Lamb is a flavorful, nutritious red meat that dogs love. It's rich in essential amino acids, high in zinc, stabilizes blood sugar levels and is a good source of dietary fats.
According to Merck Veterinary Manual, some studies have suggested that up to 40% of dogs that saw a vet for itching had some form of food allergy. Lamb may be a good allergy alternative for dogs with food allergies or intolerances caused by beef or chicken.
Since lamb has become such a common ingredient in popular dog foods, which of those many foods is the best?
To help you decide, we took a look at some of the most popular lamb dog food options and came up with this list of our nine favorites for pups of all breeds, ages and sizes.
Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Lamb Formula
Taste of the Wild is a trusted brand and this affordable grain-free roasted lamb recipe offers a unique protein source, it is packed with omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics, and your pet will just love the taste.
First Five Listed Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Egg Product, Lentils.
This dry dog food is a grain free formula that is designed for adult dogs. The primary protein it features is real lamb and lamb meal that is sourced from one of the best lamb producing countries in the world: New Zealand.
Besides the lean protein provided by the lamb, the formula also features salmon oil to provide an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, tomatoes for Vitamin C and lycopene and raspberries and blueberries add both flavor and essential antioxidants.
This is a highly reviewed lamb dog kibble for dogs of all shapes and sizes. It's mainly targeted to sensitive stomached dogs who find it difficult to digest and tolerate red meat and poultry options. We also love the fact that the formula is coloring and artificial additive free. Another thing that stands in the reviews is that dogs love the flavor, even those that are picky eaters.
Ollie Tasty Lamb Fare
Using real, healthy ingredients that are completely fresh, Ollie's lamb recipe is the easiest way to feed your dog a real food diet that is poultry-free. It's human grade, all-natural, grain-free, and has no artificial flavors or preservatives.
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First Five Listed Ingredients: Lamb heart, lamb, butternut squash, rutabaga, chickpeas.
This super-premium rated dog food offered by Ollie is made with human-grade ingredients from trusted sources.
It is a cooked, frozen dog food that is basically fit for human consumption. It's made with pasture raised lamb sourced from free-range farms in the US and Australia.
This recipe also features butternut squash, which promotes healthy vision in addition to other essential nutrients and vitamins such as kale which is rich in antioxidants, rutabaga for fiber, as well as chickpeas, cranberries, potatoes,strawberries, dicalcium phosphate, cod liver oil, calcium carbonate, zinc gluconate and vitamin E.
Ollie's Tasty Lamb Fare contains no chicken, so it's good for a pup with a chicken intolerance. It is an AAFCO-approved dog food for all life stages, including growth of large size dogs (>70 pounds or more as an adult), however they customize the meal to meet your dog's specifications (such as age, gender, activity level, etc.).
Use Ollie as a topper with regular dry kibble or feed it on its own. If you want to feed your dog the best food there is, you can't go wrong with Ollie.
For a small dog, it is quite budget-friendly, it's a pricier alternative for large dogs.
But owners have seen positive results in their dog's coat, poop consistency (even less poop) and tummy upsets.
American Journey Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
This is an affordable and tasty formula for your pet made with deboned lamb and supplemented with salmon oil and flaxseed for those essential omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. Suitable for dogs experiencing upset stomachs and skin issues.
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First Five Listed Ingredients: Deboned Lamb, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Chickpeas.
This formula is designed to provide tasty lean meat, plenty of protein and the extra Omega 3 fatty acids that round out a good canine diet without making use of corn, wheat, soy or other fillers.
The lamb used in this formula is whole, deboned real lamb sourced from New Zealand and it is supplemented with salmon oil (for Omega 3s) and sweet potatoes which are an excellent source of natural vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamin C.
They are also an excellent source of fiber, which helps keep a dog's digestive system in good working order and boosts energy without the need for excess carbs.
Pets parents who praise this formula often do so because it has had a positive effect on the digestive system, reducing the appearance loose stools and excess gas.
