Getting adequate protein is so important to your dog’s diet. While you can create a vegetarian diet your dog really does better when meat is part of their diet. Are all meats created equal? Read on to learn about the best meats for your pup!
Benefits of Feeding Meat to Your Dog
Meat provides great benefits to our dogs. First, meat is a great source of protein that your dog needs to feel full and stay healthy. It also contains taurine, an amino acid that may play a role in preventing dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs. The FDA is currently investigating a link between DCM in dogs and diets. As grain-free diets became more popular, more pups were being diagnosed. One of the current theories is that this may be due to a taurine deficiency.
The Most Popular Meats for Dogs
Chicken is a popular protein for pups for many reasons. Primarily because Chicken is an affordable and readily available source of protein. At Ollie, our Chicken Recipe combines chicken muscle and organ meat with rice, pumpkin, and carrots to create a nutritious and balanced meal for your dog.
While it is certainly one of the most popular proteins it is also common for pups to have chicken allergies. If you notice your pup displaying any symptoms of food allergies you’ll want to chat with your vet and discuss putting your pup on a chicken-free diet.
Another high-quality protein source that is widely available for dogs is beef. It’s used in many commercial dog foods including Ollie! We use muscle and organ meat from the cow to give your pup the best nutrition. Our Beef Recipe is an excellent choice for pups who are allergic to chicken or poultry or for pups who prefer the taste of beef.
One thing that is important to know about beef-based dog foods is that companies can use a variety of different cuts. While most of these cuts are similar from a nutrient standpoint, they can vary widely in price.
If you decide to cook beef for your pup, choose a leaner cut or drain off the excess fat before sharing. If your pup is under the weather you can use ground beef and rice for a bland diet. Just be sure to boil or brown the beef and skim off all of the fat. In the case the meat should be a little dry.
Yes! Your pup can enjoy grilled or baked salmon with you. Even if you enjoy your piece medium or medium-rare it is important that you cook your pup’s piece to well done. While salmon doesn’t looks as good on paper as beef or chicken it has one key component that they lack.
Although it is modest in protein and high in fat, salmon is an incredible source of Omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help with everything from your pup’s coat and brain to their joints. Omega-3’s are also important to help keep away inflammation. While Ollie doesn’t make a salmon recipe, you can certainly offer some to your pup with their favorite food.
Lamb is another great meat choice for pups. While not as common as Chicken, Beef, or Turkey, it can often be used for pups with food allergies. Since the water content of lamb is higher than beef or chicken you will need more to reach the same level of protein. If you feed Ollie’s Lamb Recipe that won’t be your concern. We do all the cooking and mixing for you so that you only have to open the package and let your pup chow down.
Not just for Thanksgiving, your pup can enjoy turkey all year. Leaner and slightly lower in fat than chicken the taste of turkey delights many pup’s taste buds. Turkey is a great choice of protein for your pup. They can enjoy some of the turkey you make at the holidays as long as you hold the garlic and onions as well as any rich sauces or gravies.
If you love to cook for your pup, you can roast a turkey breast in the oven. You'll need the internal temperature to reach at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure that any pathogens are killed in the cooking process. If you don’t have time to roast a turkey breast or brown some ground turkey for your pup, you’re in luck. Ollie makes a delicious Turkey Recipe that your pup can enjoy without dirtying any dishes (other than their bowl).
Other sources of meat for dogs
While it’s not super common, offering the other white meat to your pup is actually just fine. You want to avoid the fattier cuts as well as anything cured like bacon, ham, and sausage as these can cause pancreatitis or make your pup gain weight too quickly. The salt and nitrates in these products aren't great for your pup either.
The leaner cuts of pork are a perfectly acceptable protein for your dog. Like any other protein source on this list, you do not want to offer pork to your pup raw or undercooked. This is because raw or undercooked pork can cause trichinosis. Feel free to brown up some plain ground pork and drain off the fat and share with your pup. There are only a few commercially made dog foods that contain pork, far less than most of the other proteins we’ve reviewed.
Bison or Buffalo (yes they’re technically two different animals but the terms are used frequently interchangeably) are acceptable sources of protein for your pup. If someone in the family is a hunter or you have access to this game meat, you can offer it to your pup. We know we sound like a broken record, but please cook it thoroughly first.
Leaner than beef but still meaty in flavor, bison can offer your pup some variety and delicious flavor. It’s also important to know that bison is lower in protein than beef so adjust your portion sizes accordingly. You can find bison based food available commercially as well if you aren’t into serving as your dog’s personal chef!
If your pup is a picky eater, duck might be just the temptation they need to devour their dinner. Sometimes blended into commercial diets, duck is probably one of the less popular proteins for pups. This could be due to its high-fat content or high cost. If your pup needs to lose a few pounds it might be best to skip the duck or use it only in moderation.
Exotic meat sources used in dog foods
For some pups with food allergies or adventurous palates, the meats listed above might not cut it. In recent years exotic meats like crocodile, kangaroo, ostrich, and even pheasant have found their way into dog food recipes.
If you are considering feeding exotic meat to your pup, chat with your vet first to ensure you understand the nutritional profile and any risks. BEG (Boutique, Exotic, Grain-Free) diets have come under scrutiny in recent years, so be sure to do your research first.
How much meat should my dog eat?
While protein is a very important component of your dog’s diet, like anything else, too much of a good thing can be bad. The Association for American Feed Control Officials recommends that dog food that is fed to adult dogs for maintenance has a minimum of 18% protein. For dogs in the growth and reproduction life stages, they raise this recommendation to 22%.
At Ollie, meat is a key ingrediet in all four of our Recipes. We use human-grade muscle and organ meats and mix them with fruit, vegetables and other superfoods to keep your pup healthy and interested in our food.
Although you can pick just one Ollie Recipe, we enourage you to try any of our Recipes that are appropriate for your pup so they can enjoy a varity of proteins and flavors as well as the health benefits that come along with them.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.