Can dogs eat ground beef? (Cooked or Raw)

The short answer is “yes,” dogs can eat cooked ground beef. There are a lot of caveats though, and it should be given to them in moderation. Dogs are natural meat-eaters. They love meat, and probably don’t care whether it is cooked or not. Many dog foods have meat flavors, such as beef, pork, or chicken, and may not have any meat at all in them. Your dog will still like that because they like meat. 

Can dogs eat cooked ground beef?

Dogs can indeed eat cooked ground beef or any kind of cooked meat. They can also eat raw meat. They eat raw meat in the wild, but most veterinarians recommend against giving it to them. Even a well-domesticated dog will eat a dead animal, such as a bird that has fallen to the ground, or a squirrel they managed to catch.

While this is normal, or natural, for your dog, it is not something that should be encouraged. Most vets would recommend taking a dead animal away from your dog if he is trying to eat it. But cooked meat, like ground beef, is basically fine for a dog to eat.

The only real concern with cooked ground beef is the fatty content. Ground beef usually has more fat than other types of meat that we get at the grocery store. Ground beef has the level of fat on the label, so it is not hard to determine how much fat there is. 

Fat vs. Lean

Beef that is 70 percent lean and 30 percent fat is the highest fat content that is allowed by law. The cut of meat that was ground has an impact on the fatty content, as well as how the meat was processed. The lean part provides the protein, which is what is nutritious. The fat is what provides the flavor. A 70-percent lean ground beef patty would taste better than one with lower fat content.  Beef that is 95-96 percent lean is the leanest meat you can buy, and that is the most healthy. It still tastes good, but will not taste as good as one with higher fat content.

While it is not usually possible to know what part of the cow the ground beef you buy at the grocery store came from, the amount of lean vs. fat is clearly labeled. It is a good idea for humans to eat the lowest fat possible meat, and that is the best plan for your dog as well.

What fat does

Fat makes food taste good, but it is not nutritious for you or for your dog.  If your dog is not used to eating meat, a high-fat content may give her an upset stomach. This could result in some diarrhea. This is one good reason to make sure it is lean ground beef. If your dog is not used to eating this kind of food, it is best to give them a very small amount to start with. You can increase the amount as your body adjusts.

Fat can clog the arteries of your dog and cause long-term health issues when they get too much. A little fat, very little, is actually good for your dog, but when overdone it causes more problems than it does good. In addition to long-term health effects like hardened arteries, it can also make your dog overweight, which is never good for a dog.

There are different kinds of fats. Some of them are good for your dog, and for people, and ground beef is a great source of those good fats. Unfortunately, ground beef may also contain some fats that are not healthy, so you need to give them meat like this in moderation.

Dogs and vegetarians

Vegetarianism is popular today in our culture. Whether meat is good for humans is debatable, and whether a strictly vegetarian diet is good for humans is also debatable. For dogs, this is not debatable. Dogs need protein in their diet. Humans may be fine with a vegan diet, but dogs would not be healthy with such a diet.

Dogs may be fine with commercial dog food that is fortified with vitamins, proteins, and other healthy things, but a strictly vegan diet would be unhealthy for a dog. Whether to give your dog cooked meat is a controversial issue perhaps, but it is a fact that dogs are natural meat eaters and need the nutrients meat provides to be healthy. You do not have to give your dog meat to get them these nutrients, but giving them meat will not hurt them and it is a good way to give them what they need.

Can dogs eat raw ground beef?

While most veterinarians and dog health experts advise against giving raw meat to dogs, giving them some raw meat will hurt them. Eating a dead animal they found is not healthy and can cause serious illness. Eating meat, even raw, that has been properly processed and preserved, is not a danger in itself.

There are some risks when your dog eats raw ground beef:

  • Salmonella and other gastric type illnesses
  • Liver problems
  • Kidney failure
  • Cancer in rare cases

Cooking matters

Those risks are there when the dog eats a lot of raw meat. A small amount would not likely cause any of those problems other than an upset stomach if they are not used to eating meat. Cooking meat will eliminate the possibility of salmonella poisoning, and if given in moderation, will avoid liver and kidney problems.

