Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat Safely?
What you should know about feeding your dog raw meat 🥩
You might’ve heard about the raw diet dog food fad, and you probably have some questions about it.
Like, can dogs eat raw meat — and is it ever a good idea?
We spoke with Dr. Sara Ochoa, a veterinarian consultant at DogLab, and Dr. Linda Simon, a veterinary surgeon and consultant for Five Barks, to find out all about the benefits and risks of feeding your dog raw meat, as well as how to do it safely.
What is a raw diet for dogs?
A raw diet for dogs is a fad diet by which you only feed your pup raw meat and veggies based on what his wild ancestors would eat.
“Proponents of the raw food diet claim it is more ‘natural’ and mimics the diet of our canines’ ancestors,” Dr. Simon told The Dodo. “Much of the success stories are anecdotal, and there is little scientific backing to this claim. It’s also worth pointing out that these wild dogs would not have had a particularly impressive life span.”
Should dogs eat raw meat?
While dogs can eat raw meat safely, most veterinarians — and even organizations like the CDC — don’t recommend feeding raw meat to your pup.
That’s because raw meat is only safe if it’s handled correctly. Otherwise, it can lead to bacterial infections like salmonella. (More on that later.)
What raw meat can dogs eat?
According to Dr. Ochoa, beef and chicken are two types of raw meat that can be safely fed to your dog when the proper precautions are taken. However, you should NEVER feed your dog raw fish.
“Beef and chicken — most dogs can easily tolerate a small piece,” Dr. Ochoa told The Dodo. “Raw fish can contain salmonella and parasites that can cause your dog to become very sick.”
Raw chicken can also expose your pup to salmonella, but overall it’s not as harmful for your pup as fish.
“It is not as dangerous as feeding raw fish,” Dr. Ochoa said.
And according to Dr. Ochoa, you should also steer clear of raw pork because it contains a bacteria called Trichinella spiralis.
“Raw pork is not safe for your dog at all,” Dr. Ochoa said. “This parasite can cause your dog to become very sick.” It can cause digestive problems and muscle issues.
Is raw meat good for dogs?
Raw meat can be a good source of protein for your dog as long as it’s handled properly.
“Cooking foods can break down some of the nutrients that are found in foods,” Dr. Ochoa said.
Is raw meat bad for dogs?
Raw meat can be bad for dogs if handled improperly, because it can lead to bacterial infections.
“Raw foods can contain salmonella and other bacteria if not handled properly,” Dr. Ochoa said.
Your dog might have a salmonella infection if you notice signs like:
- Not eating
- Weight loss
- Abnormal heart rate
Bacterial infections aren’t just a problem for your dog — you can also be affected if you give your dog raw meat that's been contaminated.
“On top of this, the humans in the household can become infected if they are licked by the dog on the mouth or if they touch their food or handle their stool and inadvertently put their hand in their mouth,” Dr. Simon said.
Can dogs eat raw meat in place of kibble?
According to Dr. Ochoa, your dog shouldn’t eat raw meat only in place of kibble or other commercially available dog food. That’s because your pup can’t get all the nutrients he needs from only eating raw meat.
So if you’re going to give him raw meat, you’ll need to supplement it with something else that will give him the other nutrients he’s not getting from the meat alone.
Kibble’s regulated to provide a balanced diet for your dog, so he should be getting all those crucial nutrients when he eats it.
How to safely feed your dog raw meat
If you still have your heart set on feeding your dog raw meat, you have to make sure you’re doing it safely to avoid any bacterial infections.
According to the FDA, this involves:
- Thoroughly washing your hands before and after handling raw meat
- Cleaning and disinfecting any surface or object that touched raw meat
- Immediately refrigerating any raw meat your dog doesn’t eat
- Thoroughly washing your hands or face if your dog licks you after eating raw meat
Talk to your veterinarian if you plan to feed your dog a raw diet to make sure his meals are complete and balanced.
So, while dogs can safely eat raw meat, it’s not typically recommended, since the risks outweigh the benefits. If you do choose to feed your dog raw meat, steer clear of fish and pork, and make sure you’re handling it safely.