Cooking meat for homemade dog food has two advantages over using raw meats.
1) Cooking meat kills bacteria. Meat can become contaminated by bacteria in the following ways:
a) The animals may harbor bacteria before being slaughtered
b) During processing at the slaughterhouse
c) During transportation to the store or butcher
d) During cutting, packaging and storing by the butcher
e) During storage and preparation in our kitchen
2) Cooking makes meat more digestible. Despite what you may have heard or read, raw meat is not more digestible than cooked meat. Gentle cooking breaks chemical bonds and increases the digestibility of the amino acids from meats so they are more readily absorbed from the intestines. Much of the protein in raw meat is passed in dog poop, undigested. Undigested protein also encourages the growth of gas producing bacteria in the colon.
But you can over cook meat and decrease its quality. Meat only needs to be heated to an internal temperature of 170o F to kill bacteria. No matter how you cook the meat for your homemade dog food, a meat thermometer can tell you what the temperature is in the middle of meat cut. For fried, ground meats, complete browning is a good indication of reaching the correct internal temperature.
Don’t rely on cooking times recommended in your cook books or recipes. Monitor the temperature so you are creating a “bacteria-safe” meal without destroying the quality of the protein.