Raw Meat For Dogs

Give Me Meat

This is a question that concerns pet owners, particularly when they have made the choice to swap to a natural, raw meat based diet. When making a decision about which meat(s) to feed, there are several key issues to be taken into consideration : (1) Availability (2) Price
(3) Nutritional factors (4) Suitability (5) Farming practices (6) Processing.

Chicken meat and by products are the most common source of meat used in canned and dry pet foods. This is primarily driven by price. Chickens are the most cheaply and intensively farmed (mass produced) of all the domesticated animal species. The commercial chicken industry is massive, and the housing and farming of these chickens bares no resemblance to the traditional image of chooks running around the farmyard. Commercial “battery” chickens are raised and housed in sheds (in cages) their entire life, and are fed a man made diet from birth. The birds today have been selected and engineered to be fast growing, producing maximum sized breast and leg/thigh cuts, and to a lesser extent, wings. Most chicken meat in canned and processed dry foods is used as chicken meal (powdered meat meal), which utilises the carcass, some offal, and the beaks, feet and feathers.
The modern farming practices of the intensive poultry industry leaves a lot to be desired, both on a nutritional level, and on an ethical level. The stress levels in housed birds are extreme, and there is the issue of bacterial contamination at processing. This is the primary reason why chicken mince spoils very quickly, and is most commonly sold frozen. Luckily for our pets, cats will simply not eat “off” meat, and dogs have a cast iron constitution, which is nowhere near as sensitive to the presence of bacteria, even salmonella, as humans. A large quantity of chicken mince is produced and fed on a daily basis throughout Australia and on the whole, the overall health of dogs and cats does not suffer. Chicken mince has its place, as a cheap ADDITION to the diet and as long as it is handled correctly, frozen, and thawed out to feed, it is relatively safe to use. However, it should definitely not form a major part of any pet’s diet and I would definitely rate chicken as the least suitable of all fresh meats.

2. Pork
Of no real consequence as it is little used, questionable in quality and rates poorly as a choice amongst fresh meats. Does not even have the price advantage of chicken – not recommended at all.

3. Fish
Most fish fed to cats and dogs is tinned, not fresh, and is therefore not as nutritionally valuable. Many people used sardines or tuna, assuming that the naturally high levels of fish oil are of benefit – in truth, the cooking temperatures used in the canning process have significantly, if not totally, reduced the omega 3 content of the oil.
One must also be aware of the environment in which the fish is caught – levels of toxic heavy metals, like mercury etc, can be quite high in some parts of the world. It is also worthy of note that freshwater fish do contain levels of thiaminase, which can cause vitamin B1 deficiency if used exclusively as a diet.
As far as suitability goes, here lies an interesting paradox. Whilst cats certainly enjoy the taste of fish (probably the salt), they are the last animal to be seen getting their feet wet – so we must conclude that fish is actually not a natural part of the cat’s diet. Cats can also react allergically to some of the deep water fish, like tuna, which can present as a generalised skin problem, with itching around the head and ears.Fish Meal is cheap However but cheap is not always best.
Dogs may make the occasional attempts at catching fish in fresh water streams, but the only true fisherman are their close relatives, the bears??
Rating – good as an occasional “treat” meal, as long as its fresh and only lightly cooked.

4. Rabbit
Wild rabbit would have to be one of the most suitable all round meat sources for both dogs and cats. It is a free range, organic meat, low in fat, and high in nutritional value. However, as it is now virtually unavailable in certain countries, any rabbit meat available for pet meat would most likely be from farmed rabbits, hence, all the advantages just mentioned are lost. If you can catch your own – highly rated.

5. Offal
As a general rule, offal meats should be purchased from your local butcher, and be HC grade, as the organs are often home to various parasites.
Offal is very rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, and ideally, should make up about 20% of a dog or cats meat intake.

6. Beef
As far as suitability goes, there is no doubt a pack of dogs would be able to pull down a calf, or even a sick or injured cow, and as such, beef can be seen as a natural source of prey.
The majority of beef is still pasture raised, and as long as the pasture is of reasonable quality, the nutritional profile of the beef will be good. I do have concerns with the practice of feedlot / grain fed beef, as the aim of this practice is in producing high fat (marbled) beef using prepared “pelleted” rations, and as such, the balance of the diet, and the additives used, must be questioned. Overall, beef can be rated as one of the better meats to feed and even with its negatives, it certainly possesses enormous advantages over feeding canned or processed diets.

7. Sheep
Lamb has only more recently become a popular meat source for pet food. The majority of sheep meat used for pet food is mutton (older sheep). The primary reason for its introduction into pet food has been to introduce new protein sources.
Nutritionally, sheep meat (mutton or lamb) is very good. It does have a high fat content, which is not necessarily a negative, but it would not be a good choice for those portley pooches needing to loose weight.
It is all pasture grown, under good conditions, and the meat is of high quality. Lamb shanks are a common choice for a good meaty bone.
Mutton or lamb rates highly amongst the fresh meats and would be a good choice for pets with skin and coat problems.
Nutritionally, sheep meat (mutton or lamb) is very good. It does have a high fat content, which is not necessarily a negative, but it would not be a good choice for those portley pooches needing to loose weight.
It is all pasture grown, under good conditions, and the meat is of high quality. Lamb shanks are a common choice for a good meaty bone.
Mutton or lamb rates highly amongst the fresh meats and would be a good choice for pets with skin and coat problems.
8. Kangaroo
We now come to my preferred choice of meats – kangaroo. Fresh kangaroo meat has been widely used in Australia as fresh pet meat for over 30 years, and more recently, it has made significant in-roads into the pet food industry, with sales of roo meat in supermarkets escalating dramatically over the past 5 years.
Nutritionally, kangaroo meat is superior to all the farmed meats. It is low in fat (3 - 4%), high in protein, and high in vitamins and minerals. Because kangaroo is not farmed, the meat is truly free range, and organic.

