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This post was originally published in 2015. It has been updated and published with new information.

When you have a dog with protein sensitivities, it can make raw feeding a challenge. This post gives you some ideas of alternatives you can feed to your dog.

In 2014, I learned that my dog, Rodrigo, had a chicken and beef intolerance, which sucked because these were the easiest proteins that I could source at the time.  I was told by a holistic veterinarian that Rodrigo would possibly have trouble with bison, elk, and venison too.

The Cost of “Novelty” Proteins

Novelty proteins vary depending on where you live. For me, novelty proteins are the meats that I don't have easy access to (or regular access to), cost a lot more than the average proteins, and have a better shot of being a hit with Rodrigo's gut. A few proteins that follow into the “novelty” list for me include:

  • emu
  • elk
  • venison
  • bison
  • kangaroo
  • pheasant

You'd think that living in the Pacific Northwest, I'd have easy access to venison and elk, but I don't know any hunters beyond my neighbor and he only goes hunting every few years.

Testing New Proteins with My Dog

Because of Rodrigo's digestive issues, I'm hesitant to try new proteins on him. While some are a hit, others have been epic fails. I'm fortunate to belong to a local raw food co-op so I can try new proteins without breaking the bank because I order in bulk.

The downside is that if Rodrigo doesn't do well on a protein, like pheasant, then I have pounds of pheasant left over. On the good side, I have three other dogs that can eat the food and I only have to be a short order cook (making a separate meal for Rodrigo) until the offending protein is gone.

Making Novelty Proteins Affordable

I've found that the only way that I can afford to feed novelty proteins is to buy in bulk. I'm positive that this isn't the only way, it's just the way that is available for me. I try to keep my budget to below $3 per pound when buying meat for my dogs. Novelty proteins run between $4-$5 per pound.

Proteins I Feed to My Dogs

Over the years, I've found the right proteins for my dogs; some are novelty while others are more common. The common proteins I feed to my dogs include:

  • duck
  • rabbit
  • quail
  • fish
  • pork
  • lamb
  • green beef tripe

The novelty proteins I feed to my dogs include (I know that these aren't “novelty” to everyone):

  • venison
  • elk
  • bison
  • emu

I recently learned that I may be losing my emu source and I'm now crossing my fingers that I'll have a venison or elk source later this year. I'm disappointed, but I know that if I have to stop feeding emu, venison, and elk, I still have plenty of options available to me.

How Many Proteins Should We Feed in a Raw Food Diet?

This is a question that I've had for years and it comes up a lot. I think that a safe number is three proteins with at least one being red meat (two would be better because red meat is so nutritious). If you have a dog that has sensitivities, then here are some ideas on how to add variety to your dog's diet.

Alternatives to Chicken for Dogs

  • Duck
  • Turkey
  • Pheasant
  • Quail

I feed my dogs duck and quail.

Alternatives to Beef for Dogs

  • Bison
  • Buffalo
  • Venison
  • Emu
  • Elk
  • Lamb
  • Goat

Other Protein Options for Raw Fed Dogs

  • Pork
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Carp
  • Eggs (yep, these are a great source of protein, fat, and more)

Learn More About Raw Feeding for Dogs

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