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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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Delilah

We just started our Doxie Terrier mix on a Raw Food Diet. Stella and Chewy's brand and so far she eats it and is doing good. She is so finicky about canned and dry anymore that we had to try something. There is a Pet food store close to where my son works and it is all Raw for all kinds of Pets. They also have it frozen or freeze dried and every thing is tested out for everything. We will continue as long as it makes her happy.

Ratcoon

The article links to other articles that do indeed contain facts and scientific research. Your post however is nothing more than anecdotal evidence and assumption. “It's the reason so many pets have health issues today!” - have you verified this with a double blind experiment?

antagonist

have you?

Tink

You need to understand that much of the "research" being done is by corporations funded by the conglomerates pushing out crap processed dog foods. MANY veterinarian schools are funded bu Hill's Science Diet...which is why Vet schools have little to no focus on diet, and so many vets recommend that brand even though it's complete garbage. Before you believe "scientific facts" spewed by large corporations, think about our own stupid government and their CRAP food pyramid, which has been one of the major causes of obesity rates in the US!!! Grains were NEVER meant to be the base of the human diet, are you kidding me??? Countries that have a diet based on VEGETABLES with little to no grain consumption are completely FREE of diseases like Crohn's disease and Celiac Disease, yet our government refuses to tell the truth about what we should be eating. Do we need more research done before we can completely say that raw diets are good for our pets? Absolutely. But it's hard to accomplish this when the "big money" is only funding research that spreads lies and keeps them in business. Food for thought.

Bess

Since to date to the best of my knowledge, no one has experienced any issues with diseases picked up from this raw food, and at least 119 people have been hospitalized from salmonella from kibble. How do you and the vets answer this question. Most of the information vets receive today on nutrition in vet schools comes from the big dog food companies. Do you think those companies are going to say that raw food is better?

Ronna Kabler, DVM

Is millions of years of wolves eating prey(ie) raw meat and bones
a FAD??

Or thousands of years of dogs eating prey (raw meat and bones) a FAD?
How about we look at all the contamination of Kibble that has led to countless illnesses and yes, even deaths of pets and people.

Ratcoon

Human ancestors also ate raw food, but thanks to the invention of fire and learning to cook our food (in addition to other advancements), we now have longer life spans. “How about we look at all the contamination of Kibble that has led to countless illnesses” - this is nothing more than a straw-man argument. The contamination of Kibble has nothing to do with whether or not it is safe to feed animals raw food.

antagonist

We have longer life spans because of inventions like medicine, shelter and temperature regulation and the absence of predatory animals running wild

Ratcoon

“Since to date to the best of my knowledge, no one has experienced any issues with diseases picked up from this raw food” - your anecdotal evidence does not supersede the scientific research mentioned in the post and the articles link within the post.

“Most of the information vets receive today on nutrition in vet schools comes from the big dog food companies.” - the information regarding feeding animals raw food in the article and linked articles come from peer-reviewed scientific research. If you've ever known a scientist, you'll know that they love proving someone wrong. To date, no one has proven that feeding pets raw food is safe.

Sarah

Published in 2006 and titled Human Health Implications of Salmonella-Contaminated Natural Pet Treats and Raw Pet Food1, the study makes the following points (bolded phrases and notes in parentheses are mine):

“The increasing popularity of raw food diets for companion animals is another potential pet-associated source of Salmonella organisms; however, no confirmed cases of human salmonellosis have been associated with these diets.”

“To date, there have been no published reports of salmonellosis occurring in dogs as a result of exposure to natural pet treats.” (This immediately brings to mind the tragic, ongoing problem with non-natural, processed chicken jerky pet treats from China.)

“To date, there has been only one published report of salmonellosis occurring in cats as a result of exposure to raw food diets. Septicemic salmonellosis was diagnosed in 2 cats that underwent necropsy at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia (Athens, GA).”

“To date, raw pet foods have not been associated with salmonellosis in humans; however, identification of Salmonella contaminated food and Salmonella shedding by pets that have been fed raw food diets should raise concern.”

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