Feeding the Best, Safely
When I recommend raw meat diets to my clients on their first appointment, I am sometimes met with raised eyebrows, and the question, “But, what about Salmonella and E. coli? Isn’t raw meat dangerous to my pet?”
You’ve likely read news articles about food-borne illness caused by these or other organisms, where people became ill, usually with diarrhea, or rarely, died, from eating something that was undercooked.
The key word here is “people.” People, not their animals, got sick.
Remember Who’s Inside
To get a logical perspective on this perceived danger to your dog or cat eating raw meat, it’s important to remember who they are. I’ve detailed this in The Missing Ingredient. Please review this to thoroughly understand that
Your beloved pets, as sweet or domesticated as they may be, still have the digestive systems of their wild ancestors:
Wolf. Mountain Lion.
Those ancestors passed along the genes to digest primarily raw meat, and to do this very efficiently.
A prime example is the coyote, scavenger extraordinaire. On his path of foraging, he finds the remains of a deer, killed several days earlier, perhaps by a car. He eats greedily, and in the process, consumes literally billions of potentially pathogenic bacteria that have been incubating there for days.
Does he become fatally poisoned by this feast? Of course not. Why? Because he, like every dog, dingo, wolf, hyena, or cur on the planet has digestive enzymes and stomach acidity to inactivate these germs.
If he has any symptoms from his meal that was less than fresh, it may be a brief bout of diarrhea, while his body hastens the elimination of some ingesta that was less than usable.
Like this, our dogs and cats not only handle raw meat well, they thrive on it.
You, on the other hand, were not made to eat this kind of food, and could get ill from it. So, basic hygiene principals apply to handling raw meat in the kitchen and in the food dishes.
Raw meat does not inherently carry bacteria, let alone harmful bacteria. During slaughter, the meat processors work to prevent this, and inspections are done to minimize the chances of bacterial contamination. But, as with everything in the world today, perfection is impossible. So, some bacteria may get through the system and end up in your kitchen.
What do you do to keep this from harming you or your human family members? Good basic hygiene, the same as you practice daily, and probably without thinking about it.
- Wash utensils and food bowls with hot, soapy water, ideally in a dishwasher.
- Scrub surfaces with hot, soapy water — counters, cutting boards, floors, etc.
Allow utensils, bowls, and washing brushes or sponges to dry thoroughly after they’ve been dishwasher washed.
- Don’t prepare your food on the same cutting board you’ve just exposed to the raw meat without thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting first.
None of this is rocket science. It’s all basic principals you learned growing up. Those immune-compromised individuals need to pay extra attention to these principals, and strengthen their immune systems. Taking Transfer Factor is the best way I know to accomplish that. I take it myself and recommend it for my animal patients and human friends.
If you want to add a disinfectant to the cleaning process for extra insurance, use grapefruit seed extract, widely sold in health food stores. This harmless substance is extremely effective at killing germs, without causing the problems we know are coming from the use of triclosan, an ingredient commonly found in cleaners and soaps today.
You can also very effectively use two things most homes already have, and this combo was worked out by a food scientist. Click here to get this simple but effective DIY disinfection formula.
And please note, you need not disinfect the meat with grapefruit seed extract or hydrogen peroxide or anything else before feeding it to your dog or cat. Trust the innate intelligence that guides your pet’s digestive system. It’s been there all along, from wolf to cur to Spot.
And, not to scare you (I’m hoping you’re beyond that, anyway), but just to tuck away in your treasure trove of facts about food safety: dry kibble, in various brands, has been shown to harbor salmonella. So, all the hygiene principals above apply equally to the bag of dry food so commonly thought to be safe.