It’s a question and I hear all the time - “Isn’t it dangerous to feed my dog raw food? Isn’t it full of bacteria? Won’t it make him or her sick?” I’m going to try to break this down into small pieces, but the overarchign answer is, no, it won’t make him sick.

Let’s start off by making a quick distinction when it comes to talking about bacteria: There are “good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria. When we’re talking about raw food the most common pathogens that we’re concerned with are salmonella, listeria, and e-coli. The good news is, there are a ton of safety measures in place to make sure that the raw food you are giving your dog is safe and healthy for them.

Interestingly enough, your dog has antimicrobial saliva, which makes it impossible for salmonella and e-coli to exist in their mouths. Period. Once the food reaches their stomach, the digestive tract is designed to process and digest foods quickly, giving the bacteria no time to colonize. Dogs were built to eat raw meat in more ways than one.

The danger that raw meat presents are no different than if we are cooking it ourselves or giving it to our dogs. Make sure if raw meat gets on your hands or counters to wash with hot, soapy water. Use a stainless steel dish for your dog and keep a separate sponge to wash it with. The safety measures that apply whenever you handle raw meat still apply, but you shouldn’t worry about raw meat making your dog sick.