Can Dogs Eat Beef? Are All Beefs Cuts Safe For Dogs?

can dogs eat beef

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Can dogs eat beef? Yes, beef is a common ingredient in dog food and treats. Beef is categorized as red meat — a term used for the meat of mammals. Generally, dogs can eat beef safely as their primary source of protein, vitamins and minerals.

But, you may have wondered whether it’s safe to give your furry friend a taste of that juicy steak you’re enjoying for dinner. After all, dogs are known for their love of meat, but not all types of beef are created equal. Some aspects of beef make it not suitable for dogs.

For instance, did you know some beef types are inappropriate for dogs? What about processed beef? Is it safe for dogs, or will it cause cancer? Did you know beef is harder to digest than other meats?

In this post, we take a closer look at the benefits, risks, research, and everything in between so you can safely add beef to your dog’s diet. Let’s dive right in!

Is Beef Good For Dogs?

Beef is good for dog consumption and has been commercially available pet foods and treats for decades.

It is an excellent source of protein and a wide variety of nutrients, including vitamins B12 and B6, zinc, selenium, niacin, phosphorus, riboflavin, iron, and choline for maintaining a healthy diet for dogs.  

Beef is as beneficial as other meats, such as turkey and chicken. In some areas, beef is more nutritious than most traditional meats dogs eat. Compared to fish or turkey, beef provides a higher protein count per once. Beef also contains higher amounts of vitamin B12, zinc, and iron when compared to chicken, making it a good food if your dog needs nutrients due to nutrient deficiencies or health reasons.

It’s worth noting that meats contain a substantial amount of L-carnitine, with beef containing one of the highest amounts.[1] Research shows that L-Carnitine positively impacts the performance and recovery of dogs. It also positively affects lean mass and intensity of exercise (keeps dogs active).[2]

Dogs also prefer to eat beef instead of chicken, horsemeat, and liver.[3]

The quality of the beef, its fat content, how it’s prepared, and where it comes from can all impact whether or not beef is good for dogs to eat.

Is Beef Safe For Dogs? Ingredient Breakdown

Here is a breakdown of the ingredient composition of raw lean beef per 100g (3.5 oz) to help you understand if this food is safe or not for dogs.[4]

**This nutritional value is for lean beef specifically. Nutritional values will vary based on the type of beef.

Nutrients Lean Beef Per 100g (3.5 oz)
Protein (g)23.2 
Fat (g)2.8
Energy (kJ)498
Cholesterol (mg)50
Thiamin (mg)0.04 
Riboflavin (mg)0.18
Niacin (mg)5.0
Vitamin B6 (mg)0.52
Vitamin B12 (μg)2.5 
Pantothenic acid (mg)0.35
Vitamin A (μg)<5
Beta-carotene (μg)10
Alpha-tocopherol (mg)0.63
Sodium (mg)51
Potassium (mg)363
Calcium (mg)4.5 
Iron (mg)1.8
Zinc (mg)4.6
Magnesium (mg)25
Phosphorus (mg)25
Copper (mg)0.12
Selenium (μg)17 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key nutrients in beef and how they can benefit your dog:

