Raw Feeding Safety
The #1 concern in the raw feeding world is, "will I or my pet get Salmonella?!" And this concern often leads pet parents to stray away from feeding a raw diet. But with the proper safety measures, there should be no concern about any food-borne illness.
What's Salmonella 🤔
"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" - Mayo Clinic.
Commensal vs Pathogenic Bacteria 🦠
Bacteria create the world around us. Without it, all life on mother earth would go extinct. There are good bacteria, commensal, and bad, pathogenic. Commensal bacteria provide the host with essential nutrients, metabolize compounds, and defend against colonization against pathogens. Pathogenic bacteria are bacteria that cause diseases, such as Salmonella. These pathogenic bacteria attack the host cells and can cause various side effects. Pathogenic bacteria can be eliminated by cooking above 73°C (163°F).
Dogs & Salmonella 🐾
As for your dog, they are designed and equipped to deal with these pathogens properly. For example, dogs can lick their rears and eat feces without becoming ill. Healthy dogs also naturally have 36% salmonella in their GI tract.
Factors that increase salmonella contamination in animals include age, poor nutrition, cancer, antibiotics, and chemotherapy. A healthy dog is appropriately equipped to handle more intense microbes than humans with 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.
Safety 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
🥕 Only rinse fruit & veggies. Do not rinse raw meat as it can spread bacteria
🔀 Do not cross-contaminate human food and raw dog food. Prepare raw dog food separately
❄️ Defrost prepped meals one day at a time
🔪 Have separate equipment exclusively for raw food
🧊 Store raw food in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent spoilage
⏲️ Do not leave raw meat out at room temperature for more than 30 minutes
🧽 Clean your work surface after every use
🦠 Provide quality probiotics to ensure a healthy & diverse gut flora
While no food is 100% safe, practicing safe handling and sanitization, the risk of infection significantly decreases and is no different from preparing raw food for humans.
More Resources 📓
Dr. Karen Becker - How to Avoid Salmonella
Perfectly Rawsome - Food Safety 101
The Primal Pack - Can Raw Diets Give Your Pet Salmonella?