“Can I feed my dog raw meat? Or better yet, can I switch my dog’s food to a raw meat-based diet?” is a question that most dog owners have probably asked at least once in their life as fur parents.
The thing is, it’s not as simple as saying yes or no. Many factors contribute to the final answer to that question. Ultimately, it will depend on your pooch’s condition or the type of meat you will feed them. However, yes, you can feed your dog raw meat in retrospect.
Why Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat?
First off, let’s start with why dogs are allowed to eat raw meat. Many advocates of raw food diets claim that dogs eating raw meat are widely based on the same biological needs of the dog’s direct ancestor, the wolf. If you didn’t know, the raw meat diet is considered the natural diet for canines, as it was for the wolf.
This is also supported by the fact that the dog’s digestive system can digest raw meats faster and more efficiently than a human’s digestive system. Today, raw meat diets are considered a great addition to a dog’s diet due to its various health benefits, including:
- Improved dental health
- Improved digestion
- Better skin and coat health
- Improved stools
Risks of Feeding Raw Meat to Your Dog
Of course, every upside has its downside. Yes, feeding your dog raw meat has all these positive health implications, but we can’t also overlook the possible risks your dog can get from eating raw meat.
Let’s start with the most obvious one. Uncooked meat has a higher contamination rate than cooked meat. Usually, we heat up or cook our food to eliminate all the bacteria or germs from the meat. Feeding your pooch raw meat or raw food puts them at high risk for harmful bacteria, also putting everyone around them at risk, including you and your family.
Your dog can get contaminated with certain bacteria or pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli, and more with raw meat. The worst part is that these are contagious and can spread all over your house, eventually affecting you and other members of the family
Raw food diet is not a balanced diet
Despite what you know or believe about raw pet foods, not all raw diets are nutritionally balanced. Homemade diets, for example, may lack certain nutrients, like calcium and phosphorous, that a growing pupper needs.
For a raw meat diet to be considered balanced, it should contain all the following ingredients:
- Muscle meat, often still on the bone
- Bones, either whole or ground
- Organ meats such as livers and kidneys
- Raw eggs
- Vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and celery
- Apples or other fruit
- Some dairy, such as yogurt
This ensures that your dog’s diet can still meet their nutritional needs for proper sustenance.
Raw bones poses a choking hazard for dogs
Another risk of raw diets is the possibility of your dog choking on the bones. Small dogs or puppies especially are most at risk for this. If you’re planning to feed your pooch a raw bone, you can grind the bones instead and sprinkle it on dry dog food or canned food to prevent them from choking on bigger bones.
Can All Dogs Eat Raw Meat?
No, not all dogs can have raw meat or a raw diet. This specifically applies to senior dogs and puppies. As dogs grow older, their body’s performance is more likely to drop, essentially affecting all the other systems in their body. Remember that senior dogs have a slower metabolism, and they won’t be able to digest raw meat or bones as efficiently as they used to. Additionally, their weakened immune system puts them at higher risk for contamination that you can get from feeding your dog raw foods.
This is the same with puppies. Puppies are still developing canines, and feeding them solely raw meats or raw bones is not enough to give them complete and balanced nutrition. If you want to switch your puppy’s food to a raw meat diet, it’s always better to consult your veterinarian first.
What Raw Meat Can Dogs Eat
You’ll want to stick with lean meat for your dog’s raw diet. This can include raw beef and steak, chicken, lamb, and turkey. Chicken and beef are great sources of protein and essential fatty acids, great for promoting lean muscle and skin and coat nutrition.
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Lamb and turkey are great meat alternatives for dogs with food allergies to chicken and beef. They are also considered lean meat and contain necessary nutrients for your dog’s health.
Meanwhile, you should avoid all kinds of processed meats such as hot dogs, sausages, bologna, etc. Another one is rib bones (cooked or uncooked). Rib bones can cause an obstruction in your dog’s throat and eventually choke them. Chewing on rib bones can also result in sharp bones going to your dog’s stomach and damaging everything in the way.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Hamburger Meat?
Raw hamburger meat is basically just raw ground beef. Basically, it contains the same risks as you would any raw meat. Can dogs eat raw hamburger meat? Yes. But does that mean you should feed your dog raw hamburger meat? Not necessarily. Again, think about the health risks of raw feeding before putting anything raw in your dog’s mouth.
Related: Can Dogs Eat Ham Bones?
Can Small Dogs Eat Raw Meat?
Yes, small dogs can eat raw meat or even bones, as long as what they eat is appropriate to the size of their mouth and is not a choking hazard.
What Age Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat?
You can start your dog with a raw meat diet as early as 5 weeks old. Before anything else, you must get your veterinarian’s approval. If they say it’s okay to feed your puppy a raw diet, ask for guidance or tips on how you can start them with a raw diet.
The most important thing about raw meat diets is that they should still contain everything your dog needs to thrive.
- Start with a single source of lean protein meat, for example, chicken, turkey, or beef. These proteins are good for a developing puppy to help them build strong bones and lean muscles.
- Next is a combination of fruits and vegetables, which contains vitamins and minerals, good for your dog’s immune health.
- Don’t forget your balanced sources of calcium and phosphorous, which you can get from raw meaty bones.
- You can also add eggs for essential amino and fatty acids or plain yogurt to help their digestive health.
Now that you have your answer, are you willing to take the risk of feeding your canine raw meat? Raw meat diets are definitely a tempting alternative to commercial dog foods. What’s good about it is with the right and well-balanced raw diet, you can keep your pet healthy and happy. At the end of the day, it’s up to you if you choose to switch to a raw meat diet. However, don’t forget to listen to your dog and see how their body responds to this diet.