Can Dogs Eat Lamb? Is Lamb Good or Bad For Dogs?

can dogs eat lamb

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Can dogs eat lamb? Yes. Dogs can safely enjoy eating lamb meat or lamb meat-based products. Lamb is high in protein and other essential nutrients that can help keep your dog’s coat healthy and promote strong muscles and bones. Lamb is a leaner meat than other meats, making it a good choice for dogs who are trying to maintain a healthy weight. But, did you know lamb is often used as a protein source for dogs who suffer from food allergies?

However, you should remember a few things when feeding your dog lamb. Learn more about the risks, research, benefits and when and how to share this delicious protein with your pup. Let’s dive right in!

Note: It’s worth noting that sheep and lamb are the same animals. The difference is that lamb is the meat of a young domestic sheep, typically between 4-12 months old. Lamb meat is more tender. Meat from a sheep over 12 months old has more flavor and is called mutton.

Is Lamb Good For Dogs?

Lamb is a red meat and is perfectly safe for dogs to eat. Being rich in high-quality protein and many vitamins and minerals, lamb can be an excellent component of a healthy diet.

Lamb is as beneficial as other meats, such as beef and chicken. In some areas, lamb is more nutritious than most traditional meats dogs eat. Compared to beef, lamb provides more energy, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and Iron. If compared to chicken lamb contains higher amounts of vitamin B12 and vitamin B-9 (folate).[1],[2]

Dr. Katy Nelson from petMD states that lamb meat is rich in essential amino acids and dietary fats that help sustain energy levels. Furthermore, red meat provides a lot of vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for the development of muscle in your dog, as well as for the health of its coat and skin.[3]

Additionally, a study showed that grain-lamb meat dog foods are more digestible than grain-chicken meat and grain-free dog foods. The results of digestibility trials indicated that the grain-lamb meat foods showed the highest digestibility of dry matter, organic matter, and crude fiber, which is good for their gut health.[4] Lamb also has one of the highest digestibility scores among meats, coming in with a score of 71.5, beating meats like beef.[5] Another study published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal showed that dogs prefer lamb over chicken, liver and horsemeat.[6]

Most dog food manufacturers offer lamb recipes and treats as novel protein for dogs.

Is Lamb Safe For Dogs? Ingredient Breakdown

Here is a breakdown of the ingredient composition per 100g of lamb to help you understand whether this food is safe for dogs.

Moisture (g)72.9
Protein (g)21.9
Fat (g)4.7
Energy (kJ)546
Phosphorus (mg)194
Calcium (mg)7.2
Zinc (mg)4.5
Iron (mg)2.0
Potassium (mg)344
Vitamin B6 (mg)0.10
Vitamin B12 (μg)0.96
Source: Semantic Scholar
  • Protein. Lamb meat is a high-quality protein source, providing all 9 essential amino acids your dog needs for growth and maintenance. The consumption of lamb (or other kinds of meat) may be especially beneficial for highly active dogs.
  • Fat. A lamb’s fat content varies based on its diet, age, gender, feed, and how much fat has been removed. The fat content is usually around 17–21%. It’s worth noting that lamb fat usually contains slightly higher levels of saturated fat than beef and pork. Ruminant trans fats are also found in lamb tallow. Ruminant trans fats are believed to be healthier than trans fats found in processed foods. The most common ruminant trans fat is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).[7] Several health benefits are associated with CLA, including reduced body fat mass, inflammatory system, blood sugar regulation and more.[8] While some aspects of lamb fat are beneficial, we advise feeding a lean cut to be on the safe side. It will still provide those healthy fats benefits while avoiding the adverse effects of too much fat in dogs.
  • Iron. Lamb is an excellent source of iron. Your dog’s body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all body parts, and myoglobin, a protein that provides oxygen to muscles. Feeding your dog a diet rich in iron can prevent anemia and promotes blood cell formation and oxygen supply.
  • Zinc. It’s an essential mineral important for the growth and formation of hormones, enzymes and proteins. Zinc is also essential for immune system function and thyroid function.
  • Vitamin B6. In addition to regulating glucose levels, red blood cells, the nervous system, and hormones, this vitamin is responsible for enhancing the body’s immune response and niacin synthesis in dogs. Vitamin B6 helps maintain a potassium-sodium balance in dogs. A deficiency in Vitamin B6 could lead to severe anemia in dogs and expose them to cardiac dysfunction.[9] Lamb is among the foods with the highest Vitamin B6.[10]
  • Vitamin B12. This nutrient is crucial to maintaining a healthy nervous system and brain and forming and growing new blood cells. B12 is also essential for intestinal health, so your dog needs it to keep his digestive system functioning properly.
  • Calcium. Calcium is vital to help your dog grow, keep healthy bones and teeth, maintain muscle building and function, promote heart health, and promote a healthy nervous system.
  • Phosphorus. Usually, phosphorus works with calcium to help maintain your dog’s body’s homeostasis. Additionally, phosphorus helps maintain healthy kidney function.
  • Potassium. An essential mineral to maintain muscle contractions, blood pressure, and fluid health in dogs. Including lamb in your dog’s daily diet can help curb potassium deficiency and make your dog healthy.
  • Selenium & Niacin. Help to protect their cells and create enzymes. 

Can Dogs Eat Lamb?

Yes, dogs can safely eat lamb. According to our ingredient analysis and dog lamb consumption studies, lamb meat is a well-round source of protein, amino acids, and other vital vitamins and minerals dogs need to thrive.

When you are cooking lamb for your dog, be sure not to add seasonings or spices as those can create gut problems in dogs. If your dog is trying lamb meat for the first time, gradually introduce it to his diet over a few days and monitor your dog’s reaction. It’s also advised to buy lamb meat from grass-fed or free-roaming livestock or use dog food formulas that use lamb meat of this quality.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Lamb Meat?

