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Can Dogs Eat Lamb? Vet Reviewed Benefits Explained

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

large fluffy bernese Mountain Dog with huge paws eating out of blue bowl

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

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

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Our canine friends and fur babies are descendants of wild dogs and wolves, and as such, a carnivore’s diet is still very much hard wired into their DNA. Therefore, they require protein as a part of a healthy, balanced diet. Protein has many roles in our dog’s body such as building and repairing muscles, growing hair, and keeping their immune system strong. We know that dogs can eat beef, chicken, and fish, as it’s readily available in commercial dog food brands. However, lamb is a bit more mysterious when it comes to health value for dogs.

Lamb is safe for dogs and is an excellent source of protein, making it a fantastic food choice for them. In fact, lamb is showing up more in commercial dog foods available online and in stores. That said, there are a few things that you should know before you start offering your dog any lamb from your kitchen.
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The Benefits of Feeding Lamb to Dogs

For dogs, lamb is a complete protein option. This means that lamb has all the essential amino acids a dog needs in their diet. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. In addition, lamb also contains fat (which provides energy alongside other health benefits) and has other vitamins and minerals which are beneficial for your dog’s health.

100-Gram Serving (Roasted Lean Lamb) Amount per Serving
Total energy 196 kcal
Total Fat 9.18
Protein 26.4 Grams

The yield of protein, fat, and calories may vary depending on what cut of lamb you choose to give your pup, and the actual breed of sheep used as the lamb source. The basic cuts of lamb are the shoulder, rack, breast, loin, and leg. However, the protein content of most lean, cooked lamb is 25-26% – so you can rest assured that no matter which cut you choose, you’re providing your pup a food source that is high in protein.

The red meat in lamb promotes healthy skin and a soft, supple coat.1  Lamb has additional vitamins and minerals that provide a wide array of health benefits for your pup. The calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc & copper in lamb play key roles in many metabolic processes throughout your dog’s body and are needed for growth, maintenance, and well-being. Furthermore, lamb can be a great alternate for your pup if they have a beef or chicken allergy.

senior beagle dog eating food from the bowl
Image Credit: Przemek Iciak, Shutterstock

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The Potential Risks of Feeding Your Dog Lamb

Lamb is generally an extremely safe protein choice for your dog, and most dogs readily accept lamb and approve of its taste too. There are, however two things to be wary of: overfeeding and allergies.

Overfeeding is a risk with any protein you choose for your dog, not just lamb. While nutritious and healthy, it is important to note that feeding too much lamb might result in unwanted weight gain for your pup, and the health risks associated with obesity. This risk is somewhat higher if you’re feeding your dog a home made diet, as it may be difficult to properly weigh and portion such diets. It is advised to use the services of a certified dog nutritionist whenever you opt to give your dog homemade meals.

A second potential risk is food allergies. A food allergy happens when your dog’s body incorrectly thinks a certain food item is “bad” and makes antibodies against the ingredient. Though some breeds of dogs might be more susceptible to food allergies, there are many factors that may contribute to an allergy, and as an individual your dog may have an allergy to any food item, not just lamb. That said, lamb allergy isn’t as common in dogs as allergies reported from beef or dairy.

It is best to always start small with any food item you plan to give your dog, and observe them throughout the transition process. Here are some signs to watch out for which may indicate that your dog has an allergy to lamb.

Signs Your Dog Might Be Allergic To Lamb
  • Rashes
  • Hot spots
  • Changes in skin color
  • Itchiness
  • Skin or ear infections
  • Gastrointestinal issues, such as vomiting, gassiness, or diarrhea
Many of these signs may start off as mild, and gradually get worse as your dog continues to eat lamb more regularly. If you suspect that your dog has an allergy to lamb, or any other food item, consult your veterinarian for advice.
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How to Prepare Lamb for Your Dog at Home

It’s never a good idea to serve your dog any lamb that was prepared for you at a restaurant or specialty store because it likely has spices and seasonings that won’t agree with them or might even be toxic to them. For example, garlic is toxic to dogs yet is a common seasoning on lamb. Therefore, you should cook lamb for your dog yourself in the comfort of your kitchen or only purchase lamb that is prepared specifically for dogs.

You can boil, bake, grill, roast, or poach lamb to serve to your dog. Avoid using oil, butter, and seasonings when preparing lamb for your pup. The lamb should be plain and ideally thoroughly cooked through. Always cut lamb into small pieces or grind it up before serving to minimize the risk of choking. For dogs on a raw diet, you would obviously not have to cook the lamb, but it is still best to cut it into manageable bite sized portions or grind the meat.

two fresh lamb hearts
Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

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Can Dogs Eat Lamb Bones?

While lamb is an excellent source of nutrition for dogs, cooked lamb bones shouldn’t be fed to your pup. Cooked bones are dangerous because they break apart easily, and the sharp splinters can become a choking hazard, perforate your dog’s digestive tract, or create an obstruction along their digestive tract.

For dogs on a raw meat diet, caution should be used with giving raw whole bones as part of a meal or for dental enrichment. Enthusiastic dogs may chip or break a tooth as they bite down on a bone, and all dogs should be monitored whenever they are given a raw bone of any kind, as bones are a choking hazard. Small breeds of dogs, young puppies, or toy breeds should not be given raw lamb bones, as their size makes the bone an even greater risk.

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Lamb is a great food option for dogs, just like for humans. It’s full of protein, healthy fats, and many of the vitamins and minerals that are necessary for good health. Dogs typically love the taste of lamb too. If you don’t want to prepare lamb at home for your dog, look for a commercial food brand that includes it, as a change from the traditional chicken and beef options.

Featured Image Credit: Kristesoro, Shutterstock

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