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Comparing Proteins: A compelling reason to add variety (Part 1 of 2)

Comparing Proteins: A compelling reason to add variety

They say that variety is the spice of life, but it’s also the key to a healthy life! Variety isn’t just important to keep your pet from getting bored with their meals, it’s also important to make sure their diet is balanced and healthy. Different animals eat different things, and this means that their meat contains different vitamins and minerals, and have their own unique qualities. By providing your pet with a variety of different protein options, you can ensure that they are not getting too much of one nutrient, or too little of another.


Beef is an easily available, highly nutritious red meat choice for your pet. Grass-fed beef is a more nutrient-dense option, being higher in minerals and essential fatty acids (like omega-3s and CLA), and lower in fat than grain-fed beef.


  • One of the best sources of zinc, B vitamins, and niacin. Zinc is essential to growth, a healthy immune system, and wound healing. Niacin helps to maintain a healthy heart. It is also useful in the treatment of arthritis and management of diabetes.
  • Rich in selenium, an antioxidant which defends against cancer and boosts the immune system
  • Grass-fed beef is one of the best sources of a potent fatty acid called CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). This fatty acid has positive effects on asthma, diabetes, inflammation, reducing body fat and helping to fight cancer.

Things to note:

  • Grain-fed beef can be high in fat, and have an unbalanced omega 3-6 ratio which can cause inflammation. True Carnivores has many grass-fed beef options available for your pets.

Bison/BuffaloImage result for bison silhouette

Bison is an excellent alternative for dogs with beef allergies or sensitivities. Nutritionally, bison is similar to beef in the amount of protein, B vitamins and iron, but is slightly lower and fat and calories.


  • Bison do not marble their fat (store fat within muscle tissue), so the finished meat product is lower in overall fat than beef.
  • Bison has yellow fat, containing high levels of beta-carotene (the nutrient found in carrots and other orange and red vegetables). Beta-carotene is converted to Vitamin A, which promotes healthy skin and eyes, and boosts the immune system.
  • An excellent source of a potent fatty acid called CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which This has positive effects on asthma, diabetes, inflammation, reducing body fat and helping to fight cancer.

Things to note:

  • Bison are not as commonly farmed as cattle. There are approximately 500 thousand bison in North America, compared to over 50 million cattle. This creates a high demand on their meat, so bison is sometimes more expensive or harder to source than beef. Luckily in Vancouver, we have a consistent supply of Bison from several different pet food companies.


Camel is an exotic protein choice, great for pets with red meat allergies or sensitivities. It has a similar mineral composition to beef, while being substantially lower in fat.


  • Contains high levels of palmitic acid (omega-7) and oleic acid (omega-9). These acids have antioxidant properties, as well as benefitting heart and brain health.
  • Camel is incredibly lean, rivalling kangaroo with only 1-2% fat. This makes it a great option for overweight or less active pets, and those dealing with pancreatitis or IBD.

Things to note:

  • Camel farms are few and far between, and farming them for the production of meat is even less common. They are typically farmed for their milk, and use as riding and pack animals. This puts a very high demand on their meat, making it difficult to source and costing a premium. Thankfully True Carnivores carries a fantastic camel diet for your pets.

ChickenImage result for chicken silhouette

Chicken is easily the most widely available and economical protein option available. Because of its high demand, intensive farming practices are commonly used. Look for non-medicated chicken to ensure a healthy, nutritious product for your pet.


  • Chicken’s affordability makes it easier for people on a budget or with a lot of dogs to be able to afford a raw diet.
  • Their small size means the entire bird is consumable, and offers many bone options for even small dogs and cats.
  • Great source of niacin and vitamin B6
  • Good source of selenium, an antioxidant which defends against cancer and boosts the immune system.

