The Dog Blog

How To Feed Raw Dog Food Safely

Understanding Salmonella

Not all bacteria is bad. In fact, bacteria helps make the world work. Without it, all life on earth would go extinct. There are good bacteria, called “commensal”, and bad bacteria, called “pathogenic”. Commensal bacteria provide the host with essential nutrients, metabolize compounds, and defend against colonization of pathogens. Salmonella falls into the category of pathogenic bacteria. These pathogenic bacteria attack the host cells and can cause various side effects.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Salmonella infection (salmonellosis) is a common bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract. Salmonella bacteria typically live in animal and human intestines and are shed through feces. Humans become infected most frequently through contaminated water or food”. According to an article published in 2010 by the Journal of Food Protection, about half of all salmonella infections originate in restaurants. Infections linked to individual eating establishments are often traced to infected but asymptomatic food handlers.

Pathogenic bacteria are typically eliminated in food by cooking above 163°F and on surfaces through the use of antibacterial soaps.

Salmonella And Your Dog’s Digestion

As for your dog, they are designed and equipped to deal with these pathogens properly. For example, dogs can lick their rectum and eat feces without becoming ill. Healthy dogs also naturally have around 36% salmonella in their GI tract.

Factors that can increase the risk of a salmonella infection in animals include age, poor nutrition, cancer, antibiotics, and chemotherapy. However, a healthy dog is much more equipped to handle intense microbes than humans due to their short and highly acidic GI tracts. According to Dr. Karen Becker, “Dogs and cats also produce a tremendous amount of bile, which is both anti-parasitic and anti-pathogenic. If the stomach acid doesn’t kill a pathogen, chances are the bile will.”

There are over 2,600 salmonella serotypes (Salmonella enterica and Salmonella bongori). But less than 100 cause salmonellosis in people. The species that cause the disease in dogs is the serotype Non-typhoidal. “The number of bacteria that must be ingested to cause symptomatic disease in healthy adults is 106 to 108 non-typhoid Salmonella organisms.” With high-quality ingredients and proper hygiene practices, the worry of infection can be kept at bay.

Safe Raw Feeding Practices

Salmonella is a serious concern, but there are minimal risks as long as you take the proper precautions. If you eat meat yourself, practice the same sanitation measure you take when handling raw meat.

  • Wash hands after handling raw food for 20 seconds with soap & hot water
  • Keep all pet foods and treats away from your family’s food
  • Do not prepare pet foods in the same area or with the same equipment or utensils you use to prepare human foods
  • Don’t allow very young children, elderly people or those who are immunocompromised to handle pet food or treats
  • Defrost prepped meals only one or two days at a time
  • Store raw food in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent spoilage
  • Do not leave your dog’s raw meals out at room temperature for more than 30 minutes (most dogs will devour it in a few minutes)
  • Clean and sterilize all utensils, bowls, surfaces and equipment after each use.
  • Do not allow pets on countertops or other areas where human food is prepared
  • During investigation of salmonella outbreaks, feeding pets in the kitchen was identified as a source of infection. If you can arrange to feed your pet in an area other than your kitchen, consider doing so