Others praise it for the fact that they have seen an improvement in the quality of their pet's coat and skin since switching to the brand and the taste itself seems fairly universally liked even among picky pups.
Some pet parents even report that they have seen an improvement in the pup's teeth, as in less plaque build up and that it was significant enough for their vet to comment upon.
Zignature Lamb Limited Ingredient Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
We can't speak highly enough of this vet-recommended chicken-free dog formula. It is AAFCO-approved for all life stages and made with organic New Zealand lamb featuring an array of fiber-rich fruit, veggies, vitamins and minerals.
First Five Listed Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Pea Flour.
Dogs who are sensitive to certain foods, or have sensitive, easily upset stomachs, often benefit from a limited ingredient formula like this one as there are simply less elements to irritate their digestive system, especially if they have problems with some grains or soy.
The lamb used in this formula is real, organic New Zealand lamb and extra dietary fiber is provided by chickpeas which are also a good source of extra protein and the essential mineral copper. Flaxseeds add Omega 3 fatty acids and alfalfa meal is used as a source of extra vitamins and minerals.
It is grain and gluten-free, has good sources of low glycemic carbs and veggies and is free from soy, corn and wheat.
In addition to the fact that the flavor of this Zignature dog food formula seems very popular with dogs of all shapes and sizes pet parents report it is great for those with sensitive stomachs as well as for the condition of the skin and coat, especially in those pups who suffer from itching and dry skin.
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Lamb and Brown Rice Formula
This is a another great food for allergies from Blue Buffalo, another reputable company featuring deboned-lamb as it's first listed ingredient.
First Five Listed Ingredients: Deboned Lamb, Menhaden Fish Meal (Source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Barley.
As one of the best-known names in modern canine nutrition in the 21st century a great many pet parents rely on Blue Buffalo - and its 'Lifebits' vitamin and mineral content - to keep their pup healthy and well-fed.
This version of the dry kibble product is designed to help promote healthy muscle growth by making use of real, deboned lamb as a major ingredient along with a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables including peas, sweet potatoes, carrots and blueberries.
In reading the reviews left by pet parents who recommend this food one of the biggest advantages that stand out for many is that it is one of the few dry kibbles widely available that does not contain chicken or chicken meal.
It does contain a small amount of chicken fat, but pet parents whose dogs are sensitive to larger amounts of chicken - and a surprising number are - report that this formula is well tolerated.
Another big bonus for many of this formula is that the flavor seems to be one that their pup enjoys and that, in some cases, excessive flatulence seemed to be significantly decreased, something that has to be a plus in anyone's book!
All joking aside though reduced flatulence is a sign of a healthier digestive system, so the benefits are to your pup’s health as well as to his environment.
Rachel Ray Nutrish Just 6
Suitable for all breeds, Rachel Ray's Nutrish Just 6 is a limited ingredient diet free from corn, wheat, gluten and soy and features lamb meal as the #1 ingredient.
First Five Listed Ingredients: Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, Ground Rice, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols).
Once you get past the slight novelty of a celebrity TV chef (for humans) creating dog cuisine, you'll find that the Rachel Ray Nutrish line - which is available for both dogs and cats - offers solid nutrition value as well as 'star power'.
As you may have been able to guess from the name the Just 6 formula features six primary ingredients in addition to added vitamins and minerals in supplement form.
Here those ingredients are lamb meal, ground and brown rice, beets, chicken fat and chicken flavoring.
Together these ingredients provide all the nutrition that most adult dogs need and while the flavor profile might sound a little bland compared to some other dry dog food formulas, many pet parents report that their pups actually seem to really enjoy it.
This seems to be another formula that is very well tolerated by dogs with sensitive stomachs and/or allergies, especially those sensitive to larger amounts of chicken.
