Lean Ground Beef For Dogs


We have all seen it, there is beef that makes our dogs fat and meat that makes them lean. So why not use lean ground beef for dogs?

I think it’s worth knowing about this for people who might want to try it, and for dog owners in particular. I stopped using any grain-free food after my vet showed me the results of some bloodwork he ran on my dog, and how it compared to similar dogs his office had tested that were on grain-free diets.

What Are Lean Proteins and How They Can Help Your Pet

Lean, Mean Pet Proteins

Protein is an important component in your pet’s food. Dogs and cats need it to form new skin cells, build muscle tissue, and even grow hair. Protein also provides energy and keeps the immune system strong. But not all proteins are the same. Take lean proteins, for instance. Lean proteins are low in calories and yet rich in essential amino acids.

What Are Proteins

Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are important to the overall health of our pets. And unlike fat and other nutrients, the body can’t store up protein. In order to obtain the necessary amount of protein it has to be supplied in the daily diet. Depending on your pet’s age and activity level, protein needs will vary.

So then, what are lean proteins? Lean proteins are just foods that are lower in calories than other traditional sources. Some of the most common sources of lean protein include…


Whitefish is a tasty source of lean protein and Omega-3 fatty acids for dogs and cats. These amino acids help pets convert fat into the energy needed for burning calories. White fish also contains calcium, phosphorous and B-complex vitamins. Look for foods containing whitefish like haddock, cod, trout, and tilapia, or buy these fishes and cook them at home for your dog.

Chicken Breast

Chicken breast, so long as it is boneless and skinless, is another lean protein for pets. It contains vitamins and minerals as well as amino acids. This will promote good health and boost your pet’s immune system as well as help with any weight loss program. Just make sure the chicken is cooked, as raw chicken may expose your pet to Salmonella or other bacteria.

Lean Ground Beef

Lean ground beef (or hamburger) is a third lean protein commonly given to pets. Rich in essential amino acids, minerals and vitamins, lean ground beef is also an excellent diet food for pets. It too, however, should be consumed cooked. Raw meat may contain bacteria that could be harmful to your pet.

Can Dogs Eat Ground Beef?

Ground beef is a high-protein, nutritious option to boost your dog’s diet by adding some to your pup’s regular dog food as an additional topper or even using it as part of a bland diet as a home remedy for an upset stomach. When your dog has a random bout of diarrhea or vomiting, cooked, low-fat, lean ground beef along with a starchy carbohydrate like rice can be used to reset and settle your dog’s digestive system. We’ll discuss using ground beef as part of a bland diet later. And if you’re wondering about feeding your dog raw ground beef, we’ll cover that too. We’ll talk about the ways you can feed fido ground beef, whether cooked or raw meat, how to use it in a bland diet, the nutritional benefits, and how to add some to your dog’s food, whether kibble or freeze-dried.


The nutritional value of 100g of 90% lean 10% fat, cooked, pan-browned ground beef is 28.5g of protein. It contains many essential amino acids, including histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, and more. Essential amino acids are required in a dog’s diet because dogs cannot create them within their body, so the food must supply the amino acids. While not a complete food on its own, ground beef is still a nutritious lean-meat protein source for dogs that can be used to create balanced cooked or raw dog food diets.


balanced diet for your dog

Of course, it’s best to make sure your dog’s diet is complete and balanced with the help of your veterinarian or canine nutritionist. Cooked ground beef also contains many vitamins and minerals, including B6, B12, B3, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, iron, and potassium. There are five different types of ground beef based on their fat percentage – we will talk more about fatty acids and fat percentages below. Remember that the nutritional value for 100g of ground beef at different fat percentages will alter the nutritional value. 


Ground beef also contains multiple fatty acids that benefit overall skin health and the immune system. Your dog needs essential fatty acids from both omega-6 and omega-3 sources, and ground beef does provide both but not necessarily in the amount to meet the minimum fatty acid nutrient requirement most dogs require. However, ground beef can contribute to the overall requirements for omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids by adding additional sources of both fatty acids to meet fatty acid nutrient requirements and balance between both fatty acids.


Ground beef contains polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), including linoleic acid (LA), alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and a few long-chain fatty acids, including arachidonic acid. If you want to make sure your dog is getting the proper amount of fatty acids in their diet, consider Native Pet’s Omega Oil, which is packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to help promote healthy skin and fur.


