Have you just read about another dog food recall on Facebook?
Or is your dog growing tired of eating his kibble day in day out.
It’s time for a change and you are thinking of jazzing things up by adding some beef into his diet.
But how appropriate would it be to start feeding your dog beef?
People love beef.
In the US this year it is thought that the average American will eat nearly 59 lbs (30 kg) of it.
I mean to put that into some kind of context, Americans will eat even more chicken (99 lbs) but still you can see why people might be considering beef for their dog.
How much beef to feed daily?
I want to keep this question really simple and I will do this by focusing on just two things.
Firstly, I will look at how much beef you should give your dog everyday.
I will explain some calculations as if your dog is only eating beef.
Secondly I will take a look at whether your dog should only be eating beef or whether they should be eating other meats.
I want to keep it focused, because the alternative is to get confused with lots of different factors.
In this post, I will presume that you want to use it as part of a raw food diet.
My dogs are on a raw food diet and they are fed around 2% of their body weight in meat per day.
I have two Golden Retrievers, who are quite small.
They both weigh around 30 KG or 60 lbs.
Two percent of 30 KG is 600 g.
And my dogs eat 300 grams of meat twice a day.
Most suppliers of raw dog food recommend that dogs eat between 2 and 3% of their body weight in food per day.
If you can’t be bothered to work it out yourself, use a calculator.
This calculator is designed specifically for raw food.
All you need to know is your dog’s current weight and whether you want them to gain, lose or maintain their current weight.
And in seconds, it will spit out a number at you.
Whatever the number says, start giving your dog that amount of beef and stick it for a couple of weeks.
As you and your dogs get used to this new diet, you can then start adjusting it if your dog starts to lose or gain too much weight.
Which is what I do.
On average my dogs will eat 600 g a day.
But for some of the time, when they are shedding, I might feed them 700 g a day.
I do this because I’m familiar with what an ideal weight for each of my dogs is.
And when I notice a change in their weight, I change the amount that they are eating.
As you can see from my calculations, I make relatively small changes to the amounts that they are eating so that I see a weight gain or loss over a few weeks.
I don’t panic when my dog has lost weight and double the amount that they are eating
Or even worse, do a knee jerk reaction when they have gained weight and half their portion sizes.
The poor things would be distraught!
Just make small changes and expect to see a difference in a couple of weeks not days.
Should I feed my dog beef everyday?
So having explained what amount of beef you should be feeding your dog everyday, in this section I want to take a look at whether your dog should only eat beef.
And the simple answer to this is that your dog should eat a range of different animal meats.
Dogs need four basic things from any food that they eat:
I have created a chart that shows how much protein, fat, vitamin A, vitamin B3 (niacin), iron and zinc a dog needs for every kilogram of food that they eat.
Now a dog needs far more vitamins and minerals than those.
But I am just adding those to keep things simple.
|Vitamin A||5000 IU/ KG|
|Vitamin B3||13.6 mg/kg|
How close does ground beef come to meeting these nutritional requirements?
|Vitamin A||5000 IU/ KG|
|Vitamin B3||13.6 mg/kg||43 mg/ kg|
|Iron||40 mg||27 mg|
|Zinc||80 mg||16 mg|
We can see here that ground beef is too high in protein and has almost double the fat content of a balanced diet.
I couldn’t find the correct information about the quantity of vitamin A which is in ground beef.
But it has over three times the recommended amount of vitamin B3.
And it doesn’t have nearly enough iron or zinc in it.
And it isn’t that beef is the only meat that doesn’t meet the requirements.
Each type of meat has a nutrition profile which differs from the science based figures.
As you can see from the chart below.
|Iron||40 mg||Iron||4.2 mg||Iron||27 mg||Iron||17.8||Iron||7 mg|
|Zinc||80 mg||Zinc||8.6 mg||Zinc||16 mg||Zinc||46 mg||Zinc||6 mg|
And so the secret is to give your dog a mixture of meats in order to give them a balanced diet.
But if there is something about beef that you just can’t let go, I have a couple of solutions for you.
How to buy a balanced beef diet
So you want your dog to only eat beef and to have a perfectly balanced diet?
Well, there are two ways to get this.
One is to buy bags of dry dog food which are beef flavoured and labelled as “complete” and the other is to buy cans of wet dog food which are labelled as complete and are beef flavoured.
That way you have killed two birds with one stone…
In the next section I want to stick with beef and chat a little bit about the pros and cons of feeding raw beef or cooked beef.
Raw beef vs cooked beef
Up until this point, I have presumed that you would want to feed your dog raw beef instead of cooked beef.
But what are the differences and which is better?
Any raw meat, not just beef tends to have more nutrients than cooked meat but that depends on how long a meat is cooked for and at what temperature.
In reality, the difference in nutrition is minor.
Nutrition aside, the main difference between raw and cooked beef is that cooked beef will not have any nasty bacteria in it, whilst raw beef might.
Raw beef might contain either salmonella or Ecoli.
However, the likelihood of the raw beef that you buy containing any harmful bacteria is thought to be less than half of one percent according to a report by the USDA.
And your dog will be less susceptible to this bacteria than you are, because of the way that their digestion system works.
You just need to handle raw meat carefully.
Up until this point, I have kind of presumed that your dog is an adult.
But how appropriate is beef for puppies?
How much beef should a puppy have?
Puppies can start eating beef as soon as they have stopped weaning which is around the 8 week mark.
The transition onto raw food should be slow and take a couple of weeks.
You should start off with one type of meat in order to give the digestion system time to acclimatise.
So you could start off with beef.
But remember that after a week or so you will need to add in meats from different animals.
In terms of how much you should feed them you can either choose to feed them 10% of their current weight (which will change every few days) or 2-3 % of their probable adult weight.
And remember, that is only a guide. You need to adjust it according to if your dog is getting a little too chubby or is too skinny.
Having moved from talking about adult dogs to talking about puppies…
It is now time to shift focus once more and to look at whether beef is something that you should feed dogs with certain medical conditions…
Can a diabetic dog eat beef?
Yes, beef is a great addition to a diet for a dog with diabetes
Indeed any type of animal meat is ideal as long as it is lean meat.
You want to buy the cuts with the lowest fat content.
In the case of ground beef, buy cuts which are 7% fat as opposed to the more standard portions which are 20% fat.
¹ Photo by Danielle Scott