Do's and Dont's of handling raw food
What are the things you look for when you go to buy a fresh chicken for lunch?
I for one, look for a healthy looking bird where the skin looks pink and fresh, the meat of the chicken looks clean and other stuff. Same as with other meat that I buy for my family.
Do you do the same when you go to buy meat for your dog?
If not, then it’s about time you did!
Just like it’s important for us to buy, consume and stock good meat for ourselves, the same principles apply when it comes to our pets. It is unhealthy and unsafe to feed our pet’s sub-standard RAW food.
Let’s look at some of the important things to keep in mind while handling raw food:
It’s all about common sense:
You know, you don’t have to be a scientist to handle raw meat. Use your experience and brains and of course like we said, common sense. It’s not important only for our dog, it’s important to protect ourselves too against contamination and bacteria.
Let’s talk about bacteria:
While intense heat from cooking will destroy any bacteria present in food, raw meat might still contain some bacteria such as Salmonella. But don’t worry, the stomach enzymes and short GI tracts that we spoke about in one of our previous posts give dogs the capability to handle bacteria. But hey!! We don’t have the PH level to kill bacteria so it’s important to keep ourselves safe when handling their food.
Clean your kitchen!
If the RAW food that you bring home for your dog contains bacteria or pathogenic viruses or bacteria, it is highly likely that your kitchen counters, chopping boards, bowls, knives and even your hands will become contaminated.
Keep your kitchen clean and sanitized by washing your hands in hot soapy water before and after touching raw food. This applies to your utensils and of course the chopping board and knives.
Keep the dog’s utensils and chopping boards, including cutlery, in a safe and sanitized environment away from the utensils we use in the kitchen.
Keep your kitchen table clean by wiping it with a disinfectant.
Ensure that your maids and other members of the family are told about these safety principles too. And if your kids insist on feeding your pets, make sure that they take all the measures you take.
Frozen food can be tough for your dog to digest. Therefore it’s important to defrost or thaw the RAW food. A dilemma is where to defrost the food!!
Don’t leave the food out on your kitchen table, outside, in a plastic bag or any other closed space where the food might go bad or become unsafe for consumption.
You can defrost the food inside the fridge itself. Most refrigerators with a steady temp of 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit are the best option to defrost the raw meat. Remember to not defrost more than 2 days’ worth of meat.
Food such as organs, chicken, fish and meaty bones will stay safe for about 2-3 days.
Please ensure that after the food is defrosted it has to be kept at a temperature of 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit or below throughout. Anything above that is trouble because anything hotter than that might cause bacteria to grow and even double in some cases.
Defrosted food can be kept in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days.
In the event that you have kept the food hotter than the temperature mentioned above for more than an hour and a half, please destroy or discard it , because it is possible that bacteria is already growing in it.
Avoid the microwave
Please do not heat or attempt to defrost your pet’s food in the microwave, melted fats are not easily digestible.
The ultimate temperature that your pets food should be at room temperature. She will digest the food better if the meat is at room temperature or slightly warmer. Cold meat decreases the production of enzymes and can lead to a loss of motility in your dogs intestines. This condition is also called Ileus.
When your dog has Ileus, he will experience difficulties in passing stools accompanied with vomiting.
It's important that if you have a senior dog, he is fed food at room temperature.
There is an option if you're short of time and need to get the food up to room temperature.
This is a once in a while option for emergencies only:
Place the raw food in a feeding bowl made of stainless steel. On very low heat, place the bowl directly on the flame. You can stir the meat continuously for not more than 2-3 minutes but DO NOT cook the food please. And as I mentioned, very low heat; not medium or high heat.
You could also put the food in a plastic bag which has no scope for leakage. Place the packet in cold water. Make sure that the bag is leak proof as, if exposed, the meat might catch bacteria from it's surroundings or the air. You also don't want water getting into the meat or the product becomes soggy.
You can change the water every 20 minutes to make sure that the meat stays cold. Once defrosted, feed your pet immediately.
It is possible that in-spite of all the precautions, juices from the meat might still leak out so if you want to keep the proteins intact defrost the food in a container so that you don't lose the important juices.
You can keep leftovers but make sure that they are refrigerated immediately. Discard bones though as old bones turn brittle and since they don't retain their juices, turn dry.
If your dog has food allergies
, make sure her food is labeled in plastic bags of different colors as compared to your other dogs food.
Finally, some things to remember:
- Keep your human kids away from raw meat and poultry
- Keep the above mentioned items away from other foods
- Use different colored cleaning sponges or cloths for your own dishes and your pets utensils.
- Do not use plastic utensils to feed your dog. Stainless Steel is the best.
- You can use wet wipes for a quick clean up after you've prepared your pets food. These wipes also act as a disinfectant.
We hope you find these handling tips useful. I'm sure you will have lots to share with us too. Please! Write to us.. we would love to hear from you.