Can A Dog Get Sick From Eating Raw Meat?

Raw meat diets are becoming more popular for dogs, but some people may be hesitant to try it because of the risk of bacteria.

If you are considering serving raw meat to your dog, then the next question to ask is: Can A Dog Get Sick From Eating Raw Meat? 

In this article, we will cover:

  • How To Safely Prepare Raw Meat For Dogs?
  • How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Sick From Raw Meat?
  • Can Raw Meat Kill a Dog?
  • And more… 
Can A Dog Get Sick From Eating Raw Meat

Can A Dog Get Sick From Eating Raw Meat?  

Dogs can get sick from eating raw meat. Uncooked meats contain pathogens that can cause foodborne illness or other types of bacterial infection to both pets and pet parents. However, if you use high-quality raw meat and prepare it correctly before feeding the dog, this risk can be reduced.  

In 2001, a veterinarian came up with the concept of a BARF diet. BARF here stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food for dogs and cats. The idea was to feed the dogs and cats raw food just like the wild canines and felines ate as it benefited them.

Over the years, the BARF became trendy and many people wanted to try it. Thus, people began giving their dogs raw chicken wings, fruits, and vegetables. Dogs were able to tolerate it well because they have a small digestive tract that pushes the food faster and prevents bacteria from growing.

However, The American Veterinary Medical Association’s raw-meat policy discouraged the feeding to cats and dogs of any animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens because of the risk of illness to cats and dogs as well as humans. 

Thus, there were two sides to the topic and people’s opinion still remains divided over it. But, if you are willing to take the jump and feed your dog raw meat, it is completely okay. However, make sure you consult your vet and read this article thoroughly!

How To Safely Prepare Raw Meat For Dogs?  5 Steps 

As you are aware now, raw meat contains bacterial and pathogens that can be transferred from one organism to the other. Therefore, it is vital to handle the meat with utmost safety before giving it to the dog for the benefit of your dog and yourself. 

As a pet parent, here are two tips you should keep in mind for the same:

1. Store The Raw Meat Properly

If you are not using the entire raw meat at once, make sure you keep the leftovers in a tightly sealed pack in the freezer. When feeding your dog, defrost the meat in small amounts. 

Also, to avoid any bacterial growth, do not keep the raw meat in the refrigerator (not freezer) for more than 3 days.

2. Do Not Wash The Raw Meat

When you get the raw meat home, do not wash it with water. You might think this will remove all the bacteria. No, you are wrong here. It will lead to increased growth of bacteria in raw meat.

3. Wear Gloves & Clean Thoroughly

Wear gloves and have a separate set of utensils when cutting raw meat. Wash the kitchen slab, utensils, and sink thoroughly after you are done. You do not want to cross-contaminate human food with bacteria from the raw meat unnecessarily. 

4. Do Not Touch Anything 

Do not touch your face or your dog’s face while wearing gloves or during the entire raw meat preparation process. 

5. No Licking After Eating Raw Food 

Don’t let your dog lick you after eating raw meat before cleaning its mouth. Bacteria can spread from your dog’s mouth to you directly and spread to your digestive system. 

How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Sick From Raw Meat?

Besides safely preparing the raw meat as mentioned above, there are other precautions that you can take when feeding your dog raw meat: 

1. Focus Should Be On A Well-Balanced Diet 

Raw meat is a source of protein and fats, and your dog definitely needs more nutrients to be healthy. The priority should be on a well-balanced diet versus a focus on feeding purely raw meat. 

Hence, in addition to feeding raw meat, make sure your pet dog gets other nutrients like carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals in the right quantity to be able to fight off diseases. 

You can add a variety of raw fruits, vegetables and grains  such as rice, peas, spinach, carrots and blueberries to the raw meat for a complete meal. Check out this simple 9 ingredients homemade raw dog food recipe that is an absolute yum! 

Also Read: A Guide To Getting Your Dog’s Diet Right 

2. Feeding Raw Bones To Dogs Should Be Done Selectively 

If you are also considering feeding your dog raw bones, make sure you pick the right size for them. A too large or too small bone can get stuck in their throat, causing them to choke.

