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Dog food manufacturers use a variety of different proteins in their foods. Chicken, beef, and pork are likely the most common meats to show up on ingredient lists, and these work well for most dogs.
However, for a variety of reasons, some dogs need foods featuring other, less-common meats. Goat is a great example, and an increasing number of dog food manufacturers are beginning to incorporate goat into their recipes.
We’ll talk about some of the reasons your dog may benefit from goat meat and discuss the nutritional information about the protein below.
We’ll also recommend four of the best goat-based dog foods on the market, to help you find one that works for your pet.
Although the notion of feeding your dog a goat-meat-based dog food seems a bit strange at first glance, there are actually a few reasons it makes perfect sense in some cases.
One of the most notable reasons some owners – especially those of an environmentally conscious bent – have started looking for goat-based dog foods is that goats don’t impact the environment to the same degree that cows and other animals do.
Goats require less space to raise than cattle, which means less green space must be converted to farmland to raise them. Additionally, goats are browsers, rather than grazers, which means they’re easier to feed and that they don’t cause the kind of damage that cows cause while feeding.
Some dogs develop food allergies in response to one or more of the proteins found in their normal food.
Beef (and other dairy products), chicken (and their eggs), wheat, pork, and lamb are among the most common proteins that trigger food allergies in dogs, but virtually any protein can wind up being the culprit.
Food allergies usually arise in response to a protein dogs are regularly exposed to. Accordingly, the most common way of treating dogs with food allergies is to stop feeding them their current food in lieu of a food featuring “novel” proteins, to which the dogs have never been exposed. Goat often works wonderfully in such circumstances.
Just note that not all goat-based dog foods are suitable for such purposes, as some also contain other proteins, which may trigger a dog’s allergies.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with chicken, beef, pork or any of the other proteins commonly featured in dog foods. However, goat meat is very nutritious, so owners interested in providing their pet with the most nutritious food possible may want to give it a try.
Goat meat has far fewer calories than beef or chicken, so it may be a great option for dogs who need to lose a few pounds. Goat meat also has more protein than beef and nearly as much as chicken, while having much less fat than either of the other two.
Many westerners consider goat to be one of the least palatable proteins commonly used in foods, but goat meat is a very common protein source in many parts of the developing world, and many people (and dogs) find it quite tasty.
So, it is worth trying if your dog turns his nose up at every other protein you’ve tried.
Once you’ve decided to give goat-based foods a try, it is important to choose your dog’s new food carefully. Dog foods differ wildly in terms of quality, and you’ll want to make sure that you consider the options available carefully to ensure you provide your dog with the best recipe possible.
Start by looking for foods that meet the following criteria:
It should feature a protein at the beginning of the ingredient list. Dogs are omnivores, but they typically require a meat-based diet to remain healthy. Consequently, you’ll want to select a food that features a whole protein (goat in this case) at the beginning of the ingredient list.
It should not include unidentified (or poorly identified) meat meals or meat byproducts. There’s nothing wrong with providing your dog with a high-quality meat meal or meat byproduct. Humans may not find these types of ingredients appetizing, but dogs usually find them delicious, and they are excellent sources of protein.
However, it’s essential that manufacturers completely identify the meats they’re made from. In other words, look for foods made with “goat meal” or “goat byproducts,” rather than “meat meal” or “poultry byproducts.”
It should be manufactured in a country with high safety and quality-control standards. You never want to give your dog a food that may be tainted with dangerous chemicals or contaminated with bacteria or fungi.
While it’s impossible to completely eliminate the possibility (even human foods are occasionally recalled), you can reduce your odds of doing so by sticking to foods made in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Western Europe.
It shouldn’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. These types of items aren’t especially hazardous for your pet in the way that some other substances are, but they can cause problems with food allergies in some cases. Additionally, they’re completely unnecessary.
Naturally occurring vitamins (tocopherols) can be used to preserve foods, premium ingredients will alleviate the need for artificial flavors, and your dog doesn’t care what color his food is.
These three criteria should be considered “deal breakers,” and you’ll want to avoid any foods that fail to satisfy these criteria.
However, there are also several additional criteria that you’ll want to look for when picking a goat-based food. These include:
Ideally, you’d avoid any foods that don’t satisfy these criteria too, but that isn’t always possible.
There aren’t that many goat-based dog foods on the market, but the following four are clearly among the best options available. Just be sure to consider your dog’s specific needs and try to make the best choice you can.
About: CANIDAE PURE Ancestral Red Meat Formula attempts to satisfy your dog’s inner carnivore, by mimicking the ancestral diet of wild canines.
Made with several different types of red meat and freeze-dried raw morsels, this food is designed to please your pup’s palette while providing the kind of nutrition most owners want.
Features: CANIDAE PURE Ancestral Red Meat Formula is absolutely packed with the type of meat-based foods dogs love.
This not only includes whole proteins, such as lamb, goat, and bison but several protein-rich meat meals, including ones made from wild boar, buffalo, venison and pork.
