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Venison in dog food

Venison in dog food

There are so many different types of dog food on the market these days. Have you ever gone to the pet store and been absolutely stunned by all the different flavors, styles and brands? With what seems like every flavour available to dogs, there has obviously been some more “exotic’ options being manufactured as well. You may or may not have noticed that you can even get venetian food for your dog now. But what is venison and why might it be a good option for your dog to try?

What is venison?

Venison is a type of red meat that can be added to many different types for dog food; kibble, raw and even fresh cooked dog food. This wild protein comes from the meat of antlered ungulates such as elk or deer. It has a flavor, color and texture similar to that of beef, however it is much leaner. 

Venison Tenderloin Processing Wild Game Mule Deer Meat in Western Colorado Following Hunting Harvest Photo Series Cutting Venison Tenderloin and Steaks Grinding Meat into Burger Hunting in Western Colorado Following Hunting Harvest Processing Wild Game Mule Deer Meat Photo Series with Matching 4K Video Available (Shot with Canon 5DS 50.6mp photos professionally retouched - Lightroom / Photoshop - original size 5792 x 8688 downsampled as needed for clarity and select focus used for dramatic effect) venison stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Venison agriculture

The majority of venison used in dog food is not hunted from wild ungulates. Instead it is sourced from alternative livestock farmers who raise elk and deer for market. There are a number of elk and deer farmers across Canada that produce venison that can be used for pet food. 

Elk , Red tailed deer or wapiti Elk farming provides a source of lean read meat and parts of the elk such as velvet from the horns are though by some cultures to have medicinal value. deer farm stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Sourcing from ungulate farmers is preferable to hunted meat as there are regulations within the alternative livestock industry which protect consumers against potential ungulate pathogens and sets standards for animal welfare. This is particularly important as chronic wasting syndrome is a disease of concern when considering venison meat. CWD is a neurological disease that causes degeneration of the brain resulting in emaciation (abnormally thin), abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death. The Canadian ungulate industry has standards in place to control and prevent CWD in market animals to ensure that venison is safe for consumers, including both humans and dogs.

Health benefits of feeding your dog venison

Venison is a really great protein for both dogs and humans. It is much leaner than traditional red meats like beef or lamb. This means that it is lower in both saturated fat and calories, which makes it a great option for dogs who may need to lose a little weight and/or dogs suffering from cardiovascular issues.

Venison is also high in protein and essential amino acids. In only 100g of venison, there is 24g of protein! Your dog utilizes this protein for body growth and repair and also includes supporting immune function, supporting hormone production and helping to build crucial enzymes. 

In addition to protein, venison is also packed with essential vitamins and minerals. This includes nutrients thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, iron, and zinc, which are essential for metabolism, immune, neurological and many other crucial body functions!

venison raw venison prepared with berries venison stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Nutritional facts

The following are the nutritional facts for 100g of ground deer.

Calories: 187 kcal/kg

Total Fat: 8.2g

Saturated fat: 4g

Monounsaturated fat: 1.9g

Polyunsaturated fat: 0.4g

Cholesterol: 98mg

Sodium: 78mg

Potassium: 364mg

Carbohydrates: 0g

Sugar: 0g

Fiber: 0g

Protein: 26.5g

Good for dogs with allergies

Does your doggo have itchy skin? How about sneezing and runny eyes? An upset stomach and indigestion? Your dog may have allergies or an intolerance. Canine allergies are a complicated business and can be caused by a multitude of factors. Sometimes food may be the culprit in the cause of dog allergies.

Allergies are the result of the body reacting to a foreign substance or allergen. Once a dog is exposed to an allergen, their immune system freaks out towards the otherwise harmless molecule and expresses an antibody-immune reaction. The result of this immune reaction is often observed as inflammatory allergy symptoms, whether that’s as skin dermatitis, digestive issues or anaphylaxis. 

Golden Retriever Puppy Scratching fleas on white background 16 week old cute Golden Retriever puppy scratching fleas with hind leg in motion on a white background "Missy" dog itch stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

If you are unable to identify a specific allergen or suspect that there are multiple allergens, there is the option to try hypoallergenic food. This type of food is specially formulated for dogs who are allergic to the common food allergens, which can include:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Fish 
  • Corn
  • Wheat (or other grains)
  • Dairy products
  • Soy

Hypoallergenic diets contain limited ingredients, are usually grain free and utilize alternative protein sources, one of those being venison. Since venison is still a relatively rare protein being used in dog food, it means that dogs likely won’t be allergic to it. When exposed to venison, an allergic dog’s immune system will not recognize the diet as a threat and is less likely to attack it.

Ultimately, if you have a dog with allergies, it may be an option to try a venison diet for your dog to help them with their itchy scratchies.

Take home message

Venison is a red meat protein from ungulates like deer and elk. It is a great protein for dogs as it is leaner than beef or elk and it is also rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Venison is especially good for dogs who have food allergies as the immune system is less likely to react to it than other proteins.

Wooden bowl full of cubed, raw venison
Wooden bowl full of cubed, raw venison

View Sources

Raditic, D. M., R. L. Remillard, and K. C. Tater. "ELISA testing for common food antigens in four dry dog foods used in dietary elimination trials." Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition 95, no. 1 (2011): 90-97.

Leistra, Mieke HG, Peter J. Markwell, and Ton Willemse. "Evaluation of selected-protein-source diets for management of dogs with adverse reactions to foods." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 219, no. 10 (2001): 1411-1414.

Forss, David A., Timothy R. Manley, Martin P. Platt, and Vivian J. Moore. "Palatability of venison from farmed and feral red deer." Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 30, no. 9 (1979): 932-935.

Myae, Aye C., and Ellen W. Goddard. Consumer's behaviour with respect to meat demand in the presence of animal disease concerns: the special case of consumers who eat bison, elk, and venison. No. 320-2016-10452. 2010.

Aidoo, Kofi E., and Richard JP Haworth. "Nutritional and chemical composition of farmed venison." Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 8, no. 6 (1995): 441-446.

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February 20, 2024
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