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This blog post was originally published in August 2015. It has been updated with new information and republished.

One reason people have told me that they are nervous about feeding raw is because of the bacteria.  I wonder if they think cleaning up after a raw fed dog is any different than cleaning up after a kibble fed dog.

There may be some differences - we are dealing with raw meat - but not many.  

In this post, I share everything that I do to  keep my home clean - a home with five raw fed dogs.

If you're like us, then your dogs are a big part of the family. As I type, I'm surrounded by three out of our five dogs. The other two are in the family room with my partner (I'm watching Alien Resurrection and he's watching a movie in the Fast & the Furious franchise). At the moment, it's calm and relaxed, but I can already see the work I have cut out for me tomorrow because the dogs were in the house most of the day.

  • All five of our dogs track in mud, sand, and dirt daily.
  • Scout and Apollo swim in our ponds daily this time of the year.
  • Everyone in shedding, including the Husky mix.
  • And a stuffed toy lost it's life at some point today.

You'd think the HUGE messes were from feeding our dogs a raw food diet.  Nope.  Our dogs are really clean eaters thanks to the raised dog dishes we chose for them on Chewy.  Go figure. It's just life with dogs in a rural community that creates a daily mess. But let's start with raw feeding because this is what people worry about the most – bacteria everywhere!!!

Why I Switched to Raw Feeding?

If raw feeding brings more bacteria in the home, then why feed it to our dogs?

I don't mean to laugh when people express concerns about the bacteria in raw feeding, but I do find it humorous because bacteria are literally everywhere. I can't imagine that there are many homes that are bacteria-free. However, this is a true concern for many pet parents. I was more concerned about my sick dogs. Regular vet visits weren't helping Rodrigo and I kept hearing about raw feeding and after years of not finding a solution, I decided to go all-natural. Within a couple of weeks, most of Rodrigo's health issues were gone! VANISHED! Before switching the raw, Rodrigo's vet predicted that he wouldn't live long past his 3rd birthday; today, after raw feeding, Rodrigo and his sister celebrated their 10 year birthday.

Which is Cleaner? Ground or Whole Raw?

I started our raw feeding journey by feeding commercial premade raw, which was ground. This was so much easier to feed than whole raw, which I was terrified to do at the time because I was convinced that it would take too long for the dogs to eat and that they'd drag the food all over the house. I was wrong.

Today, I mix whole and raw in my dogs' meals so that they get the benefit of chewing their food, which promotes healthy gums and clean teeth and to satisfy their chew drive. I've found that many foods can be fed in their dishes (duck necks, duck feet, rabbit). Our dogs eat their raw meaty bones outside in the summer (duck frames, lamb necks, and pork ribs).

I've thought about training our dogs to eat on a tarp in the house, however, I think that's pushing my boyfriend too far.

Cleaning Up After Raw Fed Dogs

Cleaning up after our dogs is easy. We feed our dogs from Neater Feeders (you can find them on Amazon.com too). Although their diet is primarily ground raw, it can be slightly messy, but the back of the Neater Feeder catches any mess and they're easy to clean. I wash them with dish detergent once or twice a month. I prefer stainless steel dishes because they won't absorb smells (that may turn my dogs off of future meals) and they are easier to keep clean. I wash my dogs' dishes with either dish detergent or I run them through the dishwasher more regularly.

Although using bleach in the house is frowned upon by some pet parents, it's a staple in our home and I use a water/bleach mixture to clean our kitchen counters after doing meal prep. I've been feeding raw for more than seven years, but my boyfriend is still nervous about it, which is enough push for me to make sure that I clean up after myself thoroughly.

Messy Eaters

Years ago, when I was new to writing about raw feeding, a person told me that they couldn't feed raw because their dog was a messy eater and her dog rubbed his muzzle on the furniture after meals. At the time, I was thinking “what are you talking about?” But observing my dogs and meeting other raw feeders, I can see how this can be a problem.

When it comes to raw food all over the face and coat, there are ways to hold long hair/ears back. You can choose from a variety of snoods on Amazon and Etsy. Or you can make your own.

And when it comes to your dog wiping his face on the furniture, you can either be proactive and wipe your dog's mouth after a meal OR you can work on training to redirect that energy into a behavior that you'd prefer. Out of all of our dogs, only Rodrigo runs to wipe his mouth on a dog bed after meals. To curb this behavior, I send him outside after he finishes eating. Three of our dogs, Rodrigo, Sydney, and Scout, will walk to the door to go outside after their meals. Scout and Apollo are the cleanup crew and lick each bowl before they go outside.

Cleaning Our Floors

Our dogs are tracking dirt into the house year-round and, surprisingly, it's easy to keep up with them. We sweep and mop the floors every other day, more often if the dogs are in the house more (like during a pandemic).

Cleaning Our Furniture

We put blankets over the fabric furniture in the family room and the living room has faux leather / dog friendly furniture that can be vacuumed. Making a fabric freshener with essential oils, a small amount of soap, and water helps to keep the furniture fresh. We wash the blankets weekly, and vacuum the furniture (yep, we do that too) whenever we vacuum the floors.

Grooming Our Dogs

And, finally, I bathe the dogs (notice that I didn't say “we”) every other month or so, more often in the summer (rolling in dead snake guts, swimming in the pond). I brush them a couple of days a week. And I massage coconut oil in their coat to kill bacteria (aka doggy odor).

Bacteria and Raw Feeding

The bottom line, I clean our house just the same as if I fed my dogs a kibble diet. I don't worry about bacteria because my dogs are eating a raw food diet. Our dogs are being exposed to bacteria all day, every day and it's not because of something we put in their dog dishes. I believe that if you can handle raw meat for humans, then you can handle raw meat (which, in my case, is human grade) for dogs too. There isn't much of a difference – wash your hands, clean up after yourself, keep your dogs clean, and keep your home clean. There will always be bacteria, but you won't have a hazmat team knocking down your door.

One reason people have told me that they are nervous about feeding raw is because of the bacteria.  I wonder if they think cleaning up after a raw fed dog is any different than cleaning up after a kibble fed dog.

There may be some differences - we are dealing with raw meat - but not many.  

In this post, I share everything that I do to  keep my home clean - a home with five raw fed dogs.

Read More About Raw Feeding for Dogs

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