Choosing the best meats for my dog: the role quality protein has in your dog’s diet

Choosing the best meats for my dog: the role quality protein has in your dog’s diet

Written by: Dr. Becky


Many owners are puzzled about the best way to feed their dogs. With so much information out there, it can be hard to know where to start! We've taken a look at some of the most commonly asked questions about protein to give you the key information on popular meat choices for your dog and how to make sure you're getting the best quality.

Why do dogs need meat?

The main purpose of meat is to provide protein which dogs use for muscle repair and growth. Protein also supports a healthy immune system, skin and heart. While protein is available from plant-based sources (which dogs also enjoy as part of their omnivorous diet), this is at a lower biological value than animal-based proteins. Meat is especially important for growing pups, as they need specific puppy food high in protein to support their rapid development. 

Depending on the type and cut, meat also contains health-boosting fats such as omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential for heart health, immune system function and good skin condition. Fat also adds flavour to food. 

As well as this, meat contains an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, iron, zinc and selenium, which are vital for your dog’s overall health.

How much protein does my dog need?

This is a complicated one to answer. The exact nutritional requirements of each adult dog will vary depending on their age (or life stage), size and health status. 

For example, The Kennel Club states that an active dog needs to be given food with “a guaranteed level of protein at 26% or higher”. Active dogs will need more protein than ones with a sedate lifestyle, to support a process known as ‘protein turnover’. This is a natural part of metabolism which involves the breakdown and building of muscle proteins. This rate of turnover increases with exercise, meaning nutritional demands are higher in working or active dogs. 

If you are unsure how much meat to give a dog, you can get in contact with our certified veterinary nutritionist who will be able to give you and your dog personalised advice.

What meat is best for my dog?

Vets don’t tend to advise one type of meat over another unless your dog has a specific medical condition. Feeding a variety of sources can help ensure your dog receives a balanced diet. It is also important to choose a food that is rich in quality meat sources, with these items featured at the top of that diet’s ingredients list.

Common meat sources in dog food:


A low-fat and easy-to-digest protein source. It is highly nutritious and provides Vitamin B12, choline, zinc, iron, niacin, and copper, in addition to essential amino acids and protein. It is relatively low in calories which means it can be useful in weight management regimes.

If you’re looking for a highly nutritious chicken-based meal perfect for dog with a digestion issues, take a look at our Chicken Thigh Mediterranean Casserole recipe.


Like chicken, turkey is another low-fat meat. This means it provides an array of similar nutrients whilst still being highly digestible.

Check out our Turkey Thigh Cranberry Fricasse, currently the highest ranked wet food according to All About Dogs.


Beef contains important fats and is a more expensive type of meat than chicken or turkey. Beef is an excellent source of amino acids as well as being rich in B vitamins and iron.

If you’re looking for a recipe containing prime beef cuts for your dog, try our Steak and Kidney Mushroom Hotpot.


A nutritious protein source, found less commonly in standard pet foods. Pork can be higher in fat than some other meat types, but this includes omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E.

Our Pork Shoulder Sage & Apple Stew contains a variety of pork cuts for maximum nutritional benefits.


A lean protein that is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which helps with neurological health.

Take a look at our Salmon & Pollock Cauliflower Bake recipe.

What are the best cuts of meat for dogs?

Some of the bits that many of us would disregard are actually a highly nutritious type of meat for dogs. This includes offal (organ meats) like liver, heart and kidneys which are rich in various minerals and vitamins, as well as protein. Dogs will also benefit from normal cuts of meat such as turkey breast, pork shoulder or chicken thighs. It is healthy for a dog to enjoy a variety of different cuts, to ensure they are receiving balanced nutrition. 


Meat contains many essential nutrients, including protein, and is an important part of canine nutrition. There is not one type of meat that is better than another for dogs, but you should speak to your vet if your pet has specific health needs. A variety of good quality meat cuts and organ meats in your dog’s diet will help ensure that they receive balanced nutrition. 

If you still have questions about the best meats for dogs, then contact us today for advice on feeding your furry family member. You can also check out our complete nutrition system for more information about Years dog food.


Can dogs eat raw meat?

You can feed dogs raw meat, but most vets don’t advise it. Despite some owner’s anecdotal health claims, few scientific papers support raw feeding. In fact, the studies show us the potential risks. Freezing will not kill bacteria found in raw meat, only cooking does. Extreme care needs to be taken when serving raw fresh meat for dogs, especially if owners are immunocompromised or have children in the household. Raw-fed dogs can carry and shed these pathogens.

Best meats for dogs with sensitive stomachs?

The easiest meat for dogs to digest should be low in fat, such as chicken, turkey or white fish. For some dogs that have ongoing diarrhoea issues, there could be an underlying food allergy at play. To discover what triggers your dog you may need to do a strict food trial with the help of your vet. Once their triggers have been identified you should avoid that meat source altogether.

About the author

Dr. Becky

Rebecca MacMillan – BVetMed BSAVA PGCertSAM MRCVS

Rebecca is a companion animal vet who graduated from the Royal Veterinary college in 2009. Since then, she has gained a wealth of experience in first opinion small animal practice, in both clinical and managerial roles. She currently works in the South West and deals with a variety of routine and emergency appointments, but particularly enjoys medicine cases. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family, including her bouncy flat coated retriever, George!