As the kibble is a little larger than that found in some of the other products on our list it may be best suited to medium to large size breeds who enjoy the crunch of a larger kibble, but conversely be harder for a smaller dog to handle well.
Earthborn Holistic Meadow Feast
This highly-rated holistic lamb dog food is uniquely designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs. It features premium lamb meal and a precise blend of vegetables and fruit that is sure to please any finicky dog.
First Five Listed Ingredients: Lamb Meal, Peas, Tapioca, Canola Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein.
The manufacturers go out of their way to stress that the only source of meat based protein included in this formula is real, organic lamb.
This is in fact one of the few popular dry dog food formulas available that contains no chicken, in any form, at all. As some pups are very sensitive to any form of chicken this may be a real plus for some.
In addition to the lamb this formula makes use of organically grown fruits and vegetables to provide essential vitamins, minerals and healthy fats.
These include apples, carrots, blueberries and spinach, which is also an excellent natural source of iron.
Those who prefer to feed this formula to their pups usually do so because they are concerned about how well their pup will tolerate food with additional 'filler' ingredients and on the whole report that this limited ingredient formula goes down well and does not cause stomach upsets.
Many also prefer to offer this food because of the organic nature of most of the ingredients and the fact that the taste seems to be very appealing to their pup while also improving the appearance of their coat.
Natural Balance L.I.D. Lamb Meal & Brown Rice
This lamb meal and brown rice dog food from Natural Balance offers your pup a delicious blend featuring lamb meal. Great for dogs with intolerance to salmon or other fish. Free from fish oil, pups love it and report fewer skin issues.
First Five Listed Ingredients: Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Rice Bran, Canola Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols And Lactic Acid)
This is another formula that contains no chicken AND no fish oil, and, as a limited ingredient offering is about as limited as it gets. While this may sound a little boring for a dog with digestive problems it can be a real boon.
Most of the pet parents leaving positive reviews for this formula choose it over others because it contains so few ingredients - here there is just real lamb, rice, chickpeas and potatoes - and they were hoping it would solve some of their pups tummy troubles, and in most instances that seems to have been the case.
Despite the smaller number of ingredients, most pet parents report that their pup seemed to enjoy the taste of the food and a mid sized kibble means that it is suitable for adult dogs of most sizes and the formula, in some cases pet parents say, seems to have contributed to the improvement of their pet's itchy dry skin and lacklustre coat noticeably.
Purina ONE SmartBlend Lamb & Rice
Dry dog food featuring real lamb, blended with other high-quality protein sources helps support muscle maintenance, including a healthy heart.
First Five Listed Ingredients: Lamb (Source of Glucosamine), Rice Flour, Whole Grain Corn, Whole Grain Wheat, Chicken By-Product Meal (Source of Glucosamine)
There is some debate at the moment about the real benefits of a grain free diet, and some pet parents are returning to dog food formulas, like this one, that do contain a limited amount of high quality grains.
In terms of ingredients in general lamb is once again the primary protein used here, and it is supplemented with chicken meal and beef fat.
This means that those pups who are sensitive to chicken may not tolerate this food very well, which is something to keep in mind when making the right choice for your pup.
Those pet parents who do praise this formula often to do so because it provides rounded, balanced nutrition that is affordable and easy to find in stores.
Many report being advised to try a lamb and rice formula for their sensitive stomached large dog and find that this works well while also seeming to leave their dog full and satisfied.
This budget-friendly recipe uses uses a combination of real lamb and lamb meal - which is especially rich in protein - and so it offers extra energy for larger dogs who need it as well as the extra protein to help their larger muscles develop well.
Lamb does tend to be a meat that Americans are less familiar with than beef, pork or chicken and so many pet parents are perhaps not quite sure just what lamb has to offer in terms of nutrition or even quite where it fits on the ‘meat scale’.
To help you understand why many vets and canine nutritionists increasingly feel that lamb is a good choice, we have put together this short guide to lamb for dogs.
