Photo by James Padolsey

Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat? Risk vs. Reward

It’s no surprise that dogs love meat. Though canines are also fans of fruits and veggies, the majority of their daily calories should come from animal protein. However, all animal proteins aren’t created equal. And when it comes to serving food to dogs, you always have to be wary of food preparation. Can dogs eat raw meat? Today we will explore this question.


Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat?

Domesticated dogs may have cushy lifestyles, but their ancestors weren’t treated to daily kibble. Furthermore, you’re not apt to see a wild dog cooking up some prey for dinner. (If you do see that, be sure to take a photo!)

Clearly dogs do consume raw meat and have for thousands of years. But can dogs eat raw meat safely? It might not surprise you that a raw meat diet for dogs comes with its fair share of risks. However, there are also rewards your dog can reap from going raw. Read on to discover the pros and cons of a raw meat diet for dogs.


Risks of Raw Meat

The American Veterinary Medical Associate (AVMA) rules that any raw diet benefits will come with risks. You’re likely no stranger to the dangers of raw meat. After all, you should never consume meat that isn’t properly cooked. This safety tip is no secret to human meat eaters.

But what are the dangers of eating raw meat? Raw and undercooked meat risks include bacteria and pathogens. Possible diseases include listeria and salmonella. For these reasons, both the AVMA and the FDA don’t give raw meat the seal of health approval. Neither of these organizations recommend serving raw meat.

Not only could the harmful bacterias in raw meat harm the consumer (your dog), but it could also affect other people in the household. Therefore, never serve raw meat to immune-compromised dogs or to dogs who live in a household with any immune-compromised people or animals.


Benefits of Raw Meat

You might be wondering why pet owners would consider serving raw meat in the first place. Raw meat appears to be an appealing option for owners who favor homemade and natural alternatives to commercial pet products.

As long as your dog is meeting daily nutritional guidelines, which include a large amount of animal protein, a raw meat diet can be satisfactory. There are also a number of benefits associated with raw meat diets for dogs.

Such benefits might include healthier skin and coat, improved breath and oral hygiene, less stool (and reduced smell!), improved digestion, healthy weight maintenance, increased energy levels, and the possibility of improved medical conditions.


Raw Meat Risk Reduction

Perhaps you are aware of the risks of consuming raw meat, but you would still like to pursue this feeding option for you canine. The good news is there are ways to reduce the risk of your dog experiencing raw meat contamination. However, be aware that these suggestions will not entirely eliminate any risks associated with consuming raw meat.

When it comes to keeping your dog safe, understand that meat quality matters. Therefore, if you’re determined to go the raw route, be sure your bank account can back you up. You should only be buying your dog the highest-quality meats that smell and look fresh.

In addition, you can lessen contamination risks by keeping the meat prep as sanitary as possible. This can be achieved by freezing the meat until you are using it, separating the raw meat from other products, and cleaning surfaces that the raw meat has been in contact with.

In addition to washing your hands and the counter, you should also be washing your dog’s dish daily if you served raw meat.


Risk vs. Reward

By now you have heard the argument for both why you should and should not feed your dog raw meat. So can dogs eat raw meat safely? The answer is not as clearcut as a simple “yes” or “no.”

Raw meat diets come with plenty of health risks, though you can work to reduce them. While dogs can eat raw meat, it is up to you (and your vet) to determine if this is really the safest dietary option for your dog.

Why not play it safe and cook out the bacteria? To read about other proteins that dogs should be wary about, check out can dogs eat tuna.

Emma Polini