Have you been researching types of offal to serve your dog? Are you wondering if your dog could benefit from eating spleen? To help you decide if spleen should be part of your dog’s diet, I have rounded up all the need-to-know information here today.
So, can dogs eat spleen? Dogs can eat spleen (lamb, beef, and pork) as part of a varied diet. Spleen is high in a wide variety of vitamins (B12, C, & B6) and minerals (iron, copper, and zinc) that can benefit your dogs throughout their life. Your dog only needs a little spleen (~1 oz) each day to receive its health benefits.
Like any offal, spleen can make a great addition to the diet.
But you do need to be mindful of serving sizes and frequencies – as we shall soon see.
So if you are here for the quick summary, view spleen almost like a multivitamin or supplement for your dog, if you will.
But if you want to learn the ins and outs of feeding this particular type of offal. Keep reading.
And I’d advise you to do that as soon as will become apparent.
What Spleen Can Dogs Eat?
Dogs can eat the spleen of most ruminant animals, such as beef, lamb, goat, and pork spleen. Spleen is a great source of iron and zinc for dogs. Spleen can be enjoyed raw or cooked – except for pork spleen, which must be cooked.
To help you decide what type of spleen you should serve your dog, I’ve gathered details on the most common choices below.
Cow (Beef) Spleen
Cow spleen is one of the most common choices for feeding spleen to dogs. It is easy for most people to find at local butchers, reasonably priced, and can be split into servings for more than one feeding.
Beef spleen is very high in usable iron – even more than liver meat.
In addition to iron, beef spleen is also high in selenium which supports healthy metabolic function (breakdown of food into usable energy).
Beef spleen is often freeze-dried and packaged as shelf-stable treats by quality pet brands. This gives an owner a variety of choices for storing and offering spleen.
Lamb spleen is high in protein, low in fat, and loaded with iron and zinc. Iron is a necessary nutrient for maintaining a dog’s health.
Lamb’s spleen is smaller than beef’s spleen, which is good news if your dog is only eating small servings of spleen and you don’t want the meat to spoil.
Lamb spleen can be found at many fresh meat markets, local butchers, or even online at specialty meat retailers.
For the highest quality lamb, look for lamb that has been exclusively grass-fed. This should be printed on the lamb’s packaging or easy to verify with a butcher.
A third common choice for feeding spleen is goat spleen. Goat spleen is easy to find in many areas of the world,
Like lamb and cow spleen, goat spleen is nutrient dense and considered a superfood for dogs. With plenty of iron, zinc, and vitamin c, feeding goat spleen is safe for dogs.
Goat spleen can be served raw in chunks or ground, which makes it easy to serve.
For dogs who turn their nose up at other meats, pork spleen is often irresistible. Pork meat is easily digested by dogs and is good for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
While some individuals may feed pork spleen raw, it is a smart idea to cook or freeze pork spleen before giving it to your dog.
While rare, infection with trichinosis is possible for dogs eating raw pork.
Like beef spleen, pork spleen can often be found in dehydrated treat form to add variety to your feeding routine.
Pork spleen is typically an affordable option for those who do not have access to other spleen meat types.
Other Types Of Spleen
Outside of the four spleen types listed above, the spleen of almost any ruminant animals can safely be served to dogs. This includes deer, ox, chicken, and horse spleen.
Choosing the type of spleen you will feed your dog is mostly based on what animal meats are available in your area and how big of a spleen you want to purchase.
More important than what type of spleen you feed is how much spleen to feed your dog.
How Much Spleen Can Dogs Eat?
An average adult dog can safely eat around 1 oz of spleen per day. Take into consideration your dog’s size, age, and activity level when determining how much spleen to feed.
A general guideline for dogs fed a raw diet (raw foods instead of processed kibbles) is that spleen, and other secreting organs should make up 5% of a dog’s daily raw diet.
A calculation of feeding your dog 2.5% of their body weight daily in food, with 5% being spleen, shows that 1 ounce of spleen is plenty for an average-sized (50 lb) dog’s health.
The specific amount of spleen your dog can eat depends mostly on their size and age. Large dogs will eat more spleen than very small toy breed dogs.
Dogs that are pregnant or nursing, puppies that are growing quickly, and actively working dogs may benefit from having a higher percentage of their diet be spleen and other secreting organs.
Check with your veterinarian if your dog falls into one of these categories.
How To Feed Your Dog Spleen
For the highest nutrition benefits, spleen is usually served raw. Dogs are able to safely eat many foods raw that humans cannot.
The one exception to feeding spleen raw is pork.
