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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The pet food industry is not regulated, who know's what else is in it. My husky has suffered from dry black and red skin on her belly, chest and genitals for half her life. I blame all of this dehydrated chemically induced veternarian reccomended horse shite. Trust yourself, if your dog isn't thriving on the diet you feed him/her educate yourself THOUROGHLY. Every dog is different so do what you feel is right. I don't trust my vet, she's a pill pushing drug lord. By the way she's (Sydney) on a raw diet of chicken breast and drums (raw with bones) a probiotic formula i add to 4 tbsp. of plain yogurt with a tablespoon of flax oil. Plus a veggie cube with every meal I make in the blender with raw greens (kale, broccoli, spinach) and herbs (parsley, cilantro and dill) with eggs (shells a must). I freeze them in muffin thingys, pop them out and bag them. She is 6 years old and I haven't seen her this happy and energetic since she was a pup. Her black skin is almost completely faded. Good luck!


This is driving me crazy! I have read so much in terms of pros for a raw diet but then I am unsure about feeding my dog raw chicken and raw bones incase they choke. Someone help me!!!!!


Reply to Leigh -

This is a very polarizing topic and neither side has definitive scientific answers. For example, this article suggests that raw food is


As of August, 2013 there is NO scientific evidence to support:

* Raw = Healthier
* Raw = Dangerous
* Kibble/Canned = Healthier
* Kibble/Canned = Dangerous

However, there is plenty of evidence that salmonella is bad for your pet which is the only truthiness in this blatantly biased pos article.

Using the author's own sleight-of-hand journalism, you should avoid kibble because far more outbreaks and pet deaths are attributable to salmonella tainted kibble than raw feeding. (Wikipedia "Raw Feeding").

I'm so sick of this topic.


Leigh -

You can safely feed your dog raw chicken, no prob. My dog children (black labs) have been eating it their entire lives (12 years) and they love it, it's easy, it's cheap, and healthy.

By "healthy" I mean that both dogs have had good health for 12 years (no major health problems). Whether their good health is attributable to raw feeding is debatable, but I can tell you that it wasn't harmful.

As for salmonella, parasites, and God knows what all, the FDA and I recommend that you freeze chicken for at least seven days. Defrost it in the refrigerator and use it as soon as it is defrosted.

Since it's served raw, I keep the chicken as cold as possible -- just above freezing when serving to my dogs. To do this, I half-thaw the chicken, meaning the skin and outer half of the meat is thaw but the interior is still frozen.

When it's meal time, I rinse the half-thawed leg/thigh quarters in my hands (not in a bowl) under COLD running water. Rub the skin thoroughly while rinsing and work the bones back and forth to loosen up the joints. In just a few seconds it will thaw enough to become flexible. Serve immediately.

The thing to remember is this -- FRESH and COLD. Do that and you won't have any problems.

If choking is a big concern for you, then you better put a muzzle on Muffie because everything is a potential choking hazard. If it can fit in her mouth, she can choke on it. Chicken bones are no more of a hazard than one of your socks or a plastic toy.

Raw chicken bones are flexible and easily crushed with your dog's powerful jaw muscles and sharp molars. Even little dogs can rip through chicken wings no prob. But don't serve cooked bones which are brittle and break apart sharp and jagged.

So, yes, raw chicken is safe, don't worry about it. Is it healthier? Who knows. Is it tastier? Ask your dog.

Btw, to my way of thinking, this is not an either/or decision. When I first started my dogs on this diet (6 month old puppies), it was 100% raw food. But gradually I started relaxing that rule and now It's 75% raw food 25% commercial canned food.

That doesn't include the "other" diet they've had all along: beef neckbones, hotdogs, popcorn, ice cream, pizza rinds, beef jerky, cookies, bacon, part of your sandwich, table scraps, chips, crackers, pork rinds, scrambled eggs, watermelon, most anything that falls off the counter...

In the end, I think that love, attention, affection, exercise, mental stimulation are just as important as their diet.

Quit reading pros and cons in blogs like this -- it's all biased info and none of these entrenched opinions can prove anything.

Decide for yourself what makes sense for your pet and your situation and get on with it. My guess is that it really doesn't make a huge difference one way or the other -- were likely talking degrees in difference.

This book will give the basic info on the premise for raw feeding "The BARF Diet", by Dr. Billinghurst.

Here's the short version: "You pet is a wild animal and should be fed like one."

Makes sense to me, but not my Vet.

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