The single biggest concern of anyone contemplating feeding a raw diet has to be the bacteria in raw meat. Sorry, actually it’s second behind, “You actually feed your dog chicken bones?”
Yes there are bacteria in raw meat, just as there are bacteria in processed dog food. Can the bacteria in raw meat hurt a dog? Well it might if your dog already had a compromised immune system or some other underlying health issue. Information or should I say misinformation on the Internet also suggests that a raw diet can promote diseases such as kidney disease or pancreatitis. Actually it is more likely the disease already existed and the change in diet brought symptoms to surface.
In reality, a dog is very well equipped to handle the bacteria in raw food from the moment it hits the mouth and all the way along the digestive tract. In the first place, their salvia has antibacterial properties. It contains the enzyme lysozyme that breaks down the cell walls of bacteria. Their relatively short digestive tract moves food and bacteria through quickly which means the bacteria doesn’t get the chance to sit and colonize. Dogs also have very powerful stomach acids which create an environment that is not conducive to bacterial growth. Sceptics of a raw diet will point out that dogs shed salmonella in their feces – but that is not limited to raw fed dogs even kibble fed dogs do this – and this is supposed to be proof that these dogs are infected with salmonella. All it really proves is that the dog was able to effectively eliminate the salmonella with no ill effect. I suppose a dog can be a carrier of salmonella but there’s an easy solution to that: don’t eat dog poop and wash thoroughly after cleaning up after your dog. In all the years I have fed raw, not one person in my household, young, old or in-between, has ever gotten sick because my dogs are fed raw. I observe the same sensible washing up routine when cleaning up after preparing their meals (preparing means I throw large chunks of RMBs into a dish). Good hot soapy water and undiluted vinegar to wash cutting boards and utensils.
As I mentioned, even kibble fed dogs shed salmonella and other bacteria. And it’s documented that most of the cases of severe bacterial septicaemia were from dogs fed on kibble or those suffering from reactions to vaccines. I am sure we all remember the instances of commercially prepared dog foods being recalled because of bacteria and moulds that produced a deadly toxin in the food. Sadly this had a deadly effect for a large number of companion animals dying horrible deaths.
So how do we combat the bacteria that surrounds us and our dogs: use common sense! Be vigilant about cleaning up after your dogs. It really is as simple as that. It’s not your dog that is going to have a problem, it will likely be you. Your dog likely licks his bum, licks others’ bums, eats either his own poop or someone else’s poop, and digs up really disgusting things and eats them. Dogs are designed to handle a far greater bacterial load than we. Plain and simple. Raw food is not going to hurt your doodle.
I suggest those who are contemplating a raw diet and are concerned about bacteria that you read Dr. Tom Lonsdale’s book “Raw Meaty Bones”. In it he puts forth overwhelming and convincing evidence that it is kibble not raw meat that causes bacterial issues. More on this in the next blog. I just wanted to get this installment out there.
Cheers all, Andrea