Now that it has taken me 20 years to realize the importance of rotating brands and protein sources, I am curious about the importance of red meat in my pets’ diets. We have been taught in our hUman diet to try and minimize how much red meat we consume. Is this true for cats and dogs also? If I am rotating and I am on a lamb or beef cycle, is it ok to feed it to them for 2 or 3 months? Or is it better to always feed a white meat based kibble that includes red meat? Also which meats are considered red meats, pork and/or venison? Thanks.
Hound Dog MomParticipant
Hi crazy4cats –
Feeding a variety of red meat, poultry and fish (or if not feeding fish, supplementing with quality fish oil) is very important. Different meats have different amino acid profiles, it’s important to feed a variety so your dog gets a full spectrum of amino acids. Even two different types of poultry – say, chicken versus turkey – will have completely different amino acid profiles. Rotating for this reason isn’t quite as critical when feeding balanced commercial kibble or canned foods as it would be with feeding a home cooked or raw diet as commercial diets should be formulated to include adequate levels of essential amino acids, but it’s still important. Different meats also contain different types of fat: poultry is high in polyunsaturated fats (especially linoleic acid) and low in saturated fats and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), ruminants are high in saturated fats and low in polyunsaturated fats and DHA and fish is, typically, rich in DHA. Feeding your dogs a variety of different protein sources will help balance the fats in their diet. It’s important that dogs (and cats) consume a balanced spectrum of fats, in order to do this they will need to consume a variety of red meats and poultry supplemented with fatty fish or fish oil or it will be necessary to balance the fats in their food – this would involve supplementing red meat recipes with alpha linolenic acid (ALA), Linoleic Acid (LA) and DHA (walnut oil or hemp oil or canola oil in addition to a fatty fish or fish oil) and supplementing poultry recipes with ALA and DHA (chia seeds or flax and fish or fish oil). I don’t know of any kibble or canned food manufacturer that balances the fats in their foods so it’s best to feed a variety. I personally prefer single protein group foods – red meat, poultry, fish but a food that contains both poultry and red meat would be better than only feeding poultry based foods or only feeding red meat based foods. When I fed kibble I’d cycle between a red meat based food, then a poultry based food then a fish based food. Red meat would be beef, lamb, venison, bison, pork, etc. Poultry would be chicken, turkey, duck, etc. In addition to the reasons stated, I like red meat (for my homemade raw diets) because I have a greater variety of organ meat to choose from. When feeding poultry the only option is liver (gizzards and hearts count as muscle meat), this isn’t enough variety. So I typically feed red meat organs because I can get liver, kidney, lungs, spleen, pancreas – I can also get healthy “by-products” such as trachea, gullet and green tripe.
Wow! That is a lot of info. Thanks. So I guess you think it is important to rotate protein sources. LOL! I wonder ow how often. I am feeding the boys Nutrisource grain free lamb right now. I also top with Kirkland cuts and gravy canned. Sometimes I use other canned as well if I see on sale. I was planning on feeding for 3 or 4 months, but worried that feeding red meat for that long wouldn’t be healthy. This food does not have an extremely high protein percentage so maybe ok? I thought it seemed like a good food for the price. If humans ate lamb for 3 or 4 months, our cholesterol levels would probably sky rocket.
In regards to white meat vs red and the advice for humans to limit red meat consumption I’m assuming you are referring to recent reports of an increased cancer risk in people correlated to red meat consumption.
There is only a few publications I’m aware of that looked at this risk in dogs and a higher incidence of cancer was correlated with red meat consumption. “Other significant risk factors were a high intake of red meat, especially beef and pork, and a low intake of chicken. …. In the multivariate analysis, older age, obesity at 1 year of age, and a high red meat intake were independently and significantly associated with the risk of developing mammary tumor and dysplasias.”
“a habitual diet based on home-made food (rich in beef and pork, and poor in chicken) as opposed to commercial food, are also associated with the occurrence of mammary tumours.”
Both of these were likely pulled from the same data as they have authors in common.
Really though I think it is far far too early to know. This was only one cancer type that was evaluated and like any study each has strengths and weaknesses.
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