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What Is Lamb Meal in Dog Food? Health Facts & FAQ

Cassandra Kyser

By Cassandra Kyser

Lamb meal in a black container

There is a lot of confusion over the use of meat meals in pet food. What exactly is “lamb meal?” Is it okay for your dog to eat? Learn more about this increasingly common dog food ingredient.

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What Is the Difference Between Lamb Meal and Lamb in Dog Food?

“Lamb meal” and “lamb” are two dog food ingredients that sound similar but are different. Lamb is meat, which is simply the muscle tissue from young sheep, and lamb meal is tissue that has undergone a special process called rendering.

During the rendering process, lamb meat is first ground to a uniform size. Then it is cooked to remove all moisture and fat. Lastly, it is ground a second time. The final product is a high-protein powder.

Is Lamb Meal Healthy for Dogs?

The short answer is, “Yes.” Lamb is a red meat that contains dietary fats and essential amino acids that dogs need to stay healthy. Many dogs that cannot tolerate common protein sources like beef or poultry do well on a lamb-based diet.

Brown Dog Eating
Image Credit: Mart Production, Pexels

Why Not Just Use Lamb? What Are the Benefits of Lamb Meal in Dog Food?

Lamb must be refrigerated or frozen, but lamb meal is shelf-stable, making it easier to transport and store. Because the rendering process removes all moisture and fat, a pound of lamb meal contains more protein than a pound of lamb.

Using lamb meal also keeps dog food affordable. Lamb that isn’t human-grade and scraps leftover from the butchering industry can be turned into lamb meal. This is a product that would otherwise go to waste.

Is Lamb Meal or Chicken Meal Better for Dogs?

One protein source isn’t necessarily better than the other. Some dogs are allergic to chicken but not lamb, and vice versa. Other dogs can eat either protein but prefer one flavor over the other. Many dogs will eat whatever you put in their bowl!

Your wallet may be a deciding factor in which food you purchase. Most dog foods that contain lamb as a primary ingredient cost more than chicken-based formulas.

Where Does Lamb Meal in Dog Food Come From?

There are relatively few sheep farms in the U.S. compared to other countries. Many domestic pet food producers must rely on foreign exporters such as Australia and New Zealand. High-quality dog food brands are transparent about where they get their protein sources. Check the company’s website if the packaging doesn’t state this information.

Lhasa Apso dog eating in a blue plastic dog bowl
Image Credit: Aurelie le moigne, Shutterstock

What Dog Food Brands Contain Lamb Meal?

Dog food containing lamb meal was once hard to find. Today, more and more brands produce lamb-based dog food to meet consumer demand. Some highly-rated formulas include Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice, Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Lamb Meal & Brown Rice, and Solid Gold NutrientBoost Hund-N-Flocken Lamb, Brown Rice & Pearled Barley.

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Lamb tissue is ground and cooked to create lamb meal. This high-protein powder does not require refrigeration, making it easy for pet food manufacturers to transport and store. Some dogs that are sensitive to other types of protein can tolerate lamb. If you don’t mind paying premium prices, a dog food with lamb meal may be for you.

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Featured Image Credit: ThamKC, Shutterstock

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