But one of the things that sets CANIDAE PURE Ancestral Formulas apart from most other foods is the freeze-dried raw coating applied to the kibble. Freeze-dried meats offer all of the dog-satisfying flavor that raw meats do, but because they’re freeze-dried, they don’t present the kinds of health risks raw meats do.
CANIDAE PURE Ancestral Red Meat Formula isn’t all about the proteins, though – it also includes plenty of top-notch carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables.
This includes starchy foods like lentils, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, as well as squash and carrots, which are full of antioxidants.
This recipe also includes five different probiotic strains, which may help to keep your dog’s intestinal tract functioning properly and reduce the chances that your dog will suffer from the digestive upset that often occurs during changes in diet.
Ingredients: Lamb, Goat, Goat Meal, Wild Boar Meal, Pork Meal, Carrots, Lentils, Potatoes, Peas, Tapioca, Bison, Wild Boar, Canola Oil, Suncured Alfalfa, Sweet Potatoes, Dried Pork, Buffalo Meal, Venison, Venison Meal, Freeze-Dried Lamb, Minerals (Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Choline Chloride, Mixed Tocopherols (A Preservative), Squash, Parsley, Sage, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Basil.
PROS: Most owners who tried CANIDAE PURE Ancestral Red Meat Formula were very pleased with the product. Many owners reported that their pet seemed to love the taste, and more than one owner reported that the included probiotics appeared to help make for a smooth transition. Several owners were also happy to discover that this recipe contains no corn, wheat, or grains.
CONS: A few owners of small dogs complained that the kibble was a little too large for their pup, so this may not be a great option for small-breed owners. Additionally, this recipe is rather expensive, but that’s to be expected of any food made with such premium ingredients.
Note that because this food contains several different proteins, it is not a great option for dogs with food allergies.
About: Brothers Complete Goat Meal & Egg Dog Food is an “ultra-premium” dog food that is specifically designed for dogs who suffer from food allergies.
It’s also designed to promote proper body weight, and it is made without any high-glycemic carbohydrates, such as potatoes or corn.
Features: Brothers Complete Dog Food features three tasty and nutritious proteins – goat meal, whole dried eggs, and turkey meal — at the beginning of the list. It also features dried chicken liver and chicken fat, which most dogs will enjoy.
But it is the carbohydrates used in this formula that are particularly impressive. Instead of corn, wheat, and potatoes, which may cause dogs to pack on the pounds in some cases, Brothers Complete Dog Food uses tapioca and peas to provide the bulk of the carbohydrate content.
It’s also made with pumpkin and dried carrots, which are both rich in antioxidants.
Brothers Complete also includes a number of relatively unusual ingredients to help provide the kind of nutrition most owners want for their dog. This most notably includes whole-cell dried algae, which is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.
It also includes digestive enzymes, prebiotics (the food probiotic bacteria consume), and probiotics to help ease the transition process and encourage problem-free elimination.
Ingredients: Goat Meal, Whole Eggs Dried, Turkey Meal, Cassava/Tapioca, Peas, Pea Starch, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Chicken Liver Dried, Pumpkin, Ground Flaxseed, Alfalfa Meal, Dried Carrots, Potassium Chloride, Sea Salt, Choline Chloride 50%, Whole Cell Algae Dried (Pure Source Of Omega 3 DHA), Mixed Tocopherols (A Source Of Vitamin E), Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Encapsulated Probiotics (Dried Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei Fermentration Products), Digestive Enzymes (Amylase, Protease, Lactase, Lipase, Cellulase & Hemicellulase), Selective Prebiotics (Organic, Long Chain Inulin), Celery, Beets , Parsley, Lettuce, Watercress, Spinach, Cranberries, Lysine Hcl, Dl-Methionine, Lecithin, Taurine, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin D3, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, L-Ascorbyl 2-Polyphosphate (Source Of Vitamin C Activity), Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Cobalt Carbonate, Vitamin B12, L-Carnitine.
PROS: The owner reviews of Brothers Complete Goat Meal & Egg Formula were generally positive. A few dogs didn’t seem to appreciate the taste, but most appeared to find it palatable. A few owners also noted that this food helped to alleviate allergy problems and improved their dog’s coat condition.
However, the most glowing reviews came from owners who were in need of a food that would solve the digestive issues their dog faced. In many cases, it did exactly that, by promoting regular elimination habits and reducing symptoms like bloating and gas.
CONS: The biggest drawback to Brothers Complete Dog Food is undoubtedly the price. Although it is certainly a high-quality product, it may be prohibitively expensive for some owners (particularly those with large dogs).
We’d also prefer to see real goat meat, rather than goat meal, at the top of the ingredient list – especially given the food’s high price. There’s nothing wrong with properly identified meat meals, but we like to see them included as supplemental, rather than primary, proteins.
Finally, the inclusion of eggs, turkey meal and chicken-derived products may make this food unsuitable for dogs who are allergic to these common triggers.
