Dogs have evolved from wolves and, as such, they’re supposed to eat a raw diet. Nowadays, with so much readily available and affordable commercial dog food, few pet parents feed their dogs raw meat.
Unless, of course, you’ve converted to the BARF theory and want to offer your pet the chance to eat what they were supposed to eat in the first place.
Still, you cannot ignore the risks. Is raw lamb safe for dogs?
How much raw lamb can you feed your dog?
Are other types of meats preferable? Let’s have a look at all these questions so you can make an informed decision when it comes to your furry friend’s diet.
Can raw lamb make a dog sick?
Any type of raw meat can make a dog sick, there’s no question about that. Is raw lamb more dangerous than other meats? Not really, all types of meat can be contaminated with various bacteria and they can make a dog quite sick, especially if we’re talking about puppies with an underdeveloped immune system, senior pets or dogs suffering from ailments such as kidney disease, liver failure or cancer.
The most common bacteria found in raw meat, including lamb, are:
- Salmonella – This bacteria can cause severe gastrointestinal problems in humans, but less issues in dogs. That’s because most dogs carry this bacteria in their guts, and only a few strains of Salmonella are dangerous. The vast majority of them are innocuous.
Lambs and sheep can be infected with Salmonella and develop Salmonellosis, a disease that has two forms. The enteric disease will manifest itself with diarrhea and other GI issues, while the septic form can lead to multisystemic infection and death.
- E.Coli – Just like Salmonella, E.Coli has a lot of different strains and most of them don’t cause any problem to dogs, sheep or humans. Actually, both dogs and humans carry harmless E.Coli strains in their guts. Those that are dangerous will mostly cause diarrhea, cramping and vomiting. Raw meat infected with E.Coli is particularly dangerous for puppies who can easily get dehydrated and to immunocompromised dogs.
- Clostridium – Sheep can also carry Clostridium, a bacteria family that can cause severe diarrhea, especially in sensitive dogs. However, many dogs carry this bacteria in their guts without showing any symptoms.
Does cooking lamb make it safer to eat?
Cooked lamb should be OK for your dog, as heat destroys most pathogens, including nasty bacteria. However, to be perfectly safe you need to cook lamb thoroughly. Rare meat tastes delicious and your pet will love it, but the inner pink parts might still contain dangerous bacteria. As always, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw lamb as there’s always the risk of contaminating kitchen utensils and surfaces with the bacteria on your hands.
Which are the best and the worst raw lamb bones to feed your dog?
If you’re busy cooking lamb, your pet will want to keep an eye on you, just in case he can guilt trip you into giving a dog a bone, as the saying goes. In case you’re wondering, yes, you can totally give your dog some lamb bones. If it’s mostly for entertainment purposes you should throw him a large, weight-bearing bone, like leg or shoulder bones. Now it’s your turn to keep an eye on him. Dogs need to be monitored while chewing on a big bone, because at some point it might splinter. Let your dog have some fun with it for 15-30 minutes then take the bone away.
Also, you can give your dog rib, flap and tail bones as they are very good for maintaining teeth and gum health.
Why should dogs eat raw lamb bones not cooked lamb bones?
Dogs should not eat cooked bones of any kind. If you’re in the habit of throwing your dog leftovers from the family steak, stop doing that. The heat they are exposed to during the cooking process makes bones brittle and likely to splinter.
If a dog manages to crack the bone, and a vigorous chewer will certainly manage that, he’s at risk of developing serious health issues.
The most immediate risk is choking, if the splinter gets lodged in the dog’s throat. In this case, you should quickly perform the Heimlich maneuver, which works for dogs just as well as it does for humans. Or you can try to open the dog’s mouth wide and see if you can get the splinter out. If the splinter makes it to the stomach, there’s a risk it can perforate the stomach wall and then your dog is in serious trouble. Left untreated, your dog might develop septicemia and die. Also, when splinters move from the stomach they can cause an intestinal obstruction, which will probably require surgery.
