Cats and Dogs
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Is ground beef good for dogs?

Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat?

raw meat laid on a wood board

Yes, dogs can eat raw meat, but giving dogs raw meat only is not advisable. Raw food diets have grown in popularity in recent years. The surge in people embracing raw diets for dogs may stem from pet owners hoping to feed their dogs foods that more closely resemble how the dogs would have eaten in the wild.

Homemade or commercially prepared raw food diets are based on raw meat and bones. In particular, these diets include uncooked muscle meat, organs and bones from various mammals, fish and poultry.

Raw diets may also consist of unpasteurized milk, uncooked eggs and raw fruits and vegetables. Although it’s a raw, meat-based diet, it may also include cooked grains.

A diet consisting of raw meat, fruits and vegetables may seem to resemble the diet of wild dogs, but it’s important to note that they have a much shorter life expectancy than domesticated dogs, and dogs have genetically evolved from wolves and wild dogs.

So, should you feed your dog raw meat?

Is Raw Meat Good for Dogs?

The answer to this question is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no.

Feeding a diet consisting primarily of raw meat may not provide the complete and balanced nutrition your dog needs.

This is particularly true for puppies, whose dietary needs are complex as they grow and develop. The same goes for senior dogs, who may have weakened immune systems and more sensitive digestive systems.

Properly cooking meat and carbohydrates (like Purina does with our dog foods) can make the food more digestible. “Dogs are able to use more nutrients from cooked food and, therefore, use these nutrients more effectively for energy, building muscles and supporting their immune systems,” says Purina nutritionist, Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS.

A raw food diet (RFD) may increase your dog’s risk of nutritional deficiencies and illnesses. They need complete and balanced nutrition to help them live long and healthy lives.

If you do choose a commercially prepared RFD, our experts recommend ensuring it’s formulated by a veterinary nutritionist. We also recommend choosing a food that has either undergone feeding trials and/or has an AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy, plus meets World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) guidelines to ensure your dog gets all the nutrients they need.

Is it Safe to Feed Dogs Raw Meat?

In addition to the risk of nutritional deficiencies, raw meat does pose other health risks—for both you and your dog.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have all spoken out about the dangers of feeding raw meat to a dog.

Not only does it pose a risk to your dog, but it poses a risk to you and your family, according to an FDA study. Raw meat is likely to contain harmful bacterial like Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli and more.

Cooking meat to a safe temperature kills off those harmful bacteria. By feeding uncooked meat, there’s a higher risk your dog could develop a foodborne illness or other type of bacterial infection.

Additionally, there’s an increased risk you or a member of your family could encounter bacteria and develop a foodborne illness. Handling the raw meat, letting your dog lick your face, cleaning up his feces or touching any contaminated surfaces increase the risk of infection.

If you do choose to feed your dog a raw food diet, we recommend referring to the safety guidelines published by the FDA, CDC or AVMA. Doing so will help minimize the risks of contamination and foodborne illnesses.

It’s worth noting many therapy dog associations, such as Pet Partners, prohibit dogs on RFDs from being part of their program. This is because the raw food possesses too much risk for the humans they are trained to help.

Are Raw Foods Good for Dogs?

While feeding dogs raw meat is not recommended, other raw foods like certain fruits and vegetables are safe and even healthy for dogs.

Your dog may enjoy any number of fresh fruits and vegetables, like bananas, carrots, apples and more. Be sure to wash any fresh produce first to remove dirt or other residues. Avoid foods like grapes, raisins, garlic and onions, as these are all toxic to dogs. If you’re unsure about what to feed your dog, consult with your veterinarian about good options for your specific pet.

Although these foods may be safe and healthy, it’s important to keep the 90/10 rule in mind. This means 90 percent of your dog’s daily calories should come from a complete and balanced dog food. The other 10 percent of your dog’s daily calories should come from treats, which include fruits and vegetables, in addition to standard dog treats.

“By limiting the calories from treats, it reduces the risk of an upset stomach and obesity,” says Carbo-Johnson. This ratio also helps to keep their diet complete and balanced. Too many treats and too little food can lead to dietary insufficiencies or excesses.

Consult Your Veterinarian

Though not recommended, if you want to feed your dog a raw meat-based diet, the choice is ultimately yours. Before you do, however, it’s important to speak with your veterinarian about choosing a raw food diet for your dog.

If you don’t want to go the raw meat route, try a protein-rich formula.

There are also natural and grain-free dog food options, if you have concerns about specific ingredients in your dog’s food.

Discover more foods you can feed your dog and get all kinds of insights from our pet experts on our Pet Expertise page.

Can Dogs Eat Ground Beef? Is Ground Beef Safe for Dogs?

can dogs eat ground beef

Dogs evolved to eat mostly meat. They can consume fruits and veggies as well, but their diet needs to be made up of mostly meat. As you might imagine, meat contains tons of protein and fat – which is precisely what canines need to thrive.

