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Can dogs eat raw meat?

Sure, dogs can eat raw as well as cooked or baked meat. It’s what your dog’s body is built to it. At Dogchef, however, we pride ourselves on always cooking the meat first, until the inside has reached at least 90 °C. In this way, we can be sure that any dangerous bacteria are killed and cannot harm your dog.

Which bacteria are found in raw meat?

Before you sound any alarm, it is important to know that not all bacteria are dangerous for pet owners or your four-legged friend. We want to put our information into perspective, because it is essential to know the difference between good and bad bacteria, for you and your dog. After all, raw meat contains a lot of beneficial bacteria or probiotics. Only the bad bacteria such as Salmonella and E. Coli could cause food poisoning.

• Good bacteria in raw meat

As mentioned before, raw meat also contains good bacteria or probiotics. These microorganisms even play a vital role in your dog’s health. The good bacteria ensure a healthy intestinal flora in the digestive system, so that your dog can digest its food quickly. The good bacteria on the skin of your dog are part of the skin microbiome or skin flora. Result? Your dog will enjoy a beautiful, radiant skin and coat without suffering from itchiness or infections.

• Bad bacteria in raw meat

Bacteria sound scary and sometimes this assumption is true: raw meat can contain bacteria that are harmful to both humans and dogs. We’re guessing you’ve probably heard about Salmonella, listeria and E. Coli. But were you aware that raw meat can also be a breeding ground for pathogenic parasites such as sarcocystis and Toxoplasma gondii? These bacteria and parasites can be fought by heating or cooking the meat. In that case, extra caution is needed during the preparation of raw meat.

The digestive system of a healthy adult dog is basically able to cope with these bacteria. Puppies and more feeble or older dogs could however be affected by these bacteria.

What are the symptoms of food poisoning in dogs?

If your gets sick after eating raw meat, he’ll probably have ingested some harmful bacteria. In that case we are talking about food poisoning. Food poisoning symptoms can include: 

  • High fever
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea 
  • Numbness
  • Poor appetite
  • Listlessness

Make sure to always call your vet in case your dog shows signs of numbness or has vomiting, diarrhoea or fever for more than 2 days.

How to prevent harmful bacteria in raw meat?

Unfortunately, it is not that simple to kill dangerous bacteria trapped in raw meat. You can still prevent an infection bearing in mind these precautions: 

• Always serve your dog fresh and good quality meat 

If you decide to feed your dog raw meat, fully assure yourself that you’re serving fresh and good quality meat. Meat starts to sour when it is only a few days old causing a rapid increase in the amount of bacteria.  

• Defrost a raw piece of meat in a safe way

To safely defrost raw meat, refrigerate it the night before. The low temperature and gradual defrosting prevent bad bacteria from reproducing. You can also defrost meat in the microwave, because it gets warm enough to prevent the growth of bacteria.

• Prepare raw meat in a hygienic environment

Bacteria rapidly reproduce in unsanitary conditions. So make sure to clean the surface on which you prepare meat regularly. Done with the prep work? Keep the meat in a separate container with a tight lid, separate from other groceries.

• Always store your raw meat chilled or frozen

You’ll need a well-functioning refrigerator that preserves meat at a constant low temperature ( between 3°C and 4°C) to guarantee its freshness for as long as possible. Tip: Store your raw meat near the freezer compartment, where the temperature is at its lowest.

Does freezing meat kill bacteria?

Freezing meat causes bacteria and germs to hibernate instead of killing them. They stay inactive as long as the meat is frozen, but they come back to life as soon as it is defrosted. Bacteria and germs reproduce and start growing again. 

Does cooking meat kill bacteria?

The best way to kill harmful bacteria and germs is to perfectly cook it through. Whether you bake, roast, grill or steam the meat: bacteria won’t stand a chance against these heating methods. It is of course important to heat meat to the core to at least 70°C. In this way, almost all micro-organisms are killed and the meat is safe for consumption, also for your favourite pupper.

Which kinds of raw meat should you not feed to your dog?

Never serve your dog raw pork meat. Pigs can be carriers of a deadly disease.

• Raw pork meat

Wild boars and pigs in Europe can carry swine herpes virus type 1. This virus causes Aujezky’s disease: a non-infectious illness for humans, but highly contagious and deadly among dogs. It is better to be safe than sorry: always cook, steam or fry raw pork before feeding it to your dog.

Which types of raw meat can your dog eat?

Your dog is allowed to eat any raw meat with the exception of pork. You just need to make sure that the meat is kept fresh and cool and is hygienically prepared. Give preference to lean and unprocessed meats. Prepared meats such as minced meat contain too many fats and salts, which make your dog overweight and even sick. 

• Raw chicken

Chicken is a lean, healthy and inexpensive protein for your dog. A hygienical preparation is key when dishing up chicken in order to avoid the risk of bacterial diseases such as Salmonella. Make sure to remove the bones so that the dog does not encounter sharp-edged splinters when biting into the bones. These bones injure your dog’s mouth, throat and digestive tract.

• Raw bacon

Fatty meats aren’t optimal for your dog’s health, so we put raw bacon on the to-be-avoided list. The high level of fat can cause inflammation of the pancreas, which is called pancreatitis. In addition, the high salinity in bacon can also lead to salt poisoning. Not the best piece of meat to spoil your dog with!

• Raw beef

A tender piece of beef is a favourable source of protein and healthy fats for your dog. Raw beef can be harder and heavier to digest so opt for a different piece of meat when a puppy or sick dog is walking around in your home. We also advise you to always cut raw beef into small pieces to avoid choking.

• Raw horse meat

Horse meat is extremely healthy for your dog, as it is packed with proteins, minerals and vitamins such as iron and vitamin B. Horse meat is also very suitable for dogs suffering from a food allergy. If you plan to serve raw horse meat, you must take precautionary measurements to prevent contamination with harmful bacteria!

• Raw lamb

Lamb is packed with essential nutrients for a healthy nervous system and proper muscle function. Both  raw or cooked lamb or mutton are a high-quality source of iron and vitamin B. A fine piece of meat for your dog!

• Raw minced meat

The lipid and salt concentration in minced meat – such as bacon – is very high. Furthermore, butchers always add extra ingredients like flour or herbs to minced meat so some of the nutritional value and beneficial elements are lost in most processing methods. We rather discourage you to serve raw minced meat to your dog. 

• Raw tripe

Organ meat like tripe promotes the balanced intestinal flora of your dog. Tripe is stuffed with healthy bacteria that act as probiotics. Most dogs adore tripe, so you may consider it to be the perfect treat! Don’t hesitate to feed your dog a piece of raw tripe, unless the scent repels you of course…

• Raw ham

You may find ham an indispensable topping on your sandwich but also a processed type of food containing unwholesome ingredients like salt, herbs and preservatives. None of these are good for your dog’s health. We suggest your dog to be fed with natural food, so offer it occasionally as a snack. Never serve it as a wholesome meal. 

• Raw duck

Duck has high nutritional value and is easy to digest, even served raw. Moreover, duck is an extremely suitable food source for dogs suffering from food allergies. You won’t easily find a dog with an allergy for ducks!

• Raw venison

Venison is an incredible food source for your loyal companion. It is rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins, whether served raw or cooked. So why not spoil your dog by adding a piece of venison to his diet? Choosing for wild meat is also choosing for natural food, free of antibiotics and steroids. 

It doesn’t hurt to feed your dog a raw piece of meat every once in a while. If the meat is fresh, stored in the fridge and hygienically prepared, he can feast his eyes and tummy.

Wondering which piece of meat is on the Dog Chef menu today? 

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