Ground beef is an inexpensive, staple protein in comfort food recipes from meatloaf to hamburgers. If you’re wondering if sharing some of this popular meat with your dog is okay, you’ve come to the right place. Yes, dogs can eat ground beef if it is cooked thoroughly.
In this article, we’ll talk about why ground beef is a healthy food for dogs and ways to include it in your pet’s diet. We’ll also cover why it’s not a good idea to feed raw meat and why ground beef shouldn’t serve as your dog’s primary food source, at least not without additional nutritional guidance!
A Beneficial Lean Protein
Dogs rely on protein for many essential body functions, including building muscle, growing hair, and forming new skin cells. This nutrient also boosts immune health and provides energy to fuel your dog’s daily activities.
One 4-oz serving of lean ground beef (5% fat) contains 24 grams of protein and only 5 grams of fat. Ground beef also contains multiple vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that benefit your dog.
If ground beef sounds like the perfect food for your dog, not so fast! Later in this article, we’ll cover some of the limitations and precautions you should take when feeding ground beef.
Feeding Ground Beef to Your Dog
Here are some tips to help you safely feed ground beef to your dog, which allows them to take advantage of the nutrition without putting them at risk.
Choose the Leanest Meat Possible
Ground beef is typically a lean meat compared to other cuts, but the ratio of fat to lean meat varies. For example, you may find ground beef that’s 80% lean to 20% fat or 95% lean to 5% fat. Generally, leaner meat is better, especially if your dog is already overweight or is sensitive to high-fat foods.
Cook Ground Beef Thoroughly
Although “raw diets” remain a persistent food fad among some dog owners, food safety researchers and medical authorities do not recommend feeding raw meat to pets. Uncooked or improperly cooked ground beef can contain dangerous bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses such as Salmonella or listeria.
These dangerous bacteria can make your dog sick, or they can harbor them and pass them on to other pets or humans. Kids, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems are especially vulnerable to catching foodborne illnesses. Practice good food safety when handling raw meat, and never feed your dog ground beef that isn’t cooked.
Limit Additives Like Spices and Fats
When cooking ground beef for your dog, avoid flavorings or spices. Onions and garlic, including their powders, are toxic to dogs. Other spices can upset your dog’s stomach, and too much salt isn’t healthy for them either. Don’t cook the meat in a lot of oil or butter, and drain off the grease that accumulates during cooking.
Feed the Appropriate Amount
Cooked lean meats are good options as treats or food toppers for your dog. If feeding ground beef as a treat, limit the total amount to no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calories.
Ground beef and plain white rice could be an option for dogs who need to eat a bland diet temporarily. Feed a bland diet only as directed by a veterinarian and transition your dog back to their regular food once recovered.
Can You Feed Ground Beef as Part of a Homemade Diet?
Some dog owners may prefer to feed a homemade diet for their dog, believing it’s healthier. While homemade diets may be an option to help manage allergies or other medical conditions in dogs with proper veterinary guidance, cooking for your pup is not as simple as mixing ground beef, veggies, and grains in a dish.
Commercial pet foods sold in the United States (even the cheapest grocery store brand) must meet minimum standards to ensure they provide all the essential nutrients your dog needs. Homemade diets often lack vital nutrients, and feeding them may lead to nutritional deficiencies in your dog.
Ground beef could serve as a protein base for a homemade diet if your dog isn’t allergic to it. If you’re interested in a home-prepared diet for your dog, talk to your veterinarian. They can help you find recipes for nutritionally balanced diets or advise you on which supplements to include.
Ground beef can make a nutritious treat for your dog if it’s properly cooked and your pet isn’t allergic to it. However, ground beef shouldn’t make up the bulk of your dog’s meals unless it’s part of a veterinary-approved homemade diet. On its own, ground beef is not nutritionally complete, but it is quite tasty. If you feed too much ground beef, you may find your dog ignoring their regular kibble in favor of it. Before introducing new food to your dog, check with your veterinarian to ensure it’s okay.
Featured Image Credit: Joshua Resnick, Shutterstock