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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This whole "raw food" thing for pets is just another feminized, new-age fad, but these silly people do not realize that they're also risking their pets' health and lives. There is literally no scientific basis for having a dog eat raw meat instead of cooked, and, no, cooking does not destroy nutrients. Anyone who claims otherwise is sadly misinformed, and clearly knows nothing about biochemistry and biology.

Additionally, raw meat carries Campylobacter, Salmonella, E. coli, and parasites, and any of these things could cause the death of the pet. I'm warning everyone: if you routinely feed raw meat to your pet -- especially poultry -- you're putting your pet's life at risk, and, in my opinion, it's abuse, plain and simple. Feral dogs and wolves are infested with parasites and all sorts of health problems, and they do not live as long as domestic animals. If you want to feed meat to your pet, cook it first. Even then, the pet will suffer from malnutrition.


I say the proof is in the pudding.

Sure, raw foods contain pathogens but so does ill-prepared cooked food. Proper care must always be considered when feeding your pets (or your family.)

My cat was vomiting 3 to 4 times a day when I fed him any of the commercial name it, I tried everything: wet or dry. He went from 15 pounds to 8.2 pounds and i took him to 3 different vets. Each one spewed how it could be his thyroid, pancreas, liver or kidneys and each wanting to charge me $500 for inconclusive tests. One of them tried to give medication that improved his appetite but wrecked his pancreas. I mean seriously, what nonsense is that?

I started him on the raw diet 5 months ago, he has gained 3 pounds where I no longer can feel every bone on his spine when petting him. He no longer throws up daily and only throws up when he eats the kibble that my younger cats eats. My vet was amazed how well my cat looks when I took him for treatment for an ear infection.

From my real life experience...aside from all the hallyboo in these comments, raw has done me good. My cat is healthier, happier as well as I am. He has thrown up every day for the last 5 years until I found this raw diet (btw he's almost 22 years old now.)

He has handled kibble for most of his life,but now that he's older, kibble is not the answer. I thank the freeze dried raw food manufacturers to put this foods out for me to enjoy my pet now.


Mac, you are a RETARD and should probably never own a pet.


It's 2015, you don't need to use words like "retard" anymore


Wow! How much were you guys paid by pet food companies to write this article?! I can't believe that you are trying to argue against a diet that has fed cats and dogs for THOUSANDS of years before humans intervened and started giving them illness-inducing crappy, cooked foods? Sorry if I come off angry, but frankly, I am!!!


i think there is a HUGE DIFFERENCE between COMMERCIAL raw AND RAW, LIVE FOOD: ie, a cat eating a live, warm, mouse running around. even when i eat frozen meat that's been sitting in the freezer for a while it tastes disgusting. (after i cook it of course.) this is just an analogy of a cat eating raw commercial and a cat eating live mice in the garden. and i'm pretty sure a lot of the cooked commercial cat food is shet. all america, people, and companies worry about is the BOTTOM DOLLAR: PROFIT. don't ever forget that. that is the driving force. they don't give a rat's ass about your health or your pet's health. YOU CAN TRUST ME ON THAT ONE!!


Rubbish. There are pet food recalls due to e-coli and salmonella almost weekly. I'd rather take my chances with raw and know exactly what's in my dogs food (and have been doing so since the 2007 pet food recalls due to melamine from China). Veterinarians do not have extensive knowledge in nutrition and what they learn is taught by the pet food industry. Having a vet develop a raw or home cooked diet for you wouldn't be advisable. However, consulting a canine nutritionist would be a valuable asset when devising a home prepared diet (be it raw or cooked) in order to make sure the diet is truly balanced. Common sense when handling meats is a no brainer. If we can figure out how to feed a balanced diet to our children, then we can do it for our dogs. Pet food manufacturers want us to think it's impossible or dangerous because if we all started doing it they'd be out of business.

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Can someone explain to me why all my dogs growing up eating commercial dog food lived to be 14 and 15 and wolves in the wild only lived to be like 7?


I run a socialized dog boarding and day care business where all of the dogs run free together in a 1/3 acre field during the day. Our staff clean the field of feces every hour during the day. After a year of monitoring, we have found that when we have a dog boarding that is on a raw diet that all of the other dogs flock to immediately consume that dogs feces. These are dogs that would never eat feces before but would only consume the dogs feces that was on a raw food diet. We end up with a bunch of sick dogs and unhappy owners that pay substantial vet bills to get their dogs healthy again. We are always getting calls from these owners asking if we had sprayed the field or noticed if they had ingested something different. After a year of off and on hearing from clients and observing activity we were able to conclusively ascertain that the raw food diet dogs were causing the problem. We now separate or do not allow dogs on the raw diet at our facility. The problem has gone away. I wonder how many people take their dogs to a local dog park and end up with the same problem unknowingly.