Wednesday, July 17, 2013

One-Ingredient Liver Dog Treats

With the onset of spring and summer and the abundance of berries and fruit headed our way, I decided it was time to obtain a dehydrator.  I've had it just a couple of weeks, and it's already been put to good use with the drying of strawberries, blueberries and bananas.  I added some of those to my mixed (soaked and dehydrated) nuts and dark chocolate trail mix... yum!

I also happily used it for the benefit of my crazy canines!  The last time I was at the farm stand where we buy our grass-fed beef, I picked up a few pounds of liver; this time, not for us, but for the doggies.
It pleases me that I can provide them with a treat that contains just one nutrient-dense ingredient - liver from a healthy, grass-fed cow. It's very good for them, and they love it!

Why Liver?
People usually ask about the safety of liver in particular of all of the organ meats. It is the liver’s job to neutralize toxins in the body (or an animals body) from drugs or other chemicals, so obviously the best choice for liver is the grass fed kind, without added antibiotics or hormones.
Liver is known to be one of the most concentrated sources of natural vitamin A of any food.  Natural vitamin A works to aid digestion, keeps sex organs/reproductive organs healthy, and is a powerful antioxidant.
Liver is a great source of folic Acid, B vitamins and especially vitamin B12, which help with fatigue, mental ability and nerve health, as well as preventing anemia.
Liver also contains one of the best, most usable sources for the body, of iron. Iron is necessary for many functions in the body including formation of hemoglobin, brain development and function, regulation of body temperature, muscle activity and catecholamine metabolism, to name just a few. A lack of iron will have a direct effect on the immune system; it diminishes the number of T- cells and the production of antibodies.
Iron is essential to oxygen to the blood cells. The primary function of iron is oxygen transport and cell respiration. For an anemic person, fatigue is one of the most noticeable symptoms. The iron in liver is one of most easily absorbable and usable sources of iron.
Do you have a performance dog? Liver contains an anti-fatigue factor, which is likely to do with improving the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood cells; increasing endurance and strength in athletes of all species.
Liver contains many nitrogen-containing compounds that are building blocks for DNA and RNA. In combination with the B vitamins, this makes it extremely helpful to people with Alzheimers or other types of dementia.
While liver is highly nutritious, its precious nutrients are very much affected by heat, so never cook it or the digestive enzymes and nutrients will be lost.
Get liver into your dog’s regular diet at least once a week if possible for maximum benefit of its high levels of nutrients. (source)

How to Prepare It

Rinse the pieces of liver and pat dry.  Slice into manageable single-treat size pieces (keeping in mind they shrink a lot in the drying process).  I fileted mine into 1/4 inch-thick slices and placed them on the dehydrator trays with space between them for the air to circulate well.  Turn on the dehydrator, set to 110 degrees and check them after 10-12 hours (and every hour after that if they're not done, keeping in mind that the temperature and humidity in your kitchen will affect whether it takes more or less time).  You want them to be fully dry, but not so much that they crumble.  A jerky consistency is ideal.

Three pounds of liver made one over-stuffed, quart-size freezer bag.

I give each dog one treat every day (like a daily vitamin supplement), but not more than that so as not to wreck havoc on their digestive systems.  I'd love to be able to feed our dogs a raw diet, but with eight of them, it's not economically feasible.  While raw meat is very good for dogs, it should be done exclusively if you go that route.  I've read it's not wise to alternate a dog's food between dry kibble and raw meat, as it can cause constipation.  So, even though these treats are dried and not technically raw, they haven't been cooked (purposefully, so as not to negate the benefits of the natural enzymes and nutrients).  Therefore, I don't want to take any chances that too much of a good thing would have poor results.

"Just one a day, my furry friends!"

If you're interested obtaining a dehydrator for yourself, below is an affiliate link for the one I purchased.  I'm delighted with it, so far.


The Farmer's Wife said...

I've got to tell you, the title of this post made me laugh...tells the whole story, right there. No lengthy explanation needed!

Pam O'Brien said...

Haha! Exactly, Mary! :-D

Anonymous said...

Great info and beautiful dogs, thank you kindly!