How Healthy Is an All Meat Diet for Dogs?

Feeding an all meat diet for dogs is growing in popularity throughout the world. However, while there are obvious health benefits, an all-meat diet also comes with risks. Learn more about both aspects of an all-meat diet.

High Protein Diet for Dogs Is Beneficial

Raw meat is a great source of protein, iron and certain minerals. Dogs do benefit from a high protein diet, especially if they are active. However, dogs are not strictly carnivores. Wild dogs survive on meat, fruits and vegetables.

Studies find that while a raw meat diet meets protein needs, it often misses the mark on other essential nutrients. Unless you offer supplements, your dog's nutritional needs are not being met.

Mineral and Vitamins Essential to a Dog's Health

Years of research completed by the Committee on Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats clearly demonstrates what dogs really need.

  • Carbohydrates

  • Essential fatty acids

  • Minerals

  • Protein

  • Vitamins

  • Water

Puppies need 56 grams of protein and 21 grams of fat every day. Adult dogs need 25 grams of protein and 14 grams of fat. However, there are vitamins and minerals that are also necessary. They include:

  • B vitamins

  • Calcium

  • Chlorine

  • Choline

  • Copper

  • Folic acid

  • Iodine

  • Iron

  • Magnesium

  • Manganese

  • Niacin

  • Pantothenic acid

  • Phosphorus

  • Potassium

  • Riboflavin

  • Selenium

  • Sodium

  • Vitamin D

  • Vitamin K

  • Zinc

If you feed a raw meat diet for dogs, you must ensure the dog or puppy is getting the required amounts of these vitamins and minerals.

Danger of Eating Bones

Even uncooked, bones can fracture causing rough edges. Take a chicken bone and snap it in half and then see how the edges feel.

As those bones are swallowed, the jagged edges of the bones tear at the skin of the esophagus, stomach and the intestines. Cooked bones are most dangerous, but some pet owners who've tried the BARF diet soon learned about the danger of a puncture wound to the intestines or bowels when their pet died unexpectedly.

If you do choose to feed a raw diet, purchase the bones and put them through a grinder. This is the safest way to make sure your dog gets the calcium from the bones without risking internal damage.

Risk of Bacteria and Parasites

Eating uncooked meat increases the risk for ingesting worms. The risk depends on the meat you feed your dog, however. If you hunt and feed your dog raw wild boar or bear, there is a huge risk for Trichinellosis.

Salmonella and E coli bacteria are found in raw meats. Freezing the meats will kill off some bacteria, but not all. Feeding a raw meat diet for dogs increases the risk of your pet contracting a bacterial infection.

In 2006, the American Veterinary Medical Association tested raw meat dog foods and found Salmonella in 53 percent of them. This puts both the pet and the pet owner at risk. If the pet owner does not completely wash the Salmonella from their hands or knives used to prepare the raw meat, the bacteria can spread to humans in the household.

Knifes and cutting boards must be washed in hot, soapy water. Warm water is not sufficient. Soaking cutting boards in a bleach solution is helpful to killing all bacteria.