4 min read

Can Dogs Eat Lamb?


By Adam Lee-Smith

Published: 04/23/2024, edited: 05/11/2024

Reviewed by a licensed veterinary professional: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

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Yes, dogs can eat lamb. Pet food companies frequently include lamb in their recipes as it's an excellent protein source. Plus, it's rich in essential amino acids, iron, selenium, and B vitamins like cobalamin (vitamin B12) and niacin (vitamin B3).

Lamb is a hypoallergenic meat, making it the perfect option for dogs with beef or chicken allergies. However, it's high in calories, meaning it's not the best protein source for pups watching their weight.

Keep scrolling for an in-depth look at whether dogs should eat lamb and what to consider when feeding lamb to your canine.

Do dogs like lamb?

Yes, dogs like the taste of lamb. It's one reason pet food companies commonly include it in dog foods. According to a Petfoodindustry.com survey, 12% of dry dog foods include "lamb meal" in their recipes, while 6% use "lamb" as an ingredient.

While some pups are fussier than others and may have a meat preference, dogs generally enjoy the taste of lamb. In fact, fussy eaters who turn their snouts up at chicken and beef sometimes prefer lamb because of its unique flavor.

two grilled lamb chops

Health benefits of lamb for dogs

Lamb is a healthy part of a dog's diet and is a great alternative to other animal protein sources commonly included in dog foods.

Let's take a quick look at three health benefits of lamb for dogs!

A quality protein source

A high-quality protein source is crucial in a dog's diet. Lamb is a complete protein, providing all ten essential amino acids your pup needs to be happy and healthy.

Protein and amino acids are crucial to your dog's bodily functions, from building healthy muscle mass to supporting immune function. Amino acids, like leucine, also keep your dog's hair, skin, and nails healthy.

High in omega-3 fatty acids

Lamb has one of the best omega-3 ratios of any red meat, even better than beef. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to a dog's diet and provide loads of benefits.

Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, prevent cancer, promote heart health, and help absorb fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, and E.

Rich in B-vitamins 

Lamb is rich in complex B vitamins, such as cobalamin (vitamin B12) and niacin (vitamin B3), which are essential for your dog's health.

Niacin helps a dog's body metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and protein. It promotes brain function, helps the body produce stomach acid, and much more.

Cobalamin plays a crucial role in your pup's body, aiding in red blood cell production. Cobalamin also supports nervous system function, cell growth, and protein, fat, and carb metabolization.

Here's a breakdown of the nutritional value of 100 grams of cooked lamb:

  • Calories: 294 kcal
  • Protein: 24.5 grams
  • Total fat: 20.9 grams
  • Total saturated fatty acids: 8.83 grams
  • Sodium: 72 milligrams
  • Calcium: 17 milligrams
  • Iron: 1.8 milligrams
  • Selenium: 26.4 micrograms
  • Niacin: 6.66 milligrams
  • Vitamin B12: 2.55 micrograms

Source: USDA

How much lamb can I give my dog?

Dogs can eat lamb every day as part of a balanced diet. It's a great alternative protein source for dogs with specific meat allergies. 

The amount of lamb your dog should eat depends on their weight, energy levels, and recommended calorie intake. Dogs should eat 2% to 3% of their body weight daily. 

So, if your dog weighs 50 pounds, you generally can feed them between 1 and 1.5 pounds of food per day. You'll also need to factor in your dog's other nutritional needs following the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutritional profile guidelines. Consult a vet if you're unsure how much lamb you should feed your dog. 

It's worth mentioning that lamb is high in fat, so it may not be suitable for dogs that suffer from obesity or weight-management issues. Obesity can contribute to other serious health issues like heart disease, pancreatitis, and arthritis

Another consideration is that lamb tends to be more expensive than other protein sources, driving up the price of lamb-based dog foods.

Cooked lamb chops on a plate

Can dogs eat lamb bones?

No, you shouldn't feed your dog lamb bones. Feeding your dog lamb bones is especially dangerous as they're small and can easily become lodged in your dog's throat or gastrointestinal tract.

Even the smallest bones that can pass through your dog's gastrointestinal tract can be harmful. Small bones can cut or irritate the inside of your dog's mouth or damage your dog's teeth and gums.

Some lamb-inclusive dog foods list lamb bones as a secondary ingredient. These bones are highly processed to remove any choking hazard and are safe for pups to ingest.

Can dogs eat raw lamb?

Yes, dogs can eat raw lamb. Raw lamb can be a nutritious addition to your dog's diet as long as it's prepared properly. As raw lamb is minimally processed, it contains the highest possible protein and nutrient levels.

Dog food companies use raw lamb in their raw food recipes — many of the best raw, frozen, freeze-dried dog foods list lamb as a primary ingredient.

As with any raw meat, raw lamb must be prepared and stored safely to prevent contamination with pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria.

Can dogs be allergic to lamb?

Yes, dogs can be allergic to lamb. However, lamb allergies are rare in dogs compared to other protein sources.

A 2016 study of 297 dogs with at least one food allergy found that 5% of participants had a lamb allergy. In comparison, 34% had a beef allergy, 17% had a dairy allergy, and 15% had a chicken allergy.

The bottom line is that lamb is safe for dogs to eat and can become a part of their every day diet. It's nutritionally rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, essential amino acids, and B vitamins. It's also unlikely to cause an allergic reaction in dogs with meat protein allergies.

One main drawback of lamb is that it's high in fat, causing dogs to gain weight. You can feed your dog raw lamb that's safely and correctly stored, but you shouldn't feed them lamb bones as there's a risk of choking and obstruction.

Digestive problems and food allergies can be expensive to treat. Compare pet health insurance plans to save more than $270 a year on vet care.

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