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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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Danova

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.

Logic

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.

Avilla

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.

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Jin

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, ...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.)

Mac

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.

Marion

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 catfood...you 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.

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