Beef is a great source of protein that gives your dog energy. Beef provides good fatty acids like Omega-6, as well as minerals and vitamins that make for a healthy dog. Beef, and even some fat, help your dog have a healthy smooth coat and promotes healthy skin, joints, and muscles.

When giving your dog cooked meat, it is a good idea to prepare it separately from the meat your family will eat. Avoid seasoning of any kind as this will give your dog an upset stomach. Some things we use normally, like onions, are unhealthy for dogs.  If you are not using ground beef, cut the pieces into small bites that are easy to chew. Remove any bones or excess fat that could be hard to digest.

Some reasons not to give your dog raw meat:

  • Dogs are domesticated. In the wild, dogs, and their ancestors, the wolf, eat raw meat as their normal diet. Over the last several thousand years, dogs have become domesticated and have evolved in a different direction. They are not as able to digest raw food as their wilder counterparts are. 
  • Raw foods are not as well regulated. The meat you buy at the grocery store is more regulated, and cooking it will remove nearly all the bad things that could be in there.
  • Raw meat has more bacteria and is harder for your dog to digest. The reason for this is the aforementioned evolution as a domesticated animal.

Reasons to give your dog raw meat

  • They love it. It is hard to tell whether a dog really likes one food better than another, or whether it is raw or cooked better. Even so, it is still pretty obvious that dogs like raw meat.
  • Raw meat helps dogs have healthier skin and a better coat. Cooking removes some potential health hazards, but it also diminishes some of the benefits as well.
  • It may not be so much with ground beef, but meat, in general, promotes healthier teeth as chewing helps clean the teeth.
  • Some say raw food helps improve digestion. It can also help keep a dog from getting overweight. 

What happens if dogs eat ground beef?

In general, a lot of good things happen when your dog eats ground beef or beef of any kind.  Keep in mind, if your dog is not used to eating meat, and suddenly is given a lot of meat, she will get an upset stomach and will get a little sick. There will likely be some diarrhea until her body adjusts to the new richer diet.

Dogs love meat, and it will make them happy when they get to eat meat. Veterinarians say cooked meat is better for your dog in general than raw meat, but even raw meat has its benefits. Beyond the possibility of an upset stomach at first, nothing bad will happen to your dog when he eats some meat.

Fat is the only concern, and some of the fat is good for your dog. The bad fat causes hardening and clogging of arteries, weight gain, and is generally not healthy. This is why moderation matters when giving your dog meat. 

There are some good fats in meat, however, and those promote health.

How much ground beef can dogs eat?

Left to their own devices, dogs would probably eat meat and nothing else. That may or may not be healthy. Balance is the key when it comes to your dog’s diet.  Veterinarians recommend balancing meat against regular dog food, or kibble. A third of a pound of ground beef with two cups of kibble is a good mixture, according to dog health experts. Always consult with your veterinarian when considering your dog’s diet.

You can give your dog meat every day if you wish, as long as it is combined with regular dog food in some way. You can mix it or give it to them separately. If you give it to them separately, you run the risk of having the dog eat the meat and ignoring the other dog food. Mixing it is a good way to “trick” the dog into eating both.

Don’t mix ground beef with regular food to “bribe” your dog into eating his dog food. Dogs often skip meals for a variety of reasons. The occasional missed meal should not be a concern. Trying to get them to eat by giving them something that tastes better will give the dog the upper hand. 

Is ground beef too fatty for dogs?

Ground beef can be too fatty for dogs, and that is really the only concern you should have about giving it to them. The best meat to give your dog would be a lean cut of beef, such as a piece of sirloin. The less fatty content the better, though there will be some fat involved and some fat is good for your dog.

Ground beef is labeled with the fatty content versus the protein content. Just as it is for humans, the leanest meat possible is the best thing to eat from a health perspective. 

If your dog is not used to eating meat, the fat will upset its stomach. After eating it a few times, they will get used to it and it won’t upset their system anymore. 




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