Are Game Meats a Good Source of Protein for Dogs?

When you take a simple walk down your pet store food aisle, you will see tons of different dog food brands. Of course, all of these brands will feature a different source of main protein, but have you ever noticed that there is an increase of brands offering alternative sources of protein? In particular, game meats are becoming more and more popular as a source of dog food protein. Many branded pet food products for dogs are using game meats as the main source of protein in their recipe.

The question is, are game meats good for dogs? 

What are Game Meats?

Game meat is any type of meat that is from an animal that is hunted in the wild. There are generally three types of categories of game meat. The first category is small birds, such as quail and thrush. The second is known as game proper, and it is further divided into two subcategories: winged game such as duck, goose, and partridge, and ground game such as hares, squirrels, and rabbits. Finally, the third category is big game, which includes animals such as moose, deer, and caribou.

While animals that produce game meat can be farmed, purists argue that animals caught or hunted in the wild produce better meat because of their varied diet, ability to forage, and capacity for free movement.

What are the Benefits of Using Game Meat-Based Dog Food?

There are two main benefits that your dog can gain from using dog food that contains game meat.

First, most brands that use game meat are of higher quality and the main ingredient in dog food is the protein. This means that there are smaller amounts of filler ingredients that you would typically find in cheaper dog food such as corn, rice, and soybean. Feeding your pet dog food brands that contain fewer filler ingredients mean that there is a lesser chance that they will have an allergic reaction to the dog food, as many dogs are known to have allergies to filler ingredients.

Second, game meats are known to have higher amounts of nutrients compared to other protein sources. Game meat is generally red meat, and red meat is more nutritious compared to white meat (which is also the typical ingredient for low-quality dog food). Red meat contains higher amounts of protein, minerals, and B vitamins that your dog requires in their daily diet. 

What are the Drawbacks of Using Game Meat-Based Dog Food?

The biggest drawback of using game meat-based dog food is that they are expensive! In general, they can cost around up to $20 per pound. Comparatively, dog food brands that don’t use game meats as their main source of protein will only cost around $6-8 per pound.

What’s more, game meat-based dog food brands can be difficult to source. You can generally find them in high-end pet stores or you can order them online, but if you live somewhere where online delivery is difficult, you might have trouble getting a regular supply of game meat-based dog food. 

Are All Game Meats Good for Dogs?

No, not all game meat is good for dogs. You might notice that most dog food brands that use game meats for protein utilize poultry, fish, or herbivorous animals. The reason why carnivorous animals such as bears and predatory fish such as swordfish are not suitable as protein sources is that there is a risk of biomagnification. Biomagnification is the process where toxic substances accumulate more in animals when they are higher in the food chain, and carnivorous land animals and fish have a greater tendency towards biomagnification compared to herbivorous animals and poultry.

However, not all herbivorous animals are considered safe sources of game meats. Wild hogs are not used because they are susceptible to Aujeskzky’s disease, or pseudorabies. You don’t want your dog eating something that might be fatal to them! 

Introducing your Dog to Game Meat-Based Dog Food

 Dog food brands that use game meats are often oiler and more attractive to dogs so don’t be surprised if your dog becomes excited during mealtimes! However, the sudden change in diet coupled with the increase in protein and fat can cause your dog to have diarrhea.

If you want to switch to using game meat-based dog food, you need to introduce it gradually to your pet. Mix their regular dog food with small amounts of the game meat-based dog food, and gradually increase the amount until you make the switch complete.

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