The Prey Model Raw (PMR) diet is one of the biggest health-related trends in recent years. Instead of feeding their dogs dried kibble, many owners have opted for raw meat, organs, ground bones, and vegetables to mimic the diet that their dog would enjoy in the wild. If wild dogs have survived on a raw diet for thousands of years, why not give your dog the same experience? Proponents of the diet believe that it helps their dogs return to their roots.
The PMR movement is similar to the raw diet movement for humans, which forbids people from cooking their food and requires them to eat 100% raw ingredients. Kibble is hard, processed, and loaded with fillers and additives. Conversely, raw meat is fresh, unprocessed, and loaded with nutrients. Some people believe that even cooked meat is too processed for their dogs. They want their dog to have the most natural diet possible–and dogs typically don’t eat cooked meat in the wild.
Proponents of the diet claim that raw meat makes their dogs healthier and stronger and gives them shinier coats. If you’ve been questioning the ingredients in your pet’s dog food, you might have thought about skipping the processed food and picking up some raw meat at the store. Raw meat isn’t necessarily bad for your dog, but before you start feeding them raw meat, here’s what you need to know about this diet.
Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat?
Generally, dogs can eat raw meat, and it doesn’t explicitly make the list of what dogs can’t eat. Dogs typically don’t suffer from foodborne illnesses the way that humans do. You could feed your dog raw beef, turkey, chicken, or lamb without seeing much of a change in your dog’s health. You can also feed your dog raw pork as long as you buy pork specifically made for dogs. Otherwise, the meat might have parasites that could make your dog sick.
Your dog can also eat ground bones and raw organs like hearts and kidneys. While some people give their dogs bones with muscle meat attached, your dog could choke on a whole bone. Make sure you remove the bones or grind them up before you feed your dog a meal of meat and organs.
What Are the Supposed Health Benefits of Raw Meat?
People who give their dogs raw meat claim that it has a number of health benefits like increased energy, shinier coats, and improved digestion. While raw meat might have some benefits for your dog, a fully raw diet could actually put their health at risk. Talk to your vet about the possible benefits before you make any major changes in your dog’s diet.
What Does the Typical Raw Meat Diet Look Like?
A raw meat diet for dogs might look like this:
- Raw meat like beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, or even fish
- Raw organ meats like hearts and livers
- Raw eggs
- Whole or ground bones
- Feathers, fur, feet, and beaks
- Raw fruits and vegetables
- Yogurt or cheese
Proponents of the diet claim that a mixture of raw foods gives your dog all the nutrients that they need. However, some people just stick to raw meat like beef or pork. Others give their dogs the whole animal like a rabbit or a small bird–bones, feathers, fur and all.
What Are the Health Risks Associated with Raw Meat?
Raw meat might not be as dangerous for dogs as it is for humans, but it can still make your dog sick. Your dog could contract illnesses from the bacteria and possible parasites that are present in the food. Even if your dog doesn’t get sick, it could pass on the bacteria to the people in the house. In fact, research has shown that up to 60% of raw meat diets contain the E. coli virus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea.
Some people don’t practice safe handling when they prepare raw meat for their dog, assuming that it’s not dangerous if they’re not preparing food for humans. However, the slightest contact could transmit bacteria into your system. The risk doesn’t end when you wash your cutting board–you could still come into contact with raw meat when you clean out your dog’s food bowl and throw out whatever they didn’t eat.
If your dog doesn’t eat everything and you don’t clean it up right away, you’ll essentially have raw meat sitting around your house. Raw meat attracts pests and creates a breeding ground for more bacteria. This puts your family at greater risk for contracting illnesses like salmonella.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t feed your dog raw meat, but you’ll need to practice safe habits at all times. Use one knife and cutting board for the raw meat, then wash your utensils as soon as possible. Wear gloves whenever you feed your dog raw meat and throw the gloves away as soon as possible. Wash your hands frequently to kill any germs that you might have contracted.
Does Raw Meat Make Your Dog Healthier?
Giving your dog raw meat doesn’t automatically improve their health. In fact, a raw meat diet might lack the nutrients that your dog needs to stay healthy. Some people make the mistake of feeding their dogs only raw meat, which isn’t sustainable in the long term. Others try to give their dogs a more varied diet, but it still might not have enough vitamins and minerals. Raw meat is also harder for your dog to digest.
If your dog doesn’t get enough nutrients in its diet, you might notice signs of nutrient deficiency like obesity, excessive shedding, or a dull coat. Nutrient deficiency lowers your dog’s immune system, which makes them more susceptible to other illnesses. Incorporating raw ingredients into your dog’s diet isn’t impossible, but you’ll need to talk to your vet to make sure that your dog gets a balanced diet.
Some people give their dogs whole animals to make their diet as natural as possible. Unfortunately, whole animals contain bones, cartilage, claws, and other small parts that your dog could choke on. These parts might have added nutrients, but the risks usually outweigh the rewards.
What About Cooked Meat?
Cooked meat is a completely different story. When you give your dog cooked meat like ham, you’re eliminating the risk of contracting a foodborne illness. Cooked meat is easier for your dog to digest, which helps their system break down the food and convert it into nutrients. Raw meat made for cooking is usually deboned, although you might have to debone certain types of meat like racks of ribs.
The only drawback is that some meat is pre-seasoned. If you buy seasoned meat from the store, wash it off before you cook it and give it to your dog. This also means that you shouldn’t give your dog meat directly from your dinner plate because it might contain sauce, seasonings, or butter.
While cooked meat is healthier, that doesn’t mean that your dog can survive on a diet of cooked meat alone. You’ll still need to include other ingredients to make sure that your dog gets a balanced diet. This might include fruit, vegetables, and even dried kibble.
Is Dried Kibble Bad for Your Dog?
Most dog food is heavily processed. If you buy a bag of commercial dog food from the store, it might be loaded with additives, preservatives, chemicals, and fillers. Some brands list grain meals or flour as the first ingredient. These types of foods could cause obesity, nutrient deficiency, and other health issues.
However, that doesn’t mean that dried food is automatically bad for dogs. Many brands use meat, vegetables, and other ingredients to create their dried kibble. Your dog gets the benefits of these ingredients along with vitamins and minerals that the manufacturer adds to the kibble. Some brands offer food with minimal processing and no fillers or additives so you know what goes into your dog’s food.
When you give your dog kibble, you won’t have to worry about exposing yourself or your family members to the dangers of raw meat. Kibble tends to last longer and might be a little cheaper than raw meat. If you’re still worried about your pet’s diet, you could talk to your vet about supplementing the kibble with fresh food.
Ultimately, it’s your decision. You can feed your dog raw meat once in a while, but some vets don’t recommend basing their diet on raw food. What wild dogs eat isn’t necessarily the best option for your dog–wild dogs only eat raw meat because they have no other choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if a dog eats raw meat?
Generally, nothing happens when a dog eats raw meat. However, a diet of raw meat alone might not give your dog the nutrients that it needs. Raw meat can also contain bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses.
What kind of raw meat can dogs eat?
Dogs can eat muscle meat like lamb, chicken, turkey, and beef. A raw diet can also consist of ground bones and organ meats like hearts, livers, and kidneys.
Do dogs prefer raw or cooked meat?
Your dog will eat just about anything, but research suggests that cooked meat might be healthier for your dog. You could also try a brand of commercial dog food made from meat, vegetables, and other ingredients.
Do vets recommend raw meat for dogs?
Some vets don’t recommend the raw meat diet while others state that you can feed your dog raw meat in moderation. Talk to your vet to see if they recommend the raw diet for your pet.