The fat content of ground beef varies by product and is sold as 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%,  25%, and 30% fat. The fat percentage of the ground beef also means the content of fatty acids will vary based on the specific percentage you choose to feed your dog. Ground beef is known in the human food world as high in saturated fat content, but that depends on the fat percentage you are consuming. The higher the fat percentage of the ground beef, the more saturated fat. However, the way saturated fat affects humans is not the same as dogs. Healthy dogs do not get heart disease from saturated fat as humans do. 

Choosing the correct fat percentage of ground beef to feed your puppy depends on a few factors and the individual dog. Below are a few scenarios:  

  1. What is the goal of feeding the ground beef?
    1. For example, for a healthy young athletic dog, if feeding ground beef as an additional energy source on top of the dog’s diet of kibble or freeze-dried dog food, then a higher fat ground beef might be the best choice as long as the dog can tolerate more fat.
  2. Does your dog have an intolerance to fat pancreatitis, or is your dog overweight or in the obese range?
    1. If your dog has any of these conditions, you’ll want to stick to ground beef that is 5% fat, 10% at the most.
  3. Is your dog having an upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting? Do you want to use ground beef as part of a temporary bland diet?
    1. For stomach issues and using ground beef, it’s best to choose 5-10% fat ground beef and always cook it. The lower the fat for digestive problems, the better. 


Often, dog owners want to know if grass-fed beef is better than beef from cattle fed a diet of grains. The short answer is that grass-fed meat has many advantages over grain-fed beef. Studies have shown that cattle fed an exclusively grass-fed diet are associated with a healthier fatty acid profile and higher antioxidants because of the lush greens they consume. Grass-fed beef is also typically lower in overall fat content while having twice the omega-3 fatty acids as conventional grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef is also higher in Vitamin A and E precursors, such as beta-carotene. While dogs can mainly use Vitamin A in the form of retinol, they can use beta-carotene as an antioxidant and free radical fighter, which is beneficial for immune system health. 


From a nutritional standpoint, the nutrient values of raw ground beef will differ from cooked ground beef, which also depends on the percentage of fat in the ground beef. Contrary to popular belief, it is a myth that cooking ground beef or other foods destroys nutrients. It does not destroy them; it just changes them. Raw meat fed to dogs has its pros and cons, and you, as the dog owner, need to decide what is best for your dog.


From a safety standpoint, it’s best to feed raw ground beef from a high-quality source such as a local farm or co-op. Grocery store ground beef is ok to provide but is not as high quality as a local farm. If the raw ground beef is grass-fed, that’s also a plus! Salmonella and other harmful bacteria can be present in raw meat, so high-quality beef is key to reducing bacterial risks. 

Unfortunately, a raw meat diet is not as simple as putting raw ground beef, eggs, and bones for calcium in a dog bowl and feeding it. You need to make sure that you are meeting nutrient requirements for your dog using NRC or AAFCO standards, and a raw diet like the one listed above would considerably fall short in meeting nutrient requirements. Dog owners who want to feed a raw diet are best off feeding a commercial raw pet food product to meet nutrient requirements or working with a canine nutritionist for a complete and balanced recipe.


Use Raw Ground Beef As An Addition

You can still use raw ground beef to add to your dog’s regular dog food by topping some on their kibble or freeze-dried pet food. Just be sure to consider the fat content of the beef, so you avoid digestive upset. If your dog is prone to pancreatitis, it is best to work with a canine nutritionist or veterinarian before adding additional ingredients to your dog’s regular dog food. 

While ground beef is boneless, you want to avoid feeding large, weight-bearing, raw beef bones (like the knuckle) to your dog. These weight-bearing bones can break teeth, splinter, or cause a blockage. They aren’t as safe to feed your dog as other raw meaty bones might be. Raw beef marrow bones can be a safe chew as long as you supervise your dog during this time. It’s also important to remember that you should never feed your dog cooked bones as those are very dangerous. 


A bland, cooked diet is used for a short period to alleviate gastrointestinal upset a dog might be experiencing for many reasons. The bland diet temporarily replaces a dog’s regular dog food, whether kibble, freeze-dried or raw diet, to calm down a dog’s stomach and allow it a chance to heal. In the simplest explanation, your dog’s regular pet food will be replaced with bland foods consisting of a lean-meat protein source, starchy carbohydrate, with a bit of fiber. These bland foods are fed to your dog as a home remedy to stop vomiting or diarrhea so your dog can return to normal pet food with regular bowel movements. Raw food or any dog treats are not recommended for a bland diet.