Yes, lamb for dogs 101, explaining just what this leaner red meat has to offer to your pup.
What is lamb?
The term lamb is just used to describe a young sheep, one that is under the age of one years old. Most ‘sheep meat’ comes from lambs. When older adult lamb meat is occasionally used it is referred to as mutton as it is not quite as nutritious and flavorful.
Is lamb a red meat?
Although when cooked it is not as bright red as beef or pork, and can have a greyish/brown appearance, lamb is indeed counted as a red meat. Like pork it is considered a leaner red meat than beef and it does have a rather different flavor.
The lamb used in dog food usually comes in two forms.
Cooked real lamb and lamb meal.
Lamb meal is dehydrated lamb products formed into a ‘meal’ after cooking. This is often slightly higher in protein content as it is lamb in a more ‘concentrated form’. Lamb meal is not considered fit for human consumption, but it is approved for use in pet foods.
What is the nutritional make up of lamb?
In basic terms, one 100-gram serving of cooked lamb is made up as follows:
- 258 Calories
- 57% Water
- 25.6 grams of protein
- 16.5 grams of fat
- No carbs, sugar, or fiber
What are the protein levels in lamb?
The amount of protein a serving of lamb contains is actually around the same as that contained in a similar amount of lean beef. Lamb offers 25-26 grams, while lean beef offers 24-25 grams of protein. The difference comes in the quality of the protein found in lamb.
The protein provided by lamb is of especially high quality as it contains all nine of the amino acids that the canine - and the human - body needs for good growth and muscle and tissue maintenance.
These amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. There are more than a dozen others, but these are the ones considered essential for mammals.
Although the body needs these acids for proper growth and development it cannot actually produce any of them itself and they all have to be obtained from food. This is what makes lamb protein so special. It is an easy way to get all the amino acids needed in one place.
In dogs, lamb protein can therefore be great for helping puppies develop properly, for helping adult dogs maintain lean muscle mass and for helping older dogs retain more muscle tone and recover from injuries faster.
What are the fat levels in lamb?
Some pet parents never really think too much about the fat content in the meats included in their pup's diet, but it is important to do so, as too much of the wrong fats will result in weight gain, and obesity is as much of a problem for canines as it is for humans.
One of the complaints that some have about lamb when it is prepared for human consumption is that it can seem fattier than some other meats. That depends however, on the cut. When used to create dog food there is usually between 13 and 15% fat content per serving.
Not all the fat is 'bad'.
Lamb offers the two most controversial types of fat -saturated and monounsaturated fats — in equal amounts — but also offers polyunsaturated fat and a type of trans fat not found in beef or pork - ruminant fat - that an increasing number of studies indicate may be good for the body.
You may have heard of the most common of these trans fats before:CLA. CLA - which stands for conjugated linoleic acid - may help reduce body fat and build lean muscle.In fact, some bodybuilders take a CLA supplement in order to try to do so.
What are the vitamin and mineral levels in lamb?
The main component of lamb is its high quality protein and that alone may be a good reason to add it to your pup's diet, but it does also offer a number of essential vitamins and minerals in reasonably high quantities, including the following:
- Vitamin B12
Like other lean meats lamb also contains antioxidants and bioactive nutrients that are believed to be beneficial for their overall health. Bioactive nutrients affect the cell activity all over the body, helping to make essential bodily functions more efficient. Those found in lamb include:
- Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
As a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and high-quality proteins, lamb can be an excellent component of a healthy diet.
What are the health benefits of lamb for dogs?
Now that you know just what lamb has to offer your dog in terms of nutrients you are now doubt wondering just how all those components affect his health.
Here is a brief look at some of the most important health benefits lamb can offer your pup.
Better muscle maintenance
Healthy, strong dogs need healthy muscle. To build - and maintain - that muscle calls for a significant amount of protein. As we mentioned earlier, lamb protein is known as a high quality protein because it offers all nine of the amino acids considered 'essential to life.'
