Dogs aren’t carnivores, but we all know they need a lot of meat in their diet to stay healthy. As far as human diets are concerned, beef is one of the most common and versatile meats there is and we use it in countless meals from a homely stew, Sunday roast, and suppertime staple spag bol.
Even doggy dinners seem to use this red meat as a staple ingredient, and many dog food recipes use beef as a main protein source. But other than an ingredient in your dog’s dinner, can dogs eat beef alone as a snack or treat, or munch on bones or beef jerky? Let’s find out!
Luckily for Fido, dogs can eat beef and it is a nutritious protein source in their diets. Because this brilliant protein source is safe and healthy for most dogs, your pooch can thrive eating dog food that uses beef as the main ingredient. You can also use bits of cooked beef as a healthy and tasty treat for your furry friend, and it makes a high-value reward during training!
Even though we humans need to moderate how much red meat we eat to keep our gut healthy, dogs don’t have this problem. In fact, they can eat beef as part of every meal as long as their food is perfectly balanced to provide all the nutrients they need to stay healthy.
Most dogs can eat raw beef and provided your pup finds raw meat appetising, a couple of small pieces of plain, uncooked beef can make a delicious and nutritious treat.
However, some dogs don’t like raw beef and will turn their nose up at it. Additionally, raw meat has a risk of carrying harmful bacteria like salmonella which can make both you and your dog sick if you ingest it.
Although many dogs can eat raw beef, it isn’t suitable or safe for every dog, especially if it becomes the bulk of their diet. A dog eating lots of raw beef as the main ingredient in their meals might develop vitamin or mineral deficiencies if their meals aren’t providing complete nutrition.
Meanwhile, some dogs simply have sensitive stomachs that can’t handle raw beef very well, and eating it can cause gastroenteritis, diarrhoea, or other digestive issues.
In short, dogs can eat raw beef but there is the potential it might make your pooch sick. You can try feeding them little pieces of lean, raw beef to see if they like it and can digest it, and offer them some more if they seem perfectly fine!
Dogs can eat beef mince and many people use boiled beef mince and rice as to create a bland meal for their pup if they’re feeling sick. Beef mince is perfectly safe for your dog to eat and they can munch on mince whether it is raw or cooked, but raw mince has the same risks as any sort of raw beef. Just make sure your mutt’s mince is always served plain without any seasonings or spices.
Beef jerky is a scrumptious, protein-packed snack, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was a delicious and healthy treat for dogs. Although dried beef isn’t necessarily bad for dogs, the problem is that we humans cure it with all kinds of spices from salt and pepper to chilli and garlic.
Some of these seasonings, like chilli, are known to irritate canine digestive systems and might cause uncomfortable stomachache, vomiting or diarrhoea. Meanwhile, other ingredients like onion and garlic are considered toxic to dogs.
Even if your beef jerky only contains salt, your pooch should only ever eat a bite or two as a special treat. A bit of salt is safe for dogs, but eating too much can cause dehydration or sodium poisoning.
However, you can buy beef jerky treats that are made especially for dogs and don’t have any of the seasonings that could upset their tummy. You can also try making your own beef jerky at home, so you can control exactly what ingredients go into the beefy treat you and your dog are eating!
Yes, dogs can eat beef bones as long as they are raw. Chewing on bones is a great way for your dog to exercise their jaw muscles, and chowing down on a raw meaty bone can even help to clean their teeth.
Be aware that bone marrow is very fatty and can cause pancreatitis if your pooch eats a lot of it. If your dog has already suffered from pancreatitis in the past or requires a low-fat diet, they shouldn’t eat bones with marrow in.
However, even raw bones can still cause problems. Your dog might damage their teeth chewing in a hard bone, and broken pieces of bone are a potential choking hazard or can cause intestinal obstruction. Therefore you should always supervise your pooch while chewing any bones, even raw ones.
No, your dog shouldn’t eat cooked beef bones or any kind of cooked bone. Cooking breaks down the honeycomb structure of bone, making it much more brittle and likely to snap and splinter if your pooch chews on it.
These sharp shards of bone can seriously hurt your dog, cutting their mouth or even piercing their throat or intestines if they swallow them. And let's face it, most dogs don’t spit out whatever they chew, so it is possible they’ll swallow some sharp splinters and cause themselves an injury!
A dog can technically eat beef steak fat because it’s non-toxic, but you shouldn’t let them.
This is because even though dogs need animal fat in their diet to stay healthy, they are surprisingly sensitive to the stuff. If they eat too much fat it can upset their stomach and put a strain on their digestive system, causing gastroenteritis or vomiting and diarrhoea. Eating steak fat also runs the risk of triggering pancreatitis, a serious illness that can sadly be fatal for some dogs.
Beef is super good for your dog and many pups thrive on balanced dog food that uses beef as the main ingredient. But what makes beef so brilliant for your pooch?
The most obvious benefit of beef for dogs is that is packed full of protein. Dogs need plenty of protein to stay healthy because every new protein their body makes needs to use other proteins and amino acids from their food to make it. It’s a bit like how you break apart lego bricks from one creation to build something new.
Your dog uses proteins for almost everything their body does, from creating hormones and enzymes, to synthesising new DNA, as well as growing fur, muscle, and skin tissue.
Beef also has lots of nifty nutrients that are vital in your dog’s diet. There are minerals like iron, zinc, phosphorus, and selenium. Phosphorus works alongside calcium to keep your pup’s teeth and bones strong, while iron prevents anaemia and allows your dog’s blood to carry oxygen around their body. Selenium protects all the cells in your pooch’s body, and zinc is used for loads of different functions from growing hair to producing hormones, maintaining healthy vision, and improving their memory and brain function.
There’s also a blend of different B vitamins, B12, B3, and B6. These work to help your dog’s body to create and use enzymes properly, prevents anaemia, and supports the creation of red blood cells.
All in all, beef is unquestionably good for your furry friend! Dogs can safely eat beef every day as a major part of their diet. They cannot live on beef alone though, and your pup will still need to eat a complete dog food to make sure they get all the other nutrients they need to stay happy and healthy.
Although beef is typically safe for dogs to eat, it is also one of the most common canine allergens. Most doggy allergies are caused by proteins, and beef and dairy are two of the most common triggers.
Your pooch could also develop a dietary intolerance to beef. Intolerances are different to allergies because they don’t trigger your dog’s immune system. So they aren’t as dangerous as allergies, but they can still cause discomfort and declining health in your dog. Repeatedly eating the disagreeable ingredient can cause inflammation and irritation in their gut, which will impact their digestion and stop them from absorbing all the nutrients from their food as well as they should.
Dogs can eat beef and as long as your pooch isn’t allergic, they can safely munch this meat every day as part of a balanced diet or snack on bits of beef as a healthy treat. Most dogs can eat beef whether it’s raw or cooked, just as long as it is kept plain and doesn’t have any sauces or seasonings smothered on it.
If you're wanting to use this delicious red meat as the main protein source in your dog's dinners, look no further than Pure! We've got recipes tailored to your dog that use beef as the main ingredient (if your dog is a fan of beef, we've got plenty of other proteins), and made complete and balanced for your dog through a combination of fruit and veggies. We want to make sure your pup gets every bit of nutrition they need in every bite.
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.