Is real meat important in your dog’s diet?

As a dog owner, you may wonder whether real meat is essential to your dog’s diet. After all, plenty of commercial dog foods on the market don’t contain any actual meat. Whether or not you should include actual meat into your dog’s diet depends on what you feed them daily. In the United States, dogs typically eat a diet based on cereal grains, with meat as a protein source. This nutritionally complete diet provides all the essential nutrients your dog needs. However, some owners prefer to feed their dogs a diet that contains more meat for various reasons.

While feeding your dog a diet that contains real meat is beneficial, it’s not necessary for their overall health. If you decide your dog needs a diet with more meat, read the label carefully to ensure it is nutritionally complete, and consult your veterinarian first.


What to consider when deciding whether or not to feed your dog a diet that contains real meat

Type of meat

The meat you feed your dog is an essential factor to consider. Some types of meat, such as chicken, are considered lean meats, are a good source of protein, and can help dogs maintain a healthy weight. Other types of meat, such as beef, are higher in fat and calories.

If your dog is overweight or has specific health conditions, such as diabetes, you may want to avoid feeding them foods with high-fat levels. Chicken meal is also a suitable type of meat to include. What is chicken meal, you may ask? It is a dried, ground chicken often used in commercial dog foods. It is an excellent protein source and is less likely to cause weight gain than other meats.


In addition to meat, commercial dog foods also contain other ingredients, such as grains, vegetables, and preservatives. These ingredients are necessary for a nutritionally complete diet. However, some owners prefer to feed their dogs a diet with fewer or no grains and a higher meat content.

If you’re considering switching to a food with a higher meat content, read the label carefully. Some of these foods may not be nutritionally complete and could cause your dog to become malnourished.

Experts’ recommendations

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends that dogs be fed a complete and balanced diet, meaning the diet should comprise all the essential nutrients your dog needs to stay healthy. The AKC also recommends that you consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet.


Benefits of feeding your dog actual meat

Helps with weight management

If your dog is obese, you may consider switching them to a diet with more meat. Lean meats are an excellent protein source and can help dogs lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Good for their coat and skin

Another benefit of feeding your dog actual meat is that it’s good for their coat and skin. Meat is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help keep your dog’s coat shiny and their skin healthy.

Provides essential nutrients

Real meat also provides essential nutrients for your dog’s overall health, such as vitamin B12, iron, and zinc. These nutrients are essential for cell growth, brain function, and a healthy immune system.

Helps with muscle development

Another benefit of feeding your dog actual meat is that it helps with muscle development. Meat is a good protein source, essential for muscle growth and repair.

Promotes a healthy appetite

If your dog has a poor appetite, feeding them actual meat may help. Some dogs find the smell and taste of meat more appealing than other types of food.


Risks of feeding your dog actual meat


One of the risks of feeding your dog actual meat is that it could be allergic to it. Meat allergies are relatively rare in dogs, but they can occur. Your dog may experience itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing if it is allergic to meat.

You must speak to your vet if your dog is allergic to meat. They can perform skin or blood tests to confirm the allergy and recommend the best course of treatment.

Foodborne illnesses

Another risk of feeding your dog meat is that it could get food poisoning from contaminated meat. Dogs can get food poisoning from eating undercooked meat or meat contaminated with bacteria, such as E. coli or Salmonella.

Food poisoning in dogs includes vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and fever. Contact your veterinarian instantly if you suspect your dog has food poisoning.

Nutritional deficiencies

If you change your dog’s diet to one with a higher meat content, ensure the food is nutritionally complete. Some foods may not contain all the essential nutrients your dog needs and could cause nutritional deficiencies.

Nutritional deficiencies can cause various health problems in dogs, including skin and coat problems, weight loss, and weakness.