One of the biggest concerns that dog owners considering a raw diet have is whether or not it’s safe. We’ve been taught our entire lives that raw meat can contain dangerous pathogens like salmonella and e-coli, but how concerned should we really be?
The answer is not at all. Wild dogs have been eating raw meat for thousands of years, and all around the world people are feeding their domesticated dogs a raw diet without problem. The key is to follow a simple set of rules when handling raw meat.
Handling Raw Meat
I’m going to keep this section brief as it should be common knowledge, however it’s still worth mentioning.
Stay clean. Wash your hands after handling raw meat, also clean off any surfaces, utensils and of course, the dog’s bowl. Do anything you can to avoid spreading bacteria when working with raw meat.
Freeze right away. Once you’ve got your raw food home, freeze it as soon as possible, if it has arrived partially defrosted it should be okay to freeze again, if it has fully defrosted you may not be able to refreeze it – check with your supplier. If you have acquired fresh meat, it is best to freeze it for at least three days to kill off any potential bacteria it may be carrying.
Defrost safely. When defrosting meat, don’t just leave it on a plate on the worktop, or in the fridge, always keep it in an airtight container until you’re ready to serve.
As you can tell, this is all just basic food hygiene, something you likely follow when cooking for yourself with raw ingredients, feeding raw to your dog shouldn’t be any different.
Now moving on to dogs…
Can my dog get salmonella?
Truth be told, your dog may already have salmonella. Around a third of healthy dogs carry salmonella as part of their natural gastrointestinal flora. Don’t worry though, this is perfectly normal.
Dogs have a short GI tract, designed to quickly digest food minimising the time bacteria has to colonise, they also have immensely strong stomach acid (PH1) which helps to break down and destroy a lot of bugs which would affect us humans.
Their saliva is a bactericide, it contains many compounds which are antibacterial. These enzymes break down and destroy bacteria, meaning salmonella and e-coli are unable to exist within a dogs mouth. Combined with healthier teeth with zero plaque to bind on to, bacteria doesn’t stand much of a chance.
There is one thing to be wary of though, dogs can pass on salmonella through their stools. It is important that any waste is picked up and discarded as soon as possible to eliminate any possible spread of bacteria.
Will I get sick from my raw fed dog?
There’s a lot of bad information on the internet, mainly spawned from those against raw feeding such as vets and the pet food industry. No you will not get sick if your dog licks you.
Even if a dog eats a 100% salmonella infected meal, tests have proven that there is no trace of it in their mouths or on their skin afterwards. The only way to catch salmonella from a dog is to eat their poo, and I can’t say I know too many people who do that! For the paranoid, you can wipe off their face after meal time but it’s really not required.
We hope this short post has answered a few important questions for you. Did we miss anything? Please let us know in the comments!