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Will My Dog Get Sick From Salmonella in Raw or Dry Dog Food?

You shouldn’t have to worry about your dog getting sick from salmonella if he is healthy and has a strong immune system.

If your dog already has a compromised immune system, that’s when you should be a little more careful.

Plus, people can get sick from salmonella, which is why we should obviously wash our hands after handling raw dog food and even dry dog food. Either can contain salmonella.

More details on salmonella and dogs

I feed my dog Ace a combination of dry dog food and raw dog food, and I’m never worried about my dog getting sick from bacteria in raw meat.

Healthy dogs can handle salmonella because their digestive systems are more acidic than ours and perfectly designed for tackling salmonella. (I mean, what do you think wolves and wild dogs eat?)

Here is a past post of mine that explains how a dog’s digestive tract prevents him from getting sick from raw meat.

Can dogs get sick from salmonella

Then why are there so many dog food recalls involving salmonella?

Good question!

I was wondering about that too, which is why I decided to do a little research and write this post.

So here’s the deal:

The FDA has recently launched a national effort to test food products (for people and pets) for the presence of potentially harmful microbes, according to an article by Dr. Karen Becker.

According to her, the majority of pet food recalls are due to health concerns for people who could get sick from accidentally consuming salmonella after handling the pet food.

She also pointed out that these concerns are mostly from people handling dry pet food, not raw.

I assume this is because people know to wash their hands after handling raw pet food but may not do so after handling dry pet food.

Dogs Naturally Magazine also wrote an interesting article on the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act and how its strict standards are affecting raw dog food companies.

The magazine calls the FDA’s goal of “zero pathogens” in raw food a “slippery slope.”

Let’s also keep in mind the FDA is known for having a negative stance on raw pet food due to the “dangers” of getting people sick.

From Dogs Naturally:

While increasing their efforts to test pet foods for contaminants is an admirable and desirable function of the FDA. the witch hunt for salmonella is misguided. Yes, salmonella has the potential to harm humans and some severely immune compromised dogs (although removing beneficial bacteria from their diets may be short sighted). But should raw foods be robbed of their natural nutrition in lieu of washing our hands after serving?

I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse for raw dog food companies, and we are unfortunately going to be seeing more recalls on raw dog food in the future.

But, to simplify things:

Your dog should be safe from potential salmonella in raw meat and raw eggs, but you should wash your hands for your own safety.

Now I want to hear from you!

Are you feeding your dog raw food these days? Are you concerned about salmonella?

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Gary Beilby

Monday 16th of March 2015

Far too much germophobia! Comment was made about dogs and cats licking their bums. They do this multiple times every single day. Do they ever have a problem with it? Why, because these scary germs are part of their normal healthy commensal bacterial population. They would be sick without them! My 2 dogs have always been fed a combination of dry dog food and raw chicken. We hardly ever have red meat for people or dogs in our house for ethical and environmental reasons. The chicken is usually feed as large frozen lumps of random chicken pieces. They prefer it that way these days and it means they chew much more slowly and completely which substantially improves digestion and keeps their teeth sparkly clean.

Lots more on dog health and happiness on my veterinary blog.

Jana Rade

Wednesday 11th of March 2015

Well, yes on both counts. I feed raw but so far I've been staying away from raw chicken for my concern about salmonella.


Tuesday 10th of March 2015

We've been feeding Rue an all-raw diet for seven months and have no concerns with salmonella or any other bacteria. We practice good hand-washing techniques when dealing with Rue's food, just as we do when we handling raw meat to cook for our own meals.

Renchan Li

Tuesday 10th of March 2015

I appreciate this update on raw diet for the dog information. I was going to ask Lindsay a few months ago about whether she has any updates on the raw diets for the dogs.

I am 50/50 between choosing dry dog foods or raw foods for the dogs, because both sides seem having their points, and I don't really know; but I have been feeding my now 3.5 years old female Rottweiler since she was about two years old, about five months after adopting her - my first dog. She seems to be fine (no illness, weighing 77 lb.) in the past one year and eight months having raw foods: porks, fishes, chicken drumsticks, livers, beef, salmon oil; and baked yam, whole boiled chicken egg, cooked pinto bean, vitamin/mineral supplements.

I started thinking about feeding my dog raw foods while I was trying to encourage her to chew her kibbles (using Kong, tug-a-bottle, kick-ball, kibbles trap dish) for a few months before June 2013; she was gulping her 16 oz. of kibbles from a regular bowl in less than 1.5 minutes. I now enjoy watching her picking up frozen liver, the whole baked egg, frozen pork, frozen chicken drumsticks from the bowl piece by piece; I could also tell that she prefers red meats.


Monday 9th of March 2015

I feed a high end kibble and a little honest Kitchen. I'ld love to do raw, but freezer space and three dogs of varying sizes has put me off for a little while. I do and don't worry about salmonella. After feeding I normally rinse my hands, and then again after goodie time I wash them.

Yes its a worry no matter what you feed, but I think sometimes we are too germaphobic. You need them to get anti-bodies to have a strong immune system. I watched a program on the History channel where they coated a raw chicken in black light dye and had the people prepare it. Then they turned the black light on to see where there was chicken residue. It was all over the kitchen!!! Especially on the faucet handles and sink. So you might think you wash well, but sometimes you never know! :-)


Monday 9th of March 2015

That's interesting, Elizabeth.