Is raw feeding a risk to humans? (previously raw feeding with toddler)


We have 2 beagles, one quite skinny due to we think intolerance of the dry food ingredients. He has been on it since puppy and is now 3. His weight is around 12kg but is skinny \ ribby.

We want to move to raw feeding but we have a toddler who loves hugging and playing with the dogs and have concerns about any germs being passed on to him- is this still the case?

Does feeding raw risk passing on germs to our toddler - sorry but i do not appreciate what the potential risks are.

We have tried various dry dog food but his weight remains constant. He does have the bad habit of eating his and the other beagles poo - so we would like to try and stop this also. Would eating raw help this?

Hello and welcome to the forum. Regarding raw feeding in the presence of your toddler, I can only give you a personal opinion based on what I have read and what you say about your child’s presence around the dog. It seems to me to be safer not to use this method of feeding. Children put things into their mouths and can’t wash their own hands so the risk of infection could be higher unless you were very vigilant. The other thing is that part of raw feeding is the giving of bones and that would only be safe if the dogs were kept entirely separate from the child.

I have recently had a go at raw feeding and I too was concerned about infection risk because OH is elderly and immunosuppressed. I used a prepared meal (Nutriment) which worked well because the meat did not come into contact with kitchen surfaces and utensils - it can be spooned out of the container. However, I was still a bit nervous but then that is probably just my cautious nature. More experienced raw feeders may well have a different view and consider raw feeding with toddlers in the home perfectly safe.

It might be worth considering a home made but cooked diet for your Beagle. There is lots of information on the Internet about how to prepare suitable meals and these can be made once a week in bulk and then frozen. In respect of this, there is something in this thread that might be useful.

Don’t know whether you watched Channel 4 news the other night they ran a piece on campylobacter on chickens (this link might work ) - quite scary to see how easy it is to spread the bacteria around the kitchen - my immediate thoughts were, typically, about dog food rather than human and in particular feeding raw food. It has been highlighted within pet industry the increase in salmonella related food poisoning in toddlers and reptile keeping - relevant in the way that many people do not realise that it is easy to pass bacteria around through touching and handling things.
As a personal choice, I wouldn’t recommend RAW feeding around toddlers but if you do choose this route, I would recommend prepared foods with the most widely available being the Natures Menu range of frozen foods. There are also some very good grain free tinned/tray foods available from Simpsons, Natures Menu’s Country Hunter range, Barking Heads Fusspot and Canagen.

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Hi all, I’m Dean and I run a raw feeding website called Raw Dog Food (http://
A fan of the site pointed me in the direction of this discussion.

First off, congratulations on considering a raw diet for your dogs, it presents so many benefits compared to the current dried diet they’re on.

I’ll cover two points here, raw as a whole, and small children.
Feeding your dog raw food is no different from you preparing a meal for your family using raw ingredients. As long as hands are washed, surfaces are wiped and the dog bowl + utensils are cleaned then there really is no problem. Just because the food is for your dog, it doesn’t mean it carries a different set of concerns.
The salmonella/e-coli argument is used as a scare tactic by those who oppose raw feeding, particularly vets and the dog food industry.

Moving on to the second point concerning the dogs licking your toddler and spreading bacteria. Aside from the fact that bacteria is everywhere (even on kibble), dogs saliva is a bactericide which contains many compounds which are antibacterial. These enzymes break down and destroy bacteria, meaning salmonella/e-coli are unable to exist in a dogs mouth. Combined with healthier teeth and zero plaque to bind on to, bacteria doesn’t stand a chance.
Of course you wouldn’t want to let the toddler play around the dog during feeding time, but you wouldn’t let them sit on the kitchen worktop whilst cutting up raw meat either. As long as they are separated during feeding time, I personally wouldn’t worry. If anything, contact with a dog will boost the toddlers immune system, not weaken it.

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Thank you for that appraisal - it is useful to have an alternative opinion. The only thing that I would disagree with is your statement: " it presents so many benefits compared to the current dried diet they’re on." My (admittedly) brief experience of raw feeding is that my dogs appear to be just as well and healthy on their cold pressed food (which is dry) than they were when on raw. In fact they are better on it on a few counts. I’m not criticising raw feeding at all but just pointing out that there are perfectly acceptable alternatives and dogs can live long and healthy lives never having touched a piece of raw meat or bone. What is important is the quality of food that you give your dog, not the type (IMHO).

