Can Dogs Eat Raw Ground Beef?

Raw ground beef looks irresistible to dogs but should a dog eat it?  ¹

Eating raw ground beef can make you or your dog sick- it’s nice like that!

In all likelihood it won’t make your dog sick but potentially raw ground beef contains bacteria.

And the main suspects are salmonella, e coli and yersinia.

Salmonella can kill- the real threat comes from poultry but beef can be contaminated as well.

In 2019 there was an outbreak of salmonella which was linked to infected beef. 

It left one person dead and eight others in hospital. 

I know, I know.. this article is about dogs, not people.

But dogs can be killed by salmonella poisoning from eating infected meat and they can also get it from eating infected feces.

Oh how we love our dogs!

Another bacteria found in ground beef is E coli.

In 2019 there was an outbreak of E coli in ground beef. 

There were no deaths in this outbreak but twenty nine people were hospitalised. 

In 2020 , there was an E coli outbreak that was linked to a raw pet food product. 

This raises another point about raw beef.

That if you ignore the risks and feed raw ground beef to your dog, it isn’t just your dog which is at risk of a nasty infection. 

And in the next section I want to look at how we can almost reduce these risks to zero.

Does cooking ground beef make it safer to eat?

And the way to do this is to cook the beef.

Simple, eh?

Well it isn’t as simple as just chucking the ground beef in the oven without a second thought.

You do need to cook it until it hits a certain temperature- and the magic number is  160°F.

Apart from cooking the beef, you do need to store it and handle it correctly

What is the nutrition in ground beef?

As a red meat, the biggest nutrient (apart from water) is protein and after that is fat.

Which in red meat can vary between 3%- 10%.

Protein is one of the building blocks in a dog’s body. Every cell contains protein. 

Dogs also need fat in their diet. 

Not only is fat a great source of energy, it also plays a role in helping various vitamins be absorbed in the body. 

Beef also contains high levels of B vitamins and iron. 

B vitamins help turn food into energy and iron helps oxygen move around your dog’s body more efficiently.  

So, the write up on ground beef is glowing. 

How does it compare to other meats?

We will find out in the next section

Beef vs pork vs chicken vs venison

100 g servingBeef Pork Chicken Venison
Calories198263143116
Fat13 g21 g8.1 g2.7 g 
Protein19 g 17 g 17 g 22 g 
Cholesterol 62 mg72 mg 86 mg 18 mg 
Vitamin BsB3 & B6B1, B3 & B6B3, B6 & B12B2 & B3
Iron1.99 mg 0.88 mg 0.82 mg2.9 mg 

So how does ground beef compare with some of its other main rivals?

I have to say that compared to pork and chicken when the main nutrients are looked at, it comes out well.

It has less fat and calories than pork but not chicken.

But beef has more protein than pork or chicken.

Lower cholesterol levels also help its cause.

Beef is slightly lacking as far as B vitamins are concerned- it has two in abundance, whereas chicken and pork have three b vitamins in abundance.

But as far as iron is concerned- it leaves its main rivals far, far behind.

But the surprising stand out meat in the whole chart is venison (deer.)

So outstanding in fact that I have written about raw deer meat and deer legs

Low in fat and cholesterol, high in protein and with amazing amounts of iron, what more could a dog owner want from this meat?

Well, the ability to get hold of it more easily and to not have to pay quite such exorbitant prices would be the two things uppermost in people’s minds!

Venison is about three times the price of good quality chicken and twice the price of good quality and because it is not widely available, the hassle involved in buying some could be enough to send you over the edge…

How much ground beef should you feed your dog?

I’m not going to use this section to explain the role that raw ground beef can play in a raw food diet.

That topic will have to wait for another day…

I’m coming at it from the perspective of a dog that is on a complete dry or canned food diet and would like some ground beef added to that diet.

My advice here is to add it as an occasional treat. 

If ground beef lands in his bowl too often, your dog might stop eating his complete diet.

And in terms of amounts, I would measure it in tablespoons. 

The smallest dogs should get less than one tablespoon whereas the larger breed dogs should get about four tablespoons of ground beef added. 

You want it to add a bit of flavour to the meal but never to overwhelm the meal so much that the dog begins to question why he should bother eating anything else. 

With that question answered I think that I have covered everything about raw ground beef that I want to.

In the following section I will move onto something a bit different.

I’m sticking with raw and sticking with beef but I want to look at bones not ground meat 

Can dogs eat raw beef bones?

Raw bones are much safer for a dog to eat than cooked bones. 

So always feed your dog raw beef bones over cooked beef bones any day of the week.

And I recognise that I’m contradicting myself here a bit because raw bones have the potential to carry the same bacteria as the meat, don’t they?

They do but because there is less meat on a bone, the risk is lower.

Another important issue to bear in mind is to feed your dog the larger, leg and shoulder bones.

Larger bones are better because dogs have to chew them and not just swallow them whole.

Leg and shoulder bones are slightly denser because they are weight bearing.

This makes the bone less likely to shatter as the dog chews on it. 

And once again make bones an “every so often” treat.

The massive overdose of calcium that a dog will experience after eating a bone won’t hurt them in any way in the long term.

But in the short term it will completely alter their stool and make it harder or more powdery- which must be a very uncomfortable experience for them. 

Can dogs eat raw steak fat?

Having looked at ground beef, perhaps we should look more closely at steak fat.

Many of us enjoy eating steak but that line of fat is often left discarded on the plate.

But is it as inedible to dogs as it seems to be for us?

Steak fat like ground beef runs the risk of being contaminated with the same bacteria.

You know what it is and so I won’t go over the details yet again.

And cooked steak fat might have been cooked with onions and garlic which your dog shouldn’t eat. 

Dogs need fat in their diet but to feed them the fat from a steak in one go will be too much.

If you want to feed them the fat, cut it up in small cubes and sprinkle it over their food (like croutons for the next few days.)

I have written a more detailed post about beef fat here.

Does raw beef make dogs aggressive?

To finish this article, I want to look at a popular question that I have recently had lots of experience with.

And it is, does feeding raw meat of any kind make dogs aggressive?

Up until a couple of months ago, I would have dismissed this suggestion as nonsense.

Raw meat doesn’t make dogs aggressive and as a dog owner who feeds their dogs on raw meat, I should know- or at least have a well informed opinion about it.

My two dogs have been on raw meat for years and there has been no sign of any aggression.

Two months ago, we brought home a big, fat eight week old Golden Retriever puppy who couldn’t believe her luck when we introduced her to her new raw diet.

And she loved it so much that she developed sharing issues.

This soft and wonderful bundle of joy turned into a 8” high growling monster at dinner time.

We were shocked and worked hard to eliminate this aggression- which has gone almost completely at this point.

I think that our hard work helped as well as her settling into her new home and finding her place in the pack with the other two dogs.

So, can feeding dogs raw meat make them aggressive? 

In specific circumstances it definitely can but in most dogs that aggressive behaviour can be extinguished. 

Photo credits

 ¹ Photo by Carnivore Locavore on Flickr