Lamb Dog Food – Is It Good For Dogs With Allergies?

Lamb has become quite a common ingredient in dog food due to its high-quality protein. It offers a different nutrient profile from the regular chicken and it is more affordable than beef. 

Although lamb is a great protein, it may not be suitable for dogs with certain ailments due to the special nature of this meat as it has a heating effect on the body after consumption. 

Read on to find out which situation warrants a good or bad idea to give dogs lamb.

Nutritional benefits of lamb in dog food

Lamb, the meat of young domestic sheep, is a type of red meat — a term used for the meat of mammals that is richer in iron as compared to chicken or fish. Being rich in high-quality protein and many vitamins and minerals, lamb can be an excellent component of a healthy diet.

Lamb is mainly composed of protein but also a host of amino acids and varying amounts of fat. The amount of fat varies depending on how much of it has been trimmed away, as well as the lamb’s diet, age, gender and feed. 

The fat is composed mainly of saturated and monounsaturated fats in approximately equal amounts. Lamb fat usually contains slightly higher levels of saturated fat than beef and pork.

Important vitamins and minerals

Here are some of the most important vitamins and minerals found in lamb: 

  • Vitamin B12 – important for blood formation and brain function
  • Selenium – has various important functions in the body
  • Zinc – better absorbed from meat than plants, it’s essential for growth and formation of hormones, such as insulin and testosterone
  • Niacin (vitamin B3) –  inadequate intake has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease
  • Phosphorus – essential for body growth and maintenance
  • Iron – highly bioavailable from lamb

For a complete list of nutrients essential to dogs, go here

Is beef or lamb better for dogs?

Lamb tends to be fattier than other types of meat. As such, it may be great for active or working dogs or those looking to put on weight, but not as suitable for overweight or senior dogs.

Is lamb fat bad for dogs? 

No, it isn’t. Fat is a natural source of energy for dogs as a carnivorous creature. They have a greater capacity for fat oxidation than humans both at rest and during exercise. 

The kinds of essential fats found in meat varies with the type of meat (chicken, sheep, pork, beef) and the diet fed to these animals. That is why it is best for you to rotate the type of meat that you feed to fido.

A doggy diet without fat will cause its fur, skin, eyes, immune system, brain and blood cells to suffer. To maintain health, the best diet for normal, healthy adult animals should have about 10 to 15 percent of fat. 

Why is fat important to dogs?

First energy source – Fats used in dog foods are highly digestible and are the first nutrients to be used by the body as energy before protein and carbohydrates. The fatty acids that form fat are essential because the body cannot make them. 

Overall health – If fat levels are too low, dogs can develop dry, itchy skin and a dull coat. More serious problems include a diminished immune system, nerve function issues and other potential health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Essential fatty acids from animal fat are important components in the body’s production of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins work to reduce inflammation, as well as perform many other important functions in the body.

Appetizer and sponge for nutrients – Fats make the food smell good and help the body to absorb certain vitamins called the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). 

Is lamb suitable for dogs with food allergies?

Yes, if your dog is not allergic to lamb, that is. Food allergy is a tricky thing. You need to understand how the allergy is developed. Normally, it is due to excessive exposure to that one type of meat. 

A specific protein that is regularly fed to a dog becomes a “familiar protein”. Switching the protein source to lamb might help to address food allergies. Why? Because most dog food are made from beef or chicken before lamb became a more popular and affordable meat source.

Is lamb advisable for dogs with sensitive skin?

Generally, no. Lamb is known to have a heating effect, and that may aggravate already itchy skin. In extreme allergy cases, a more “novel” protein might be necessary.

Is it good for dogs with sensitive stomachs?

Some dogs just don't digest certain types of protein as well as other dogs. It may be a natural predisposition just as how we may not take so well to certain foods for some unknown reason. 

However, if your dog’s stomach is “sensitive” due to medical-related reasons, it is best not to give it lamb. This meat source is not advisable for dogs with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and related conditions like colitis. 

IBD is a condition that involves inflammation of the walls of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Symptoms of IBD include frequent vomiting, decreased appetite, weight loss, loose stool, frequent defecation, or liquid or bloody diarrhea. 

The inflammation is an overreaction by the immune system — either to something your dog ate or from a malfunction of the immune system, called an autoimmune disease. This results in discomfort and interferes with the GI tract's ability to properly absorb nutrients.

Should dogs with renal issues eat lamb?

Lamb has naturally higher fat content than other meats. Depending on the severity of your dog’s renal issues, it may not be a good idea to give it lamb.

Types of lamb dog food available in Singapore

  1. Dry food (kibble) – usually lamb and rice
  2. Wet canned food
  3. Air dried meat or patties
  4. Frozen raw lamb without bone 
  5. Gently cooked

The first type of dog food is the most likely to contain lamb meal. The least likely are options 4 and 5. 

What is in lamb meal?

Meal is a dried end-product of the cooking process known as rendering. Ingredients of the meal are cooked thoroughly in water then baked until dry.

The quality of the meal depends on the raw ingredients used to make it. Nonetheless, no meal product can ever be better than the raw materials that were used to make it.

Better quality meals would be made from human-grade high quality meat, organs and bones. Low-grade ones come from anonymous materials like slaughterhouse waste and spoiled supermarket meats — even diseased or dying cattle — or dead zoo animals.

To avoid inferior products, avoid dog foods which contain any meat meal that:

  1. Includes the words “by-products” in its name
  2. Fails to identify the specific source animal, e.g. beef, chicken, etc.

Examples of inferior meat-based protein ingredients would have the phrases:

  • Meat meal
  • Animal meal
  • Chicken by-product meal
  • Meat and bone meal

These phrases are a likely sign you’re probably looking at a lower quality dog food. Apart from "by-products" and "meals", there are many other food additives that should be avoided. 

Artificial flavours – corn syrup, propylene glycol, and MSG – are frequently used to disguise inferior food quality and some of these additives give dampness and flexibility to semi-moist foods and treats. 

Many preservatives are known to be carcinogens in humans so they possibly have the same effect on our pets. Examples of preservatives that should be avoided include BHA, BHT, sodium nitrite and nitrate. 

Artificial coloring only entices owners into a purchase. Your pet doesn’t care about what the food looks like, only how it tastes.

Where to find the best lamb dog food 

The best of any kind of dog food would be those made from more natural ingredients. These would be gently cooked meals and frozen raw ingredients.

Natural diets do not contain preservatives or other potential carcinogens, so they minimise the risk of adverse reactions. Natural foods also eliminate "empty" calories that come from fillers, additives, flavorings and carbohydrates which contribute to pet obesity. 

Dogs maintaining an ideal body weight generally live longer with less health issues than overweight dogs. 

Conclusion

Lamb is generally a healthy protein source but it is not very advisable for dogs with certain health issues, such as renal failure, itchy skin and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. 

Even if a dog is healthy, not all lamb dog food is good just because the package says “lamb”. You’ll need to study the ingredients carefully to know whether the food is made from quality ingredients. The safest route is to go for the more natural form of dog food – the real stuff, and not processed.

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/lamb

https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/healthy-foods-checklist-lamb-dogs

https://www.drbasko.com/portfolio-items/fat-actually-good-pets/

https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_dg_fats_and_oils_good_for_your_dogs_health

https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/choosing-dog-food/about-meat-meal/

https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_pet_food_for_your_pets_sake

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