Kangaroos graze on a very wide variety of pastures, wild grasses, shrubs and trees, and as a result of this variety, they enjoy excellent health, and their meat has a wide array of macro and micro nutrients.
Kangaroo is a highly suitable meat source, and is a natural prey animal of the wild Australian dogs – the Dingo. Kangaroo is considered a “cooling” meat, as it lives in a very dry and arid environment, and as such, is ideal for treating pets with food allergies. Also, because it has never been widely used in processed pet foods, it is also a very unique source of animal protein, and is very valuable when formulating a diet for pets with food allergies.

Kangaroo is not farmed in Australia, hence the meat itself is considered “wild game” meat, and is, by nature, free range and organic. Kangaroo numbers have escalated in Australia since the 19th Century, with modern farming practices opening up large areas of grazing land.
Culling of kangaroos is vital, both to prevent over-competition with domesticated farm animals (primarily sheep and cattle), but also to prevent massive overpopulation in good seasons, where kangaroo numbers can escalate out of control. Culling of Kangaroos is a very closely controlled, government regulated, exercise. Every year, aerial surveillance is undertaken to record accurate population numbers, and a cull quota is established for each state, to maintain an appropriate sustainable base population. Kangaroos are shot in the wild by professionally accredited shooters; every shooter is licensed and must purchase government issued ear tags, which are immediately attached to any kangaroo that is taken. It is the specific number of tags issued that, in turn, control the cull numbers. Kangaroos must be killed with a single clean head shot. There is no stressful period of mustering, handling or transport involved at all.

The kangaroos are transported to a local chilled container, which is then transported to the local processing plant. Every animal is inspected by a government appointed meat inspector, and then approved for processing. Carcasses to be used for human consumption are processed in separate production areas, and have a second inspection before being cleared for HC. The quality of meat used for HC is no different to that harvested for pet food, and differs only in the processing and inspection stages.

Without a doubt, the best fresh meat available for pets, anywhere in the world. We are indeed fortunate in this country to have such a high quality meat source, correctly handled and inspected, that is available at a price where the choice cuts of meat itself can be used for pet food.
Perfectly suited for both dogs and cats – rates as THE BEST.

Tripe is the common term for the stomach lining of cattle and sheep.
Most tripe sold for HC has been washed in boiling water and bleached. Green tripe is the term used for un-processed tripe and is highly nutritious as a meat source. It is very low in fat (2%), highly glandular (contains enzymes), and is loaded with probiotic micro-organisms. Tripe is also a ‘white” meat (meaning it has a low amount of myoglobin, the protein that makes red meat red), and has historically been used for dogs with sensitive digestive tracts, or food allergies. I have utilised tripe for some time now as an alternate to kangaroo meat for treating difficult cases of allergic dermatitis in dogs (and occasionally cats) with great results.

Tripe is very affordable, but can be difficult to source, and this is one of its main limitations. An excellent source of nutrition and, if available, should be very highly regarded as a fresh meat for pets.


Your decision to start your puppy or kitten, or, switch from processed canned and supermarket dry foods to a good quality diet based on fresh meat, is commendable. It will give you great satisfaction when you see the health and well-being of your loved pet over the duration of its true and correct life span. You will also notice the last one third of your pet’s life will too be spent in good health, unlike those that continue to be fed processed pet food and whose owners, unfortunately have come to expect very poor health in older pets as the norm.

A good raw meat based diet and some raw meaty bones is indeed, the perfect diet for a domestic dog or cat.

To finish by referring to the actual question at hand….. “Which raw meat should I feed”, following is my summary and overall rating.

1. Kangaroo - very, very good – the perfect 10/10.

2. Tripe - also very, very good. Its difficulty in sourcing sees it score

3. Offal - if obtained correctly, an important part of the diet – 8/10

4. Sheep - very good, the best of the farmed meats – 7/10

5. Beef - next best of the farmed meats – 6/10

6. Fish - only if purchased fresh, then it is good, owing to
inconvenience and price – 5/10

7. Rabbit - excellent if from wild rabbits, owing to extreme difficulty in
procuring – 5/10

8. Chicken - still better than canned and processed, as long as it is fed as part of the diet only and is purchased and stored frozen. It’s related health and ethics issues see it rate poorly against all the other good meats on offer. It is cheap though – 3/10

9. Pork - the least suitable and not recommended at all – 0/10

I trust this information has been informative and worthwhile.
Happy feeding and good health to your pets, they are in your hands, with
a good diet, all you need to add is a family for exercise and love.
I would like to thank the vet that wrote this article----

By Dr Bruce Syme BVSc(Hons)
Managing Director, Vets All Natural P/L
Contact : The Vets All Natural Animal Health Centre

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