The Complete Guide to Dogs Eating Lamb: Good or Bad?

can dogs eat lamb

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This content was reviewed and fact-checked by veterinarian Dr. Aukse Caraite, DVM.

Yes, dogs can safely enjoy eating lamb meat or lamb meat-based products. Lamb is high in protein and other essential nutrients that help keep your dog’s coat healthy and promote strong muscles and bones. It is also leaner than other meats, making it a good choice for dogs trying to maintain a healthy weight. However, whether dogs can eat lamb involves more than acknowledging its nutritional benefits. It’s crucial to consider how lamb fits into a balanced diet for a dog, considering any potential health concerns, preparation methods, and the dog’s individual dietary needs.

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 and 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. 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. Lamb provides more energy, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and iron than beef. Lamb contains higher amounts of vitamin B12 and vitamin B-9 (folate) than chicken.[1],[2]

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, 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]

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-rounded source of protein, amino acids, and other vital vitamins and minerals dogs need to thrive. Lamb is often considered a premium source of protein, and most dog food manufacturers sell lamb recipes and treats as novel protein for dogs due to its hypoallergenic nature.

When you cook lamb for your dog, do not add seasonings or spices, as those can create gut problems. If your dog is trying lamb meat for the first time, gradually introduce it to his diet over a few days and monitor his 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?

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 denser, 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. You need to understand other risks associated with feeding raw food to dogs before feeding raw lamb to your dog. Raw lamb may not be safe for all dogs. Raw meat is harder to digest than cooked meat and may not be good for dogs with digestive issues or sensitive stomachs.

Lamb Meat Benefits For Dogs

According to the USDA, 100 grams (or about 4 ounces) of lamb contains the following nutrients:

  • Moisture: 72.9 g
  • Protein: 21.9 g
  • Fat: 4.7 g
  • Energy: 546 kJ
  • Phosphorus: 194 mg
  • Calcium: 7.2 mg
  • Zinc: 4.5 mg
  • Iron: 2 mg
  • Potassium: 344 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.10 mg
  • Vitamin B12: 0.96 μg

Here are a few more reasons why lamb is good for dogs:

How to Safely Feed Lamb to Dogs

When feeding lamb to your dog, it’s best to follow a few simple guidelines to help keep them safe:

  • Start with small portions: As with any new food, it’s recommended to start slowly and feed gradually to give the digestive system time to adjust. 
  • Cook lamb thoroughly: Always serve lamb cooked, not raw, to avoid the risk of bacterial infections such as salmonella or E. coli. Ensure the meat is cooked without any harmful seasonings or spices.
  • Avoid processed lamb: Steer clear of processed lamb products containing additives or seasonings harmful to dogs.
  • Remove bones: Lamb bones, especially cooked ones, can splinter, pose a choking hazard, or cause internal injury.
  • Avoid seasonings and sauces: Cook lamb plainly, without adding any seasonings, onions, garlic, or sauces that can be toxic to dogs.
  • Moderate fat content: Trim excess fat from the lamb, as high fat intake can lead to pancreatitis and obesity in dogs.

Some of the ways you can safely feed lamb to your dog include:

  • As an ingredient in canned or dry dog food
  • Treats
  • Homemade food
  • Raw lamb meat

If you want to feed your dog lamb, we recommend feeding fresh lamb 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 and is made by registered veterinarians who follow the standards set by AFFCO.

Is Lamb Bad For Dogs?

Lamb is not inherently bad for dogs; when served properly, it can be a healthy part of their diet. As long as dogs eat lamb meat in moderation, they 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 lamb at home.

It’s also important to know that some dog food manufacturers will 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, feeding our dogs is not a preferred choice. If you want the best lamb for your dog, look for human-grade lamb recipes or cook it at home.

Can Dogs Eat Lamb Bones?

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. If your dog chews lamb bones, pieces can be broken off, which can easily cause obstruction and damage to the gastrointestinal tract.

