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Can Dogs Eat Rotten Meat – Is It Safe?

We all know dogs love to devour stuff they’re better off staying away from. Be it going after table scraps or swiping through the garbage bin – there’s not much your furry companion will not eat. One common worry among dog parents is keeping their furbaby away from spoiled food to avoid health concerns. This naturally raises the question – can dogs eat rotten meat?

Dogs cannot eat rotten meat. Ingesting spoiled meat can result in illnesses ranging from food poisoning, Botulism, E. Coli, and Campylobacter infections for dogs. Rotten meat can also weaken a dog’s immune system leading to severe illness.

What’s more, spoiled meat can contain various bacteria, pathogens, etc., that can severely affect your pet’s health – and in some cases, yours! If you’re concerned about the dangers related to your pup eating rotten meat, stay with us as we walk you through potential problems and helpful tips to avoid such situations. 

Reasons Dogs Can’t Eat Rotten Meat

Believe it or not, some people claim that there’s no harm in feeding your furball rotten and that it can help your pet’s overall nutritional needs.

However, despite the fact the canines can ingest raw meat due to their unique digestive enzymes and gastric acidity – rotten meat is renowned for toxins and microbes that even your hound’s gut can’t eliminate. 

Not to mention, there’s always a chance that your pet gets infected with bacteria after eating rotten meat – even if it doesn’t experience adverse reactions. In such cases, canines can become carriers of bacteria and pass it on to humans with weak or compromised immune systems. 

We can feel the anxiety levels of dog owners reading this rising from all the way here. But, before you get too carried away – go through our top five reasons why dogs can’t eat rotten meat to keep yourself informed. 

Food Poisoning

Even though food poisoning in canines is a nuanced issue, one of the sure-fire causes behind canine cases of food poisoning is rotten meat.

Even fresh meat is home to many different types of bacteria (depending on the meat). However, spoiled meat creates just the right environment for harmful toxins to flourish. 

These toxins, when ingested, can play havoc with your canine’s digestive system and lead to related symptoms like:

● Vomiting

● Diarrhea

● Dehydration

● Reduced appetite

● Lethargy

● Tremors

● A collapse in severe cases

If your dog displays one or more of the following signs, it may be suffering through a bout of food poisoning. You can try fasting your canine for 24 hours (when they vomit) by offering only water. 

However, if your pet starts vomiting again after the 24 hour fast or looks miserable, or is vomiting water – take it to the vet asap to get the necessary treatment. 


Thankfully, botulism is a rare condition, but if contracted, it can cause paralysis in dogs. It’s caused in canines when they ingest the botulinum toxin (produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria). 

The majority of botulism cases in canines are caused by ingesting carrion or contaminated/spoiled meat. The Clostridium botulinum bacteria thrives on decomposing meat, produces and spreads the botulinum toxin where it grows. 

Once your pup eats the infected meat, the toxin is not only absorbed by its intestines – but also enters the bloodstream. From there, the toxin can travel throughout your dog’s body, bind itself to nerve cells, and result in paralysis. 

Symptoms of botulism can take anywhere between hours to six days to manifest – although if your pup shows signs right away, that means the infection may be severe, and your pet needs immediate medical attention.

One of the first symptoms of botulism is generally a weakness in the rear legs and can progress to affect a canine’s front legs within 24 hours, along with muscles located in the face and head. 

Once symptoms of botulism develop, treatment includes supportive care concerning a canine’s symptoms. However, vets may hospitalize affected dogs at a facility with an intensive care unit. Recovery time for most dogs ranges between 14 to 24 days.

E. Coli Infections

E. Coli infections can occur for several reasons. While these infections are found in puppies due to weak immune systems and unsanitary birthing conditions, they can also occur in mature dogs through eating or drinking contaminated food and water – specifically raw meat or spoiled raw meat. 

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), pathogenic e. coli (the bacteria that can cause illness) can be spread through contact with infected animals or persons.

That means, if your dog gets an e. coli infection, you’ll have to be careful about handling it until the infection is cleared from its system. 

Symptoms of an e. Coli infection in canines include:

● Lethargy

● Rapid heartbeat

● Diarrhea

● Vomiting

● Low body temperature

● Weakness

● Dehydration

E. coli infections have a rapid onset time and require immediate veterinary help for diagnosis and treatment.

Depending on the severity of your dog’s condition, your vet may hospitalize your pooch to stabilize its condition. Apart from IV drips to treat dehydration, treatment for e. coli infections include antibiotics like cephalexin.

Campylobacter Infections

Campylobacter infections in canines are caused by Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter upsaliensis bacteria. This infection is generally triggered by contacting contaminated food, water, or feces in dogs. 

Symptoms of the infection can entail lethargy, fever, diarrhea with mucus, and abdominal pain. Diarrhea can last up to a week and sometimes relapse after it appears your pet has recovered.

The strange thing about campylobacter infections is that some dogs don’t seem to suffer any symptoms and require no medical attention. 