Making sure they get enough protein to maintain good muscle mass is especially important for older dogs, as well as for growing puppies. The muscles begin to waste with age, and adding extra high quality protein into a pup's daily diet can help slow that process down and sometimes even reverse it to a certain extent.
The high quality protein found in lamb may also help improve the overall function of your dog's muscles.
One of the amino acids it offers - beta alanine - produces carnosine, a substance essential for proper muscle function.
Once again, some bodybuilders even take supplements to add this amino acid to their diets, but for dogs, the amounts offered in lamb - as well as lean beef and pork - should be more than adequate.
Anemia is a condition that can affect dogs as well as humans, and refers to a lack of red cells in the blood. This reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood and can lead to fatigue and weakness.
The best defence against anemia is iron.
Meat - including lamb - is a good source of the mineral and the type it offers - heme iron - helps a different form of iron found in vegetables synthesize more efficiently to maintain healthy iron levels and healthier blood.
One of the reasons that some pet parents add a lamb based dog food to their pup's diet is to try to solve a digestive problem.
Some dogs that seem to be sensitive to other meats - especially chicken - seem to enjoy improved digestive health when they 'switch' to lamb.
While medical science is not exactly sure why that is it is possibly due to the fact that the protein contained in lamb is of a higher quality and is therefore easier to digest.
What to look for in the best lamb dog food?
We've now looked at what lamb is, what nutritional benefits it has to offer and just how it may help improve your pup's health when added to their diet.
We've also offered you our opinions on some of the popular lamb dog food choices available. But as you'll discover as you shop, they are far from the only choices out there.
What should you be looking for in a good lamb dog food in general?
Here are some pointers to keep in mind.
Read ingredients lists carefully
Often when we are shopping - especially when shopping online - it is easy to be dazzled by clever copywriting and great images and fail to look at a little harder at the product itself and what it really has to offer. That can certainly be true of dog food.
If you spend some time reading through reviews for various lamb dog food left by pet parents, you will often see that they were disappointed to find that certain unwanted ingredients were contained in a particular brand of dog food that they were not expecting.
You can avoid these kinds of surprises by reading the ingredient lists carefully. If, for example, your pup has a sensitivity to chicken you should be looking not only for real chicken itself but also chicken meal and chicken fat if you want to ensure that you are purchasing a dog food that does not contain any poultry at all.
You should also be on the lookout for artificial sweeteners, colorings and other additives. If you would prefer to feed your dog a more natural diet, it may surprise you just how many of these extra ingredients are included in some formulas.
Not all additives are bad.
Some brands - like Blue Buffalo - add vitamins and minerals to their kibble formulas and these are similar to vitamin supplements you might take yourself.
Taking the time to read and research the ingredients and what they do can be one of the best ways to help ensure you choose the best rated lamb dog food for your pup.
Check expiration date
If you are shopping in a pet store, you will be able to see the expiration date on dog food packaging. It often surprises some people to find that pet food can go 'bad', but it can, even when it is dry kibble.
The reason for this is that over time the ingredients degrade and lose both their potency and flavor. If you purchase your dog food online, check the expiration date before you open it, so that if you accidentally received an expired product, you can return it for a fresh batch.
How you store the food matters as well. Ensure that dry kibble is stored in a sealed container in a cool spot and that once opened you use the food within four to six weeks of purchase.
Final Word on Lamb Food for Dogs
If you have been considering adding a lamb dog food to your pup's diet then we hope that this short guide on lamb dog foods and how to choose the right one for your pup has helped you feel that you can now shop more confidently and offer your dog food he loves and that loves him back.
When choosing the best dog food made with lamb for your pup, we recommend Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain, with over 2K customer reviews on Chewy and Amazon combined and a 4.7 rating, it is by far one of the most popular lamb dog foods on the market.
What are your top picks for your pup? Share your thoughts in the comments below!