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How Safe is Raw Pork and Bones for Your Dog?

Pork is delicious whether you’re roasting a pork loin, frying up some pork chops, or shredding a pork roast for Taco Tuesday. You’ve been taught to carefully store, thaw, and prepare your pork to eliminate the risks of foodborne illnesses. No matter how tasty it is cooked, raw pork is a prime breeding ground for bacteria that can make humans very ill. While you’re scouring your kitchen surfaces after preparing raw pork, the idea that it’s safe for your dog to eat probably has crossed your mind before you decided it probably isn’t safe. If you’ve been shooing your dog away from raw meat, you’ll be relieved to know that when the necessary steps are taken, raw pork and its pieces are not only safe for your dog but actually good for them, too.

Is Raw Pork and Its Friends Safe for Dogs?

Evolutionarily speaking, dogs thrive on a diet of fresh, uncooked meat. Because our pets are domesticated, though, we feed them a diet of commercially prepared and balanced dog food because it’s accessible and good for them. The popularity of feeding dogs a raw diet is on the rise, and dog owners are spending a great deal of money providing their dogs with raw meat. Raw pork is a readily available meat that is typically included in a raw diet. Pork is good for dogs as long as it’s fed in moderation. Pork is naturally fatty, so too much can lead to weight problems or even pancreatitis in dogs.

Nutritional experts say that it’s best to feed dogs the parts of pork that contain edible bones. If you’re giving your dog a raw diet, bones are essential, not optional. Because meat is high in phosphorous and bones are high in calcium, the combination of meat and 10 percent bones gives your dog the exact calcium:phosphorous ratio required nutritionally. Meat bones are safe for dogs if they aren’t cooked. Once cooked, the bones dry out and become fragile and brittle, splintering into sharp pieces that can damage the esophagus and intestines when they’re swallowed. The bones shouldalways be fed raw! When they’re raw, they’re still relatively pliable, meaning the dog can easily eat and digest them. It’s hard to imagine that bones are digestible, but canines have a very acidic stomach that’s designed to break down materials like bone. However, that stomach pH is only suitable for raw bones, not cooked.

When you give your dog raw bones, always monitor them. You should never give your dog bones that are small enough for them to swallow whole. The bone should be big enough that they have to break it down before they can swallow it. Don’t ever give your dog large marrow bones. These thick bones can easily crack your dog’s teeth if they chew on them hard enough.

Raw Pork Precautions for Dogs

Wild dogs don’t have exposure to foodborne illnesses like humans do, including parasitic infections. However, pork that you buy in the store is sometimes contaminated with a roundworm called trichinosis. This worm resides in the raw meat and is only killed when the meat is thoroughly cooked or frozen for three to four weeks before eating it. When a dog is infected with trichinosis, they develop muscle soreness or swelling of the eyelids. If the infection progresses, the symptoms will quickly escalate and the dog can get quite ill. Purchase your meat from reputable sources; avoid buying cheap meat. When you bring the meat home, freeze it for at least two weeks before you give it to your dog. This amount of time in a freezer will kill the parasite.

The Benefits of a Raw Diet for Dogs

Raw diets enthusiasts report that raw meat, bones, and organs are the best way to feed your dog. It can be expensive and time consuming, but when a raw diet is formulated properly, your dog will thrive. There are a lot of benefits to a raw diet. Their immune systems become more resistant to illnesses and disease (but a raw diet does not take the place of annual vaccinations). Owners who have switched their dogs over to a raw diet notice that their dog’s coat and skin become much healthier. Their coats will become glossy and soft, and some people claim their dogs shed less on a raw diet. You could notice your dog smells wonderful, too, and doesn’t have that odd “doggy smell” your dog typically gets between baths.

Their teeth are also much healthier. Domesticated dogs usually need annual dental cleanings to scrape the plaque and tartar off their teeth, but raw diets have been shown to decrease tooth decay and periodontal disease. It’s easier to keep them at a healthy weight, too, especially in more sedentary dogs. Their muscle tone is better, as is their energy. They absorb most of the nutrients found in meat, bones, and organs, meaning there’s less to clean up in the yard.

While raw diets have many benefits, you have to be willing to invest a lot of time and money in feeding your dog raw meat. It can be hard to give a dog the proper nutrition when you’re only feeding them raw meat, and some well-meaning owners have actually given their dogs nutritional deficiencies because they weren’t feeding enough of a variety of meat. When a wild dog is lacking in a certain nutritional element, their bodies signal them to find food that contains what they’re lacking. Domestic dogs don’t have this option, and dogs on an unbalanced raw diet will start to eat weird things in an attempt to end the deficiency. Before you start giving your dog raw meat, you should seek the advice of your veterinarian and possibly a canine nutritionist.

Fed properly, raw meat can be a fantastic choice for your dog. When you’ve done your research and decided you can be dedicated to a fairly intensive feeding process, you’ll quickly see the benefits in your dog.