Can Dogs Eat Spoiled Meat?

You’ve probably heard of this statement, “if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t give it to your dog.” This is not always the case. Did you know that some dog parents intentionally leave raw meat out for about 2 or 3 days until it has a stench and sour taste before feeding it to their dog? Proponents of this habit claim that rotten meat has more nutritional value and benefits dogs. But how true is this?

We know dogs are natural scavengers and will devour anything in sight. But can you toss Fido that rotten steak that’s overstayed in the freezer for months? Should you be concerned if you caught your dog devouring spoiled meat from the trash can? Are they at risk? Well, this is not a simple yes or no answer. Some dogs can consume rotten meat without experiencing health complications, but some can get sick and die.

Spoiled meat isn’t safe for your dog. Although your furry friend has a robust gut that can handle the grimiest of things, rotten meat is loaded with harmful toxins and deadly bacteria that can wreak havoc on Fido’s health. While the likelihood of your dog getting ill from eating spoiled meat is pretty low, he can still get deadly food poisoning if he consumes too much of it.

This article explores in detail if spoiled meat is safe for dogs to eat, what to expect if they consume it and what to do about it. Let’s jump in!

Why Can Dogs Eat Spoiled Meat?

Your dog’s liking of spoiled meat may date back to their wolf ancestry. Their ancestors have been scavenging on rancid meat for thousands of years thanks to their robust digestive system that can manage the worst of spoiled meat.

Dogs produce 100 times more acid compared to human stomachs. This is one reason why Fido isn’t susceptible to bacteria and toxins compared to you. But it doesn’t mean your dog cannot fall sick.

Canines are also nosy and explore their surroundings with their mouths. They can easily pick up odors and even emotions. Rancid meat might be enticing to some dogs because of its strong odor. But while your canine brings onboard their sharp senses, you provide a better judgment, and Fido trusts you to feed him only safe food.

Furthermore, while humans need 24 hours or more to process a meal, dogs only need 8 hours. The short GI transit time helps to protect canines against food poisoning as deadly bacteria don’t get time to build up and form toxins in the gut. However, this defense mechanism cannot prevent your canine from getting food poisoning and botulism.

Can Dogs Tell The Difference Between Spoiled and Unspoiled Meat?

Canines have a sharp sense of smell and can recognize rotten meat. But this doesn’t deter them from eating it since they don’t understand that chowing down on spoiled meat is terrible for their health.

They love hunting for carcasses and stinking, ugly entrails and defend their right to devour them. Flies all over the meat? Ants and maggots everywhere, and your dog doesn’t care and, if anything, thrives on scavenging on rotten meat.

Chewy is probably only thinking of the dead carcass it wants to devour and where to bury what it can’t eat. The more odorous the food, the more your furry companion finds it irresistible.

Is Spoiled Meat Harmful to Dogs?


Dog parents know that their furry friends are adept at destruction and exhibit some of the naughtiest habits. They can munch on food items unsafe for human consumption and still be okay. But is spoiled meat okay for your dog? It depends.

Even though pups have a sturdier gut, the risk of bacteria, parasites, fungi, and other toxins is high in rotten meat. These could make your hound ill. Remember, dogs are domesticated wolves. They are not like wild carnivores and no longer live in the woods, so they haven’t built a tolerance for rotten meat. Our furry friends have evolved alongside humans for about 30,000 years, and our food has shaped their diet.

Rotten meat is a breeding ground for disease-causing pathogens like salmonella, E. coli, staphylococcus, clostridium botulinum, and penitrem-A. Furthermore, dogs can become carriers of pathogens, including bacteria, and pass it on to people with compromised or weak immune systems.

Salmonella can lead to salmonellosis. This can cause disorders such as septicemia, spontaneous abortions, and gastroenteritis. The bacteria is also zoonotic, meaning it can transfer to humans. Symptoms include diarrhea with mucus or blood, fever, vomiting, excess salivation, weakness, shock, abnormally fast heart rate, and weight loss.

Escherichia coli can lead to acute colibacillosis, fatal lower intestines infection, and septicemia. Symptoms of E.coli infection in canines include vomiting, dehydration, lack of appetite, rapid heart rate, lethargy, depression, weakness, and bluish gums, lips, ears, nostrils, and anus.

Staphylococcus or staph infection can affect your dog’s skin, organs, or fascia. Symptoms include fever, redness, inflammation, weakness, lethargy, excessive itching, patchy fur loss, crusting or peeling skin, and pus-filled lesions.

Clostridium Botulinum causes a rare but fatal paralytic disease known as botulism. Symptoms appear between a few hours and six days and include weakness from the hind legs to the front legs, trunk, and neck—also severe weakness or paralysis of the four limbs within 12 to 24 hours.

Penitrem-A intoxication is linked to moldy food and can lead to restlessness, excessive salivation, panting, muscle tremors, dehydration, exhaustion, and death.

What About Cooked Spoiled Meat? Is it Safe for my Dog?

No. Although cooking eliminates most pathogens in food, it doesn’t make spoiled meat healthier. Even if you destroy all the bacteria in rotten meat by cooking it, the deadly toxins produced by these pathogens will still be present.

Is Slightly Spoiled Meat Okay for My Dog?

Your dog should be okay if they scarf down slightly rotten meat. Their gut is sturdy enough to tolerate slightly or moderately spoiled meat. If the meat is just a few days past its expiry date, isn’t stinking, and doesn’t look moldy or green, your pup should be okay. This is because the bacteria haven’t yet formed deadly toxins. But you’ll still need to be cautious when feeding your pup slightly spoiled meat. It is best not to overfeed it.

