Can a dog eat raw meat? Although there is much debate on this issue, many pet owners, especially dogs and cats, choose to provide a natural diet based on raw ingredients. But after all, can raw meat really hurt dogs?
Whenever I comment here on the blog about the natural diets for dogs, based on fresh ingredients, prepared especially for them, I try to emphasize some important points. Probably the most relevant question, be the proper balance of meals. Many people think that vegetables, especially cereals, should be present in greater quantities at each meal, which is not true. Healthy diets for dogs can be supplemented with some types of vegetables but in minimal quantity. The basis of a diet of this type should be meat itself, as dogs and cats are not so well prepared to digest proteins of plant origin.
What do experts say about raw dog food?
First of all, it should be made clear that this is a controversial issue, and that most veterinarians advocate food based industrialized ration. According to these veterinarians, the benefits that raw foods offer to pets are questionable, as well as increasing the chance of contracting diseases caused by parasites and bacteria. These professionals also assure that the industrialized ration is the most suitable for the pets since they are formulated especially for them and perfectly balanced from the nutritional point of view.
What do those who oppose raw meat for dogs say?
The first argument against the feeding of pets with diets based on raw meat is exactly the comparison that is made in relation to commercial diets. As mentioned above, veterinarians who oppose natural food, ensure that industrialized food is the most suitable type of food for pets, as they are complete and perfectly balanced. In addition, other points are often put on the agenda, such as the risk of diseases caused by bacteria, such as salmonella, and parasites, especially in the case of food that includes raw meats. Also raised are issues such as the danger of bone consumption by dogs, especially by puppies and small dogs, who may choke on fragments of bone, and even pierce the throat or some internal organ.
What do those who are in favor of raw meat for dogs say?
The first arguments in favor of a natural food based on raw foods also concerns industrialized rations. According to veterinarians who indicate the natural diet, the commercial feed contains numerous toxins that harm the health of dogs, such as sodium nitrate, flavorings, colorants, stabilizers, among other chemicals and other impurities. In addition, these foods are very processed, they undergo processes of very high temperature, which substantially reduces the nutritional value of the ingredients used. Veterinarians who advocate the natural diet also claim that commercial, dried or canned foods make teeth bad and allow bacteria to proliferate in the mouth, which causes gum pain, bad breath and bacterial intoxications that affect the rest of the body. Another point often pointed out is that, as we have always commented here on the blog, dogs do not have a digestive system as well prepared to digest grains and other plant elements as humans. The problem is that the high-temperature cooking of these ingredients, which are present in large quantities in commercial diets, can transform starch and vegetable proteins into potentially toxic substances at different levels. The badly digested grain may favor the proliferation of bacteria that produce toxins in the large intestine, and these toxins can eventually reach the bloodstream, causing problems in other organs.
On the other hand, the benefits of raw meat are numerous, such as the improvement of the immune system, the coat and the reduction of dental problems, body odor, and bad breath. Those in favor of this type of feeding also argue that animals are naturally more resistant to bacteria (such as salmonella) than humans. One of the reasons for offering processed dog food would be to provide greater security for the owner and not for the animal. However, even these risks would be drastically reduced with proper handling and preservation of the raw ingredients.
Can a dog eat raw meat?
First, let’s comment on the types of food that is based on raw ingredients. There are three different types of diets that can be offered to dogs. The first is commercial feed based on raw foods, which are sold frozen. The second type is natural food based on fresh and raw ingredients. The most common recipes are those based on raw meat. In general, meals consisting of 60% raw meat, meat bones, and a mix of plant and animal foods such as vegetables, eggs, kids and even milk are offered. The third type is a combination of diets, containing raw meat mixed with cereals and other elements of plant origin.