While some owners may choose to feed pork raw, cooking pork lowers the risk of infection from parasites found in many pork meats.
If you do not like the texture, appearance, or feel of raw spleen, cooking spleen is an option.
Even though the cooking process can take away some nutrients, cooked spleen is still extremely nutrient dense and beneficial to dogs.
Boiling is the most common method for cooking spleen. Simply cut the spleen into chunks and let it simmer in water on the stove for 2-3 hours until tender.
Spleen is a tough meat and may take some time to soften open.
If you are not interested in purchasing and chopping whole spleen, some specialty meat markets and online butcher businesses will provide ground spleen to customers.
Presenting spleen to your dog can be done in several ways.
Mixed Into A Raw Food Meal
If you are planning to feed your dog an entirely raw diet prepared at home, simply chopping spleen into pieces and stirring it in with other ingredients is a fast and simple way to feed it to your dog.
On Top Of Kibble or Canned Food
For owners who feed store-bought kibble or canned food and want to use spleen as a vitamin boost on occasion, such as once or twice a week, spleen can be placed on top of or next to your dog’s usual food.
Placing the spleen on top of the food instead of stirring it in also encourages your dog to try out spleen if they have never had it before.
This allows a dog to smell the spleen and get a taste of it if they want to reach the rest of their food.
The spleen’s unique smell is delicious to many dogs, and dogs who may normally be reluctant eaters may suddenly start eating with joy.
Spleen For Training Or A Reward
When teaching a dog a new trick, it is often recommended to use a treat or reward that the dog can be particularly excited about.
Spleen fits this bill for most dogs while also providing great nutrition.
Because raw spleen can be a bit slimy to the touch, you may choose to use cooked spleen or even freeze-dried spleen treats for training.
Your dog will likely be just as excited for this tasty treat as they would be if it were raw.
If you are using spleen on rare occasions as a reward, you may want to cut down the serving size to small pieces totaling less than one ounce.
Large changes to a dog’s diet can upset their stomach even if the food items are healthy.
When To Feed Your Dog Spleen
It is smart to feed your dog spleen if you want to boost their iron, selenium, zinc, vitamin c, or vitamin d levels. Spleen is one of the most densely packed sources of these nutrients.
Spleen can help support a dog’s immune system, metabolism, and nervous system function. If your dog has struggled with these areas of health, ask your veterinarian about potentially adding spleen to their diet.
Spleen, like many organ meats, carries a unique scent that makes it very appealing to dogs.
As dogs grow older, they can often struggle to smell and taste processed store-bought food.
To help a dog that has become picky enjoy eating again, try giving them some spleen.
Other Considerations When Feeding Your Dog Spleen
Change Your Dog’s Diet Over Time
If your dog is new to eating spleen, introduce it slowly. Even with healthy ingredients, sudden changes to a dog’s diet can lead to stomach upset and irritation.
Offering a healthy new food item to your dog is exciting but take your time.
Start by giving your dog just a few small pieces of spleen and then monitor for any reactions or digestive issues.
Each day you can slightly increase your dog’s spleen intake until you reach the desired amount you want to serve long term.
If your dog begins to display stomach irritation after trying spleen, hold off on offering again for a few days to let their stomach settle.
Keep Your Spleen Fresh
Raw spleen needs to be kept in a refrigerator or freezer.
Animal meat that is left at room temperature will spoil and become a breeding ground for bacteria.
Plan to keep your spleen in a sealed package or wrapped in butcher paper in your refrigerator.
Be aware that even when refrigerated, raw spleen will only last 2-3 days.
Buy what you can use at that time and throw out old spleen if you don’t have a chance to feed it.
Spleen can also be cut into pieces, frozen, and kept in the freezer for 3-4 months.
It may be smart to purchase spleen, portion it into daily amounts, and then freeze it. Each night place one portion in the fridge to thaw for the next day.
Don’t Hesitate To Consult Your Veterinarian
Now that you know about spleen, if you still have questions about the best way to feed it to your dog, check with your veterinarian.
Your veterinarian should know your specific dog’s health history and can help you introduce spleen safely and effectively.
Spleen is a great organ choice for feeding dogs.
It is a mega source of iron, zinc, selenium, and protein. Spleen can be served each day as part of a dog’s regular diet or, on occasion, as a special treat.
Try out a few small pieces with your dog and see what they think!
Other offal-feeding guides you may want to read:
- Can Dogs Eat Tongue?
- Can Dogs Eat Tripe?
- Can Dogs Eat Heart?
- Can Dogs Eat Liver?
- Can Dogs Eat Kidneys?
- Can Dogs Eat Sweetbreads?
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.