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Lean Meats for Dogs in Fresh Food Diets: Vet Approved Facts, Pros, Cons & FAQ

Written by: Jordyn Alger

Last Updated on June 24, 2024 by Dogster Team

fresh raw meat on old wooden table

Lean Meats for Dogs in Fresh Food Diets: Vet Approved Facts, Pros, Cons & FAQ


Dr. Karyn Kanowski Photo


Dr. Karyn Kanowski

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Protein is an essential part of your dog’s diet, and can be found in meat, eggs, and certain vegetables. It plays a vital role in your dog’s body, such as building and sustaining muscles, tissues, and cells. Without protein, your dog would suffer from severe nutritional deficiencies over time. 

There are many types of meat in commercial dog foods, and not all of them provide the same nutritional value for your pet. For example, lean meats provide unique benefits compared to fatter cuts.

If you are considering a fresh food diet, take it a step further and select meals made with lean meats. In this article, we’ll discuss lean meats in fresh food diets in detail so you can better understand their benefits for your pet. 

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What Are Fresh Food Diets?

Fresh food dog diets are growing in popularity. As more pet parents consider what is most beneficial for their dog’s health, many of them have turned to natural, freshly cooked meals that they can make in their kitchen. Owners who feed fresh food diets have reported higher energy levels, shinier coats, and fresher breath. Some even say that their dog’s stools have improved! 

Some cook their dog’s meals on their own, while others sign up for a fresh food delivery subscription plan. Many fresh food subscription services work alongside canine nutritionists to ensure that their meals are fulfilling the standards set forth by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). 

Fresh food diets differ from raw diets in that they are cooked, reducing the risk of foodborne pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli, and Botulism, but aren’t ultra heat or pressure cooked like standard commercial foods. This means that the food must either be served within 1–2 days of preparation or frozen until ready to be eaten.

While fresh food diets don’t exclusively contain lean meats, there are benefits to feeding your dog lean meats. When considering fresh food for your dog, try looking for brands with some of the lean meats we’ll discuss below. 

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Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

What Are Different Types of Lean Meats?

There are many types of lean meat that you can feed your dog, so if they don’t like the taste of one, you can always try another. However, that shouldn’t be a problem since dogs tend to find lean meats just as tasty as other meats. 

A common lean meat that you can feed your dog is chicken breast. As long as the chicken has been cooked and deboned, you can safely serve chunks of chicken breast to them. Chicken contains plenty of vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids crucial to your pet’s overall health. It can also boost your dog’s immune system and promote weight loss or maintenance. 

Another option is lean ground beef. Not all ground beef is lean, so check the packaging to ensure that it is loaded with fat. Beef is another common protein that dogs love, and it is packed with healthy amino acids. There are plenty of essential vitamins and minerals included in lean ground beef as well. 

While beef and chicken are both healthy, readily available options, they are also the most common proteins associated with food allergies. If your dog suffers from frequent upset tummies or itchy skin, you may want to consider alternative meat options, such as lean pork or lamb.

Whitefish is another great lean protein option. Different types of whitefish include cod, haddock, tilapia, or trout. Whitefish is beneficial for dogs who need a little extra help with their fur, as it contains plenty of omega-3 fatty acids that nourish the skin and coat. It also provides a good source of B-complex vitamins, calcium, and phosphorus. 

These are not the only forms of lean protein that you can feed your dog, but they are some of the more common choices. As you venture deeper into the world of lean meats, you can experiment with other options with your vet’s approval. 

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Top 5 Fresh Food Diets

Fresh food diets can benefit your dog, but they can also be a lot of work to maintain. If you want to remove the burden of creating nutritious meals for your dog, you can try a subscription plan that guarantees your dog gets all the nutrients they need. Most of these diets are cooked fresh and then frozen for delivery and storage. Just thaw in the fridge, and you have a healthy, fresh meal for your beloved pet.

