There seems to be much debate on the raw food based diet for dogs that has arisen since the BARF ‘Biologically Appropriate Raw Food’ was introduced by Dr. Ian Billinghurst. Many swear by the raw diet’s health benefits for their dogs, but is it the whole raw truth?
Dachshunds can and will enjoy raw meat; however, the health benefits have yet to be proven to outweigh the potential dangers. Raw meat may contain disease-causing bacteria such as Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes and also be nutritionally unsound. Raw meat diets may be harmful to puppies and immune-compromised Dachshunds.
If you are considering a raw meat based diet for your Dachshund, and you wish to know the potential health benefits (and risks), please keep reading.
Why Are Raw Meat Based Diets Considered Bad?
The FDA has long expressed reservations about the safety of feeding dogs a raw meat-based diet. In a two year study, the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) analyzed samples of over 1,000 types of dog food for foodborne bacteria that could cause disease in both pets and owners.
The study found in the analysis of 196 popular raw dog food brands that raw pet food had the highest contamination levels of disease-causing bacteria such as Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. Based on their findings, the CVM made public the potential health risks to both pets and the owners.
Why Is Raw Meat Bad For Your Dachshund? 3 Possible Reasons
Raw meat may not be inherently bad for your dog, but there are certain risks an owner takes when they are not privy to the raw meats handling and quality. Beyond the potential pathogens and bacteria such as E. Coli, Salmonella, and Listeria, there are other concerns when it comes to raw food diets:
1) Nutrient Imbalances
Many homemade and store-bought raw pet food fails to meet the standard nutritional requirements of a canine. Although raw meat diets are touted as natural to the dogs, owners often fail to consider that wild dogs and wolves also have access to their prey’s stomach contents, rich in minerals and fiber.
Despite raw food advocates’ insistence that domestic canines have the same diet as their wolf ancestors, there has been evidence that domestic dogs have evolved to incorporate grains and starches as a food source. Ten genes have shown selection in domestic dogs associated with starch digestion that are not evident in wolves.
Dogs have also lost some of their ability to fight foodborne pathogens as well over their domestication and are more limited in that arena than wolves.
Most noticeably, many raw meat diets lack the calcium and phosphorous necessary for your dog’s health. The raw meat diet is also not suitable for all dogs, particularly those with compromised immunity, pancreatitis, or puppies with specialized nutritional needs.
2) Including Bones in the Diet
Another point of contention is the inclusion of bones in the raw meat diet. Although it increases the phosphorus and calcium levels in raw food meals, specific health issues are associated with the practice.
Important Note: Bones may cause stomach and bowel perforations, cracked teeth, and ground bones have been linked to constipation and impactions.
3) Bacteria in the Raw Meat
The risk of bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli is greater when using commercially manufactured raw meats from stores rather than in the wild. The processing of meats in the industry allows a greater chance of cross-contamination, and often when minced, bacteria may travel to the center of the meat.
Freezing is not a solution to this problem because although freezing reduces bacteria, it does not eliminate them. Contamination may cause both the pet and the owner to become ill through contact with compromised meat.
The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) also disagrees with BARF as the primary food source for dogs due to the pathogen levels present in the food.
Why Might Raw Meat Be Good for Your Dog?
There are few clinical; studies that definitively link raw meat-based diets to health benefits when there are many that promote the view of their dangers. There have been some studies that linked the RMBD (Raw Meat Based Diets) with some benefits such as:
- Increased digestibility of crude protein over dry dog food that undergoes heat processing
- Decreased fecal output
However, these studies need to have further trials to support these early findings properly.
Owners report that their dogs display:
- Shiner coats and improved health
- Increased energy and dental health.
How To Prepare Raw Meat Safely for Your Dog
If you are willing to take the plunge and are informed about the potential hazards of feeding your Dachshund raw meat-based diet, we recommend discussing the matter with your Vet.
This professional advice will help you decide on your specific dog’s nutrient levels and avoid complications in the long run. When preparing your Dachshunds raw pet, you should follow FDA recommendations and:
Preventing the Spread of Salmonella and L. monocytogenes
- Ensure that you properly clean yourself with soap and hot water after coming into contact with the raw product. These areas include your worksurfaces, microwave, bowl utensils, and cutting boards.
- Proceed to disinfect anything that came in contact with the raw food. You can do this by:
- Thoroughly wash the areas of contact with soap and water
- Follow the cleaning with a solution of 1 tablespoon bleach to 4 cups water or run the items through a dishwasher.
Food Preparation Tips
- Freeze your raw product and don’t defrost it until you are ready to use it. Thaw the product in a closed space like your microwave or refrigerator (avoid the sink or countertop.)
- Handle raw meat with care and do not rinse the products as the juices may spread to nearby surfaces.
- If you are cooking the raw dog meal, ensure it reaches the cooking temperature that kills the harmful bacteria.
- Throw away food that you did not use or cover it securely and store it in your refrigerator.
Your dog can carry bacteria and pathogens from their bowl and spread them to their owners by licking. Ensure you don’t allow your pet to lick your face and try to reduce contact with their face area after raw food.
Do Some Vets Still recommend Raw Food?
Some Vets do promote a form of raw food diets, such as Dr. Karen Becker, who opts for minimally processed and nutritionally balanced raw or gently cooked raw diets. Vets like Dr. Becker believes this canine feed style is more biologically appropriate than the highly processed kibble style feed.
However, these opinions are not nearly the majority of professional opinion, with the FDA Center for Veterinary medicine and the American Veterinary Medical Association both stressing the potential harm of BARF type diets.
What Are the Benefits of Cooked Food Over Raw food?
The evidence suggests that mass-produced dog pellet-style feeds are not the best food for optimum health. The chemicals and preservatives and the highly processed nature of Kibble style feed is not an ideal food source for the four-legged members of our family.
Although raw meat diets have yet to be definitively proven to have benefits that outweigh their potential hazards, freshly cooked food is always an option. A well-balanced, freshly cooked meal provides the raw diet’s enhanced digestion and nutrients without the potential pathogens.
Cooking your pet’s food at internal temperatures high enough to kill most foodborne pathogens can eliminate the potential hazards of raw meat illness. The temperatures suggested by the CDC are:
- Poultry, whole or ground 165°F (74°C)
- Whole cuts of meat (beef, pork, lamb or veal) 145°F (64°C)
Doxies can be prone to sensitive digestions, and any dramatic change in diet should be introduced gradually. Although raw foods seem all the rage, any real evidence of raw food diets’ health benefits is anecdotal. Until further scientific studies support the health benefits, it is best to listen to the experts’ advice and be cautious of raw meat-based diets for your beloved Dachshund.