Is raw lamb for dogs safe? Dogs can eat raw lamb meat and enjoy the benefits of a BARF dog diet. As opposed to cooked lamb meat, the texture of raw lamb meat is a little bit dense so you will want to cut it into little chunks so your dog can easily chew and digest it. You should also consider removing all the skin fat and fat content and only serve lean lamb meat, as lamb contains more saturated fat than other red meats.

There are also other risks associated with feeding raw food to dogs. Raw lamb may not be safe for all dogs. For instance, raw meat is harder to digest compared to cooked meat and may not be a good idea for dogs with digestive issues or sensitive stomachs. Additionally, raw food is more prone to be contaminated with bacteria, so you must be sure to buy lamb from reputable sources to minimize this risk.

Lamb Meat Benefits For Dogs

Here are some of the benefits of feeding lamb to your dogs and the top reasons to feed it.

  • Excellent protein source
  • Muscle maintenance
  • Rich in vitamin B12, iron, and zinc
  • Great for allergy-prone dogs
  • Loaded with omega fatty acids and amino acids which help keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy and shiny.
  • Great for picky eaters
  • Contains antioxidants
  • Range of healthy vitamins and minerals
  • Your dog can eat lamb both raw and cooked
  • A powerhouse energy source for dogs (provides more calories than say a white meat option like chicken or salmon)
  • Contains several beneficial bioactive substances — such as creatine, CLA, and cholesterol

Lamb may be a better option for dogs who suffer from food sensitivities or food allergies caused by common protein sources such as beef or chicken.

Is Lamb Bad For Dogs?

Dogs shouldn’t get sick from eating lamb meat. As long as dogs eat lamb meat plain and in moderation, your dog should be fine.

However, there are some cases where lamb could be bad for dogs. For instance, some cuts of lamb contain fatty meat and can irritate your dog’s stomach leading to diarrhea, vomiting, weight gain and, in extreme cases, pancreatitis. For this reason, you should remember to drain as much fat as possible when cooking it at home.

It’s also important to know that some dog food manufacturers will also use “lamb meal” (meat and other animal by-products not used for human consumption). While there is nothing inherently wrong with rendered meat (“meat meals”) for dog food, it’s not a preferred choice to feed our dogs. If you are looking for the best lamb for your dog, look for human-grade lamb recipes or cook it at home.

Can Dogs Eat Lamb Bones?

Should you feed lamb bones to your dog? The answer is probably not. 

While there are some instances where you could feed lamb bones to your dog, bones often pose more risks than benefits for your pup, so we always advise against giving your dog bones. Purina, a famous dog manufacturer, also agree that lamb bones can be dangerous for dogs due to their size. If your dog chews lamb bones, pieces can be broken off, which can easily cause obstruction and damage to the gastrointestinal tract.[11]

While a dog’s stomach can typically break down bones, and you technically give bones to your dog, it can still cause irritation to its digestive tract. If you choose to feed lamb bones to dogs, make sure you follow these general guidelines for feeding them safely:

  • Only offer raw meaty bones (such as raw chicken wings or lamb flaps) 
  • Always feed raw bones
  • Do it under close supervision
  • Clean up the area where they ate to eliminate any bacteria or germs

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Lamb Bones?

No. You should not feed cooked lamb bones to your dog. Cooked bones can splinter and cause serious internal damage to your dog.

Possible Side Effects & Risks of Feeding Lamb to Dogs

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

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

Are Dogs Allergic To Lamb?

There’s also a chance your dog could be allergic or sensitive to lamb. We suggest you do an at-home dog allergy test before giving your dog lamb to help determine if your pup is sensitive or intolerant to this food or other foods. If not, you should be fine to give dogs lamb in moderation.

best at home dog allergy test

Ways To Feed Your Dog Lamb

Dogs can consume lamb 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 lamb, we recommend feeding fresh lamb dog food made from human-grade ingredients. Ollie offers the best lamb dog food recipe. Ollie’s Lamb 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.

Can Puppies Eat Lamb?

Puppies generally have more sensitive digestive systems than adult dogs and may be more prone to an upset stomach after eating rich or high-fat foods. Some puppies may tolerate small pieces of lamb, especially when used as high-reward training treats.

It’s worth remembering that puppies need fewer calories than larger dogs and higher protein content to aid growth and development. They must have a well-balanced diet, so treats such as hot dogs should only be fed in small quantities.

If your dog is a puppy or has a compromised immune system, you should refrain from feeding them raw lamb, as it may upset their stomach or cause food poisoning.

Lamb & Dogs Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to other frequently asked questions about dogs and lamb.

Can Dogs Eat Lamb?Conclusion

While dogs can enjoy lamb meat or lamb-meat-based product safely, as with all foods, you should ask your veterinarian before feeding your dog lamb.

Lamb is used in many dog foods and treats, and some consider it a novel protein meaning relatively new for dogs and they are least likely to develop an allergy to lamb meat. Most dogs can eat lamb as part of a balanced diet without concerns.

Dogs tend to love all meats, whether chicken, turkey, beef, or pork. If your dog doesn’t have meat allergies or sensitivities, adding or rotating different meats into your dog’s diet is considered good practice to keep your dog from developing allergies to a single meat ingredient.

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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] Semantics Scholars, [2] Soupersage, [3] PetMD, [4] Research Gate [5] Lamb Digestability [6] NCBI: Taste Preferences, [7] Research Gate [8] PubMed: CLA [9] Journal of Nutrition: Observations of Vitamin B6 [10] Nutrition Data [11] Purina

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