Can my Dog have Food Poisoning from Eating Spoiled Meat?

Consuming rotten food, including spoiled meat, is a sure-fire cause of food poisoning or garbage toxicosis in dogs. However, dogs are generally less sensitive to food poisoning compared to humans.

Signs of food poisoning in dogs can appear within a few hours to days after Fido has feasted indiscriminately on rotten flesh. Common symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Mild fever
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Excessive drooling
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blood in stool
  • Hyperactivity
  • Weakness

The worst kind of disease your pup can pick up from consuming rancid meat is botulism. It is fatal, spreads fast, and can be challenging to detect. When your puppy consumes spoiled meat infested with botulinum spores, the toxins are absorbed into the bloodstream via the intestines.

They then attack the nerve cells and cause paralysis. Although rare, rotten meat can contain botulism bacteria, causing:

  • Shivering
  • Weakness
  • Inability to swallow
  • Increased salivation
  • Loss of coordination
  • Constipation
  • Eye inflammation
  • Paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Death

Early diagnosis and treatment are vital if your dog shows the symptoms listed above to prevent a fatality.

Is it Possible for My Dog to Eat Spoiled Meat and Not Get Sick?

Dog parents can ascertain that their canine companions can eat the most disgusting stuff and emerge unscathed. Your canine’s gastric pH level is extremely low, between 1.2 and 2.5, and sometimes eating rotten meat won’t hurt them. However, it’s not worth the potential risk.

Note that your canine can eat spoiled meat and seem fine, but it might be in the disease-development phase since signs of food poisoning can take up to six days.

My Dog Ate Spoiled Meat. What Should I Do?

If you are worried and notice changes in your dog’s behavior or mannerisms, inform your vet immediately. Some symptoms to look out for include nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, trembling, diarrhea, weakness, or lethargy.

You can give your dog plenty of clean and fresh water (only) for 24 hours to give their gut a chance to recover. When your dog starts to feel better, you can provide them with easy-to-digest bland food like oatmeal or rice, plain cooked chicken or turkey, and water.

If your furry friend starts vomiting repeatedly or is vomiting water, shows neurological signs, and appears miserable, they need to see a vet fast.

Treatment for Food Poisoning from Spoiled Meat

If your pup shows signs of garbage gut, offer them plenty of clean water. Consider fasting your canine for 24 hours to give their gut a break. 80% of your canine’s immunity is in its gut. Once your pup’s tummy has expelled all the bad food, his condition should improve. You’ll need to consult your vet if vomiting and diarrhea continue after 24 hours.

The vet can administer anti-vomiting and anti-diarrhea medication, muscle relaxants in case of seizures, antibiotics for infection, and H2 blockers for GI upset to help your pup keep his food down while recovering. They can also give it activated charcoal to absorb the excess toxins or bacteria.

If your canine tests positive for botulism, the vet can administer an antitoxin, IV fluids, and electrolytes to help them rehydrate, keep their energy up, and flush the kidneys.

How Long Can Meat Last Before Getting Spoiled?

The shelf life of meat products is the time frame during which meat retains its qualitative characteristics.

Unrefrigerated meat is a breeding ground for harmful pathogens because of the warm temperature. Always keep your meat refrigerated or cook it as soon as possible and consume it while it is still fresh.

Although refrigerated meat doesn’t have an infinite shelf life, storing it below 40 degrees Fahrenheit prevents microbial growth. Here’s the shelf life of different types of meat when stored in the refrigerator:

  • Seafood, ground meat, raw chicken: 1-2 days
  • Steak, large cut roasts, chops: 1-5 days
  • Cooked beef or chicken: 1- 7 days
  • Processed meat like salami, hotdogs, bacon, and sausages: 1-30 days

Healthy Meats for Your Dog

To prevent your pup from getting food poisoning, feed them fresh or cooked meat. Here are some healthy options for your furry friend:

Beef: All cuts are ideal for your dog, whether steak or ribs, and you can feed them to your pup raw or cooked. Most dog foods contain beef as one of the ingredients.

Chicken: Tasty, rich in protein, and easy to digest; chicken is also a good choice for pups. To prevent salmonella infection, cook the chicken properly before feeding it to your canine.

Turkey: Like chicken, it is an excellent lean protein source for canines.

Organ: Vets approve the addition of offals and organs to dogs’ regular diets. They provide high nutritional value and their high-fat content suits young pups.

Fish: Herring, salmon, sardines, and cod are rich in omega-3 and other essential nutrients

Alternatively, offering healthy dog treats is always convenient if you can’t feed your dog these meats. Ideal options include:

The Verdict

Spoiled meat isn’t safe for your pup. Although canines have “tougher” stomachs and high tolerance to most pathogens, it doesn’t mean you should feed them expired food.

Even though dogs don’t fall sick as frequently as humans, it’s still possible for them to get deadly infections when the harmful bacteria are in plenty. Consuming moldy or rotten meat can cause fatal neurological reactions in your pet.

If you know Fido ate some rancid meat, observe him over the next 24 to 48 hours. Vomiting and diarrhea in such situations are often self-limiting. But if you notice blood in their stool or Fido cannot keep water and food down, you should reach out to your vet quickly.

To tone down your furry friend’s desire to hunt for rotten meat, ensure you provide a balanced diet, including healthy meat alternatives and a nutritious vet-approved dog treat.

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