Pet Health

Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat? – Benefits & Risks You Should Know

In short - dogs can eat raw meat. It's recommended to talk to your veterinarian as there are some things to keep in mind and reduce the risk of contamination.

6
min read

If you’ve become interested in the raw meat diet, you’re not alone. This diet has been gaining tons of popularity in the past few years among humans. So, it’s no surprise that pet owners want to try it out with their dogs. But, can dogs eat raw meat and is raw meat good for dogs?

This might seem like a no-brainer: Isn’t raw meat bad for both humans and dogs? Well, the answer isn’t black and white. Some dogs can tolerate certain foods versus others. So, what sets a raw meat diet apart from other foods? 

Here, we’ll break down all the benefits and risks of serving your dog raw meat.

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Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat?

Often, we ask our veterinarians if our pets can eat certain things. But, it's not a matter of if they can, it's if they should.

There is a huge difference between the “can’s” and “should’s” of the diet world, especially for our pups. And you want to ensure your dog is eating a proper and balanced diet. Many doctors believe that serving our furry companions a consistent diet full of raw meat may lack the needed nutrients they need. 

When you decide to cook the meat instead of feeding it raw, your dog can digest it easier – and with easier digestion comes an increase in health benefits. Cooked meat can provide proper digestion for your dog’s health, which helps build muscles, improves immune responses, and gives them a boost of energy. 

If your dog is eating a raw food diet, it could lead to major vitamin and mineral deficiencies which decreases immune responses. Cooking meat offers them fuller nutrition to live long and happy lives. 

Health Benefits & Risks of Raw Meat for Dogs

Just like any diet, both for humans and canines, there are always benefits and risks. Despite the good and bad parts of a diet, it can be difficult deciding what to do. Here, we’ll explain the key benefits and risks of feeding your dog an RFD (also known as a raw food diet). 

Benefits of RFD

Provides better oral health: A study on dogs with dental calculus and tooth decay reported that by eating a diet of beef oxtail, 30% of the calculus went away within 24-hours, and 95% in a week. This is largely from bone fragments found in beef oxtail, which work to break down particles in dogs’ mouths. Researchers find that most dental issues come from a soft food diet due to the inactivity of their mouth and teeth. When dogs consumed raw food in this study, it showed oral health improvements in just a week. 

Aids in digestion: Contrary to research suggesting eating raw meat reduces the ability to digest, there’s reason to believe it could aid in it too. This is because raw food only takes a few hours to properly digest, compared to almost nine hours with kibble or soft food. Thus, dogs will poop more often, leading to less smelly stool. 

Helps improve medical conditions: Research suggests that for some canines with diabetes, a raw food diet can be just the thing to help their condition. However, this is not a widely researched claim, so it’s best to talk to your doctor about your dog’s health before beginning a new diet. 

Healthier skin and coat: A major health proponent of a dog’s skin and coat is zinc and vitamin E. Combine hearty fats and proteins with little to no carbohydrates, and you have the perfect combination for healthy skin and a shiny coat. Note that dog food can also produce the same result due to vitamin E and zinc content. 

Biological needs respond well to an RFD: Long ago, before dogs were domesticated, they survived on eating raw meat in the wild. However, these dogs didn’t live very long. Even so, these carnivorous dogs thrived off of this raw food diet for centuries. 

Risks of RFD

The evolution of dogs doesn’t mean they need to eat like they once did: While this isn’t so much a risk as it is a fact of nature, it’s still worth explaining. Evolution has taken care of the way animals digest food. In fact, over many centuries, the evolution of increasing amylase secretion (AMY2B gene) has radically changed how dogs gain nutrients. This means a raw food diet for dogs is not necessary. Pet food is just enough to provide your dog with a balanced diet – meat and bones are an ancient diet for dogs. 

RFDs are not well regulated: Raw meat diets for dogs, such as beef and pork, barely have federal or state oversight, meaning giving your dog a raw food diet could result in more harm than good without the needed scientific data to support it. 

Bacteria galore: A big reason why humans opt for cooking meat is bacteria. There are tons of live bacteria found on raw meat, some that could lead to various illnesses. Especially if you have a family or have little kids, letting your dog eat raw meat could mean illness for them too. A few types of bacteria include:

●      E. coli

●      Trichinosis

●      Campylobacter

●      Listeria

●      Clostridium

If you’re wondering, “Can dogs eat raw meat?” consider both benefits and risks with your veterinarian. It’s best to discuss these points in addition to your dog’s health history and current digestion habits. 

Is Raw Food Good for Dogs?

So, can dogs eat raw beef or pork and be okay? Is raw food good for dogs? While there are plenty of benefits of a raw food diet, the risks seem to outweigh them. Most importantly, you can put you, your family, and your dog at risk of illness from bacteria found on raw meat. That alone is a clear reason to stay away from raw meat. 

However, if you’ve spoken to your veterinarian and there is good reason to believe your dog would be fine eating an RFD, it’s up to you. Some dogs even benefit from eating raw food versus soft foods or kibble. 

Raw foods such as raw veggies and fruits are perfectly fine for your pup to consume. Make sure you’re feeding your dog produce that won’t hurt them. For example, stay away from feeding them grapes, but carrots and apples are good choices. Raw food diets mainly revolve around raw meat. 

Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat?

Can dogs eat raw meat? Overall, raw food diets for dogs can be beneficial. However, there’s still not enough research nor evidence suggesting raw meat diets are superior at aiding your dog’s health. Normal dog foods can provide dogs the nutrition they need without the risks of a raw meat diet. Always speak to your veterinarian about switching or adding foods to your dog’s diet. 

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