Should You Clean Raw Meat For Dogs?

Many pet parents are increasingly embracing healthier diets that include organic and natural foods. Hence, they are opting to feed their dogs’ raw foods to keep them healthy. 

However, to reap all the benefits a raw diet offers, they first clean the meat properly. Well, should you? Let’s take a look at this topic together.

What are raw diets for dogs?

A raw diet usually consists of muscle meats, organ meats, vegetables, raw eggs and dairy products like fresh yoghurt. 

It is critical to provide our dogs with a complete and balanced diet to help their immune systems develop. In addition, the nutrition found in raw diets has the extra advantage of being readily digestible for your dog.

For example, your pet will have better stools and will defecate less frequently once it has entirely switched to a raw diet. This might happen as seldom as every two days.  

This particular diet is most appropriate for dogs as it resembles what their ancestors ate in the wild. However, in the wilderness, the meat is immediately eaten as soon as the prey is caught.

In this day and age, our dogs get their meat from stores or supermarkets. Hence, there is a higher probability of being exposed to bacteria that can be harmful to both your pet and you.

Due to this, cleaning the raw meat before feeding is essential when starting a raw diet.

Bacterial dangers of raw feeding (to humans)

When feeding raw, there are two primary concerns to be aware of. These are foodborne diseases and cross-contamination. 

These risks are more prevalent for the human preparing the food than the dog who consumes it. This is primarily due to the fact that dogs’ stomachs can handle most bacteria as compared to humans.

Foodborne disease

Foodborne disease, also known as food poisoning, is any sickness caused by eating contaminated food that has been infected with harmful bacteria, viruses, or parasites. 

Diarrhoea and vomiting are common symptoms of foodborne disease, which usually persist for 1 to 7 days. In addition, abdominal cramps, nausea, fever, back pains, and tiredness are all possible symptoms.

Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes are the two most common. Both are fine for a healthy dog, but they aren't for humans. 

When the meat is kept at the wrong temperatures, bad bacteria can quickly develop in that zone, producing an imbalance that can make everyone sick.


The germs found in raw dog food tend to spread fast. Raw meat fluids can cause cross-contamination to happen. For example, if you accidentally spill the liquid and someone touches it, they can fall sick, if ingested unknowingly. 

This is why it's critical to clean up after raw dog food preparation to avoid contamination and the risk of being ill. 

Humans just don't have the same digestive system, saliva, or immune system as dogs. As a result, a canine's reaction to these food-borne viruses differs from that of a human.

Do I need to clean the raw meat for my dog?

Yes, raw meat has to be cleaned before you feed it to your dog. However, washing meat with ordinary running water does not eliminate foodborne germs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Washing meat with simple running water can transmit bacteria to other surfaces and foods that will be eaten raw, such as fruit or salad, posing additional food safety and health hazards.

This isn't anything to be too concerned about, and it shouldn’t stop you from giving your canine raw meat, but it's something to keep in mind.

How to clean raw meat?

You may wash or prepare meat using food-grade acidic solutions, which help eliminate bacteria, enhance taste, and tenderise the meat.

Here's what you can do to clean the meat:

  • Food grade sodium hydroxide (NaOH): This food ingredient is used to remove the skins of fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes and potatoes to avoid mould and bacterial development. It also inhibits bacterial growth on meat surfaces.
  • White vinegar: Vinegar is a commonly used acid for cleaning meat. It includes acetic acid, which has been found to decrease bacterial volume and growth on beef, chicken, and duck surfaces.
  • Lime or lemon juice: These citrus juices have been proven to decrease germs on meat and maintain the taste of cooked meat, making them beneficial in everyday raw diet cooking.

Why is cleanliness important for raw diets?

As explained above, the main reason why it is so important to uphold cleanliness when feeding your dog raw food is to ensure you and your dog don’t fall sick.

Pathogens such as e.coli and salmonella can create issues with raw meat and poultry items that are unclean. In addition, it can make your dog sick and speed up the process of rotting.

Furthermore, the majority of meat is stored uncooked to cook after delivery.  Hence, clean working conditions are vital to avoid cross-contamination, and food processing locations that handle raw meat should be cleaned and disinfected at regular intervals. Read more on raw feeding safety tips

How do I keep up the cleanliness when raw feeding?

Since germs are a natural part of life, we can learn how to deal with them. There are a few things besides cleaning the meat to follow when handling raw meat for your pet:

1. Buying raw meat

Many pet parents don’t realise that cleaning the raw meat is not the only thing they have to do. It is wise to check the raw meat before you purchase it thoroughly.

Hence, always buy meat from vendors that adhere to the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP).

This ensures all the meat sold in that establishment is safe from biological, chemical and physical contamination.

2. Handling raw meat

    After touching any raw pet food, wash your hands with soap and water.

    Besides that, clean and disinfect any surfaces that come into contact with raw food, such as counters, microwaves, refrigerators, knives, forks, and bowls.

    (I) Storing raw meat

    When it comes to storing the food, keep it frozen until you're ready to use it. Additionally, store it apart from other foods in your refrigerator.

    Do note that frozen raw pet meals should not be thawed on a counter or in a sink. Any food that your pet doesn't consume should be thrown away.

    (II) Safe play

      After your dog has finished eating, don't allow your pet to lick around your lips and face. If you play with your pet after they've eaten, use soap and water to wash your hands and any other parts of your body they licked.


      Cleaning the raw meat you feed your dog is critical as it ensures your dog gains and not loses from its meal. Nevertheless, the entire process of properly handling raw meat can be complex, especially for a novice pet owner. 

      Hence, to make your dog’s raw feeding journey more manageable, you can try out PetCubes’ Raw Dog Food. Our meals are carefully made according to the industry’s Food Safety standards, which is done in a facility using Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) certified equipment, to bring a healthy meal for your dog.

      Reviewed by: 

      Dr Francis is one of the top wildlife nutritionists in Asia. Originating from Montreal, Canada, he left at 21 to pursue his Masters and subsequently a PhD in wildlife nutrition at Oxford Brookes University. Instead of taking the path of common animal science to learn about farm animals, or through the veterinarian space and taking a certificate in nutrition, he took the road less travelled to dive deep into the world of animal ecology, metabolism and nutrition.