Q:

Can dogs eat raw meat?

A:

Quick Answer

Dogs should not eat raw meat due to the risk of infection with harmful bacteria. Salmonella and Escherichia coli are just two of the bacterial organisms that may contaminate raw foods.

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If a dog eats raw meat contaminated by Salmonella bacteria, he can develop salmonellosis. This infection may cause a pregnant dog to miscarry her puppies spontaneously. Salmonellosis may also cause septicemia, a bacterial infection of the blood, or gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the intestinal tract. The symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, dehydration, weight loss and abnormal heart rate. A dog with salmonellosis may need fluid therapy to treat dehydration or corticosteroids to prevent shock.

A dog infected with E. coli may develop some of the same symptoms as one infected with Salmonella. Dehydration is a concern because of the fluid and electrolyte loss associated with ongoing vomiting and diarrhea. If the bacteria infects the dog's urinary tract, there may be blood in the urine. Cleaning a dog's food dishes daily, washing the floors regularly, and giving a dog cooked meat instead of raw meat may help prevent E. coli infection. Some bodies of water have high levels of E. coli, so it is also important to keep dogs from swimming in contaminated lakes, streams and rivers.

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