The decision to safely feed a dog raw food presents challenges to the owner that are over and above the feeding of a commercial, cooked diet. Bacteria commonly associated with raw meat are Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium difficile, E-coli, Listeria, among others. Signs and symptoms of infection with any of these can be found online. Arguably, there are two strands to infection control when feeding raw food: 1)Hygiene of the preparation area e.g. kitchen surfaces/utensils etc and 2) the shedding of bacteria by the dog who is fed infected raw food. Preparation/kitchen/utensils:
* Commercial, frozen raw complete: These can be dispensed with the minimum of contamination and fed in a similar way to any canned food. Guidelines for safe handling of their products can be found on the company website and these should be read carefully before
ordering. Contact the company helpline if you have any queries or need further advice.
* DIY, fresh meat that us prepared by the owner will have additional risks re contamination of surfaces and utensils so extra care will need to be taken. In these cases, disinfection should be considered as ordinary soap and water may not remove bacterial contamination. In either case, most authorities recommend thorough hand washing for at least 20 seconds after handling raw meat. Reducing the Risk section (page 2) of this website
contains useful safety advice.Shedding of bacteria by dogs:
Dogs have very acidic conditions in their digestive tracts and are usually able to cope with bacteria in their food. However, various studies have shown that dogs can shed bacteria for some time after exposure. Usually this is in their faeces but can also be around the mouth. The risk to humans can be minimized by:
* Faeces (correct disposal) - use a strong plastic bag, seal and dispose of carefully. Be sure to wash hands thoroughly after picking up.
* Oral - do not allow the dog to lick or 'kiss' people, particularly around the mouth. If this does occur, wash the area thoroughly.
* Wash hands before eating and drinking.
* If there are vulnerable persons (e.g. babies/children/pregnant women/elderly/chronic illness/immunosuppressed/those with medical implants) living alongside the dog, consider whether raw feeding is appropriate. If in doubt, consult your general practitioner for advice.
Links:Evidence Based Nutrition Raw DietsSession Two: Alternative and Raw Diets – What is the Evidence
- pages 3 and 4 refer to bacterial contamination of raw meat.Whole Dog Journal - Are Raw Fed dogs a risk? Investigating the prevalence of Salmonella in dogs within the Midlands region of the United Kingdom Worms and Germs Blog
- contains useful advice on safety when feeding dogs raw food.The risk of salmonellae shedding by dogs fed Salmonella-contaminated commercial raw food diets
- a Canadian study comparing dogs that were fed salmonella infected food to some who were fed commercial dog food.