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Dogs have been known to eat raw meat for a long time, but the question remains: is it safe for them? Generally speaking, most raw or lightly cooked meat is safe for dogs to consume, with the exception of certain fish and pork. Dogs have highly acidic stomachs and natural digestive enzymes that enable them to process bacteria without getting sick. However, it’s critical to ensure that your dog’s diet is balanced and complete, just like the meals you prepare for yourself.

Raw chicken and beef are both safe for dogs to consume. Dogs can eat a wide range of raw or lightly cooked meat, including chicken, beef, bison, turkey, rabbit, buffalo, alpaca, llama, elk, deer, moose, reindeer, goat, mutton, venison, duck, geese, quail, ostrich, and emu. However, certain fish should be given to dogs in limited amounts. Raw mackerel, sardines, trout, and salmon can be given to dogs as an occasional treat, but they may contain high levels of pollutants.

Avoid giving raw pork to dogs; always cook it first. Trichinosis, a parasitic worm caused by undercooked or raw pork, can make your dog sick. Although the incidence of these infections has decreased due to better pork production laws and the public’s awareness of the dangers of consuming undercooked pork, it is still best to err on the side of caution.

When preparing your dog’s raw meat meals, take the necessary safety precautions, such as keeping the meat refrigerated if not using it right away, defrosting meat in your refrigerator rather than in the sink or on the counter, following all safe-handling instructions on the label, washing your hands before and after handling the raw meat, and cleaning and disinfecting everything the raw meat touches, such as your dog’s food bowl, cutting board, and knives.

Finally, if your dog has food sensitivities, choose proteins for your dog’s diet based on their health needs. Work with your veterinary nutritionist to develop a “balance-over-time” plan that includes rotating meats with fruits, vegetables, and grains in each meal to provide your dog with all the essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals they need to stay healthy. For more information, read our article on three types of raw food diets for dogs and the rules for raw food diets.