Many sources have been telling the world how dangerous raw meat is for our health. Neglecting to clean the counters properly after placing raw meat on them can lead to a serious foodborne illness. With these dire warnings, it’s no wonder that dog owners are shocked that some dogs are purposefully fed raw meat as their main diet. Don’t get the raw steak out just yet, however; there are a few key things you need to know to keep your pup safe.
How Safe is Raw Meat for Dogs?
Raw meat can be incredibly beneficial for dogs if you take the proper safety precautions and feed your dog a balanced diet. While society thinks dogs can live on raw steaks and porkchops, it takes so much more than just a few slabs of meat to keep your dog nutritionally sound.
First, you should look at the diet of a wild dog, like a wolf. They eat upwards of ten pounds of meat per day. It’s important to know that wild dogs don’t just eat the meat of the animal they kill. They also eat the organs, bones, and sometimes even the skin and hair. They need a variety of meat to maintain their good health. The biggest mistake dog owners make when it comes to feeding their dog a raw diet is they don’t serve a big enough variety of meat.
Your dog will need a wide rotation of meat, organs, and bones for the best nutrition. Organ meats that are ideal for dogs include the liver, heart, and giblets. These organs are dense with nutrients and minerals not found in the rest of the meat. The bones are also necessary, as is the marrow found inside. Just make sure that the bones you give your dog are never cooked. Once they’re cooked, they take on a brittle quality and the shards can damage the dog’s esophagus or intestines.
Safety Precautions With Raw Meat and Dogs
If you’re giving your dog raw meat, how you handle the meat is the best way to prevent your dog from getting seriously ill. This includes storing and handling the meat properly. Meat should always be kept refrigerated and frozen and it should never be thawed on the counter. Once they’re done eating, you should take the remaining meat from your dog and throw it away in a trash can they don’t have access to. When it has hit room temperature, it shouldn’t be refrigerated. Religiously wash your dog’s bowls with hot, soapy water after every meal to prevent bacterial growth.
Pork should be frozen for at least 10 days before you feed it to kill a parasite that sometimes lurks in pork. The low temperatures kill both the parasites and their eggs and prevent a serious parasitic infection that causes sore muscles, muscle tremors, and lethargy.
The Benefits of a Raw Diet in Dogs
People who have successfully transitioned their dog to a raw diet tout the benefits to everyone they know. If the raw diet is balanced correctly, it can greatly improve your dog’s health. You’ll notice they smell less like a dog and you’ll want to bathe them less. Raw meat and bones are good for their teeth, reducing plaque and tartar build-up resulting in breath that’s far more pleasant smelling. Their bowel movements are more regular and much smaller in size. Their coat will be shinier and softer, and their skin will be less dry and itchy. If your dog has been lethargic, you might see a noticeable increase in their energy.
Before you put your dog on a raw diet, you absolutely need to consult with a veterinarian experienced in raw diets. Your intentions may be good, but an unbalanced diet is dangerous for your dog. You’ll also need to be prepared to spend a lot of time and money in feeding your dog raw meat full time. Education, preparation, and dedication are the most important parts of guaranteeing your dog’s health.