The raw food diet has gotten the attention of pet owners in recent years.
One of the most popular raw food diets for pets is called Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, or BARF for short. Created in the 1990s, BARF mimics the diet of a wild animal with meat, bones, vegetables and other raw foods. The diet claims to bring dogs back to their non-domesticated way of feeding and boasts benefits like growth, better health and longevity.
But is the diet for dogs? Can your furry friend maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating raw meat? Here’s what you need to know.
Can dogs eat raw meat?
Yes, technically, dogs can eat raw meat but that doesn’t mean they should.
According to Soma Technology, animals, particularly wild ones, have a stronger stomach acid, helping them digest food and kill off parasites and bacteria found in raw meat. Before dogs were domesticated, their diet contained raw meat like most animals.
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What raw meat can dogs eat?
Common proteins in a raw meat diet include eggs, bones milk and these meats:
One type of meat dog owners should be aware of is denatured meat, sometimes called 3D or 4D meat. This meat typically comes from dying, dead or diseased animals, Rogue Pet Science writes. While being processed, this meat is often deemed unfit for human consumption and ends up in pet food. It’s a legal but dangerous fact because of the bacteria and chemicals used in manufacturing.
Is raw meat good for dogs?
The American Veterinary Medical Association cautions against feeding your dog raw meat because it doesn’t provide the balanced nutrition your canine companion needs in their diet.
Eating raw meat regularly can increase risk of nutritional deficiencies. A 2011 study from Cambridge University found 60% of dogs on a diet of bones and raw food had nutritional imbalances.
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Can I feed my dog a raw food diet?
Most veterinarians advise against giving dogs raw diets for the same reason humans don’t eat raw meat — there are health risks when it comes to the bacteria found in raw food. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns pet owners about raw diets because of bacteria, like salmonella and listeria, which can be found in raw pet food, even packaged meats in stores.
According to a study from the University of California, Davis, there is little to no scientific support in favor of the raw diet. Research suggests canned diets and kibble, as well as home-cooked meals, are beneficial to your pet’s nutritional intake. In this case, the risks far outweigh any potential benefits of a raw meat diet.
Raw food diets can also be potentially harmful for dog owners and their families. You could be subject to food poisoning or sickness by just handling raw food or taking care of your pet.
If you do decide to feed your dog raw meat, the CDC recommends keeping it frozen and thawing in the fridge until use. Make sure to disinfect all surfaces of the raw meat touched, and avoid playing with your pet directly after they eat.
Your pet licking your face or mouth is a playful gesture of affection that can turn risky after they’ve gobbled down raw meat. The CDC recommends exercising extra caution around young children and raw meat because their immune systems are not fully developed.
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