…whereas, the longer I feed raw the more convinced I am that it really does have benefits beyond anything offered by even the best dry food ;D. Seriously, I think it takes time to see the magnitude of the difference it makes - we’re all entitled to our different opinions but I ain’t ever going back, that’s for certain.

In any event, it is clear that beaglescomeback has not found a dry food to suit this dog in spite of trying ‘various’, and I do think raw food would be the perfect solution to his problems.

As far as the toddler is concerned, I’m an expert in neither raw feeding nor children, but the first thing that came to my mind was the story of Haatchi and Little B… Haatchi is the three-legged rescue dog sponsored by Nutriment and Little B is his sick and severely disabled young owner, who spends much of his time in hospital - not a toddler any more but still a young child and one who I would think would need protecting as much as anyone could. Haatchi has been raw fed all the time they have lived together, and it would not seem to have been a problem. They can be seen in close contact in many photos on their Facebook page:

Welcome to the forum Dean, btw.

I think I would agree that a child would need to be kept away while a dog dealt with a raw bone - or any sort of bone or chew for that matter, to eliminate the risk of the dog snapping - but would point out that if you feed a complete raw diet like Nutriment then bones are not necessary since the correct amount of bone is included in the meals.

Yes, I appreciate the fact that this particular product already contains ground up bone but the company also recommends the giving of bones for oral health. Anyway, the OP’s question was specifically about the safety of raw food in the presence of a toddler so maybe we shouldn’t get side tracked on the benefits or otherwise of this method of feeding.

@beaglescomeback - I think that you are going to have to do a lot of reading around this subject in order to get a balanced view and to make a sound decision. There is a lot of well researched documentation on the issue, some completed by official bodies. From what I have just read, the infection risks are mainly from samonella, listeria and campylobacter. As has been pointed out already, the latter organism has been the subject of much debate in the news this week and supermarket shelves have have been cleared of their stocks of chicken because they were so badly infected. I sincerely hope that this wastage has not entered the dog food chain.

Here is a quote from the Canadian Veterinary Journal (2002):
“The results of this preliminary study prove that some dogs fed a BARF diet shed Salmonella spp. in their stools. This fact should be a consideration for owners choosing to feed this diet and be of especial concern for those with young children, the aged, or other people who may have compromised immune systems. We hope that this study will serve as an impetus for further study, with more subjects and multiple stool samples from each subject, to fully elucidate the public health concerns of this popular feeding trend. Given the high percentage of BARF diets that were positive for Salmonella spp. on culture, strict hygiene must be implemented when handling this food. In addition, the food bowl, the feeding area, and the pet’s mouth must be considered as potential sources of Salmonella.” Source. A more recent article (2007) from the same journal can be found here and that, too urges caution in the presence of vulnerable persons. Two more links here and here.

I can only say that I was uneasy during the whole time I was feeding raw food to my dogs, even though it was a good quality ready meal type. This was because my OH is elderly and immunosuppressed and although I love my dogs, his health is more important, especially as the dogs manage perfectly well on what I consider to be a safe and good quality dry food. However, I have a medical background so maybe that influenced my thinking. As I have done, only you can make that choice but to do it you need information so I would urge you to do as much reading up as possible first.

As a separate issue, if you decide not to go onto raw feeding but would like dietary advice, we could perhaps try to help. However, you would need to provide us with further information regarding the products that you have tried and the kind of problems you are having with your Beagle. Have you consulted your vet about the matter and if so, what has been said? Regarding the coprophagia (eating poo) I am doubtful that raw feeding will make any difference. In my experience once a dog has a habit of doing this the only way of dealing with it is to clean up quickly and thoroughly or to muzzle just while he is out in the garden, especially if he is a fresh poo eater and both dogs are out together.

Not a thread regarding the pros and cons of raw feeding - question was whether there is an increased risk of feeding raw around a toddler and inherently there is. Clearly there is an increased risk of contamination, cross contamination and the spreading of disease - if raw chicken is being eaten by a dog there is an increased risk that campylobacter could be spread around the house - yes, you can minimise the risk but feeding a raw diet compared to a prepared cooked food, the risk increases.

