Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet: Venison

The next ingredient we’re covering in our ongoing series on Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet is venison. Venison is not a commonly used protein in pet food, but it is a healthy alternative for your pet.

What is Venison?
Venison meat comes from reindeer, whitetail deer, elk and moose. It is a red meat similar to beef, but with a gamier taste and is found in cuts similar to beef such as tenderloin, steak, roasts, etc.

Why would Venison be in pet food?
Venison is low in fat (and cholesterol) as compared to other pet food proteins such as beef or chicken. Venison is rich in iron, niacin, riboflavin, and B vitamins and also contains higher levels of omega-3 fatty acid than beef. Given it is not commercially grown, it is also less likely to carry toxins from pesticides or growth hormones.

Venison is considered a novel protein which means it is a protein source that most pets have not been exposed too. Given this limited exposure, it is thought they are less likely to develop a food allergy as they might to more common proteins like chicken or beef.

Are there any risks to feeding your pet Venison?
While most pets tolerate venison quite well, it is still an animal protein and so your pet may develop an allergy. Venison can be found in many pet foods and we’ve listed some below. But access to venison meat is limited. It is illegal to sell game meats in some states and there are few commercial facilities in the US for venison meat. This adds to the expense of the meat which you see reflected in the price of pet foods that contain it as their main source of protein.

If you hunt deer yourself, or get venison meat from a local hunter, you should carefully research proper serving techniques as deer and elk can carry parasites and other ailments that can be passed on to your pets.


Venison Factoids:
The name venison reflects the word’s origins, in Latin venatio, ”hunting game;” a derivative of the verb venari, ”hunt”.

Large antlers found on deer and elk result from three factors: nutritious food, increasing buck age, and good genes. The shape, or configuration, of the antlers is strictly genetic.

Deer antlers are so hard they can break or split your dog’s teeth. Stick with Elk antlers which are softer

Pet foods that contain Venison:

Ziwipeak, Air Dried Venison and Fish

Grandma Lucy’s Artisian Venison

Feline Natural, Chicken & Venison


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