Ground beef is used to make everything from burgers to tacos. It is also relatively inexpensive, which is mostly why it is used so widely by humans today. While ground beef is absolutely meat, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should share your ground beef with your canine.

Generally speaking, plain ground beef is safe for most pets. However, there is a lot you can do to ground beef that can make it unsafe. We’ll discuss these situations below.

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Should you feed your dog ground beef cooked or raw?

Close up of beautiful dog eating from the bowl

Canines indeed have a more robust digestive tract than we do, especially when it comes to meat. Many dogs can eat raw meat and be just fine. However, raw meat can contain bacteria and parasites that can cause problems for your canine. Many people swear by the raw diet, but there is little evidence that raw food is safer or better for dogs than cooked food.

Cooking the meat removes many of these parasites and much of the bacteria raw beef can include. For this reason, we generally recommend feeding your canine cooked ground beef. While they may not get sick from raw ground beef, there is some additional risk involved.

How much ground beef should I feed my dog?

Raw Ground Beef

Preferably, your dog should be getting a varied diet. This helps ensure that they are getting all the nutrients they need to thrive. This can be done by feeding them a commercial diet that includes various ingredients or by switching up their diet often.

If you’re feeding your dog only meat, you should feed them about ¼ to ⅓ pounds of meat per 20 pounds. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but meat is very nutritionally-dense, so dogs typically don’t need very much at all.

Of course, most people are not going to feed their canine only ground beef. We don’t recommend it either, since dogs need a varied diet.

Even if you aren’t only feeding your canine ground beef, you can use this calculation to figure out how much you should feed them. If you’re mixing it with commercial food, consider how much commercial food your dog needs a day. Figure up the amount of ground beef you want to feed them, and then subtract the appropriate amount from their commercial food.

For example, let’s say you have a 60-pound dog. They need either 3 cups of kibble or a pound of meat a day. If you decide that you want ⅓ of their diet to be meat, you should feed them ⅓ pounds of ground beef and 2 cups of kibble. If you have a 20-pounds dog, they may need either a cup of food or ⅓ pound of ground beef a day. If you want half of their diet to be ground beef, you should feed them 1/6 pounds of ground beef and half a cup of food a day.

You can do this sort of simple calculation for any canine.

Can I mix ground beef with dry dog food?

English Bulldog eating

Yes. However, you will need to lower the amount of dry dog food your pet is eating. You should not keep feeding them the same amount of dry food and then add extra ground beef. This will give them too many calories and can cause obesity.

Mixing ground beef with dry dog food can be an excellent way to increase your dog’s interest in the food. Be sure to strain and rinse the meat as well. This can remove the extra fat that is sometimes found in ground beef.

With that said, it is essential to realize that your dog not eating kibble isn’t necessarily a sign of a “picky” eater. Dogs can skip meals and often do. Dogs in new situations may be too nervous to eat. Dogs may have a small stomach ache. There are a lot of reasons your dog may decide not to eat. Typically, picky eating isn’t one of them.

Therefore, you should not mix ground beef in your dog’s food to get them to eat it. This can mess with their ability to self-regulate and cause obesity. If you want to give your dog ground beef to increase their diet value, that is an entirely different story, however.

What type of ground beef is best for dogs?

Typically, you want the leanest meat possible for your dog. Preferably, it should be above 90% lean. While dogs do need fat in their diet, they don’t need that much fat. This is true for all ground meat, whether beef, chicken, or turkey.

You should not add anything to the meat your dog is going to consume either. This is mainly because many spices can cause problems for dogs, such as onion and garlic. It is best not to add anything to the meat for this reason. All the extra spices may cause a problem in high amounts or when fed regularly.

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Ground Beef is Safe for Dogs

Ground beef is safe for dogs to eat, along with other ground meats. It is quite nutritious, which makes it a right decision for many canines. It can be used as a regular part of your dog’s diet as long as you feed it to them correctly. You will need to calculate how much ground meat your dog will need and subtract this from their usual commercial diet.

You should feed your dog plain ground beef, not meat that has been seasoned. This is because many seasonings can be dangerous to canines. You should avoid them for this reason.

Instead, choose to feed your dog plain ground beef when possible.

See Also:

  • Can Dogs Eat Hamburgers?
  • Can Dogs Eat Prosciutto? (Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ)

Featured Image Credit: Vezzani Photography, Shutterstock

  • Should you feed your dog ground beef cooked or raw?
  • How much ground beef should I feed my dog?
  • Can I mix ground beef with dry dog food?
  • What type of ground beef is best for dogs?
  • Ground Beef is Safe for Dogs
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