Indeed, and I hope someone turns up who can give an authoritative answer, since all those of us who have replied so far (with the possible exception of Dean, who I know nothing about) can do is google and guess.

I’d certainly like to know the truth, and Dottie’s quote does not convince me of anything other than that care and good hygiene is needed, which is just common sense. In any case, you can find a scientific paper on the internet to prove almost anything, so long as it’s scary someone somewhere will have ‘proved’ it.

Sorry but it isn’t clear to me at all that the risk is any greater than that of handling and preparing raw meat for our own consumption, so long as care is also taken while the dog is actually feeding.

Thank you all so much for your replies, definitely some convincing arguments from both sides.

Just a bit more info - we have two beagles, one male and one female. They are both neutered. The boy is significantly thinner than the girl, although he’s taller, and doesn’t have the build of your typical beagle.

We have tried various brands from Pro Plan, Fish 4 Dogs, Orijen and Rubbish like Harringtons from Asda. Nothing seems to get the weight on. After so much ‘research’ saying a kibble is also good for their teeth, the 4 year old girl also has tartar on her teeth so again I was keen to introduce bones to try to help (maybe she just swallows the kibble without chewing, like a typical beagle!).

So Im thinking the two options we really have left is either a trip to the vet (££££££) and/or a prepared homecooked meal? What about even puppy food or puppy milk?

He just lacks so much energy, even his walk wipes him out :frowning:

Dottie, I think it’s reassuring to note that all the meat used by Nutriment & Natural Instinct is tested for bacteria before being used and, of couse, rejected if it tests positive.

I would just add, were it not for the toddler I would definitely be doing the raw feeding, no question. I really believe it could be beneficial, and also have a utility room where we could prepare food in a totally separate place.

I wonder if anyone knows the answer to this - as well as their own, the beagles will also eat other dog poo that they find when they’re out on a walk. Are the risks of raw feeding greater than this? If some owners are prepared to leave their dog mess behind, there is a possibility they also may not have wormed them in the first place. I know its a bit off topic, but since thats a risk we’re technically already taking it would be useful to know where the risk of raw feeding is on that spectrum…

There is more risk handling raw food than not handling raw food - therefore there is an increased risk of contamination. It is then a question of confidence in your own ability not to cross contaminate and if you are looking after a toddler and two beagles then there is more risk you will ‘slip’ on your hygiene regime. As a raw food advisor (Ive got a little certificate :D) and retailer it is something we always advise on when someone is weighing up the pros and cons of a raw food diet.

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If you are looking for a kibble that will help with weight gain- have a look at Arden Grange Premium and Prestige as these are for dogs recovering from illness and/or wanting to gain weight - it might be worth a look at their Appetite plus too - Acana also do a sporting dog food which might be worth having a look at.

Sorry, but in my opinion he should be checked out by a vet if that’s the case, and given that it sounds as though he’s had problems for some time. It is important to find a food that suits him, but I would say it’s more important to make sure that all this isn’t being caused by some other, possibly more serious, condition.

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I’ve got to give you that one! 8)

Sorry, I missed this post earlier, but I personally would say that that is a far greater risk than raw feeding. You mention worms, but this habit poses a huge risk of the dog contracting a protozoan parasite called giardia, which is very easily passed to any humans who have contact with the dog, and which can be very nasty indeed - and is often very difficult to get rid of.

I agree with George in that the Beagle should be taken to the vet’s first. A walk should not affect a young dog in the way described. It could be a heart murmur, kidney problems or any one of a number of things that is causing these symptoms of lethargy and failure to gain weight. Would definitely have him checked over and some blood taken for a full screen. Once that is done you can plan the way forward regarding diet. Remember that some dogs don’t care for raw food and some do not necessarily put weight on with it. Some people (like me) put their dogs on raw actually to encourage them to lose weight.

The poo eating is a separate matter to the raw feeding debate and there is not much to be gained in comparing them. Certainly it can lead to ill health and it surprises me that so many dogs do it and don’t appear to suffer except, perhaps for the occasional bout of vomiting. It sounds as if they are determined poo eaters to be doing it when out on walks. TBH I would be taking them out with a basket muzzle in situ if they were mine.

Not separate to the subject of a change of diet though, since it is often a sign of a deficiency or intolerance and stops when the diet is corrected.