If you think about introducing a diet based on raw meat for your furry, first of all, let’s consider a very important factor. Perhaps the most important issue for introducing this type of food for the first time is the dog’s health condition. If the animal receiving a meal with raw meat has low or convalescent immunity, the risk of contracting any disease caused by bacteria is much greater. If it is the first time your pet receives this type of food, the care should be even greater. It is also essential to use common sense at the time of such a decision if your pet is elderly or a puppy. Issues such as worming and vaccination should be considered before altering the eating habits of any dog. All advocates of this type of diet claim that regular exposure to these microorganisms is positive, as it builds stamina, and strengthens the animal’s organism. However, be wary if you want to introduce this type of diet to a dog accustomed to commercial feed. Keep in mind that raw meat bacteria can harm your animal if it has a compromised immune system. It is normal even to point out this type of diet as a cause of kidney disease and pancreatitis, when, in fact, the disease was already present and was only evidenced by the new diet. So use common sense, and avoid altering the eating routine of a sick, convalescent, elderly animal or puppies in the stage of vaccination and worming. Keep in mind that raw meat bacteria can harm your animal if it has a compromised immune system. It is normal even to point out this type of diet as a cause of kidney disease and pancreatitis, when, in fact, the disease was already present and was only evidenced by the new diet. So use common sense, and avoid altering the eating routine of a sick, convalescent, elderly animal or puppies in the stage of vaccination and worming. Keep in mind that raw meat bacteria can harm your animal if it has a compromised immune system. It is normal even to point out this type of diet as a cause of kidney disease and pancreatitis, when, in fact, the disease was already present and was only evidenced by the new diet. So use common sense, and avoid altering the eating routine of a sick, convalescent, elderly animal or puppies in the stage of vaccination and worming.
Let us consider our final considerations. Can a dog eat raw meat? The answer is yes, the dog can eat raw meat, provided that all the points pointed out in that article are observed. The dogs are surprisingly well-prepared to deal with the bacteria present in raw meat. Canine saliva contains anti-bacterial properties, as it contains an enzyme called lysozyme, which destroys most of the harmful bacteria. In addition, the dog’s short digestive tract is designed to transport the food quickly, without giving time to the proliferation of bacteria. Many people consider the presence of bacteria (such as salmonella) in the feces of dogs as evidence that the dog is infected, but in reality, this is proof that the dog effectively has the ability to eliminate these bacteria without contracting the disease. And, if you are thinking that in cases like this, the dog may be a carrier and transmitter of salmonella, your reasoning is correct.
Consider that even dogs that consume commercial feed (even those with dehydrated grains) may be carriers of salmonella and other bacteria. Most documented cases of severe bacterial septicemia are from animals fed commercial feed, or animals that are reacting to vaccines. Many processed feeds have been collected from stores in many parts of the world for bacteria or fungi that produce lethal toxins. Always be cautious about this, always try to use common sense. After all, dogs are animals that lick themselves, eat a wide variety of things that are disgusting to us, lick the floor, the anus, etc. It is clear that dogs can also get sick from bacteria, but cases are not frequent. Generally, they have a greater ability than we do to deal with these potentially pathogenic microorganisms. If a dog suffers from salmonella, he obviously is not well off, especially when compared to a dog that ate the same food with the same load of bacteria but remains perfectly healthy.
How to feed a dog with raw meat safely?
If you have read this article from the beginning and decided to offer a raw meat diet for your dog, let’s take a few tips to avoid problems.
- Never feed your dog with meat that is unfit for human consumption. Always think about the good conservation of the meat to avoid the proliferation of harmful micro-organisms.
- Buy the meat of good origin, fresh, and freeze it for a period of at least 3 days before defrosting it and offer it to your dog.
- If your dog is receiving this type of feed for the first time, make sure his health is up to date. Ask your veterinarian to perform stool tests to check for worms or other parasites. If so, wait until the end of treatment.
- Never mix raw meat with processed rations. Do not be fooled into thinking that dehydrated commercial diets are sterile and are not at risk of containing bacteria. The starches, solid fats and sugars contained in these foods offer better sources of food for bacteria than the proteins of raw meat. This type of food provides an ideal environment for the proliferation of bacteria, and mixing these foods with raw meat may potentiate the problem.
- Never leave food on the dog’s plate for more than 20 minutes. Thawed meat can be safely stored for 24 hours provided it is properly wrapped and refrigerated. If your dog leaves leftovers, discard the food.
- Never alter the eating routine of a sick, convalescent dog with low immunity or vaccinated puppies or worming. When in doubt, always consult a veterinarian for routine checkups before changing your dog’s nutrition.
Important: The content of this blog is for information only, and under no circumstances, it replaces the advice of a veterinarian, especially in the case of food-borne disorders, intoxication, or any other pathology related to the ingestion of food or other products. Whenever there is any atypical symptom with your pet, take it immediately to the veterinarian. Remember that the sooner the problem is diagnosed, the greater the chance of a cure.