Things to note:

  • Because of its common useage in pet food, chicken is the most common protein allergy or sensitivity in dogs and cats.
  • Chicken is often considered an inflammatory protein or “hot” food. This is because chicken is very high in omega 6 and low in omega 3 fats. The imbalance of these fats can cause inflammation and skin and coat issues. When feeding chicken, take care to add extra omega-3s to your pet’s diet to balance the inflammatory omega-6’s. Whole fish or fish oils are a great addition.
  • White meat is low in zinc and iron, making it nutritionally incomplete as the entire diet on an everyday basis. Be sure to add organs and red meat for a better balance of nutrients.
  • We recommend feeding chicken as part of your pets diet, rather than the entire diet.

DuckImage result for duck silhouette

Duck is a great alternative for pets with poultry allergies. Because ducks are entirely dark meat, they contain more minerals and nutrients than birds with white meat.


  • Duck is an excellent source for selenium, zinc, vitamin B-3, 5, and 12. Both zinc and selenium are antioxidants that help to boost the immune system. Selenium also helps to maintain normal thyroid function.
  • Duck has a better omega 3-6 ratio than turkey and chicken, making it less inflammatory and needing less work to make it nutritionally balanced.
  • Duck is a popular option for elimination diets, as it has cooling properties which help to calm down skin irritations and allergy symptoms.

Things to note:

  • Duck is a higher-fat protein and care should be taken with overweight or less active pets and dogs prone to pancreatitis.

Elk & VenisonImage result for deer silhouette

Wild game is an excellent protein choice for your pets. As they are not domesticated and subject to typical farming practices, they tend to be very healthy animals. Even though elk and venison are now “farmed”, they are not raised in the same fashion as farm animals like pork or beef. They remain undomesticated and graze on rangeland, eating a variety of grasses and scrubs. This yields a very lean meat, with a superior mineral and nutrient profile.


  • Elk and venison are one of the best red-meat omega 3 sources. Their omega 3-6 ratio is well balanced, and supplementation is usually not necessary.
  • High in zinc and copper. Zinc boosts immune system, and aids in wound healing, while copper has anti-cancer properties, improves nerve function and promotes collagen production to ease arthritis pain.
  • Elk and venison are very lean, making them an excellent choice for overweight or less active pets, as well as dogs prone to pancreatitis.

Things to note:

  • Because of their undomesticated nature, they are not widely farmed. This makes their meat more expensive, and also highly seasonal. The production of elk and venison mainly occurs during the fall. This can lead to a shortage of product through spring and summer.

GoatImage result for goat silhouette

Goat is a great novel protein choice for pets dealing with allergies. Its low fat content also makes it great for pets that need help maintaining their weight.


  • Very low fat (only 4-5%), making it a great choice for pets that need to lose weight, are less active, or dogs that are prone to pancreatitis.
  • Higher iron levels than most other red meats. Iron is important for red blood cell production, boosting the immune system, and helping to regulate body temperature.

Things to note:

  • Although it is the most commonly consumed meat worldwide, goat is not a commonly consumed meat in North America, so there aren’t many goat-based pet foods on the market currently. Thankfully, True Carnivores carries a wonderful whole-prey goat diet for cats and dogs.


Herring is a great way to boost the omega-3 content in your pet’s diet! They are a small, oily fish which is low in mercury. Try feeding them whole to give your dog a tasty treat or for supplemental feeding.


  • High in omega-3 fats, which are an antioxidant and reduce inflammation, as well as improving the condition of the skin and coat.
  • Their small size makes them a great meaty bone option for small dogs and cats, and an easy meal replacement option.
  • Rich in selenium, an antioxidant, and potassium, an electrolyte which helps regulate blood pressure.

Things to note:

  • Herring contains and enzyme called thiaminase, which binds to Vitamin B1 (thiamin) and can lead to a deficiency which affects brain and nerve function. It shouldn’t make up the majority of your pet’s diet, but a few fish meals a week is perfectly safe!
  • Fish is high in phosphorus, which is not recommended for pets with kidney issues.

After comparing the benefits and drawbacks of all these protein choices, we hope you can choose a few to add to your meal rotation that will work for your pet to give them all the nutrients they need for a long, healthy life!

To view part 2 of our protein comparisons, please click here

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