Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat? How to Safely Add It to Their Diet

Dogs can enjoy some benefits from eating raw meat, but here's some key info to know before you start adding it to their meals.

Published January 12, 2023
Dog in kitchen with steak on chopping board

Yes, dogs can eat raw meat. Raw meat is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. It's also easy to digest and doesn't take much energy to break down. In fact, many holistic and integrative veterinarians recommend feeding a completely raw diet to boost your dog's overall well-being, including their digestive and immune systems. But you don't have to jump into a full raw diet. Instead, you can just supplement your dog's normal diet with raw meat.

The Benefits of Raw Meat

Feeding raw meat is the best way to ensure your dog gets all the nutrients they need in their diet. It helps your dog get all the vitamins and minerals they need, as well as an appropriate amount of calcium. Raw meat also aides with digestion and can reduce gas in your dog's stomach.

Raw meat is good for your dog's teeth, too. You just need to make sure that any raw meat bones don't have any sharp or jagged edges that could chip or break their teeth. Raw meat also helps keep their coat shiny and healthy looking by providing them with essential fatty acids that are necessary for healthy skin and coat maintenance.

It's also completely natural, so not only will you know what's going into your dog's body, you will prevent them from consuming a kibble-based diet, which can consist of up to 60% sugar (depending on the brand). Excessive amounts of sugar and processing increases free radicals in the body, increasing the risk of cancer and other ailments.

Adding Raw Meat to Your Dog's Diet

Protein is an essential part of a dog's diet. It is required for growth, tissue repair, and maintenance, and repair of body waste products. Protein also helps maintain the immune system and keeps the digestive tract healthy. Raw meat provides an abundant amount of protein that is highly bioavailable, allowing your dog to absorb nutrients properly.

As with any food, variety is crucial. Rotate proteins to allow your dog's body to fill in any nutritional gaps they may have. Grass-fed meats are preferred, as they are more nutrient dense than grain-fed.

High-quality protein sources include:

  • Quail
  • Duck
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Venison
  • Small, oily fish

Organ Meats and Raw Meaty Bones

You should also include organ meats in your dog's diet, but only in small amounts. Liver, pancreas, and spleen are nutrient dense and should only make up 3 to 5% of your dog's overall intake. You will recognize if you feed too much; your dog will have loose or watery stools if they eat too much organ meat, or if their diet is out of balance.

The opposite is true of raw meaty bones. If you are feeding your dog raw meaty bones, also known as RMBs, and they are experiencing constipation or have white-colored stools, try reducing the amount of bone in their diet.

You can feed the following RMBs:

  • Turkey, chicken, or duck necks
  • Raw chicken or duck feet
  • Pork trotters
  • Chicken or duck wings

What to Avoid

When it comes to raw meat, you should avoid feeding the same protein on a continuous basis. This may work for a little while, but eventually, health issues will develop. Allergies may develop if dogs are fed one protein source. Instead, rotate your protein sources every three to four weeks on average. The easiest way to do this is to make meals in bulk three to four weeks ahead of time and freeze them, then switch out your protein sources for the next batch.

You should avoid weight-bearing bones when feeding RMBs. These can cause damage to your dog's teeth if they are aggressive chewers. Instead of using these as edible bones, you can use them in a bone broth. Also, avoid offering your dog machine-cut bones. They are often too small and have sharp edges, which could result in damage to your dog's gastrointestinal tract. You can either grind these down or create bone broth with these bones, as well.

How Much Raw Meat to Feed

To determine how much raw meat to add to your dog's diet, you first need to calculate how much your dog should eat each day. To do this, determine what 2.5% of their body weight is. For example, provide a 100-pound dog 2.5 pounds of food daily.

From here, the amount of raw meat you feed your dog depends on which raw model you have chosen. If you are adding raw meat to your dog's existing, kibble-based diet, only feed a small portion of their daily calorie intake - around 10 percent - as a raw meat treat. Otherwise, if you are following a raw feeding diet plan, or are interested in switching to raw, for a 100-pound dog, you would feed the following amounts:

  • PMR: 80% of 2.5 lbs per day
  • Ancestral: 60% of 2.5 lbs per day
  • BARF: 65-70% of 2.5 lbs per day

For each diet, you can adjust accordingly. Some dogs will eat more, whereas others may eat less. Keep an eye on your dog's body condition, hunger, and activity levels to determine how much to feed. Your dog's stool can also be a good indicator of a balanced diet. Their stool should be firm, but not solid or watery.

Getting Started

If you aren't ready to make the switch to raw, but you would like your dog to enjoy some benefits, you can add small amounts of raw meat to the top of their bowl. Feeding raw meat doesn't need to be complicated. Simply add whatever meat type you are making for dinner each night to your dog before it's cooked. If you decide to make the switch and want to ensure your dog's nutritional requirements are met, search for a formulation calculator and type in the ingredients you would like to feed. Once you get started, you might find you're interested in learning more about raw diets for dogs.

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Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat? How to Safely Add It to Their Diet