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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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Laura

I currently have 5 rescued dogs of varying ages and 9 rescued cats. All are on raw diet including bones and organ meat. Have never had any health problems that could be related to their diet. Several of my cats are 15 and 16 and you would think they were much younger. My Lab mix is 12 and keeps up with 2 Cairn mix puppies. One word of caution, always feed human grade meat from a source that you would chose for your human family.

Daniel Manasia

I regularly feed the cats a beat up raw egg, which they lap up very quickly. I haven't observed any health problems, and they've been eating eggs for quite a while. This is just a snack (only one egg). Their regular diet consists of a high quality wet food.

Ellen

It's funny that all the food and treats recalled almost one right after another these last few months (new one today with Yoghund) and years are ALL processed wet, dry and "treats" - NO RAW - and this ploy about the dangers of raw is only monetarily triggered by the donors to the AVMA - Science Diet, IAMS, Merial (vaccines), et al. If you've read any of the issues and transcripts, it's pretty clear once again to just follow the money.

I handle the raw food for the dogs like I do my own, and they also get green tripe. The biggest problems come from unsanitary eating conditions like not washing the food and water bowls, which is pretty much common sense since you wash your own dishes, right?

The next best option is home prepared food with human grade ingredients with proper supplements and probiotics like you do for raw feeding.

Do what you can for your pets and feel good about it, price is a big issue today, but raw is cheaper in the long run with fewer illnesses and vet bills. Regardless, just do some basic research like on Dog Food Advisor, and even if you stick with processed, make sure it's a good one and add digestive enzymes and probiotics.

Check in with a holistic vet and get on the right path for your animals. One good site is Mercola Healthy Pets and Dr. Karen Becker - good cookbook there also, and checking out Dr. Marty (Martin Goldstein) and his website, book, and veterinary practice website to learn about food and vaccines.

Jagdish Mittal

If one can cook food himself/family why he can provide it to his/her pets

Kim

Have been feeding my dogs raw meat with vegetables and supplements for 25 years. Its the best food for dogs hands down not processed cooked foods.

DogNCatMom

Our dogs get Wellness Dry Food, and our cats get Blue Buffalo dry and Fancy Feast canned. Our dogs get A LOT of table food that we eat, barring, of course, the no-no foods for dogs like raw potatoes, grapes, mushrooms, etc. They love raw veggies, but I'd never give them raw meat, and never ever bones, they get lots of cooked fish and chicken, sometimes steak. The cats get cooked chicken, but don't much care for any other type of human food.

Ed Bird

When I had time, I made raw food for my pets, and a number of people commented about how much better they looked, even without knowing I had changed their diets. Their coats were more lustrous, their teeth looked better, they lost excess weight, and they had more energy.

Feeding raw is a commitment, and you must do your homework to do it right. However, I am offended by the organizations who claim that it is dangerous for dogs in and of itself. One of my vets was adamant about this, and I ended up changing vets because of his insistence that commercial food was better. My experience demonstrated otherwise to me, and I believe he bought into the strong lobby-based bias against raw being perpetrated by the big pet-food companies. After all, if you make the food yourself, they don't sell as much, do they? Hmmm...

David Forjan

I feed my canine girl Nature's Variety Instinct Raw frozen patties. With some Taste of the Wild kibble mixed In. She loves it. It's the only food she's ever had that she always finishes, every meal. For 6 months now and she is still crazy about it.

Walter Dallas

I introduced my 8 yr-old, 90 pound Goldendoodle to the rather expensive Nature's Variety instinct Raw frozen patties. He loves it! I did some research and introduced him to raw chicken necks, hearts and gizzards from the market. He loved them. But the more research I do, the more confused I become on whether I'm putting him at risk with market raw. I also was mixing a bit of Blue Wilderness kibble with the raw frozen, but read that the raw and kibble evoked two different digestive processes and was not a healthy mix. At this point, I don't know who to believe!

Cheryl

My 12 year old cat, Nico was recently diagnosed with I.B.S. She had began improperly eliminating around the litter box, not in it. She has very loose stool with a foul odor. She was losing weight and hair, stopped grooming herself, and began to look sickly and unkept. I thought for sure her days were numbered, which broke my heart. The Vet diagnosed her with I.B.S. and so began the search for food. I bought all of the different grain free, sensitive stomach type foods I could find and nothing helped her. That was when I decided to try a commercially available, frozen raw food. Within the week of her eating that food her improper elimination stopped, her stool wasn't loose and foul smelling, her coat started to glow, she stopped losing hair and she started gaining weight. She also always had a "crumb chin" (her chin always felt like there were crumb in/on it), which we have always been told was kitty acne. That too is now gone. Regardless of what AVMA says a raw diet saved my cats life. It may not be for everyone, but it certainly saved my Nico Kitty.

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