Have you been looking for meat options to feed your dog? Finding meat to feed your dog can be a pricey adventure. In your search, you may have seen affordable tongue on sale at your local butcher. Are you wondering if you can or should feed tongue to your dog? Well, I’ve taken an inside look at feeding animal tongues to dogs to help you out!
So, can dogs eat tongue? Dogs can eat the tongue of ruminant (grass-eating) animals. In fact, dogs can get healthy fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals from eating tongue meat. However, tongues should not make up more than 20% of a dog’s overall diet. It is best offered as a treat.
The tongue is technically a muscle but, nutritionally, is closer to organs or offal.
We’ll find out why it should only be fed in moderation shortly. But first. What tongues can dogs eat?
Let’s get into it.
What Tongues Can Dogs Eat?
Dogs can safely eat several types of tongues, including cows, pigs, and sheep. While more challenging to source, deer, horse, and ox tongues are good choices to feed too.
Below we will look at three common choices for tongue that can be served to dogs and their benefits.
One of the most popular forms of tongue to feed dogs is cow tongue.
Cow tongue is popular because it is available for affordable prices at many butcher shops.
If you let your local butcher know you would like to purchase cow tongue, they can usually get some for you easily, even if they don’t normally advertise it.
Cow tongue is a great source of vitamin B12, iron, and zinc, along with several other vitamins and minerals.
It is also high in calories which is great for dogs who are very active.
Cow tongue is well-balanced when it comes to fat content.
Some cuts of cow can be quite high in fat, and while a bit of fat is good for dogs, the slightly lower fat content of beef tongue makes it a great option for treating your dog.
Cow tongue is often processed into specialty treats for pet stores.
However, the full nutritional benefits of cow tongue are best received when it is unprocessed, direct from the butcher.
Another popular tongue choice is pork tongue.
As with cow tongue, this option is very affordable compared to many other meat cuts.
The ease of finding pork tongue can depend on where you live and if pork is a regularly raised meat in your area.
Pork tongue is high in healthy protein along with several healthy vitamins.
Pork tongue is lower in calories than beef tongue per 100-gram serving.
This makes it a good choice for dogs who are looking to add protein to their diet but may be watching their weight.
It should be noted that while many types of meat can be served raw, pork in any form should be cooked before being fed to your dog.
This includes cooking pork tongue before feeding. Dogs who eat raw pork are at risk for parasite infection.
A third kind of tongue that you may find people serving their dogs is sheep tongue.
Locally sourced lamb tongue may be harder to find than cow or pig tongue, depending on where you live.
Lamb tongues can be purchased from online butchers but will be less fresh with a slightly higher price point.
Although lamb tongue may be harder for some to find, it is readily available to others in areas where sheep are commonly raised.
Lamb’s tongues are a safe alternative to beef and pork tongues.
Like other tongue meats, lamb tongue is a good source of healthy dietary fat that dogs need in their daily diets.
Lamb’s tongue is a middle-calorie food that is filled with protein, vitamin B12, and iron.
Other Types Of Tongue
While cow, pig, and sheep tongues are the most common options for feeding to dogs, most dogs can eat a wide variety of animal tongues safely. This includes deer tongue, horse tongue, and ox tongue.
The main difficulty with feeding other tongue types is that they can be hard to find for sale unless the given animal is regularly raised and butchered in your area.
How Much Tongue Can Dogs Eat?
The general guideline is that tongue, when served as part of a dog’s regular meal plan, can make up between 5-10% of their daily diet.
Some people may feed their dogs up to 20%, but you may find that feeding this much tongue doesn’t allow you to easily include other food items to round out your dog’s nutrition.
If you are feeding tongue as an occasional treat, simply giving small amounts now and then is acceptable.
Remember, suddenly feeding your dog a large amount of a new food could cause stomach upset.
Instead, try small tongue pieces and increase them over time.
Tongue should not be the only item you feed to your dog.
While tongue is healthy for dogs, it does not provide all the nutrients a dog needs to stay healthy on its own.
Always use tongue as a piece of a diet balanced with other nutrition sources.
Should I Cook Tongue Before Feeding It To My Dog?
There is much debate over what meat dogs can safely eat raw and what ones must be cooked. To side with caution, it is a smart idea to cook tongue before feeding it to your dog.
Pork must be cooked before being fed to dogs.
Raw pork can carry larvae of the parasite Trichinella which is not visible to the human eye.
Dogs can be infected with this parasite after eating raw pork and become very ill. Always cook pork tongue.
Some owners may choose to serve beef tongue or sheep tongue raw, but this does come with risks.
Salmonella poisoning is a possibility when serving raw meats to an animal.
Although rare, the disease can be quite serious.
Cooking animal tongue before feeding it removes salmonella risks.
