Raw food diets have become quite popular among dog owners in recent years. There are various motivations for this, but a common reason why many pet parents opt to feed their pups raw foods is that they believe that a raw diet is close to the diet that dogs and other canines ate when they still lived in the wild. It’s as close to their natural diet as possible. But how true are these claims? Can dogs eat raw meat? Is it safe for them?
If you’re looking for a short answer, then yes, dogs can eat uncooked meat, bones, and organs from various animals, poultry, and fish. But that’s only half of the question. When it comes to feeding your pooch with raw meat, there are a lot of factors to consider. Some types of meats are off-limits and should not be included in your dog’s raw food diet. Read on to learn more about whether or not it’s safe to feed dogs with raw meat and how to do so safely.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat? Potential Benefits Of A Raw Meat Diet
As earlier explained, the major logic to feeding your dog with raw meat is that it is as close to the diet of wild dogs as it gets. Many advocates of this type of diet swear by the benefits of raw meat overcooked meat. Some of these benefits include:
Better Skin And Coat Health
Many advocates of a raw meat diet believe that it can help your dog have healthier skin and a shinier coat than regular dry food. This is based on the belief that raw meat is easier to digest, which means it liberates nutrients faster and better than dry food. Raw food is also believed to contain less filler than processed dog food, which means it’s richer in vitamins, protein, zinc, and fat, which have to be added artificially in many kibble brands.
Breath & Oral Health
One of the common causes of dental problems in dogs is insufficient dental activity due to the soft food being fed to them. Raw meat enthusiasts believe that replacing these canned soft foods with raw meat will better engage your dog’s teeth and improve overall dental health. Incorporating raw bones for them to chew is a major aspect of excellent canine oral wellness.
Raw Meats Can Help Improve Certain Health Conditions
Many people believe that a raw food diet can help dogs suffering from certain conditions such as diabetes and heart problems. However, there is still limited research to support these claims, so discussing with your vet before placing your dog on any diet is highly recommended.
Another argument in favor of raw meat is that dogs can digest it faster than kibble. It takes roughly 2 hours to digest a raw meat meal. Comparatively, kibble can remain in your dog’s stomach for up to 7 hours leading to stinky stool and poor digestive health.
Is It Safe To Feed Dogs Raw Meat?
Although raw feeders often advocate for the benefits of feeding your dog with raw meat, there are many potential risks, which is why many vets advise against it. Some of these risks include:
Exposure to Bacteria
Uncooked meat has a high risk of containing bacteria like salmonella, listeria, clostridium, and trichinosis, and these can make your dog sick. While dogs have a digestive system that’s able to handle raw meat much differently than humans, an overgrowth has the potential to cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and discomfort. When not properly handled, bacteria from raw meat can cause illness in family members and others exposed to the raw meat. This is why vets often advise that meats are properly cooked before they’re served to dogs.
Domesticated Dogs Are Different From Wild Dogs
Although the ancient ancestors of present-day dogs evolved from wild dogs and wolves, your lovely pooch has evolved to be different from its ancestors. Dogs today now lean towards a more predominantly omnivore diet. Although their digestive systems still closely mirror that of the wolf, a study presented in the journal Nature shows that they may have developed genes that help them to process starches, specifically. To put it simply, dogs today may have different nutritional needs compared to their ancestors.
Lack of Regulation
One major problem with store-bought and home-prepared raw meat is that there is no regulatory oversight to maintain their quality. This lack of monitoring means they may contain excess or insufficient amounts of certain essential nutrients without you knowing. With regular food, you’re always sure of the composition of each food and can decide how you feed it to your dog.
How To Feed Raw Meat To Your Dog Safely
It’s okay to give dogs raw meat under certain conditions. We’ve weighed the pros and cons, and leave the choice up to you. If you wish to feed your dog raw meat, here are specific recommendations to keep in mind to avoid some of the risks involved.
Maintain Quality and Hygiene
Make sure the meat you buy looks and has a fresh smell. Also, when preparing the meat, wash your hands, the meat and the prep surface properly. If you aren’t feeding it to your dog right away, keep it refrigerated.
Be Careful With Bones
Feeding bones to your dog is tricky. Make sure that they’re raw and large enough not to be a choking hazard. Avoid serving dogs bones that are likely to splinter or break easily. This means never feeding them bones that have been cooked! They can break and get stuck in your dog’s throat or gastrointestinal tract.
Watch Your Dog Closely
Whether you’re giving your pup raw meat prepared at home or you purchased a freeze-dried raw meat product, keep an eye on your pup when feeding raw meat, bones or any other large treat.
- Red meat recipe contains beef, pork, lamb
- Contains sweet potato, potato, and dried kelp
- No grains, peas, legumes, artificial colors or preservatives
Reconsider Feeding Raw Meat To Sick Dogs, Puppies And Senior Dogs
These dogs have weaker immune systems, and their nutritional needs are more complex. Putting them on a raw meat diet takes careful preparation. Be sure to research their needs before embarking on feeding these dogs a raw food diet.
Balance Up Their Diet
The truth is that dogs can’t get all the nutrients they need from feeding on raw meat alone. This kind of diet requires careful planning and the incorporation of bones, organs, eggs, and vegetables to provide proper nutrients. If you are placing them on a raw meat diet, mixing it with kibble can cause problems due to the different rates of digestion. If you don’t feel confident with the process or have the time to do raw right, be sure to use high-quality dog food so your pups get they get the balanced nutrition they need.
Avoid These Three Types Of Meat
No matter your decision regarding raw meat, you should avoid these three types of meat; denatured, 3D, and 4D meat. It is really just one meat type that goes by these three names. Denatured meat is a type of meat that has undergone a denaturing process. The process involves coloring raw meat with activated charcoal, charcoal liquid, cresylic disinfectant, and other similar chemicals to show that the meat is unfit for human consumption. Although it is legal to use denatured meat to manufacture pet food, raw feeders should not use them directly for their pets. The chemicals used for this process can be harmful to dogs. Charcoal, for instance, can reduce the nutrient level of denatured meat, making it a poor food for dogs.
Meat From Dead Or Dying Animals
Similarly, another class of meat to avoid is meat for dead or dying animals. All meats you feed to your dog should be fresh and healthy. This is particularly important if you’re feeding it to them raw.
Meat From Diseased Animals
Finally, meat from diseased animals should be off-limits as well. Some animal diseases can be transmitted from one animal species to another, especially when the meat isn’t properly cooked, as is the case with raw meat.
Whether you’re thinking of switching to a raw food diet or simply wondering if it’s safe to give your dog raw meat once in a while, you should know that there are risks and benefits to consider. It’s best to talk to your vet about your decision before proceeding. They’ll be able to recommend the best diet for your dog based on various factors such as its age and health condition.
Bonus: I’m Vegan – Can My Dog Do Without Meat?
Many vegetarian and vegan humans would like to share their dietary preferences with their dogs – but is it healthy? Dogs are omnivorous – they eat meat but can also derive nutrients from vegetables, grains, fruits, and legumes. Can they do without meat altogether? The answer is yes if they are provided with the necessary supplements.
Without certain amino acids like taurine and L-carnitine, your dog’s health will suffer. There is also the risk of your pup not getting enough protein or the vitamins and minerals she needs to be healthy. The easiest way to offset this is to purchase a quality commercial vegetarian dog food that contains all of the supplements needed. If you want to prepare homemade meals – you should consult with your vet to properly formulate a balanced diet. Vegan diets aren’t recommended for puppies.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/igorr1
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