I’m a dog person. I love everything about dogs, from their bouncy enthusiasm to their wet nose kisses to the way they look when they sleep. But whenever I hear a “funny” story about someone’s dog getting into something it shouldn’t have, my heart sinks.
Because the truth is that it isn’t funny at all. While dogs are definitely not human children—and are prone to some behaviors we find less than adorable—they also aren’t miniature adults or robots. Like us, they can be susceptible to illness and injury.
That’s why I’m here today with a bit of information you’ll hopefully never need: what if your dog ate raw steak off the counter?
There is a risk to doing that as meat on the counter can allow bacteria to grow on it when it is at room temperature. Bacteria multiply rapidly between 41 and 135 degrees F, posing a serious health risk to your dog.
In this post, I will share the dangers as well as preventative measures you can take.
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Help! What If My Dog Already Ate Raw Meat?
We’ll talk about the problems associated with deliberately feeding dogs raw meat in a moment, but first, we wanted to take a moment to talk about what you should do if your dog has already eaten a piece of raw meat.
For example, your dog may have snatched a piece of raw meat you dropped while cooking, or she may have helped herself to something sitting on the kitchen counter.
First of all, don’t panic – particularly if your dog just ate a small amount of raw meat (although you should probably work on stopping your dog from jumping up on the counter).
There’s a big difference between your dog eating a bite of raw beef and feeding your dog raw meat on a day-in, day-out basis. The piece she ate may not have been covered in bacteria, so she could get lucky. If the piece does turn out to have been contaminated, the fact that your dog only ate a small amount will likely reduce the chances that she’ll become seriously ill.
Even if your dog ate a considerable quantity of raw meat (such as a whole chicken breast), you probably don’t need to race over to the vet. Just get your vet on the phone, explain what happened, and follow the advice provided.
Don’t induce vomiting or take any other drastic measures. Just be sure to watch her for signs of illness and contact your vet again if she starts vomiting or experiencing severe diarrhea.
Don’t have easy access to a vet? You may want to consider getting help from JustAnswer — a service that provides instant virtual-chat access to a certified vet online.
You can discuss the issue with them, and even share video or photos if need be. The online vet can help you determine what your next steps should be.
While talking with your own vet — who understands the ins and outs of your dog’s history — is probably ideal, JustAnswer is a good backup option.
Why Did People Start Feeding Dogs Raw Meat in the First Place?
Throughout most of our shared history, dogs have essentially eaten our scraps.
This is still the case today to an extent. Compare the ingredients list on a bag of dog food to those on a frozen dinner — they are made of the same stuff, more or less.
Ancient people would toss literal scraps and unwanted portions of cooked meat and vegetable matter to the dogs lurking around the fire.
When commercial dog foods became widespread, most people embraced the convenience and often superior nutrition they provided. By the middle of the 20th century, commercial dog food became the mainstream diet for dogs.
But, in 2001, a veterinarian by the name of Ian Billinghurst published a book called “The Barf Diet.”
Before you get the wrong idea, the book is not referring to, you know, actual barf (although our dogs would probably love it – we’ve all seen our precious pup yak something up and re-eat it before we could clean it up).
BARF is an acronym that stands for:
Some contend that it stands for Bones and Raw Food, but the idea is generally the same.
The book purportedly embraces “evolutionary principles” and seeks to mimic the diet of wild canines and felines. Many people fell in love with this idea and started feeding their dog things like raw chicken wings and meat-covered bones for dinner (often along with fruits and vegetables).
Many dogs love the taste of raw meat and tend to tolerate it well. But, as explained previously, raw meat is often contaminated with a variety of pathogens that can sicken your dog.
You could even wind up at the emergency room if you aren’t careful.
Can my dog get sick from raw meat from the grocery store?
Chances are, your dog will be just fine if he eats raw meat such as ground beef, chicken, pork, raw eggs or steak from the grocery store.
Many raw feeders buy meat for their dogs at their local grocery stores and never have any issues. I buy my dog raw chicken thighs from the grocery store and this never seems to be an issue for him.
However, there are some concerns to keep in mind.
Raw meat at the grocery store is meant to be cooked and eaten by people. Sometimes it’s been sitting out for several days which of course gives more time for bacteria to grow.
This shouldn’t be a problem for most dogs, but to be safe you could freeze the meat for 2-3 weeks before giving it to your dog.
What happens if my dog ate raw ground beef?
What happens if a dog eats a pound of raw meat?
Can raw meat upset a dog’s stomach?