According to Dr. Maureen Murithi, DVM, the best raw bones to feed your dog are soft, hollow bones that contain some connective tissue like cartilage. Poultry wing tips, neck and feet are good choices for starters. 

On top of that, keep an eye on your dog when they are chewing the bone so that they do not break their teeth, or injure their gums.

3. Be Extra Careful When Feeding Raw Meat To Puppies And Older Dogs 

Generally, newborn puppies and aged dogs have a weaker immune system. Therefore, they are unable to fight infections like a fit dog.

For puppies, once puppy vaccinations are done against various infections, you can start feeding it a raw meat-based diet. Introduce raw meat gradually, little by little to ensure that your puppy can get used to it.  

For older dogs, we would advise you to feed them raw meat after consulting with your vet and observe closely for any unusual symptoms later on.

4. Keep Your Dog Away From Trash Bins

Sometimes dogs like to look into the trash bins and occasionally they may find a raw meat scrap or raw bone to chew on. 

Trash cans are filled with plenty of bacteria and germs and not to mention, the raw meat or bone would have become rotten by the time your dog found it in the bin. So, make sure you have a closed bin and it is kept away from the sight of the dog. 

Generally, a place where your dog goes the least is an ideal place for keeping a trash can.

Can Raw Meat Kill A Dog?

Have you heard people say “Raw diet killed my dog”? 

Well, there have been rare occurrences of infections among dogs due to raw meat as they contain bacterial pathogens like Salmonella that lead to gastrointestinal infections in both dogs and humans. 

Although these pathogen infections are treatable, they can kill dogs with compromised health systems and poor gut if left untreated. They can also be life-threatening for aged dogs.

Hence, if you handle raw meat safely for your dog, these risks can be eliminated. 

Also Read: 30 Worst Foods Dog Cannot Eat 

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Raw Meat?

If your dog eats a piece of raw meat accidentally, there is no need to induce vomit or call the vet immediately. Stay calm and observe your dog for the next few hours. 

However, there can be situations wherein your dog starts throwing up or has diarrhea after eating a raw meat-based diet. Again, do not panic. Here is what you can do:

1. My Dog Ate Raw Meat And Is Throwing Up

If your dog is throwing up just after eating the raw meat, this means they need to slow down on their chewing speed. This can be done by serving the raw meat in the Kong Wobbler.

However, if this situation arises hours after feeding the dog, there is something wrong with the digestion. If the vomiting is not very much, you can try the following changes in their diet to see if they respond better:

  1. Switch to commercial dog food and introduce the raw meat steadily over the next few weeks.
  2. Switch to a meat-rich protein like turkey as it is stomach-friendly.

But, if your dog has been vomiting continuously or has blood in the vomit, immediately take your dog to the veterinarian and get it treated.

2. My Dog Ate Raw Meat And Has Diarrhea

A dog can have diarrhea at two stages: First when they are transitioning to the raw meat diet and secondly at a later stage.

If your dog is experiencing mild diarrhea during the transition, it is generally because the transitioning period was short. Keep the transition over 15-30 days and let your dog adjust. 

However, if the symptoms are severely clubbed with abdominal pain, blood, or mucus in stools, it is best to consult your veterinarian. 

4 Signs To Look For When Your Dog Eats Raw Meat

Even after following all the safety precautions, there can be a chance that your dog might not be able to digest it or get an infection. 

So, watch out for these 4 signs in your dog if you are concerned that raw meat will hurt your dog.  

1. Diarrhea

If your dog has diarrhea that lasts more than 48 hours, it is a sign that something is wrong. In addition, watch out for worms, blood, or mucus in the feces of your dog as it can be an indication that your dog is suffering from infections caused by raw meat.

2. Vomiting

If your dog experiences persistent vomiting, it could be a sign of food poisoning or infections as they are unable to digest raw meat properly. So, if your pet dog is throwing up after eating anything, take it to the veterinarian for further check up. 

3. Lack of Appetite

Generally, dogs change their behavior occasionally even when it comes to eating food. But, if your pet dog isn’t eating much for the next 24 hours after you serve them raw meat, consult a vet for advice. 