If your dog eats a splinter you should take him to the vet, just to be sure.
What is the nutrition in ground raw lamb?
Lamb is very healthy for a dog, as it is an excellent source of protein. Lamb contains many essential amino acids and plenty of dietary fats, which give dogs the energy they need to roam around the garden and chase squirrels. Also, lamb is packed with vitamins and minerals, which support muscle development, promote skin health and give your pet a splendid shiny coat.
A small serving of ground raw lamb (28 grams) provides 80 calories, which is quite a lot, so be careful with that if your dog has a weight problem. At the same time, this tiny serving will provide your dog with a huge dose of vitamin B12, namely 27% of the recommended daily value for humans. It also has Niacin (B3) and Riboflavin (B2).
As for minerals, ground raw lamb is an excellent source of selenium (10% RDA) and zinc (9% RDA), which sustain the normal functioning of your pet’s immune system.
Lamb vs beef vs chicken: which meat is healthier?
When trying to decide which type of meat is better suited for your dog there are a few things to keep in mind – protein content, fat content and calories. You also need to take into account the age of your dog. Puppies and lactating dogs need at least 22% of protein in their diet, while adult dogs only need 18%.
Lamb is an excellent source of digestible protein, but it has a high fat content. Chicken on the other hand, has even more protein and a lower fat content, which makes it preferable.
Beef is also a good source of protein and is quite affordable. However, you should look for lean meat, as you don’t want too many fats in your dog’s diet.
All things considered, all these types of meat are healthy and nutritious for your pet, but if you must pick one, go with chicken, which offers the best protein/fat ratio.
Also, see which is your dog’s favorite meat. Dogs have preferences, too.
How much raw lamb should you feed a dog?
This depends primarily on your dog’s size. If you’re switching to the BARF diet, experts say that a dog should get 2-4% of their body weight as raw meat. For small dogs stick with the higher percentage, while large pets should only get around 2% of their body weight as raw meat.
For instance, a small 10 lbs dog should get 2 – 2,5 lbs of raw meat per week, or around 10 lbs per month.
A large 100 lbs dog needs around 13.5 lbs of raw meat per week or about 54 lbs per month.
Can a dog eat lamb kidneys?
Organ meats are surprisingly rich in essential nutrients. They’re even more nutritious than muscle meat, so there’s no reason your dog shouldn’t get lamb kidneys as an occasional treat. Besides the high protein content, lamb kidneys are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for heart health and have anti-inflammatory properties,
Can a dog eat lamb heart?
Give your dog a lamb heart and he’ll be super happy. It tastes great and it’s also quite healthy for your pet. Lamb hearts have a high protein content and they also provide essential minerals, like iron and zinc.
Which raw meat can’t dogs eat and why?
Theoretically, a dog can eat any type of raw meat. That’s what wolves do in the wild. However, you need to keep in mind the risk of bacterial infestation.
Chicken, for instance, can be infected with Salmonella and other bacteria, but that’s true of lamb and other types of meat as well.
The same goes for raw turkey. You should avoid feeding raw turkey to puppies and elderly dogs with kidney problems.
Likewise, experts do not recommend feeding raw fish to your dog, as they might be infected with Salmonella or Listeria. However, many pet owners opting for a raw diet have no problem feeding their dog fresh uncooked fish.
If you’re trying to transition your dog to a raw diet or if you want to surprise him with a tasty treat, you can give him raw lamb. You can also give your dog meaty lamb bones, but make sure they are large weight-bearing bones, or smaller tail bones which are easy to chew and digest.
However, you should monitor your dog after feeding him raw lamb to make sure they don’t develop gastrointestinal problems. If your dog shows signs like vomiting or diarrhea, have him checked by a vet to rule out a bacterial infestation. Also, if you want to include more raw meat in his diet, give him chicken, which is healthier. Just make sure you don’t give him chicken bones.