For puppies, tongues should always be cooked as they are more likely to experience infections and sickness from bacteria exposure.
How To Cook Tongue For Dogs
The most common way to cook animal tongues is by boiling them on a stovetop.
Simply fill a large pot about halfway with water and add a pinch of salt. Add the tongues you desire to cook to the pot and bring the tongues and water to a boil.
Once boiling, lower the temperature, cover, and simmer beef tongue for 2-3 hours.
Pork and sheep tongue may take less time to cook, being able to simmer for around 1.5 hours.
Keep an eye on your tongue the first few times to find a time that works best for you.
When fully cooked, the outer layer of the tongue will begin to peel away from the rest of the tongue, and the tongue will be soft and easy to pierce with a fork.
To be certain pork is cooked through, a meat thermometer should read 145 degrees Fahrenheit/63 degrees Celsius when inserted.
How To Feed Your Dog Tongue
Once it has been cooked, there are a few ways that you can serve tongue to your dog.
On Top Of Their Normal Food
For an owner who wants to give their dog an occasional nutrition boost or who wants to help their dog take new interest in their usual food, feeding tongue directly on top of their dog’s food is a good idea.
Placing the tongue on top of the food allows the scent of the tongue to easily reach your dog’s nose and catch their interest.
It can tempt a finicky eater into getting started on a meal they were not previously interested in.
Tongue Chopped and Mixed With Food
If your dog has trouble chewing whole tongues, tongue is easy to cut into bite-size pieces and mix into food.
This evenly distributes the tongue through the food and helps to prevent your dog from eating tongue too quickly, which can lead to an upset stomach.
Tongue As A Treat
Tongue can be fed in small pieces as a treat or a larger piece as a chewy snack.
If tongue is going to be a very rare treat for your dog, don’t overdo the amount you fed.
It is a rich and healthy food, but dogs’ stomachs can be sensitive to new food items.
Tongue is often processed and dehydrated, then sold at pet stores as a treat.
This is a good treat choice for many dogs, even if processing the tongue does lower some of its nutritional value.
Dogs generally enjoy animal tongues, and most will like this nutritious surprise.
When To Feed Your Dog Tongue
Tongue is safe to feed as part of a whole food diet for dogs, mixed in with other meat products. Transitioning to a whole food (instead of store-bought kibble) diet should be done slowly and with the knowledge and guidance of your veterinarian.
Tongue makes a good topper for kibble when a dog is picky or may not being showing as much interest in food as normal.
Dogs who are aging often lose some of their sense of smell and taste which can make eating less fun.
Adding tongue can introduce new stronger scents and flavors that encourage your dog to eat.
As said earlier, tongue is also an occasionally good treat.
It is cheap, has many nutrients, and is something dogs can look forward to receiving as part of a training session or as a reward for simply being adorable.
Other Considerations When Feeding Your Dog Tongue
If Feeding Raw: Know The Signs Of Infection
If you choose to feed your dog raw cow or sheep tongue, make sure you know the signs of Salmonella infection.
While this is not a common infection, it can be life-threatening.
Signs of salmonella infection in dogs include sudden diarrhea, sudden and frequent vomiting, lethargy (extreme tiredness), and avoiding food.
If your dog shows signs of illness after eating tongue, or any other meat product, call your veterinarian for advice right away.
The Best Places To Find Tongue
Tongue can be found in some grocery stores with well-developed meat departments or public markets.
The easiest place to find a selection of tongues is usually at a local butcher or meat locker (place where animals are processed for their meat).
If you do not have a supermarket or butcher nearby, you can also purchase tongues online for slightly higher price than purchasing locally.
Tongue that has been dehydrated or processed into shelf-stable tongue treats can be found at many pet stores in the natural food or treat section.
Storing Tongue Before Feeding
Tongue should be stored in the refrigerator and can safely be stored for three days in an airtight container.
In a deep freezer, frozen tongue can last for three months.
Tongue should not be kept at room temperature for longer than the time it takes to serve it to your dog.
Tell Your Vet About Any Major Diet Changes
Serving tongue to your dog in small portions on top of a meal or as a treat can usually be done without consulting your vet.
However, if you plan to make tongue a regular part of your dog’s nutrition, then you should be sure to let your veterinarian know.
They may have suggestions of their own on where to find tongue, how to prepare it, and will likely know specific health information for your dog.
Tongue is an often underrated animal meat that is a great option for feeding to dogs.
It carries vitamins such as B12, has a healthy balance of fatty acids, and is packed with protein and iron.
I recommend cooking tongue before serving and storing any unused cow tongue in the refrigerator for only a few days.
Consider trying tongue out with your dog to see how they like it!
Wondering what offal dogs can eat? Be sure to read my guide below:
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.