4. Lethargy

If you notice that your dog is less active than usual and displaying signs of lethargy, it could be a sign of bacterial infection from the raw meat. Take your dog to the veterinarian for a check-up. 

There could be an underlying health condition causing the lethargy, and it is best to rule out any health concerns as soon as possible. Until you can get your dog to the vet, try feeding them cooked meat instead of raw meat to see if that makes a difference.

If you see one or more than one symptoms present in your dog, do not lose your calm. Just take them to your vet. The vet will diagnose your pet dog and prescribe the best course of treatment for your canine friend if any illness is found.

Can I Feed My Dog Raw Meat From The Grocery Store?

There is a common concern among dog parents whether grocery store raw meat is safe or not. Well, to ease your worries, let us tell you that raw meat like beef, turkey, and chicken available at grocery stores is completely safe for your dogs. Generally, they are good in quality.

However, the raw meat does not contain all the ingredients that make up a good balanced diet for your dog. So, in order to keep them healthy, always add other dog food to their diet.

How Often and How Much Should Dogs Eat Raw Meat?

If you are planning to give raw meat to your pet dogs, we would recommend feeding puppies 2 to 4 times a day, whereas adult dogs just once or twice a day. Just make sure the diet you’re giving your pet is a balanced one.

However, feed your dog raw meat that is just 2-3% of its weight, divided into separate meals daily. Later on, you can adjust the quantity depending on your dog’s need and the vet’s recommendation.

Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM at PetMD talks about an article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association that lists the risks and benefits of giving a raw meat-based diet to your dogs. 

Although the article has both sides of the argument, there is little scientific evidence to back it. So, let us see a few dangers and benefits of the same.

5 Dangers Of Eating Raw Meat For Dogs

As a conscious pet parent, there are a few dangers of eating raw meat for dogs that you should be aware of:

1. It Could Make Your Dog Sick

Changing your pet dog’s diet to raw meat is not an overnight process. Start slowly. If you see your dog acting strangely, keep a track of it and consult the doctor to see if there are any stomach-related issues.

2. Bacterial Contamination

Bacterial contamination in raw meat can occur for two reasons: first, when you wash the raw meat, and second if your tools are not sterile. This can spread to other food items and utensils.

For safety purposes, take extra precautions when preparing raw meat for your dog and if possible, feed your dog outside your home.

3. Nutritional Deficiencies

Before giving raw meat to your dog, make sure you collect all the information about its nutrition. A balanced diet is very important for dogs. Therefore, just feeding them raw meat will not fulfill all their nutritional requirements.

4. Risk Of Infection 

There are some pathogens present in the raw meat like Salmonella, E-Coli, Campylobacter etc. If you have not taken care of the contamination properly, you will end up feeding dangerous food to your dog that can cause major illness.

4. Raw Meats Are Not Well-Regulated

Raw meats are not well regulated at times by the state and central governments. Thus, they contain low levels of calcium and phosphorus and high levels of Vitamin A and Vitamin D. Therefore, they can create imbalances in your pet dog.

4 Benefits Of Eating Raw Meat For Dogs

Despite having a few cons, raw meat is not entirely bad for your pet dogs. Here is why:

1. Raw Meat Satisfies The Biological Requirements Of Dogs 

Giving raw food to your pet dog is considered more natural given their nature as dogs have descended from carnivorous wolves. It is why the idea of a Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones And Raw Food (BARF) diet is preferred over commercially processed diets.

2. Gives Healthy Skin And Coat

It is believed that raw meat contains Omega-3 fatty acids that are responsible for healthy skin and hair coat in dogs. Additionally, it is good for dogs who have skin allergies and inflammation.

3. Improves Oral Hygiene

Dental problems are very common among dogs. Giving your pet dog raw meat helps them chew better and remove the buildup of tartar and plaque in their teeth.

4. Improved Digestion

Raw meat provides protein to dogs that are easily digestible. If your dog eats food that is easily digestible, they are able to absorb more nutrients and have reduced stool volume. Additionally, there is no heavy odor from stools.

Also Read: Can Dogs Eat Pepperoni? Salami? Ham? Pizza? 

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