Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat?

Dog eating raw meat with bone

Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat? Yes, dogs can eat raw meat, but it is important to understand the potential risks and benefits before feeding it to them.

A raw meat diet can offer nutritional advantages, but it also comes with safety concerns that must be carefully managed.

Understanding the Raw Meat Diet for Dogs

A raw meat diet, often referred to as the BARF diet (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food), aims to mimic what dogs’ ancestors ate in the wild.

Proponents of raw diets argue that raw meat provides natural, unprocessed nutrients that can lead to better health outcomes for dogs.

However, critics highlight the risks of bacterial contamination and nutritional imbalances.

Benefits of Feeding Raw Meat to Dogs

Supporters of raw meat diets claim several benefits, including:

  • Improved Coat and Skin: Raw meat diets are often rich in essential fatty acids, which can improve coat and skin health.
  • Increased Energy Levels: Some dog owners report that their dogs are more energetic and active on a raw meat diet.
  • Better Dental Health: Chewing raw meat and bones can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup, promoting better oral hygiene.
  • Enhanced Digestion: Raw diets can be easier to digest for some dogs, leading to smaller, firmer stools.

Risks of Feeding Raw Meat to Dogs

Raw Meat With Chili Pepper and Green Spies

While there are potential benefits, feeding raw meat to dogs also comes with significant risks:

  • Bacterial Contamination: Raw meat can carry harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli, which can cause serious illness in both dogs and humans. Handling raw meat requires strict hygiene practices to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Nutritional Imbalance: Ensuring a balanced diet can be challenging with raw meat alone. Dogs require a variety of nutrients, and a diet consisting solely of raw meat may lack essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Bone Hazards: While raw bones can help with dental health, they can also pose choking hazards or cause internal injuries if they splinter.
  • Parasites: Raw meat can contain parasites that might infect your dog, leading to health complications.

Bacterial Risks

The risk of bacterial contamination is a major concern when feeding dogs raw meat.

According to the FDA, raw pet food can be contaminated with pathogens such as Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes, which can not only affect pets but also pose a risk to human health through handling and cross-contamination.

Nutritional Balance

Feeding a balanced raw meat diet requires careful planning.

Dogs need a variety of nutrients that cannot be met by meat alone. For example, calcium and phosphorus levels must be balanced to support bone health, and deficiencies in vitamins such as Vitamin A and E must be avoided.

How to Safely Feed Raw Meat to Dogs

If you decide to feed your dog raw meat, consider these safety tips:

  • Source Quality Meat: Purchase high-quality meat from reputable sources to minimize the risk of contamination.
  • Maintain Hygiene: Always wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces thoroughly after handling raw meat. Store meat at the proper temperature to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Balance the Diet: Consult with a veterinarian or a pet nutritionist to ensure that your dog’s diet is balanced and meets all nutritional requirements.
  • Monitor Health: Regularly monitor your dog’s health for any signs of digestive issues or infections. Schedule regular veterinary check-ups to ensure your dog remains healthy on a raw diet.


While dogs can eat raw meat, it is crucial to weigh the benefits against the risks.

Raw meat diets can offer nutritional advantages, but they also pose potential health hazards that require careful management.

Consulting with a veterinarian and following strict hygiene practices are essential steps to ensure the safety and health of your dog.