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Can Dogs Eat Spoiled Meat? Dangers & Tips If They Do

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So you found some spoiled meat in the back of your fridge, wondering if it’s okay to feed it to your dog. Or perhaps they food some old meat in the garbage.

After all, they are scavengers by nature, so surely they can handle a little bit of spoiled meat, right?

To find out, we looked into the dangers of spoiled meat and asked a veterinarian for their professional opinion.

So, can dogs eat spoiled meat?

No, dogs should not consume spoiled meat. Spoiled meat contains deadly bacteria and toxins that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even death in dogs. While a dog may be able to eat small amounts of spoiled meat without getting sick, it’s not worth the risk of food poisoning and other health issues.

In this article, you’ll discover:

  • Why dogs shouldn’t eat spoiled meat
  • The danger when a dog eats spoiled meat
  • What to do if your dog eats spoiled meat (vet answers)

Let’s dive in.

can dogs eat spoiled meat

What’s Consider Spoiled Meat?

To determine if dogs can eat spoiled meat, we need to determine what is considered “spoiled” meat.

Meat becomes spoiled when sitting at room temperature for too long or is not stored correctly.

Once the meat has been exposed to bacteria, it can start to form toxins that can make you and your dog very sick.

You can usually tell if meat has gone bad by the smell, taste, and appearance. 

Here are some signs of spoiled meat:

  • Bad smell: Spoiled meat will have a strong, rancid odor that is unpleasant to smell.
  • Bad taste: If you’re unsure if meat has gone bad, give it a small taste. If it tastes sour or off, it’s no good.
  • Change in color: Fresh meat is usually red or pink, while spoiled meat may have a greenish, brown, or gray tint to it.
  • Slimy texture: If the meat feels slimy to the touch, it’s probably spoiled.

Can Dogs Eat Spoiled Meat?

can dogs eat spoiled mea

Now that we know what spoiled meat is, we can answer the question can dogs eat spoiled meat?

The short answer is no. Dogs should not eat spoiled meat.

Meat that’s expired, gone bad, or has been sitting out for too long can contain bacteria and toxins.

It’s a breeding ground for E. coli and salmonella. These can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even death in dogs if consumed in large quantities.

While a dog’s stomach is tougher than a human’s, they can still get food poisoning from spoiled meat.

And while some dogs may be able to eat small amounts of spoiled meat without getting sick, it’s not worth the risk.

So can dogs have spoiled meat?

No dogs should not have spoiled or moldy meat. It puts dogs at risk of food poisoning and other health issues.

Can Dogs Eat Slightly Spoiled Meat?

Slightly spoiled meat is less concerning than completely spoiled or moldy meat.

Slightly spoiled meat can smell off or have a slimy texture, but it’s less likely to make dogs sick.

This is because the bacteria haven’t had a chance to grow and form toxins.

That being said, you should still use caution when feeding your dog slightly spoiled meat.

The USDA recommends throwing out meat sitting at room temperature for more than two hours or meat in the fridge for more than four days.

While it’s likely that dogs can safely eat slightly spoiled meat, it’s still not recommended.

Can Dogs Eat Spoiled Cooked Meat?

While you may have read that cooking spoiled meat can kill off the bacteria and make it safe to eat, toxins can still form in cooked meat that’s gone bad.

These toxins can make your dog sick, even if the meat has been cooked.

So can dogs eat spoiled cooked meat? No, they should not. It’s best to err on the side of caution and throw out any meat, cooked or not, that’s gone bad.

Can Dogs Eat Rotten Meat?

can dogs eat rotten meat

Dogs should not eat rotten meat. Rotten meat is meat that’s been decomposing for days or weeks.

Rotten meat can harbor many bacteria and toxins that can make your dog very sick.

If you think your dog has eaten rotten meat, watch for signs of food poisoning like vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.

Is Spoiled Meat Bad For Dogs?

Yes, spoiled meat is bad for dogs.

While a dog’s stomach can handle some bacteria, it’s not immune to the dangers of spoiled meat.

Spoiled meat, moldy meat, or expired meat can contain harmful pathogens. Some of these include:

  • E. coli
  • Salmonella
  • Listeria
  • Staphylococcus
  • Clostridium botulinum
  •  Pentium-A

These can cause serious illnesses such as paralysis, seizures, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, staph infections, and loss of appetite.

So while tiny amounts of spoiled meat may not get all dogs sick, it’s not worth the risk.

Dangers Of Dogs Eating Spoiled Meat

Here is a list of some of the possible dangers when a dog eats spoiled meat:

Bacterial Infection

Spoiled meat can contain harmful bacteria like E. coli, salmonella, and listeria. Bacteria can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even death in dogs if consumed in large quantities.


Spoiled meat can contain toxins that can make your dog very sick. These toxins can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, paralysis, and even death.

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning can occur when a dog eats spoiled meat. Symptoms of food poisoning in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

Allergic Reactions

Some dogs may be allergic to the bacteria in spoiled meat. This can cause itching, swelling, hives, and difficulty breathing.