  • Protein: Protein is the building block for tissues, muscles, and enzymes, essential for growth and repair, helps maintain a strong immune system and supports overall health in dogs. Compared to other red meat protein sources like lamb, fish and chicken, beef has higher protein levels, but remember that protein content varies based on the cut and meat source.
  • Cholesterol: Dietary cholesterol in dogs has little effect on blood cholesterol and is generally not considered a health concern. It helps in the formation of hormones and cell membranes and has a role in the regulation of digestive processes. Cholesterol is still an important part of a dog’s diet in healthy amounts.
  • Fat: Source of energy that helps absorb fat-soluble vitamins, insulates the body, and provides healthy skin and coat. Both too little and too much fat can cause health issues in dogs. Beef contains varying amounts of fat — also called beef tallow. Unlike humans, high-fat diets do not cause heart disease in dogs. High-fat diets are also poor choices for overweight dogs, dogs with gastrointestinal issues, pancreatic dogs, or diabetic dogs. You should opt for the leanest beef to stay on the safe side.[5]
  • Niacin: Supports energy metabolism, helps maintain healthy skin and has a role in DNA synthesis and the breakdown of fatty acids.
  • Vitamin B12: Supports red blood cell production, a healthy nervous system and neurological functions. It’s also involved in intestinal health, so your dog needs B12 to maintain healthy digestion. On average, an adult dog needs roughly 9 (μg) of Vitamin B12 daily, depending on their weight.[6] Beef is one of the richest sources of vitamin B12.
  • Potassium: An electrolyte that supports cellular and electrical functions in dogs, such as electrical charges in the heart, muscles, and nerves. Potassium is essential to the health of your dog.
  • Iron: Found in high amounts in beef, Iron is an essential mineral for dogs. Its most important function is to transport oxygen throughout the body. It also helps avoid anemia in dogs.[7]
  • Selenium: Plays a critical role in metabolic functions in dogs. Studies suggest that selenium can prevent and treat cancer.[8]  Selenium helps protect cells from damage due to its antioxidant properties, supports the immune system, and has a role in thyroid function.
  • Zinc: Beef is rich in zinc, a mineral important for body growth and maintenance in dogs. It supports immune function, helps maintain vision, skin, and bone health, and has a role in wound healing.[9]

Beef also contains several bioactive substances and antioxidants, which may affect health when consumed in adequate amounts. Some of the most prominent compounds in beef include creatine, taurine, glutathione and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

Can Dogs Eat Beef?

Dogs can safely eat beef as part of a balanced diet. However, It’s important it’s the proper beef cut and has an appropriate fat percentage.

A 100% beef diet with 70% lean meat is insufficient protein and exceeds safe limits for total fat for dogs. Beef cuts that have less than 85% to 90% lean beef are the best for your dog.[10] Select lean cuts that are free of bones, fat, and gristle. Ground beef, lean cuts of steak (chuck steak or round steak), and lean roasts are all excellent options. These cuts have less fat and are easier for dogs to digest.

Remember that not all dogs have the exact nutritional and health needs. Dogs should not consume beef if they are allergic to it or have health conditions that make beef unsuitable. Dogs can also eat raw meat (beef) as part of a raw dog diet. However, you need to know several risks associated with raw feeding first.

It’s always best to consult a veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet.

Benefits of Beef in Dog Food

Here are the main advantages of beef for dogs.

  • Maintains and supports muscle growth
  • Improves exercise performance
  • Anemia prevention
  • Keeps your pup’s coat and skin healthy
  • Lean cuts of beef can help maintain a healthy weight
  • Excellent protein source
  • It contains all essential amino acids

Is Beef Bad For Dogs?

Generally, beef is not bad for dogs. However, there are a few instances when beef may be bad for dogs. Beef may harmful to your dog is if your dog has a beef allergy. Unfortunately, dogs’ most common food allergens are proteins, especially from meats such as beef.

Cheap processed beef products such as beef-based kibble may be particularly high in sodium (salt). Too much salt is dangerous for dogs and can lead to salt toxicosis. However, most beef kibble brands have adequate levels of sodium. Just check the label.

Feeding your dog fatty cuts of beef, such as ribeye or T-bone steak, as these can cause gastrointestinal issues. High-fat diets can negatively affect dogs’ cellular health, behavior, and cognitive functions.

If you are cooking a beef-based recipe for your dog, it’s also essential to avoid giving your dog beef that has been seasoned or cooked with onions, garlic, or other ingredients that can be toxic to dogs.

Know that many dog food and treat brands label their product “beef”’ when they are made from “beef meal.” there is a big difference between beef meat and beef meal. Beef meal is made from parts of animals that aren’t allowed to be sold for human consumption, things like residual meat, offal, connective tissues, and in some cases, bones. While feeding this to your dog won’t cause any harm, fresh beef dog food is healthier and safer for dogs. Check the label and avoid beef meal-based dog food if possible.