1. Ollie

Ollie dog food

Ollie is a fresh food brand that focuses on natural, human-grade ingredients. Their subscription plan can be highly customized to ensure your pet gets lean protein or other beneficial ingredients. 

2. The Farmer’s Dog

The Farmer’s Dog Subscription Made-to-Order Meal Plan Designed by Vets.

Fresh meals from The Farmer’s Dog have been crafted to exceed the standards set forward by the AAFCO. They allow you to personalize your plan to meet your dog’s needs. 

3. Nom Nom

Nom Nom dog food

Nom Nom produces nutrient-rich recipes based on your dog’s history. 

4. Evermore

Evermore dog food

Evermore meals come in various sizes and offer a great selection for dogs with allergies. 

5. Spot & Tango

Spot and Tango

Another great option is Spot & Tango, which provides easily stored servings. 


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Advantages of Lean Protein Fresh Food Diets

Lean protein provides plenty of great benefits for your dog, making it an excellent addition to their fresh food diet. One of the key advantages of lean protein over other forms of protein is that it is low in calories. 

This is especially useful for dogs who are on a weight management program or breeds that are prone to obesity. At the same time, lean proteins are packed with essential amino acids. While the calories in your dog’s meal will be lower, the nutritional benefits will not be lacking.

Disadvantages of Lean Protein Fresh Food Diets

Fresh food diets come with a lot of benefits, but there are also drawbacks. If you plan to cook your dog’s meals yourself, it can take a lot of time, effort, and planning. Also, you will need to remain in constant communication with your vet to ensure that your dog is receiving an adequate amount of nutrients in the meals you make.  

If you plan to subscribe to a fresh dog food delivery service, those drawbacks won’t be an issue for you. However, one problem you may run into is the limited fridge or freezer space. Fresh dog food must be stored in a freezer until ready to be thawed for feeding, and if you already struggle to keep your fridge organized, adding your dog’s food into the mix might complicate matters.  

The other main disadvantage of feeding fresh, lean meat to your dog is price. Many commercial dog foods keep costs down by including lower-quality cuts, meat meal, and other ingredients. Feeding your dog high quality, lean meat will cost you more, but their health benefits are worth it.

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Image Credit: Christin Hume, Unsplash

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are you curious to learn more about lean proteins in fresh dog food? Below, we will answer some frequently asked questions on the subject. 

Which Lean Protein Should My Dog Eat?

The best way to determine which lean protein is right for your dog is to talk to your vet. Your vet will know which lean meats will best provide for your dog’s dietary needs. If your dog has any food allergies, their protein options may be limited. 

Beyond the health considerations, you can also consider your dog’s preference. If your dog isn’t a fan of fish, you can look for other lean meats like chicken. Although it’s nice to offer your dog a variety of different ingredients, avoid using all the flavors available, just in case your dog develops an intolerance to certain proteins. 

How Can You Know if Fresh Food Diets Are Right for You?

Fresh food diets provide lots of health benefits to your dog, but the only way to know if the switch is right for you is to talk to your vet. Not all diets are right for all dogs, particularly if they have specific health conditions or nutritional requirements. If your vet has a concern about fresh food diets being fed to your dog, it is important to hear them out. 

What Is the Difference Between Fresh Diets and Raw Diets?

In your quest to discover healthy diets for your dog, it is likely that you’ve heard of raw diets. Unlike fresh diets, where the food is fully cooked, raw diets are uncooked. Some owners claim that raw diets provide benefits for their dogs, while others insist that they are health risks. 

Before considering a raw diet, talk to your vet to better understand the pros and cons of a raw diet. However, most veterinarians don’t recommend serving raw food to your dog.

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Lean meats are a great source of amino acids and are low in calories. If you are considering a fresh food diet for your dog, consider lean meats when picking out your meals. You can either cook the meals under your vet’s supervision or order AAFCO-certified fresh food subscriptions for your dog. No matter how you prepare it, your dog is sure to love it. 

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Featured Image Credit: MaraZe, Shutterstock

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