We all know that dogs need plenty of protein in their diets to stay healthy, and lamb is one of the most accessible and tasty meats out there for humans and hounds to snack on. Like most meats, you probably assume that dogs can eat lamb safely and you wouldn’t be wrong.
However, there are a few rules about feeding lamb to dogs, and there are times when you might not want your pup munching this meaty treat. So let us lead you through the basics about when dogs can eat lamb, and all the kinds of chops they can chomp.
Yes, dogs can eat lamb and this rich, red meat makes a delicious treat for your furry friend, or a great ingredient in many dog foods. It’s packed full of protein, amino acids, and other nutrients that your pooch needs to stay in tip-top shape.
If your pooch is allergic to another kind of meat like chicken, fish, or beef, then switching up their dinners to food that uses lamb means they’ll safely avoid their allergens and still get all the protein they need to stay healthy.
Dogs can eat and digest raw lamb and it’s a rich source of protein for Fido. Raw lamb cut into little chunks can make a highly valuable training treat for your dog, and you might find your mutt goes barking mad for the tasty tidbits.
However, there are some risks that come with feeding raw meat and it isn’t safe for all dogs to scoff.
It’s advised that dogs with developing or weakened immune systems shouldn’t eat raw lamb or any sort of raw meat. That includes puppies and dogs with an autoimmune disorder or cancer. The rich meat is also a problem for dogs with kidney or liver disease, who should also avoid raw lamb.
Raw meat is harder to digest compared to cooked meat, which means dogs with digestive issues or sensitive stomachs are better off eating cooked lamb as it’s less likely to pup-set their belly. There’s also the risk of the meat being contaminated with salmonella or E. coli which can make you and your pooch seriously ill if eaten, even if they’re otherwise healthy.
No, your dog shouldn’t eat lamb fat. When you offer lamb to your pooch you should cut the skin and fat off. (The skin is high in fat too!) These fatty offcuts can upset a dog’s stomach and cause diarrhoea, but more worryingly they can also trigger pancreatitis. It’s been known for some dogs to eat a fatty lamb chop and develop acute pancreatitis, which can be fatal, so it’s im-paw-tent that you don’t feed your dog lumps of lamb fat.
Yes, your dog can eat lamb liver and this organ meat is like a doggy multivitamin because it’s rich in vitamin A, vitamins B2, B9, B12, copper and iron.
Vitamin A is paw-some for your dogs overall wellbeing and it keeps their eyes healthy. The cocktail of B vitamins benefits their whole body by keeping their cells healthy, boosting brain function, and forming DNA and red blood cells.
Meanwhile, copper is important for your pup’s brain function, metabolism, and it keeps their bones, collagen, and connective tissue strong. Iron helps to prevent anaemia, and it works alongside copper to produce haemoglobin, which carries oxygen around your pup’s body.
As well as all those vitamins and minerals, lamb liver is a super source of protein. However, you must make sure they only eat a small amount of liver to prevent the risk of vitamin A toxicity.
Yes, dogs can eat lamb kidney, and like other organ meats, it’s packed full of nutrients as well as being a tasty meaty treat for your furry friend. Quite like liver, lamb kidney is rich in vitamin A, some B vitamins, and iron.
As well as being a brilliant source of protein, lamb heart is chock full of taurine and coenzyme Q10.
Taurine is an essential amino acid that allows your pooch to build new proteins in their body, and a deficiency of this acid can cause heart problems. Meanwhile, coenzyme Q10 improves your pup’s brain and heart function. This magic mineral also has strong antioxidant properties which means it has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect, so it can help to fight oxidative damage to your dog’s cells and even prevent cancer.
Yes, dogs can eat some types of raw lamb bones. Lamb rib bones count as a “meaty bone” that make a tasty treat for your dog, and chewing it will exercise their jaws and help to clean their teeth.
Raw lamb bones are surprisingly nutritious too, packed full of calcium and phosphorus which your pup needs to strengthen their own skeleton.
Any bones you give your dog must be raw and large enough that they can’t be swallowed whole. You should also avoid any bones that have been sawn along the length as these can break more easily and may damage your dog’s teeth.
Some lamb bones your dog can not eat include chop bones, cutlets, knucklebones, and large marrow bones. Chops and cutlets splinter easily, while knuckle and marrow bones are very thick and heavy and could damage your dog’s teeth.
Even with raw bones, your dog might be at risk of choking on pieces that break off, particularly if your pup isn’t known for chewing their food. There is also a chance they might damage their teeth. Whenever you give your dog a bone, make sure you supervise your pooch carefully while they eat it.
No, your dog can not eat cooked lamb bones. Cooking breaks down the structure of the bone, making it soft and brittle. That means they’re likely to break and splinter, which can injure your dog.
Sharp shards of bone can cut your mutt’s mouth and tongue, or they might pierce their oesophagus or intestine. These sorts of internal injuries are very serious and can be life-threatening. That’s why you should never feed your dog small bones or cooked lamb bones that are likely to break.
One of the best things about lamb, or any meat, is the high protein content. Your dog needs to eat protein and amino acids so that their body can make their own proteins, which are used in just about everything from forming DNA, creating hormones, growing skin and hair, and building healthy muscles.
Lamb also has one of the highest digestibility scores among meats, coming in with a score of 71.5. Admittedly, that’s much lower than chicken or fish, but it still puts it ahead of beef. That means it’s relatively easy for dogs to digest, and they can absorb a lot of nutrients from the meat.
Lamb meat also has plenty of important vitamins and minerals that help to keep your dog healthy. There’s iron and vitamin B12 which helps to form functioning blood cells and prevents anaemia. There’s also selenium and niacin which help to protect their cells and create enzymes, plus some zinc which your pup needs to create hormones.
Generally, lamb is perfectly safe for dogs to eat and shouldn’t make them sick as long as they eat the meat plain and in moderation. However, sometimes a pup might be unwell after trying this tasty treat.
As with almost any meat, it just might not agree with your dog. Some cuts of lamb contain a lot of fat and eating rich, fatty meat can irritate a dog’s stomach, particularly if they’re small or have a sensitive stomach. Eating too much fat can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in the short term, and weight gain in the long term. More worryingly, if your pooch eats a chunk of lamb fat, they could develop pancreatitis.
Eating raw lamb can make your dog sick because it can be harder for some dogs to digest, causing gastrointestinal illness. Raw meat might also be contaminated with harmful bacteria like E. Coli, which will make your dog sick if ingested.
Otherwise, if your pooch is unwell after eating lamb, there is the paws-ibility that they are allergic to it. Most canine allergies are caused by proteins, and lamb is one of the most common allergies out there.
Symptoms of an allergy include itchy skin, wheezy breathing, a runny nose and eyes, and gastrointestinal problems. If your pooch shows any of these symptoms after eating lamb, they might have a dietary allergy or intolerance and you should talk to your vet.
Yes, dogs can eat lamb and it can be used as a meaty treat, or as a protein source in healthy doggy dinners. Here at Pure, we create tasty, tailored recipes perfect for your pooch, each containing a different main protein source. Every recipe is complete and balanced, packed with meat, fruit and veg to make sure every morsel has all the nutrients your dog needs.
Lamb organs can also make a nutritious addition to your doggy’s diet, but they must be fed in very small portions to keep your pooch happy and healthy. Your dog can even eat raw lamb bones if they like, as long as they aren’t so small or splintery that they could choke on them
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.