Because ground beef is high in protein and can be low in fat while providing many nutrients, it can be an ideal lean meat to use in a temporary bland diet. It can also be soothing to the stomach if prepared correctly and, well, bland. A typical bland diet might include 90-96% lean cooked ground beef with overcooked oatmeal, mashed russet, or sweet potatoes. Fat can greatly upset your dog’s stomach even further, so we want to avoid that by using the leanest ground beef while feeding a bland diet. 

When cooking ground beef for a bland diet, it is best not to add any oil or butter. On the stovetop, you can use water in the pan, and you can bake beef in the oven on parchment paper or tin foil without adding any extra fats to the mix. You can also boil the ground beef if that is easiest. Avoid feeding large amounts of bland diet right away, and you’ll want to make sure you’re working to transition your dog back to a regular diet safely and to avoid any other digestive flare-ups. 

Can Dogs Eat Ground Beef? Is Ground Beef Safe for Dogs

Sharecan dogs eat ground beef

Dogs evolved to eat mostly meat. They can consume fruits and veggies as well, but their diet needs to be made up of mostly meat. As you might imagine, meat contains tons of protein and fat – which is precisely what canines need to thrive.

Ground beef is used to make everything from burgers to tacos. It is also relatively inexpensive, which is mostly why it is used so widely by humans today. While ground beef is absolutely meat, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should share your ground beef with your canine.

Generally speaking, plain ground beef is safe for most pets. However, there is a lot you can do to ground beef that can make it unsafe. We’ll discuss these situations below.

Should you feed your dog ground beef cooked or raw?

Close up of beautiful dog eating from the bowl

Canines indeed have a more robust digestive tract than we do, especially when it comes to meat. Many dogs can eat raw meat and be just fine. However, raw meat can contain bacteria and parasites that can cause problems for your canine. Many people swear by the raw diet, but there is little evidence that raw food is safer or better for dogs than cooked food.

Cooking the meat removes many of these parasites and much of the bacteria raw beef can include. For this reason, we generally recommend feeding your canine cooked ground beef. While they may not get sick from raw ground beef, there is some additional risk involved.

How much ground beef should I feed my dog?

Raw Ground Beef

Preferably, your dog should be getting a varied diet. This helps ensure that they are getting all the nutrients they need to thrive. This can be done by feeding them a commercial diet that includes various ingredients or by switching up their diet often.

If you’re feeding your dog only meat, you should feed them about ¼ to ⅓ pounds of meat per 20 pounds. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but meat is very nutritionally-dense, so dogs typically don’t need very much at all.

Of course, most people are not going to feed their canine only ground beef. We don’t recommend it either, since dogs need a varied diet.

Even if you aren’t only feeding your canine ground beef, you can use this calculation to figure out how much you should feed them. If you’re mixing it with commercial food, consider how much commercial food your dog needs a day. Figure up the amount of ground beef you want to feed them, and then subtract the appropriate amount from their commercial food.

For example, let’s say you have a 60-pound dog. They need either 3 cups of kibble or a pound of meat a day. If you decide that you want ⅓ of their diet to be meat, you should feed them ⅓ pounds of ground beef and 2 cups of kibble. If you have a 20-pounds dog, they may need either a cup of food or ⅓ pound of ground beef a day. If you want half of their diet to be ground beef, you should feed them 1/6 pounds of ground beef and half a cup of food a day.

You can do this sort of simple calculation for any canine.

Can I mix ground beef with dry dog food?

English Bulldog eating

Yes. However, you will need to lower the amount of dry dog food your pet is eating. You should not keep feeding them the same amount of dry food and then add extra ground beef. This will give them too many calories and can cause obesity.

Mixing ground beef with dry dog food can be an excellent way to increase your dog’s interest in the food. Be sure to strain and rinse the meat as well. This can remove the extra fat that is sometimes found in ground beef.

With that said, it is essential to realize that your dog not eating kibble isn’t necessarily a sign of a “picky” eater. Dogs can skip meals and often do. Dogs in new situations may be too nervous to eat. Dogs may have a small stomach ache. There are a lot of reasons your dog may decide not to eat. Typically, picky eating isn’t one of them.

Therefore, you should not mix ground beef in your dog’s food to get them to eat it. This can mess with their ability to self-regulate and cause obesity. If you want to give your dog ground beef to increase their diet value, that is an entirely different story, however.

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