Raw steak or hamburger patties can contain bacteria, such as salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to dogs, as well as people.
Are there Risks to Giving Dogs Raw Meat?
In addition to the risk of nutritional deficiencies, raw meat does pose other health risks—both for you and your dog.
Not only does it pose a risk to your dog, but it poses a risk to you and your family, according to an FDA study. Raw meat is likely to contain harmful bacteria like Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli and more.
Cooking meat to a safe temperature kills off those harmful bacteria. By feeding uncooked meat, there’s a higher risk your dog will develop a foodborne illness or other type of bacterial infection. Additionally, there’s an increased risk you or a member of your family will come into contact with the bacteria and develop a foodborne illness. Handling the raw meat, letting your dog lick your face, cleaning up his feces or touching any contaminated surfaces increase the risk of infection. If you do choose to feed your dog a RFD, we recommend referring to the safety guidelines published by the FDA, CDC or AVMA. Doing so will help minimize the risks of contamination and foodborne illnesses. It’s worth noting many therapy dog associations, such as Pet Partners, prohibit dogs on RFDs from being part of their program. This is because the raw food poses too much risk for the humans they are trained to help.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat? And, Should They?
Yes, dogs can eat raw meat. Should dogs eat raw meat, though? Dr. RuthAnn Lobos, a Purina veterinarian, says feeding a diet consisting primarily of raw meat may not provide the complete and balanced nutrition your dog needs. “This is especially true in rapidly growing and developing puppies,” she says. “Their dietary needs are quite complex. The same is true for senior dogs who may have a weaker immune system and more sensitive digestive systems.” Properly cooking meat and carbohydrates (like we do with our dog foods) can make the food more digestible. When foods are easily digested, “dogs can use more of the nutrients more effectively for producing energy, building muscles and supporting their immune systems,” Dr. Lobos adds. A RFD can increase your dog’s risk of nutritional deficiencies and illnesses. They need complete and balanced nutrition to help them live long and healthy lives. If you do choose a commercially prepared RFD, our experts recommend ensuring it’s formulated by a veterinary nutritionist. We also recommend choosing a food that has undergone feeding trials and meets World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) guidelines to ensure your dog gets all the nutrients he needs.
Feeding Raw Ground Beef to Dogs
From a nutritional standpoint, the nutrient values of raw ground beef will differ from cooked ground beef, which also depends on the percentage of fat in the ground beef. Contrary to popular belief, it is a myth that cooking ground beef or other foods destroys nutrients. It does not destroy them; it just changes them. Raw meat fed to dogs has its pros and cons, and you, as the dog owner, need to decide what is best for your dog.
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