You’re preparing dinner for your family and realize that the ground beef in the fridge is a day past its expiration date.
Throwing it away seems like a waste, but is it safe to feed your dog?
After all, dogs are versatile feeders and will consume just about anything.
So, can dogs eat expired meat?
Dogs can’t eat expired meat safely.
While some dogs have consumed expired meat without any adverse effects, it’s not worth the risk.
Expired meat contains bacteria that cause food poisoning in dogs.
If your dog does eat expired meat, watch for signs of illness and contact your veterinarian immediately.
Dogs are scavengers by nature, but that doesn’t mean they should eat everything they find.
Therefore, it’s your duty as a pet owner to provide your furry friend with the best possible diet.
In this article, we’ll explore the dangers of feeding your dog expired meat and provide advice on how to prevent it from happening.
Is Expired Meat Bad For My Dog’s Wellbeing?
The digestive system of dogs is different from that of humans; theirs is shorter and can handle bacteria better than ours.
This means they are less likely to get food poisoning from eating expired meat.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should make a habit of feeding your dog expired meat.
If the meat has been sitting out for too long, it may contain harmful toxins, bacteria, fungi, and parasites that cause severe illnesses to your dog.
Expired meat offers a breeding ground for harmful microorganisms and pathogens such as:
- Bacteria – E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella, Clostridium botulinum
- Fungi – Aspergillus, Penicillium
- Parasites – Trichinella spiralis
Let’s look at the adverse effects that these microorganisms have on your dog’s health:
Bacteria – E. coli, Listeria, Clostridium botulinum, and Salmonella
These bacteria are commonly found in raw meat and can cause severe gastroenteritis in dogs.
Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain.
In some cases, these bacteria can even lead to death.
Clostridium botulinum causes botulism, a serious and potentially fatal disease.
Symptoms of botulism include weakness, paralysis, and difficulty breathing.
Fungi – Aspergillus, Penicillium
These fungi are commonly found in moldy meat and can cause severe respiratory infections in dogs.
Symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, and fever. In some cases, these fungi can even lead to death.
Parasites – Trichinella spiralis
This parasite is commonly found in raw or undercooked meat and can cause severe gastrointestinal infections in dogs.
Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and fever.
In some cases, this parasite can even lead to death.
Can My Dog Develop Food Poisoning From Eating Expired Meat?
Expired meat is a serious candidate for food poisoning.
The main culprits are bacteria, fungi, and parasites which cause severe illness or even death in dogs.
Stale meat disrupts the digestive system of dogs by promoting the growth of these microorganisms.
Symptoms of food poisoning occur within hours to days of consumption.
What are the Symptoms of Food Poisoning in Dogs?
- Intermittent or mild fever
- Temporary loss of bladder control
- Signs of abdominal pain or congestion
- Considerable decrease in appetite
- Weight loss
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty breathing
Botulism is the most fatal among the several ailments dogs can pick from expired meat.
It’s prone to aggravation in canines due to their shorter digestive system, which doesn’t give the toxins sufficient time to break down.
Moreover, it’s hard to spot until when full-blown since early signs are lethargy and loss of appetite, which are common to many other illnesses.
How Long Does It Take For Expired Meat To Rot?
The warm temperature of most homes accelerates the decomposition process.
If stored at a temperature below 40° F, it takes several days for the meat to start rotting.
However, if stored at a temperature above 40° F, the meat starts rotting within a day.
Warm temperature offers a conducive environment for bacteria to grow and multiply.
Therefore, cook or refrigerate the meat as soon as possible after purchase to prevent it from rotting.
Storing meat at temperatures below 40° F slows down the decomposition process.
Remember also that refrigerated meat doesn’t have an infinite shelf-life.
Even when stored properly, the meat will eventually spoil and become unsafe for your dog.
Use your senses of sight, smell, and touch to determine if the meat is expired.
If it looks or smells rotten, don’t feed it to your dog.
How Can I Tell If Meat is Expired?
- The color of the meat changes from red to brown or grey.
- The texture of the meat changes from firm to mushy.
- The smell of the meat changes from fresh to sour or rancid.
- Check date labels when purchasing meat. If the date has passed, don’t buy it.
If you notice any of these changes, it’s best to throw the meat away.
What Should I Do If My Dog Eats Expired Meat?
If your dog has eaten expired meat, seek veterinary attention immediately.
The sooner you get your dog to the vet, the better their chances of making a full recovery.
Once your dog shows symptoms of food poisoning, put it on a fast for 24-48 hours.
This will give its digestive system a chance to rest and recover.
After the fast, offer your dog small, frequent meals of a bland diet. Gradually introduce other foods as tolerated.
If your dog has severe vomiting or diarrhea, it’s crucial to prevent dehydration.
Offer your dog plenty of water or an electrolyte solution to drink.
If your dog isn’t drinking, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Dehydration is a serious and even life-threatening condition; seek veterinary attention if your dog shows signs of dehydration, such as:
- Dry gums
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Increased heart rate
- Increased respiratory rate
While it’s best to avoid feeding your dog expired meat, there are some steps you can take to minimize the risk of food poisoning.
Cook the meat thoroughly to kill any bacteria or parasites.
How To Prevent My Dog From Eating Expired Meat?
The best way to prevent your dog from eating expired meat is to keep it out of their reach.
Store the meat in a safe place where your dog can’t reach it.
If you must throw away expired meat, do so where your dog can’t find it.
For instance, burn or bury the meat.
Teach your dog also to leave food that’s not meant for them.
This will help prevent dogs from getting into the trash or counter surfing.
Moreover, ensure your dog is up-to-date on their vaccinations; this reduces the risk of them contracting a foodborne illness.
Dogs are versatile feeders, and they can digest a lot of food types, including expired meat.
However, it’s not recommended to feed your dog expired meat due to the risk of food poisoning.
If you must throw away expired meat, do so in a place where your dog can’t find it, such as by burning or burying it.