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Raw Food Diets May Be Dangerous for Pets

Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 11:45am

Just like fad diets for humans, popular diets for your pets come and go. However, there’s one particular pet diet trend that gives us pause: ASPCA experts say raw food diets for pets that include raw meat, eggs and milk may be dangerous for your furry friends. We typically recommend that pet parents opt for well-balanced, high-quality commercial and cooked foods instead.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) agrees. In studies published in AVMA’s journal, homemade and commercial raw food diets for dogs and cats were found to contain dangerous bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella, just to name a few. Other tests showed that unprocessed food diets can lead to nutrient deficiencies or excess that can cause serious illnesses in pets. Also, pets chewing on raw bones can lead to obstruction or perforation of their gastrointestinal tracts, and fractured teeth.

If you don’t want to feed your dog or cat a commercial diet, consider a homemade diet that will diminish the risks of foodborne illnesses. These meals should be thoroughly cooked and need to be formulated by a veterinary nutritionist or by your veterinarian to make sure they’re nutritionally sound.

If you are passionate about feeding your pet raw foods, please consider the following tips.

  • Work with your veterinarian to ensure that your pet’s diet is nutritionally balanced.
  • Avoid feeding raw foods in homes with babies and toddlers (who put lots of things in their mouths), the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
  • Practice regular hand washing before and after feeding pets.
  • Practice appropriate disposal methods when cleaning up pet feces.

For more information about pet-safe diets, consult your veterinarian and check out our complete list of people foods that are dangerous to pets.

Tell us in the comments below: Do you feed your pet raw foods or a homemade diet?

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ruth housman

Animals in the wild eat raw food. We see this constantly as part of Nature. And when I take my dog for a walk, he will stand by water I wouldn't drink, and he drinks his fill. And he manages, provided, of course there is no oil in the water or something that is of major toxicity. I buy it that we should be careful certainly of RAW but I also think we're losing something here, which is a deep understanding of where we're all coming from: as in Wilderness.

No, don't feed your dog, chicken bones. They get stuck. And no to chocolate. And yes, approach the issue of RAW with the same cautions we could apply to OVERCOOKED food, which takes the nutrients right out, and we give our children often, foods that are really not as nutritious as they could be.

Yes, to nutritional balance for us all. There is right now, a major issue, and that has to do with the over sanitizing of the environment, an issue of, allergies in children, to common nuts for example, as peanuts. Now our peanuts, our children cannot eat nuts. How nuts is this? But there is also now, a growing concern for what we call Nature Deprivation Disorder. We are losing touch, with our roots, and maybe the middle ground in all things, is the place to go. Compromised immune systems are also a result of severe limitations on our being outside, playing, in the dirt.

The literature on polio makes it very clear, that children exposed to dirt, got milder if not insignificant cases, and those very protected, often got the biggest wallop. We need to be aware of immunity and how it is created. And exposure is not always a bad thing. Non exposure can also be fatal.

Diana

How do we know that dogs in the wild live for very long? we don't. they often die of diseases that are never documented. I just posted on this site the story of recently losing my nine year old pit bull to e-coli from raw chicken. She was on the raw diet for two months. It is dangerous and not enough information is given about how to do it correctly if you decide to take this drastic step. I totally take the blame for killing my dog, along with a vet who was horrible and did not see the symptoms. Now I will try to make people think really hard and do ALOT of research before doing this.

Paul Martin

I agree, anyone who isn't willing to research & find all the information they can to prepare a healthy, complete diet for their pet, as well as using common sense & decent, clean, methods when handling & preparing raw food should NOT try to do this. However I will attest as others have, that it CAN be done.
Not everyone should be doing this, especially if they don't have the time or haven't researched out the subject enough to KNOW they have the information they need to do it right.
Sorry to hear about your dog Diana. While it is unusual that a dog would die from e-coli (do the research!), I suspect it had more to do with your vet than with what you did, so try to not feel too guilty about it. Feeding a pet raw food (or natural foods) is not for everyone. But I do applaud your effort to want to attempt it. The garbage these companies put in kibble & many canned foods has killed a lot more animals than raw feeding. (Look back at 2007 & what was revealed when all the animals got sick or died, or read about the pets others have lost over the years, with incorrect amounts of chemicals, etc. & you may not be too quick to condemn raw food, or rush to feed your pets commercial foods or kibble, for those carry a huge risk that is being constantly covered up.)
As you said, I will take a step further... people need to do a LOT of research before making a decision of what to feed their pet! Their loving pet's life depends on it.

Gavin Dillard

The bias against raw milk is false and contrived by evil large dairy operations and their minions in Washington. Our family consumes organic raw goat milk, people and seven cats all. It does us wonders, especially those who are immune compromised. Homogenized dairy is toxic to both humans and pets, it is unnatural and unsafe.

Ratcoon

Who to believe, who to believe. A random person posting on the internet or peer-reviewed scientific research, the ASPCA, and The American Veterinary Medical Association?

LeFox

You forget that all of these things are ran by money. If it doesn't make money than it's not worth the research.

Heather

ASPCA is regarded as a joke by knowledgeable pet owners. AVMA is in the pocket of commercial brand pet foods. (Science Diet, anyone?) Most vets are taught nothing about nutrition and the importance of preventative maintenance. They are taught symptom suppression and disease diagnosis.

Currently, there are multiple, reliable brands presenting the raw food diet in convenient, safe, and manageable methods. The most important thing is to educate yourselves. Raw is not something you just pick-up at the grocery and drop into Fido's ornate bowl. You have to provide a properly balanced meal for each individual pet. A chicken breast and rice won't cut it. If that's the stage you're at, you're doing it wrong. If you want convenience, you'll end up paying for it but there are good brands out there (like Primal). If you want to spend no more than thirty seconds feeding your dog, go buy kibble from reputable brands (like Orijen). If you can't afford it, do the best you can and apologize to your dog every night until you're able to do right by him.

But don't use this vague warning provided by the ASPCA do discourage you from bettering the health and life of your companion. Read books being published by alternative and holistic vets (who are still legitimately accredited). Find one such vet in your area to answer your questions. Visit your local holistic pet shops and ask the same questions. Find out.

If your plan is to do something about the health of your pets, DO SOMETHING about the health of your pets! Don't sit behind the computer and wait for the symptoms to erupt, then blame your vet because all they can do is offer a steroid...

Brittany

I feed 4 dogs and 2 cats raw food consisting of raw bone meats and organs. It so ridiculous to say raw food is dangerous for dogs and cats. I think feeding commercial dog food is dangerous. It's the reason so many pets have health issues today! This article needs more facts.

Patie

Thank you Brittany..We have six dogs and they were all on commercial food; one specifically has a problem with IBD and the amount of the money spent on commercial food was enormous; until we switched to raw. All of our dogs eat raw food including bone, meat and organs without an issue. We have no regrets on the switch.

Rachel

I too am switching to raw meat diets for my two small dogs. a male fox terrier and a female rat terrier, Major and Bella. Major was diganosed with diabetes a month ago and he is not taking the two shots of insulin twice a day very well, too stressful for both of us. He has lost weight and lost his energy for awhile and is becoming very aggressive with me. I have been giving them some meat on and off, not totally raw but rare and they love it. He is getting his energy back but still aggressive everytime he sees me approaching him with the syringe. I have done some research and so I am trying the raw meats and hopefully it will regulate his blood sugar so I won't have to give him two shots a day for the rest of his life.

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