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?



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!


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.

Johanna Bouchard

You're kidding, right? Raw food is the BEST diet you could feed your animal, as it contains all of the balanced nutrients they need, as well as essential "live enzymes".

Raw feeders typically use human-grade, USDA-approved meats, something commercial kibbles do NOT… dog food companies receive their animal proteins from rendering plants where "4D" animals (dead, diseased, disabled, dying), as well as rotted road kill, euthanized horses and zoo animals are processed. In fact, many popular brands of Pet Food (including NUTRO, Ol' Roy, Kibbles N Bits, Pro Plan) tested positive for containing sodium pentobarbital, the euthanasia drug. Also used are slaughterhouse rejected meat and diseased and cancerous masses removed from human-grade meat, which is then, by law, "denatured" by being sliced up and sprayed with a nasty combination of petrolium products, creosote, citronella, etc.

Consider also the toxic preservatives, flavorings, and colorings used in pet foods which are linked to kidney and organ failure, cancer, behavioral problems, seizures, and other diseases.

Just recently a study performed by the Pet Fod Industry proved that HALF OF ALL TESTED PET FOODS WERE MISLABELED.

The least of our worries are salmonella contamination, but the evidence is very clear that salmonella is a KIBBLE problem, not a raw food problem. All you have to do is look at all the recent pet food recalls to see that.

Did you hear that most recently HILLS SCIENCE DIET applied for a patent to coat their kibble with PLASTIC?

*****Shame on you ASPCA for spreading this DANGEROUS PROPIGANDA!*****

Bottom line, commercial pet food is about profits regardless of the cost to animal health. Up until the 1970's, most people didnt feed kibble! Please do not feed your animal this dangerous poison. Talk to your vet and do your own research into a balanced raw or home-cooked diet. You will see the difference and your pet will live a much longer, healthier life.


It makes me laugh when I see/hear the comment "consult with your vet regarding proper nutrition for your pet." I have spoken with several vets where I live and each one has admitted that they receive virtually no education regarding nutrition when in vet school. Instead, they have advised me, they are courted by the large commercial pet food companies and "encouraged" to advise clients that this is what is best for their pet. We had a Husky several years ago whose health was rapidly failing (though he was still quite young). There was no explanation for it and, therefore, our vet could not offer any suggestions as to a course of action. We began reading/researching home-prepared diets and made the switch. At first our vet was skeptical, advising that most people he encountered that did this, did not stick with it. We did. And in a very short period of time our Husky was thriving. Our vet was amazed and instantly became a believer in what home-prepared raw food can do. That was 14 years ago and all of our dogs have continued to be fed this diet. They have all lived long, healthy lives as a result. It's a disgrace that the commercial pet food industry can so negatively impact the lives of our beloved pets through their fear-mongering!


8 love the contradictions from "experts" about dogs. Some days they are more like wolves, and some days, like according to this article they are not. 2hen it is convenient, like selling a crate to a hesitant dog owner, dogs are almost exactly like wolves and love to be in dens just like wolves. When a dog has a hard time being trained, the dog is just like a wolf and needs to be shown who the alpha wolf is in the hierarchy. When it comes to feeding your pet, a dog is nothing at all like a wolf and MUST eat grains and cooked food and kibbles and must NEVER eat raw meat. Which is it? Or are they only what the experts want them to be when it is convenient?

Laura Share

I feed my chihuahuas raw chicken necks, baby back ribs, beef heart, goat, lamb, veal, turkey, pork. They are the healthiest chis I've ever seen--good weight, great energy. My vet doesn't know bumpkis about feeding raw. I think this article is highly suspect--what the agenda here? I understand that raw is not everyone's cup of tea, and that food borne illnesses are a reality, but that shouldn't mean that veterinary recommendations are based on the lowest common denominator. I know how to handle raw foods safely. My dog benefits from being fed raw. I know exactly what is going into his food.

Johana Bouchard

Vets can, at times, be helpful in pointing owners in the right direction regarding raw/homemade feeding. When I decided to make the switch, my vet was reluctant but suggested I look into Dr. Pitcairn's book "Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats", which I cannot even begin to explain how helpful the book was for me. Of course, many conventional vets would most likely try to talk you OUT of feeding raw/homecooked, as they are instructed in vet school to "feed a quality kibble." They even sell kibble (science diet) for goodness sakes. A great source of help would more likely be a holistic vet, and of course there's plenty of info online.


Sorry but no way in hell would I allow my dog to eat raw food. Would YOU eat raw food? NO! Just as you could get salmonella and e-coli from raw food so can your pet. Dogs are not wild animals. A racoon that picks through your garbage, which may have been sitting there for a few days will probably not get sick but your dog would. I am sure that our human ancestors ate many things that you would not dream of eating now. The same should hold true for your dog. As for the person who felt it was ok to allow a dog to eat chicken bones NOT SO. Chicken bones are very thin and splinter easily. Many a dog has had to be rushed to the vet when one of those bones perforated the dogs stomach or intestines.