredients! We do regularly give them carrot or apple pieces to snack on however!
    MyDogLikes recently posted…Doc Knows Best: Dr. Harvey’s Dog Food ReviewMy Profile

  11. What an interesting list! Barley loves olive oil–I put it on her paws in the winter some times when they get dry and she usually spends a long time licking it off! I’m glad to hear it has health benefits for her, too 🙂 Barley loves carrots and apples, too, but the only green thing she’s interested in is romaine lettuce. Thanks for sharing this great info!
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  12. My guys get most if not all of these in their food or supplements, as you may know we have been struggling helping Delilah with her liver and we have discovered some good supplements that really support that.
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