What To Do If Your Dog Ate Spoiled Meat From The Garbage

can dogs eat spoiled meat

I reached out to Dr. Littlejohn to find out what he’d recommend to care for a dog that ate spoiled food.

When speaking with a veterinarian over the phone, they will attempt to examine your dog for health problems by asking questions.

This is so they can first determine whether or not your dog has eaten enough to warrant concern.

They usually ask about the following things:

  • Ingredients in the food 
  • Amount consumed
  • The size of your dog
  • How long ago they consumed it
  • Any changes to your dog’s behaviors
  • Your dog’s energy level
  • Signs of physical pain or discomfort
  • If your dog’s drinking or eating
  • If they vomited or pooped since eating it (and what it looked like)

Each scenario will be unique depending on how much they ate, what they ate, and how big your dog is.

Their main objective with the questions is to determine whether or not your dog ate enough for it to be considered toxic.

As a rule of thumb, contact your vet if you can tell your dog seems “off” and you are concerned.

When a dog eats spoiled meat, they will likely experience an upset stomach with minor symptoms of indigestion.

However, depending on how bad the spoiled meat was will affect the severity of their symptoms.

The most common concern with spoiled meat is food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning include:
  • Vomiting*
  • Diarrhea*
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive drooling
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Fever
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloody stool
Rare concerns with spoiled meat are if a dog contracts botulism. Symptoms of botulism include:
  • Constipation
  • Seizures
  • Inflamed Eyes
  • Shivering
  • Weakness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Paralysis

If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to contact your vet.

In cases where they ate a small amount, or it was only slightly spoiled meat, they may just have minor diarrhea and vomiting.

However, always play it safe if you are unsure.

For minor symptoms, you can offer them small frequent meals of bland food like boiled chicken and rice or oatmeal.

If they don’t want to eat, leaving your dog to fast for a day is okay to let the food process through their system.

It’s also essential to ensure they stay hydrated by offering them small sips of water or ice cubes every few hours.

If your dog is still not acting like themselves after a day or two, it’s best to reach out to your veterinarian as they may need further treatment.

Click here if you wish to speak with a vet online right now.

What’s The Treatment For Dogs With Food Poisoning From Rotten Meat?

The treatment for food poisoning will vary depending on the severity of the symptoms.

The primary symptoms of food poisoning are diarrhea and vomiting. However, this isn’t a cause for concern since it helps flush out the bad meat.

If your dog can’t keep water down or throws up repeatedly, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

Once your dog has processed all the toxic food, their condition should improve.

If your pup continues to vomit after a few hours or has loose or liquid stool after 24 hours, you should contact your vet.

A vet will treat dogs with food poisoning case by case.

They usually administer medication to help dogs keep their food down if they are not eating. Sometimes, they may need to hook a dog up to an IV.

They will also do several tests to check for bacteria and other toxins in the blood.

Can Dogs Eat Spoiled Meat Without Getting Sick?

Some dogs can eat spoiled meat without getting sick. Certain dogs may respond to food differently than other dogs.

For example, some dogs have stomachs that can handle more bacteria than others.

However, this does not mean it’s okay for some dogs to eat spoiled meat. 

Even if they can handle the bacteria, it can still cause indigestion and an upset stomach and put them at risk for other health concerns.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Can Dogs Get Sick From Out Of Date Meat?

Yes, dogs can get sick from out-of-date meat. The symptoms will be the same as if they ate spoiled meat. It’s important to check the expiration date on meat before feeding it to your dog.

How Long Does Meat Last Before Getting Spoiled?

It depends on the type of meat. Raw meat can last anywhere from one to five days in the fridge before it spoils. Cooked meat can last three to four days in the refrigerator.

The USDA recommends throwing out any meat that’s been sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours or meat that’s been in the fridge for more than four days.

Can Dogs Tell If Meat Is Spoiled?

Dogs can tell if meat is spoiled by the smell. Spoiled meat will have a sour or rancid smell. If you’re unsure if the meat is bad, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and throw it out.

Some dogs may even be repulsed by its odor. So if your dog is hesitant to eat meat, it’s probably best to not feed it to them.

Remember, dogs can smell things that we can’t. So if it smells bad, it probably smells even worse to your dog.

Can Dogs Eat Other Spoiled Foods?

All moldy or rotten foods can cause food poisoning for dogs.

Dogs can also get sick from eating spoiled milk, cheese, eggs, or other dairy products.

These foods can contain bacteria like salmonella and E. coli that can make your dog very ill.

Final Thoughts

So can dogs have spoiled meat?

The answer is no. Dogs should not eat spoiled meat. Whether cooked, expired, rotten, or slightly spoiled meat, dogs should not eat it.

There are health risks involved in feeding your dog spoiled meats. These can range from a simple upset stomach to more severe conditions like food poisoning or botulism.

I would rather avoid putting my dog at risk by not feeding them spoiled meat.

If you think your dog has eaten spoiled meat, it’s important to watch them for any symptoms. If they show any signs of illness, contact your vet immediately.

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