Is Braunschweiger (Liverwurst) Bad for Dogs?

Adrienne Farricelli

Whether liver wurst is bad for dogs is something dog owners may be wondering about.

Wondering whether liverwurst is bad for dogs? This is certainly a good question considering that many dogs go bonkers over liverwurst. First of all, a clarification needs to be made. What exactly is liverwurst? In many cases, liverwurst is confused with other types of deli meat and sausages that may go by similar sounding names but are totally different products. Differentiating these products is important so avoid confusion.

What is Liverwurst?

So what is liverwurst exactly? Liver wurst, also known as leberwurst or liver sausage, is a typical food consumed in many European countries including Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Denmark, to just name a few. As the name liver sausage implies, liverwurst is a type of sausage that is made of liver.

Now, not all liverwurst is created equally. In the USA, many types of liverwurst are spreadable and contain usually pig or calves' liver. Liverwurst often also contains a variety of spices so read the label carefully to know exactly what is contained in it.

Depending on where you travel, liverwurst may be served in different ways. For instance, in North America it is often served on rye or whole grain bread along with red onions and mustard. In the Southern states and Midwest instead, liverwurst is often served with sweet pickles; whereas, in the Northeast it is served with dill pickles.

On thing to point out is that in the Midwest, liverwurst is also known as Braunschweiger, but in Germany the name Braunschweiger Mettwurst is used to depict a smoked, soft and spreadable sausage made of raw minced pork and added spices. To further confuse things, in the United States and Canada, the word Braunschweiger is used to depict a sausage made of pork liver that is almost always smoked, contains bacon and is stuffed in natural casings, whereas, liverwurst is never smoked nor does it contain bacon.

If you are confused about all of this, just read the label so that you know exactly what is contained within.

Is Liverwurst Bad for Dogs?

In general, liverwurst isn't bad for dogs, so much so that even veterinarians at times recommend its use. For instance, veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker in an article for DVM360, suggests feeding high-value treats such as Deli turkey, Braunschweiger and liver treats to dogs who are fearful of going to the vet. These treats "will win you a friend for life," he remarks.

Veterinarian Dr. Rebecca also suggests trying liverwurst to get dogs to take their medication. She claims: "the best way I know to get a dog to take distasteful medication is to put it in liverwurst. It can be formed around the pill."

The truth is, most dogs go bonkers over liverwurst. It’s very smelly and has a strong flavor which attracts dogs if you need to do some serious training. Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Gary Landsberg in his book " Behavior: A Guide For Practitioners, An Issue of Veterinary Clinics of North America" suggests using Braunschweiger to condition a dog to wear a muzzle.

However, everything in moderation. Liverwurst is over all rich. Some dogs with sensitive tummies don't do well when they eat things they are not used to which may lead to an annoying bout of vomiting or diarrhea. In a very small dog, consider that the fat content in liver wurst can potentially trigger a bout of pancreatitis. Also, some ingredients in the product may be troublesome. For example, some types of liver wurst may contain onion which is an ingredient you may want to avoid considering the risks for Heinz anemia.