While a dog’s stomach can typically break down bones, and you technically give bones to your dog, it can still irritate 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.

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

What Should I Do If My Dog Reacted Badly to Lamb?

If your dog reacts badly to a food that’s generally considered safe, like a lamb, you should stop feeding it and remove any access to it. Ensure they have access to fresh water to maintain hydration. It’s important to call your veterinarian if your dog is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above or if you’re concerned about its condition.

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

Dogs showing worsening symptoms, such as blood in their vomit or stool, difficulty breathing, weakness, or collapse, should be taken to the veterinarian immediately.

Are Dogs Allergic To Lamb?

While not common, some dogs may have an allergic reaction to lamb. Symptoms can include itching, swelling, hives, and, in severe cases, anaphylaxis, a medical emergency. If you suspect your dog is allergic to any food, including lamb, it is crucial to consult a veterinarian. Your vet can provide appropriate advice and help you formulate a safe diet plan for your dog. We also recommend conducting an at-home dog allergy test to determine if your dog is sensitive or intolerant to certain foods.

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 like 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

It’s unsafe for dogs to consume lamb chops as they have small bones, which can cause blockages and choke your dog. It’s best to remove the meat from the chop and feed it to your dog.

Dogs can be fed lamb heart, a rich source of vitamins, iron, and protein. Lamb meat is an excellent source of choline, which is essential for dogs’ brain and muscle health. The lamb’s heart is also a rich source of heme iron, which promotes digestion and iron absorption in your dog’s body. A lamb’s heart should always be cooked or boiled well before serving.

Generally, lamb won’t make your dog sick. However, if fed incorrectly, such as not removing the fat from lamb meat, too much fat can irritate your dog’s stomach and cause pancreatitis in severe cases. Since lamb has slightly higher saturated fat levels than beef and port, it should be given in moderation, or lean lamb meats with no fat content should be opted for.

Yes, dogs can eat cooked lamb meat. Slightly cooked lamb retains all the essential amino acids and protein content your dog needs. Do not season or add any condiments when cooking lamb for your dog.

Dogs can be fed lamb doner meat if it is unseasoned and cooked well. However, as a pet parent, you should always start with a few nibbles and monitor how your dog responds to them.

Lamb shank is typically cooked with the center bone intact. It can be served to your dog as long as the bone is removed and it is free of any seasonings. The meat around lamb shank is healthy for your dog as it contains protein, iron, and vitamins.

Yes, you can feed your dog a lamb-based diet daily. Lamb is a balanced protein source with all the nutrients dogs need to thrive. However, you should talk to your vet before feeding your dog lamb daily.

The Bottom Line

While dogs can enjoy lamb meat or lamb-meat-based products 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 it is 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 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 and product review methodology to learn more about how we fact-check, test products, 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
DVM Surgeon Veterinarian at Canine Bible | + posts

Dr. Aukse is our in-house Lead Senior Veterinarian. Dr. Aukse is a dedicated and skilled DVM Surgeon renowned for her expertise in small/companion animal surgery and medicine. With a robust academic background and extensive hands-on experience, she ensures her patients receive the highest standard of care. Dr. Aukse is happy to share her knowledge and expertise with our readers.

Dr. Caraite's career experience as a DVM Veterinary Surgeon spans over seven years, marked by comprehensive learning from esteemed institutions and substantial experience in veterinary clinics. She is currently employed at a family-run, day-opening clinic in central Gothenburg, Sweden, where she performs surgery daily and manages a large patient base for both surgical and outpatient care. Her externship at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, with a focus on soft tissue and oncology service, has further honed her skills, equipping her with the essential knowledge and proficiency to excel in her field.

Dr. Aukse holds a Master’s in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences (2017) and has completed an externship in Soft Tissue and Oncology Service at NC State (2018-2023). She is also has a Master’s in Small Animal Surgery with a specialization in Dog and Cat Surgery from the University of Copenhagen.

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