Possible Side Effects & Risks of Feeding Beef to Dogs

The following symptoms may indicate a bad reaction to beef. Keep an eye out for them and contact your vet if necessary.

  • Discomfort and bloating
  • Gas
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

You should call your vet immediately if your dog eats beef and shows an allergic reaction or any other adverse symptoms. 

Can’t reach your vet? Contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-764-7661 or chat with a veterinary professional via online vet chat (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

Ways to Feed Beef to Your Dog

Dogs can consume beef in the form various forms:

  • Kibble (as an ingredient in canned or dry dog food)
  • Treats
  • Raw lamb meat
  • Homemade food

If you want to feed your dog beef, we recommend feeding beef dog food made from human-grade ingredients. Ollie offers one of the best beef dog food recipes we’ve tried. Ollie’s beef recipe is personalized to your dog’s dietary needs and goals, made by registered veterinarians, uses human-grade ingredients and meets the dog nutritional standards set by AFFCO.

When buying beef-based kibble, make sure the recipe is made with real beef (not beef meal) and organic ingredients.

Are Dogs Allergic to Beef?

Unless your dog is allergic to beef, they probably already consume it regularly. But there’s always a chance your dog could be allergic or sensitive to beef. We suggest you do an at-home allergy test before giving your dog beef to help you determine if they are sensitive or intolerant to this food — or any other foods. If your dog shows no signs of an allergic reaction, it should be safe to feed your dog plain cooked beef in moderation or as part of a complete diet.

dog food allergy testing

Can Puppies Eat Beef?

Yes, puppies can eat beef as part of a balanced diet. It’s important to know that AAFCO recommends that the minimum crude fat level for dogs is 5% for adults and 8% for puppies. For this reason, your puppy’s beef cute should have a little more fat than an adult’s. Growing puppies need to gain weight and generally need higher fat levels.

Puppies generally have more sensitive digestive systems than adult dogs and may be more prone to an upset stomach after eating certain foods. When feeding beef to puppies, work with a veterinarian for personalized dietary advice for your puppy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most commonly asked questions about beef and dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Beef? — Conclusion

In conclusion, while beef can be a valuable source of protein and other nutrients for dogs, it also comes with potential risks such as feeding beef cuts with high-fat contents. As with any food, it’s important to approach beef cautiously and consider your dog’s health needs and dietary restrictions.

According to our research, the best way to feed beef to dogs is as part of a well-formulated fresh diet. You can also choose to make it at home, but it requires more time and vet advice. Feeding beef in the form of kibble is another alternative, make sure the recipe is made with real beef (not beef meal) and organic ingredients. Dogs can also eat raw beef, but it needs careful planning as the risk for contamination is higher. 

As long as your pup isn’t allergic, they can enjoy beef every day as part of a balanced diet whether it’s in their food or as a treat.

To be safe, consult your veterinarian before making any dietary changes, and alert your vet immediately if your dog has any adverse reactions to eating beef.

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Canine Bible uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

[1] The Biological Function of L-Carnitine, [2] L-carnitine & Labradors [3] Meat Taste Preferences In Dogs, [4] Meat Nutritional Composition, [5] Tuffs University [6] National Academies, [7] Iron Deficiency In Dogs [8] Selenium and Dogs [9] Zinc in Dog Nutrition [10] High-Fat Beef

Editorial Team at Canine Bible | + posts

Canine Bible authorship represents the unified voice of our entire editorial team and our in-house veterinarians rather than a single author. Each article, blog post, and review published under the Canine Bible name undergoes a rigorous review process, involving all team members to guarantee accuracy and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research. This collaborative effort is an integral part of our editorial process and aligns with our four pillars of content creation. This approach ensures our content is backed by expert knowledge and factual information, offering our readers reliable, actionable, and trustworthy content.

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