Feeding dogs a meat-based diet is the most common practice among pet owners. As a responsible owner, you may become choosy while considering healthy food for your precious pooch. Dogs are by nature designed to easily digest meat, but they can sometimes be described as omnivores, which means they don’t strictly require meat to survive. They do, however, thrive on raw meat-based diets which is critical for their health and well-being. This article will help you to know about the healthiest and best meat to feed your dog.
Why dogs thrive on meat-based diets
It is obvious that raw meat differs significantly from other non-meat food or commercial kibble. Some meat also provides more nutritional value than others. Despite its safety and availability, meat exhibits unique tastes, smells, and textures to your dog. This influences your dog’s willingness to thrive on a meat-based diet 1. You need to consider animal-sourced protein for your dog. Since dogs are not herbivores, this means they cannot depend solely on a plant-based diet for optimal health.
Dogs are a proud member of the Canidae family alongside wolves, coyotes, foxes, and jackals. Like their ancestors, today’s domesticated dogs were structured to hunt animals and eat meat for their survival. Their body structure is like their ancestors, which makes them perfect for hunting prey. They possess a simple digestive tract, which lacks sufficient enzymes to digest many plant products. Study shows that dog’s digestive system takes approximately 8 to 10 hours to fully digest a meat-based meal.
Benefits of protein and amino acids
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends that an adult dog should get a minimum of 18% of protein, while puppies and pregnant females require at least 22.5% of their diet to consist of protein 2. The AAFCO also published a series of guidelines about pet food’s nutrient requirements depending on the pet’s different stages of life. This sets up a minimal percentage of nutrient levels of vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, etc. that pet food should contain.
Dogs usually require 22 types of amino acids, and they produce only 12 of them. The others 10 amino acid need to be supplied through their food to avoid any health issues. As a pet owner, you can supply either animal source or plant source protein or a combination of both to fulfil their requirements. Single-plant based protein, however, does not contain all essential amino acids, while a high-quality animal-source protein contains all of them. That’s why it is wise to pick up raw meat-based food for your lovely dog. A meat-based diet will help dogs to achieve optimal health. You can use common meat-based protein sources such as chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, fish, etc.
Protein is a vital nutrient for the growth and development of your dog. For this reason, puppies and pregnant females require an additional amount of protein than other dogs. It is best known for supplying amino acids that act as a building block of life and helps to grow fur, skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilages, etc.3 It also plays a crucial role in the maintenance of the immune system and hormone production.
Why human-grade meat is favourable over other cheap sources?
While shopping for food for your dog, you may see some pet foods labelled as containing human-grade ingredients that follow Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines and maintain very strict standards on quality. As the name suggests, human-grade meat is fully suitable for human consumption. This meat passes strong quality-control procedures before coming to the hand of consumers. As we know, human food is strongly regulated by the FDA and AAFCO. These are totally superior to other pet-based or cheap sources of meat in terms of cleanliness, safety, and nutritional profile. Other cheap sources may include meat from dead, diseased, dying, and disabled animals. These meats are strictly prohibited for human consumption, but they are allowed for pet food. This food generally has a lesser nutritional profile than human-grade meat and can carry several disease-causing organisms.
Another difference between human-grade meat versus other cheap sources of meat is the actual manufacturing process of the food. All human foods follow the Good Manufacturing Process (GMP). This HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) procedure is an effective approach for food safety and protecting public health. In contrast, cheap sources don’t go through any good manufacturing process procedures or hazard analysis processes. This increases the chances of the development of bacterial contamination and toxins in the cheap sources of meat which you do not want to be putting in your dog’s food bowl.
Why don’t you need to look for fancy meats?
After learning about the benefits of a raw meat-based diet for your dog, now it is time to pick the right meat for your canine friend. While choosing the best meat for your dog, you need to account for multiple factors that are given below:
It is more important that your dog loves the meat you provide. Dogs usually prefer stronger flavors of meat such as beef, chicken, lamb, etc.
Not all owners can bear the expense of buying freshly caught salmon every day for their dogs. Based on your dog’s choice, you can easily go for locally available chicken or turkey meat rather than fancy meat.
The quality of meat is more important than the type of meat. You can choose human-grade meat rather than the locally available cheap meat sources.
While picking the right meat for your dog, search locally. Use your local resources to find the best meat option for your dog. This will reduce your cost and save your time as well. Take for example kangaroo meat. It has been the preferred choice of meat in Australia for many dog owners and farmers due to its wide availability. This contains low fat with a high amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Other wild game might be more readily available in your area. Sometimes farmers, butchers or hunters are more than happy to assist you in your pursuit of sourcing such.
1. Fredriksson-Ahomaa, M. et al. Raw meat-based diets in dogs and cats. Vet. Sci. 4, 1–9 (2017).
2. Aafco. AAAFCO methods for substantiating nutritional adequacy of dog and cat food. AAFCO Dog Cat Food Nutr. Profiles 1–24 (2014).
3. Nutrition, I. N. T. H. E. & The, O. F. Peotein in the nutrition growing dog1 of the. 415–421 (2018).