Have you ever considered making dog food with your deer meat? Here's why venison dog food is a healthy alternative.
If you're like us, you couldn't possibly turn down those longing eyes sitting patiently on the floor next to you while you prepare your favorite venison recipe.
In fact, our favorite, hard working canines are meat eaters by nature, so it only stands to reason that they could benefit from some of our delicious, preservative-free, all-natural protein.
We should say right at the start that a diet such as this is better given to your adult dog. There are other alternatives to give to puppies that are best discussed with your veterinarian that can establish a good start in life for a young dog.
Actually, a diet of meat with with added vegetables can be great for both young and adult dogs for the vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, Manganese, and beta-carotene among others. Just remember, for all dogs, veggies need to be cooked by steaming, blanching, or boiling first.
It's even possible that dog food containing venison is a great option for dogs who may have food sensitivities or allergies to other protein sources such as beef or chicken. Since venison is a novel protein, it may help reduce allergies and skin irritations in pets with food-related issues.
Again, the best person to ask is your veterinarian who knows your dog as well as you do.
Anyone who has ever owned dogs should already understand that when you change their diet, their stool will change for a few days until they get used to it. Now is not the time to completely change over to raw deer meat, but gradually over time.
Generally speaking, you should not feed your dog strictly raw venison, but deer meat with a mix of other nutritious foods like rice or eggs.
Vegetables are rich in fiber, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes not found in meat, but we're betting your prime hunting dog is not so much interested in having you feed him a dinner of pureed kale. With that in mind, let's look at at what makes a good venison dog food, and what else goes well with some deer meat for your dog.
Raw Venison Dog Food
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Since rotating your dog's protein source is a good way to improve nutritional quality, it makes perfect sense to include some lean, beneficial venison. Whether or not you are trying to find a new protein source, many hunters still wonder whether venison is safe to add to their dog's diet in a raw form.
The short answer is yes.
This can put a burr under the saddle of some dog owners as they feel that it is unsafe to give raw, wild deer meat to your dog since it could thereby cause it to ingest a parasite or other disease that the animal has. Avoiding this starts with the field dressing and processing steps. Was the deer unusually gaunt or thin? Were there tan or yellow lumps on the inside of the ribcage? Does a portion of muscle appear discolored or different from the rest?
Obviously, you wouldn't want to give your pet meat that you wouldn't eat yourself, so scrutinize the harvest and keep an eye out for abnormalities that raise red flags.
Further, in order to kill any parasites that the game may be hosting, you should freeze the meat for at least four weeks prior to using it to minimize the risks that come with giving your dog wild game.
Maybe the best way is to have a deer processed by a butcher. Many of us carve up our own deer, but aren't so keen at detecting issues in the carcass.
Look for any obvious abscesses or puss-like nodules that stick out, and if you are in a CWD positive area, certainly you should have your deer tested.
The bottom line is that if you wouldn't eat it, then you shouldn't give it to your dog.
After freezing for the allotted time, thaw it out and let it air dry. You can feed it straight to your dog that way, or continue with some preparation methods to enhance either its shelf life or overall taste.
Many of us love to use our dehydrator on a low setting to give the venison time to "come back to life" so we can cut it into a size that is easier to eat. And for many, just leaving it on the dehydrator rack long enough to make tasty dog treats that last for months is enough. In this way, you're not giving your dog all those secret spices, salts, and sauces that we love on our favorite homemade jerky but can irritate a pet's stomach.
Cooked Venison Dog Food
What would you make with a bus bin full of ground venison?
For some, the best cut for their dog is not a cut at all, and instead just simply ground venison. This is probably the easiest meat to deal with for creating a bowl of food for your dog that they will absolutely devour.
Thankfully, we don't have to worry as much with presentation and visual appeal. We just need to grind and cook the burger to a safe level and then mix it with other ingredients such as vegetables (which, as mentioned, also need to be cooked for a dog).
Maybe the simplest way to approach this is to add it to the dry food that you are already giving your dog. This can make a bag of kibble go a lot further and give your dog the added B vitamins and minerals such as zinc, phosphorous, riboflavin, and iron that deer meat provides.
Since it's always good to add a second protein source, some owners like to include a non-meat food like plain cottage cheese, cooked eggs, or even yogurt. Remember that carbohydrates are essential as well, so adding things like brown rice or white rice makes good sense too.
Other quality carbohydrate choices include cooked sweet potatoes or white potatoes, and even some types of pasta. Since some dogs have allergies, a grain-free recipe with venison as the first ingredient may be the only way.
Venison Dog Food Recipes
These aren't your run-of-the-mill recipes, but instead more like suggestions for things that you can add to your cooked or raw venison that will take it up a notch and give your beloved pet and hunting partner that extra surge of nutrition that they need when it comes time to get to work.
As said, a ground venison meal is the easiest to deal with. Our favorite method keeps it ridiculously simple. Fry it in a pan with some canola oil and then drain it as you see fit (since venison is much lower in fat). Then add to it any combination of eggs, rice, or cottage cheese. Chose two complementary vegetables, prepare them the desired way, and add them to the mixture.
The eggs can be scrambled or even hard boiled and then chopped to add much needed flavor and protein. Some good cooked vegetable choices include carrots, broccoli, green beans, peas, squash, and even cauliflower. Avoid vegetables that are harmful to dogs, such as onions and garlic. Finding the right venison formula might take a little fine tuning, but your dog likely won't mind being a taste tester.
Here's one of the simplest and easiest video recipes that we could find to help further explain the process.
And here is a great short video showing how to create a tasty meal for your dog--even a puppy--with some good quality raw meat and just a few other ingredients.
One thing that you can always do is to cook up some of these things and then freeze then for later use. Dogs, unlike us, don't mind having something that's been thawed out for dinner. It would be nice of you to let it come to room temperature or even warm it up, perhaps in the microwave, first just to make it more appealing.
Why Venison Dog Food?
Recommended nutritional levels for dogs are usually taken care of by the dry dog food companies. Their balanced and efficient use of smart ingredients have the research and development to back them up. But since real venison and its high-quality protein is obviously good for dogs, it's your responsibility to provide them with what they need as supplementary nutrition, while still maintaining the limited ingredient formula that's the basis of this idea.
With its natural flavor and animal protein it can be a great natural balance as a pet food, but don't just toss things in willy nilly. Do enough homework and planning to be confident you're giving your dog exactly what it needs. Make sure you're adding up the right calorie content, and supplementing with the essential nutrients you know they need.
Being that some dogs have allergies, food sensitivities, and even sensitive stomachs, this sort of alternative diet can be greatly beneficial for dogs that need a helping hand, nutritionally speaking.
Many of today's best dog foods for active sporting dogs are based on chicken, beef, turkey, duck, lamb, and salmon, but more and more are popping up with venison as the main protein.
Venison is a great addition to their regular kibble which can help encourage healthy skin and bones, and it avoids artificial flavors that can upset their digestive system. Venison dog food comes without any of the byproducts that plague other forms of dog food, provides the family pet with a limited ingredient diet that is high in quality and devoid of artificial ingredients.
Trust us, if you haven't tried a high protein, all-natural, self-sustainable method of feeding your canine, then venison dog food should be on your to-do list.
For meat processing and home kitchen gear, check out Cabela's.