About: Zignature Limited Ingredient Diets (LID) – including their Goat Formula – are designed to contain as few ingredients as possible, while still providing all of the nutrition, calories and taste that your dog needs.
By leaving out unnecessary ingredients, these recipes often help to eliminate the symptoms associated with food allergies.
Features: Like most other high-quality LID recipes, Zignature LID Goat Formula derives the bulk of its protein from a single animal species (goat). This should help avoid triggering food allergies in dogs who are allergic to chicken, beef, or other types of animal-based products.
Additionally, Zignature LID Goat Formula uses peas and chickpeas as the primary carbohydrate sources, which are less likely to cause skin and coat problems than wheat or corn or trigger the insulin surge that potatoes can.
Aside from goat, goat meal, and the aforementioned carbohydrates, there’s not a lot else that’s included in this recipe. Sunflower oil is included to help provide additional fat, and flaxseed is included to provide some omega-3 fatty acids. The rest of the ingredient list is primarily comprised of vitamins and minerals.
Ingredients: Goat, Goat Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Pea Flour, Sunflower Oil, Flaxseed, Natural Flavors, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Selenium Yeast, Calcium Iodate), Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols.
PROS: This recipe appears to be a very popular and effective choice for owners of dogs with food allergies. In fact, a few owners reported that this is the only food they’ve been able to find that eliminated their dog’s itchy skin. This is likely due to the fact that this is a limited-ingredient formula, as well as the fact that goat doesn’t appear to be a very common allergic trigger for dogs.
CONS: Zignature LID Goat Formula is a fairly expensive dog food, but because it is so effective at eliminating food allergies, many owners were happy to pay more than they normally would to relieve their dog’s itchy skin. The only other significant problem mentioned was the taste – some dogs simply do not appear to find goat meat palatable.
We’d also like to have seen probiotics included in the recipe, but you can always buy a stand-alone probiotic supplement if your dog suffers from intestinal issues.
About: Zignature not only makes a kibble-based goat formula, but they also make a canned version too.
Like the kibble-based version, the canned product is a limited-ingredient diet, which is designed to help eliminate the itchy skin that often accompanies dog food allergies.
Features: Like the kibble-based version of Zingature’s Goat Formula, the canned version features real goat meat at the top of the ingredient list. It also contains goat meal, which helps to provide the protein content your dog needs to remain healthy.
Because they are nutritious and rarely trigger food allergies, peas and chickpeas provide the bulk of the carbohydrate content for this food.
Additionally, while some canned foods incorporate broths or animal stock to help achieve the proper consistency for wet foods, Zingature’s Canned Goat Formula uses plain water to keep the ingredient list as simple as possible.
Most of the other things included in the recipe are either included to help achieve the proper consistency (such as agar-agar, which is derived from red algae), or to provide supplemental vitamins and minerals.
Ingredients: Goat, Water, Peas, Chickpeas, Goat Meal, Flaxseed Meal, Agar-Agar, Dicalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid).
PROS: There weren’t many reviews of Zignature Limite Ingredient Diet Canned Goat Formula, but that probably shouldn’t stop you from giving this recipe a try. Given its limited list of ingredients, it is unlikely to trigger food allergies, and because most dogs prefer wet foods to kibble, it is unlikely to present palatability issues.
Additionally, Zignature is a high-quality food manufacturer, whose recipes meet most of the criteria we recommend owners look for in a food. Accordingly, we feel confident recommending it, even though it hasn’t received many reviews.
CONS: The only obvious problem with Zignature’s Canned Goat Formula is its price, but that’s to be expected from any premium LID recipe – particularly those that are canned. Dogs will likely find this food pretty tasty, but it is probably wise to start by ordering a small number of cans until you’ve verified that your dog will eat it.
No matter which of the foods listed above you choose for your pet, you’ll want to be sure to switch foods gradually. Abruptly changing from one food to another can cause pretty severe intestinal upset, which will make your poor pooch miserable.
Don’t worry – it’s easy to make a gradual switch. You’ll just need to mix in increasing amounts of the new food while decreasing the amount of the old food you provide.
Just embrace the following formula and you should give your dog a good chance of making a problem-free switch. Your dog should receive the same total amount of food on each day, but the mixture will vary from one day to the next.
After completing the fifth day, you can just start feeding your dog the new food exclusively. Remember that five days is the minimum amount of time you’ll want to spend making the switch. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, you’ll want to carry out the switch over a longer stretch of time.
Goat-based dog foods may not be the most popular recipes around, but they’re exactly what some dogs need. So, give one of the four mentioned above a try if you think they’ll appeal to your dog or provide the type of nutrition he needs.
Have you ever fed a goat-based food to your dog before? How did it go? Do you think your pet liked the way it tasted? Did you notice any health benefits after making the switch? Let us know all about your experiences in the comments below!
Ben is a proud dog owner and lifelong environmental educator who writes about animals, outdoor recreation, science, and environmental issues. He lives with his beautiful wife and spoiled-rotten Rottweiler JB in Atlanta, Georgia. Read more by Ben at FootstepsInTheForest.com.