However, for pups who are affected, vets can prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the pathogenic bacteria, which also helps in reducing the number of bacteria found in an infected canine’s feces (poop). 

Worn-out Immune System

It’s common knowledge that your immune system can take quite a hit after battling with an illness. That’s true for dogs too. The more severe the infection is, the longer it can take your furry best friend to recover. 

If your pet happens to be a pup or a senior dog, a weakened immune system means your hound is susceptible to other bacteria or pathogens floating around.

Additionally, suppose your pet’s immune system stays off-kilter for too long. In that case, it can lead to chronic inflammation, giving rise to a whole host of problems like diabetes, liver or heart conditions, asthma, etc. 

Thankfully, you can build up your furbaby’s immune system through proper dietary care and a corresponding exercise regime.

Besides that, spending time with your pet, such as going on walks or playtime, can also significantly contribute to building back your pet’s immunity. 

What Happens If A Dog Eats Spoiled Meat

After a dog ingests spoiled meat, the most crucial concern is developing an infection – thanks to bacteria or toxins present in the flesh. Depending on the amount of meat consumed, its putridity, and the bacteria – your canine may develop illnesses like e. coli infections, food poisoning, botulism, etc. 

Note that eating just a small amount of spoiled meat may not cause your pet any problems. Not only are canine digestive systems equipped to handle raw meat, but their stomachs are also highly acidic and can take care of a negligent amount of pathogens. 

However, if you aren’t sure about the quantity of rotten meat your dog has eaten, or if your pet is a small-sized canine – it’s best to take a quick trip to the vet for some preventive measures. That way, you may be able to help your furry best friend before an infection has the chance to take root. 

Can A Dog Get Sick From Eating Spoiled Meat

Dogs’ tummies can produce more than 100 times the acid found in human stomachs. That may sound incredulous, but it’s true. That’s one reason why canines aren’t as susceptible to bacteria and toxins as humans are. However, that doesn’t mean dogs can’t ever fall ill due to contaminated food or drink. 

Dogs can fall ill (with food poisoning or infections like campylobacter) after consuming spoiled meat – which is why it’s wise not to take chances and to keep your canine away from all such sources. 

Can Dogs Eat Spoiled Meat If Cooked

Science tells us that bacteria in meat die when cooked anywhere between 145 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. But, that doesn’t include the toxins produced by the bacteria present in the meat. That’s why it’s never a good idea to feed your dog cooked spoiled meat because your pet can still fall ill due to the presence of toxins. 

Can Dogs Get Food Poisoning From Old Meat

Can I feed my dog old meat is a tricky question because it involves so many factors. First off, some dogs are renowned for having sensitive stomachs and can experience diarrhea or vomiting by just swapping dog food brands. 

Then there’s the fact that everyone has their subjective version of what makes a food item ‘old.’ Some people think a day is enough; others place their threshold at two or three days. 

And aside from all that, there’s no way of actually being sure how safe or bacteria-free old meat is. Even if you’re feeding your pet meat that’s a day old, there’s still some risk involved in the process.

Add to that the misery that your furbaby might go through if they get food poisoning – and the whole thing doesn’t seem worth it. 

If you’re worried about wasting food, a better option would be to use the old meat as compost (food for your plants) instead of your canine. 

Can Dogs Die From Eating Old Meat

Considering that dogs can fall pretty seriously ill after ingesting rotten meat or old – despite having sturdier stomachs than humans – means you shouldn’t take the topic too lightly. 

Indeed, most of the time, food poisoning in canines will typically involve symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or dehydration – that can be treated easily by your vet. However, there are external factors that might affect your furbaby’s condition. 

For instance, puppies and older dogs are more susceptible to infections and have a longer recovery path. Additionally, if your pet already has a chronic health condition, such as liver disease or diabetes, this can also affect treatment and recovery time. 

Not to be all gloom and doom, but there have been instances of bacterial infections or even diarrhea proving fatal for canines – which is why it’s crucial to get your pet to the vet if you suspect it’s suffering from an infection. 

Things To Consider

Illness and stomach issues are a part of life, and sometimes they’re unavoidable. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help your pet achieve a lifestyle where such occurrences are rare. Here’s how you can steer clear of rotten meat-related health problems for your pup.

Don’t leave meat (or related products) lying out for too long

One of the primary reasons why good meat goes bad is inappropriate temperature. In winters, meat left lying out of the freezer takes some time before bacteria start thriving in it. However, the process can be almost too quick in summers. 

That’s why, be it your home-cooked dog meal, wet dog food, or raw meat – never leave it outside the refrigerator (or freezer) for too long to ensure bacteria or toxins don’t compromise its quality. 

Keep an eye out on your dog when it’s exploring outside

Your canine can get its paws on rotten meat in and outside of the house. To ensure your pet doesn’t bite or chow down on the carcass of a bird or any other critter to be lurking around – keep an eye on your pet. 

It’s also a good idea to monitor your backyard for dead squirrels and the like and dispose of such things before your hound has a chance to sniff around. 

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