Meat can be given to dogs on occasion, especially to those whose appetite hasn’t really been the same recently or those that need better diets compared to the low-quality kibble they’ve received throughout their life, for example.
And while in the wild, dogs do eat meat from the prey they catch, it is almost always fresh. It’s quite rare that a dog will eat spoiled meat, unless they are extremely hungry and they haven’t had anything to eat in quite a while.
In today’s article, we’re discussing whether dogs are allowed to eat spoiled meat, if you can feed it to them even if you cook it extremely well, and some health risks that you might be exposing your pet to with this practice.
Can you give your dog spoiled meat?
The simple answer to this question is no, but in some situations, the answer to the same question is that it depends.
If the meat is spoiled per se, meaning that it’s not just past its expiration date but it also has gone bad, it is never safe to feed to pets, regardless of the temperature and amount of time you cook it.
However, if you go to the store and there’s beef expiring on that day, you probably have nothing to worry about if you go home and cook it straight away, without waiting for three days before finally giving it to your pooch.
In other words, it all comes down to common sense when giving meat to dogs. Do keep in mind that raw meat is always dangerous, even when it is fresh, because you really can’t know how it was handled or how the animal it comes from was slaughtered – such as whether or not the intestinal contents came in contact with the meat per se.
That is always a risk that needs to be considered, so cooking the meat is always a good idea, even when you want to give it to your pet and you don’t want to eat it yourself.
Why is spoiled meat risky for dogs?
Dogs can get food poisoning as much as people can after eating food with spoiled ingredients or spoiled meals per se.
We talked about how important cooking the meat before giving it to your pet is, but when you do that, you’re basically killing the bacteria and other dangerous germs that can be found in the meat. However, even if you do kill the microorganisms themselves, there are certain toxins that they tend to release in the fibers, and these can also lead to your dog developing all sorts of digestive symptoms.
Some of the most common clinical signs that a dog that has eaten spoiled meat can experience are vomiting or diarrhea.
If you also don’t cook the spoiled meat properly and there are remnants of certain bacteria in it, your dog can truly end up at the emergency veterinary hospital with extreme diarrhea, fever, shivers, dehydration, nausea, and pretty much all of the symptoms that a classic case of food poisoning can cause.
Just to give you an idea, some of the most common germs that can be found in spoiled meat are the following:
- Salmonella spp.
- Bacillus spp.
- Clostridium spp.
- Campylobacter spp.
- Escherichia spp.
- Pseudomonas spp.
- Enterobacter spp.
- Aeromonas spp.
These are just a few bacterium species that we mentioned, but there are different types of molds that can grow on spoiled meat too, and they can cause other symptoms:
These molds release mycotoxins into the meat, and they are the culprits for the food poisoning per se and some symptoms you might notice in your dog in that case would be shortness of breath, diarrhea, nausea, or fever. The signs aren’t very different compared to the classic bacterial food poisoning.
How dogs can eat spoiled meat without getting sick
There are certain degrees of decomposition – we use the word ‘spoiled’, but we all know that it can be fresher or older and that it can cause food poisoning or not.
There are necrophages in the world that survive by eating dead animals. However, if an animal is dead for a week, chances are that even a well-known necrophage such as a hyena is not going to eat it.
There’s a difference between eating the corpse of an animal that died in the last few hours and one that has been dead for more than 72 hours.
How can you tell if the meat is spoiled?
If you’ve been keeping minced meat in the fridge for more than 3 days, even though you can’t smell it or see any visual modifications such as changes in color, chances are that it is spoiled and it is not fit for human consumption. But 2-3 days of keeping it in the fridge, depending on certain signs, might mean that it’s ok to eat by animals, especially if you cook it properly.
Meat that you should never feed to your dog smells bad, whether rancid or not. You feel the smell and it puts you off. It also differs in texture compared to fresh meat, meaning that it might have some sort of mucus on the surface or it could be unusually sticky.
The color, too, can be an important factor. If the meat has started to turn green or blue, it’s time to throw it in the trash rather than put your own health or your dog’s health in danger.
Do you have to feed meat to your dog?
As your veterinarian is likely to advise you, even though your dog might be interested in a piece of steak or some other meaty meal you might have prepared for yourself, it’s not always good to give them meat.
If you feed your dog a healthy, high-quality diet consisting of food manufactured from good ingredients, no by-products, no artificial colors, preservatives, or anything else that might damage your dog’s body rather than sustain it, there’s probably no need for you to give them meat anyway.
Granted, sometimes meat can go on special, especially if it is expiring on that day, but in that case, you can make a meal for yourself, save some of the meat and forgo seasoning it, and give that to your dog.
Do not leave meat in the fridge for days on end and then consider it safe to feed to your dog.