As raw pet diets become more popular, the debate is also growing. While some professionals advocate for a raw diet, in part or whole, science says there are more risks than benefits.
Raw beef is risky to feed dogs and can make them sick. While there are benefits to raw food for dogs, they can get all of these in healthier, less risky ways. Both the Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) advise against feeding your dog raw meat.
This article will discuss the risks and benefits of feeding raw beef to your dog and more.
Can Dogs Get Sick From Eating Raw Beef?
Yes, dogs can get sick from eating raw beef. Not only can your dog get sick from eating raw beef, but the rest of your family can as well. Raw beef carries harmful bacteria like Salmonella, listeria, and E. coli.
It’s important to handle raw meat safely, which means cleaning and disinfecting every surface it touches. This includes your hands, the counter, and your dog’s dishes. It also includes your clothes if you spill and the floor if your dog is a messy eater.
The FDA also notes that bacteria from raw meat can remain on your dog’s tongue. People and other pets in the household could become ill if your dog grooms them or gives them kisses, especially if they lick near your mouth right after eating.
Lastly, dogs on a fully raw or home-cooked diet often develop nutritional deficiencies because their food doesn’t contain all the necessary nutrients. It is important that your dog’s food has been formulated by a certified veterinary nutritionist, not your average dog owner or someone who calls themselves a pet nutritionist without credentials.
Is it Better to Give Dogs Raw Beef or Cooked?
It’s always better to give your dog cooked meat. It provides the same health benefits as raw meat without the risk of anyone getting sick.
Make sure to cook the beef you feed your dog thoroughly, just like you would for yourself. But unlike when cooking for yourself, beef fed to dogs shouldn’t include any additives such as spices, salt, seasonings, butter, or oils.
Low-fat, cooked beef is the best option for your dog. Unseasoned cooked beef is often a component of a bland diet for dogs with stomach issues or pancreatitis.
Unless your veterinarian instructs you otherwise, beef should only be used as a dog treat. It can be a fun training reward to top your dog’s kibble. Treats should always make up less than 10% of your dog’s diet.
Any more than this, and your dog will likely become overweight or malnourished. Malnourishment can happen if your dog isn’t getting enough high-quality dog food and is instead given scraps or home-cooked meals as a partial or full replacement.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Beef Fat or Bones?
No, dogs should not eat raw or cooked beef fat or bones.
Beef fat and other fatty foods can cause stomach issues, including pancreatitis. Pancreatitis in dogs is when the pancreas becomes inflamed, causing symptoms such as intense abdominal pain, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst.
Pancreatitis can be life-threatening, especially when left untreated. Dogs with pancreatitis should be brought to an emergency vet clinic right away.
When it comes to bones, some people argue that raw beef bones are healthy for dogs’ teeth and joints. However, they can also cause illness for your dog and the rest of the household, just like raw meat.
Unlike raw meat, bones will be carried around your home and touch many surfaces–increasing potential causes of contamination for humans or other pets.
Instead, alternatives like brushing your dog’s teeth with dog toothpaste (human toothpaste is toxic!), feeding them veterinary oral health council-approved dental treats, and taking your dog to the vet for dental cleaning are better.
Never feed your dog cooked bones, as they become brittle and can splinter in their stomach, causing tears or ruptures in their digestive system.
What to do if Your Dog Eats Raw Beef
If your dog eats raw beef, monitor them for Salmonella, listeria, and E. coli infection symptoms.
Symptoms of Salmonella include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
listeria symptoms may include:
- Muscle soreness
- Neck stiffness
- Skin infection
Symptoms of E. coli infection in dogs include:
- Low temperature or hypothermia
- Loss of appetite
- Rapid heart rate
- Blue gums, lips, ears, nostrils, and anus
Dogs can also become carriers for these bacteria without getting sick themselves. Call your veterinarian immediately if your dog becomes sick after eating raw beef.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com
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