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Can Dogs Eat Cow Tongues? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

Written by: Jana Blagojevic

Last Updated on April 9, 2024 by Dogster Team

Can Dogs Eat Cow Tongues? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ


Dr. Karyn Kanowski Photo


Dr. Karyn Kanowski

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Being a responsible pet owner can sometimes be a bit stressful! What is safe? What is toxic? What is the best diet for my dog? There is so much conflicting information out there that it can be difficult to know what is best!

We know that dogs have evolved as facultative carnivores 1. This essentially means that their digestive system, teeth and jaws are well adapted to a carnivorous diet, but that they can also do well on an omnivorous type of diet. Unlike cats, who are classified as obligate carnivores, dogs can do well on a diet that contains proteins from a range of different sources, not just animals. This means that their diet can contain a bit more variety, including vegetables, some fruits and carbohydrates, as well as a wide range of different meats.

Does that include cow tongue? Absolutely. It might seem like a strange ingredient to us, but it is, after all, just a muscle! Let’s take a closer look at the ideal canine diet, and how cow tongue could be a part of it.


The Ideal Dog Diet

The food you give your dog must be well-balanced and contain these five components.

  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Carbohydrates
  • Vitamins & Minerals
  • Water

Protein is vital for their overall health, especially if you have a very active dog—proper protein levels will help maintain energy levels, as well as contribute to bone and muscle growth and development, and is particularly important in young dogs.

Fat is also an essential component of your dog’s diet, with most dogs needing a diet of at least 5-8% fat. The upper limit of this will depend on the age, breed, life stage and activity level of the dog. Carbohydrates are not considered to be a highly essential component of canine diets, but are useful in helping your dog feel full and providing some more long term energy stores.

Your dog’s diet must also contain proper amounts of vitamins and minerals needed to keep the immune system functioning correctly.

The complexities of all this is why most people rely on commercially prepared dog foods, whether they be dry kibble, wet food, or raw food, but some people prefer to prepare their dog’s food at home. This is a perfectly healthy option, provided you are able to address all the nutritional requirements of your pet.

In either case, a bit of variation or a treat is always well received, and a cow tongue is a great way to offer your canine companion a bit of lean muscle meat.


Can Dogs Eat Cow Tongue?

Bichon Frise dog eating from the bowl
Image By: mikeledray, Shutterstock

Yes, dogs can eat cow tongues! Cow tongue, aka beef or ox tongue, is delicious and also very healthy for your dog. But even though they are beneficial for your dog, you should always offer them in moderation. You can buy cow tongues at almost any grocery store or butcher, and you can also purchase cow tongues that are specially made for dogs at any pet store.

Nutritional Value of Cow Tongue (100g)

  • Total fat: 16g
  • Saturated fat: 7g
  • Cholesterol: 87mg
  • Sodium: 69mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 3,7mg
  • Diatery fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 15g
  • Calcium: 6mg
  • Iron: 3mg
  • Potassium: 315mg

Benefits of Feeding Cow Tongue

Cow tongue contains high levels of proteins and fat which are crucial for your dog’s health and for keeping them fit. Cow tongue has less percentage of fat than some other meat, which is excellent not only for dogs but also for humans, plus it contains amino acids that are used for building muscle.

It is one of the most nutritious and affordable treats you can give your canine friend. Even though cow tongues are healthy for your dog, they should be given in moderation. It would be best if you didn’t give them as a whole meal but as an occasional treat.

Risks of Feeding Cow Tongues

There are not many risks when giving your dog cooked cow tongues. However, when giving your dog raw tongues, there is a risk of them getting Salmonella or other bacteria, so we wouldn’t recommend it. The best way of preparing a cow’s tongue is to boil it for a few hours with a pinch of salt. Also, it is essential to note that some dogs may have more difficulty digesting tongues than others, which can result in stomach problems.

The size of the portion will depend on the size of your dog. If you have a small dog, we suggest cutting it into pieces that will be easy to chew and swallow. For a large dog (> 40 lbs), a whole tongue is a great way to get those teeth working! Always supervise your dog when offering a treat like this in case they have difficulty.

If you would like to offer your dog raw cow tongue, the safest option is to freeze it for 3 weeks before thawing it in the fridge. This is the best way to eliminate most pathogens that might be living on the meat.

Sliced cow tongue grilling on the barbeque
Image Credit: Lamhub, Shutterstock


Should Dogs Eat Raw Meat?

Many people are starting to feed their canine companions a raw diet. The raw diet contains a mixture of raw meat and other ingredients such as fruits and vegetables. Many people feel that raw food is more similar to what dogs would eat if they were still living in the wild and that it is healthier than many commercial foods—although there is not yet a significant amount of scientific data to support this.

We suggest that before you start feeding your dog a raw diet, you consult with your veterinarian because, as we said, not having a balanced diet can lead to problems in your dog’s health. Raw meat also contains bacteria and other parasites which would be killed in the cooking process, but with raw meat, there are more risks to your dog, so it is something that needs careful planning and consideration.

divider-dog paw

Final Thoughts

A good diet is crucial for your dog’s health, and your dog can benefit from eating cow tongue. This way, you will have a healthy and nutritious treat for your dog, one that is also very affordable for you to provide. We should always aim to feed our dogs the highest quality protein we can afford, but cow tongue is actually a great option that provides good quality protein at the fraction of the price of a sirloin!

Featured Image Credit: zcw, Shutterstock

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