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?



Sheila Tatman

I have been feeding a home made raw diet to my newfoundlands for years. Any time we are at the vet for a wellness check, they (the vet staff) are amazed at the perfect bloodwork, perfect teeth, perfect coats of my dogs. And always advise against the raw diet that promotes the perfect check-ups. Go figure. We only go to the vet once per year.


Animals lick their own butts. Dogs try to eat random poop. Some raw, human grade meat isn't going to kill them. As a matter of fact, they are carnivores, and I truly believe a raw diet is better. Though I'm curious who's feeding milk?! That's certainly not species appropriate.

To those talking about how our pets aren't wild - they are. Stray or feral cats and dogs survive just fine without people. Any shortening of their lifespan is because they don't have vet care, and there are dangers in the wild that aren't related to food. To say they evolved to eat cooked food is like saying we evolved to eat junk food. Just because we CAN eat something and survive doesn't mean we should. Shouldn't we want more than for our pets to survive? We want them at their best, which a proper raw diet does.


I have done some exhaustive research into feeding RAW.. which my APBT LOVES btw. Several vets have sites dedicated to feeding a " Prey model raw" diet... 1 of these vets had 2 dogs that were raw fed their entire lives. They lived to be 19 and 22 years old. If you believe your dog needs to eat corn, soy and other fruits and vegetables.... then you have done no research into the facts. A dogs stomach is not like a humans. It does not have a bend in it.. it runs straight through to the intestines. Because of this, a dog is not equipped to digest plant matter. A humans stomach on the other hand has a 90 degree bend in the bottom which allows us to digest plant matter. Also, a dogs stomach acid is between a 1-2ph, highly acidic.. this is for digesting raw bone. Kibble has been around for only 50 years or so... so, please explain to me why I must feed a plant based kibble that offers little nutritional value for my furry friend... over a rich and fulfilling raw diet.


How misguided a post and I am sad to see this from the ASPCA. Dogs are NOT omnivores. Corn is NOT digestible. Grain in general is nearly indigestible for carnivores. Dogs and cats are built to eat and digest prey, not processed balls of dried slurry. On kibble my dog was low energy with high seasonal allergies, high food allergies, medical conditions, incessant paw biting, patchy hair and flaky skin. On raw food ALL of her conditions have disappeared and she has become a healthy, happy, wonderful 3 year old. My puppy has been fed raw since the day he came home and he would not have gone from 11lbs to 50lbs in 3 months if the diet was not nutritionally sound. I have no doubt he would not be as healthy and growing as well as he is if he was on kibble! Please do not cook your dog's food and DEFINITELY do not give cooked bones. Raw chicken (including bones) is perfectly fine though. More than 1/3 of dogs naturally carry Salmonella in their gut flora. It makes people sick, not dogs.


The Raw food diet is NOT a fad diet - this diet has saved the life of two dogs that I know of personally and is in fact endorsed by some of the more knowledgeable vets You do however need to check the ingredient list for veggies added etc. Know Your Supplier! Same as any other product you are purchasing - know your supplier and check the ingredient list.


Here, let me clear up this entire debate: Raw people admit that there are pathogens and parasites. Non raw people accurately say this is a risk. The level of risk is clearly up for opinion. Solution? Cook the "whole foods". Simple. No more pathogens. Still get raw food. If anything, this is the "luxury" version of ripping apart a carcass in the forest. You get all the nutrients and none of the pathogens. I have yet to hear *ONE* raw enthusiast tell me why the food needs to be "Raw". The comparison is only between whole foods versus kibble. Since THAT is the correct comparison, if you are feeding whole foods raw, you are being lazy and putting your dog at risk. So cook your whole foods, and get the praise and admiration of every veterinarian on earth, while simultaneously silencing the kibble enthusiasts. You're welcome, everyone.

Lucy Fred

I feed my 3 shetland sheepdogs RAW and my VET agrees with my decision as he feeds his cats RAW. My once extremely ill kibble eating female is now a raw fed thriving A+ healthy dog. Blood tests confirm my decision was the correct one. In the wild they would eat their catch raw.


Switched my dog over to raw diet, he out lived all his siblings who died from stomach cancer, several years before my dog. He died of old age and kidney failure. Will feed my new puppy raw diet to with proper vet supervision and care.


This sounds about as ridiculous as advocating to ban sushi or rare cooked steak. If I had to make a lifelong food choice between highly processed mush from companies with confusing nutrition labels or fresh, human-grade meat and vegetable I would go for the latter. And so would my beloved pet.

Paul Martin

The simple fact that commercial pet food is made from meats & vegetables that are "unfit for human consumption" should make anyone sick to think that they fed their animal companions this vile waste material. (Why do you think you are repeatedly being told NOT to make your own food? The profits from this garbage as well as how the whole market saved the food industry, as it not only saved them from having to pay to dispose of it, actually makes them money as a resource!)

I do NOT advocate unlearned people from feeding table scraps or meat to their pets without doing research, but those who want the right information will take the time to find it. Most of what you need is right here on the internet. But make sure you look around & not just jump at the first recipe you find.
Learn what the ingredients do & why your pet needs them. Then you will have to monitor your pet to see how their behavior, their coat, their health...including how their poop/pee is... as a gauge of how they are doing.
This is NOT for people who can't follow a recipe, and certainly not for people who don't have the time or wish to put in the effort.

Also, common sense & clean habits are essential. BUT it can be done! (Don't give in to the fear promoters who want to keep selling you unfit meat, fillers & unhealthy garbage, or who support that industry.) If people saw the raw ingredients (the REAL ingredients & what is done & how it is processed & disguised to make people buy it, there would be no question as to what the real risk is. We had to learn the hard way, as the cost of our pet's health & lives over the years, and we will NOT take that risk again. With proper cleaning & handling habits, raw feeding can be a near-risk-free way of feeding your pets BETTER than what you have been feeding them. This isn't for everyone, I don't claim it is. But it is NOT as risky as it is being made to be.
These animals normally eat birds & mice, insects, etc. They are built to deal with a fair amount of natural bacteria & such. Do you really think a company that uses the lowest quality ingredients, often based on grains, corn, & other plant based items & throws in unfit meat products/parts is really concerned about your animals health? Wake up!
Also keep in mind that these companies spend tons of money to support & send perks to different pet industries (Veterinary, schools, pet shows, etc.) in order to make "friends" & create supporters who will believe their B.S. about their pet food being good for your animal.
If you have doubts, try doing the work needed to research it all out, instead of just taking the word of the "professionals" who are already in bed with or supported by these industries. I did, and anyone can find the truth about all of this, if they care enough to keep searching. The truth IS out there!
(Our pets are cats, but dogs are similar, although not exactly the same & should be treated appropriately.)