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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Kim O

I have bought or made my own raw pet food following Pat McKays recipes or approximately 20 years. People always say how beautiful and healthy my animals are. There are certain rules that you must follow but it is so worth it. I also use her supplements for my animals. All of her products are human grade. I highly recommend.


All these comments with people thinking their anecdotal evidence trumps peer-reviewed scientific research makes me sad. But what can one expect on a post about feeding animals raw food; it's going to bring out the crazies.
It's good to see the animalhomeopathy site is nothing but a shell now, and it's not remarkable that a person willing to feed their animal raw food would believe in homeopathy. Here's a little bit about homeopathy:
Homeopathic remedies are found to be no more than a placebo, and homeopathy is widely considered a pseudoscience. The scientific community regards homeopathy as nonsense, quackery or a sham, and homeopathic practice has been criticized as unethical. The axioms of homeopathy are long refuted and lack any biological plausibility.

Elaine Clark

I got my maine coon kitten from a breeder who feed raw, to her cats. The kitten had to be treated for giardia. Pets today live longer then ever as do people. So the pet food that is available today has much improved. companies like WERUVA that really do produce great cat food.It is really just up to the individual what you choose, but make sure you keep your cats indoors and nurtured and sprayed for a long safe life . domesticated animals are pets not wild animals and have a hard time existing in the wild outside. They are Pets not raccoon's and foxes.


My husband and I have three wonderful mature kitties, two beautiful black gentlemen are fifteen, our lovely little lady is ten. One of our fellows has been battling IBD for years and was placed on predisone, side effects and all, including diabetes. We are still on the fence about adding raw to his diet, but we're also getting desperate since he never seems completely under control on his current super premium, no grain, canned food only diet and will soon be sixteen making us even more worried about so much steroid. We have read other accounts of IBD and IBS responding well to raw diets and have researched them thoroughly but are still hesitant. Maybe it is time for that next step, however, since as time goes on, it's getting even more critical to get his disease under control.


Everything should be taken with a "grain of salt", especially info such as this. I feed all 3 of my dogs a raw food diet and have seen tremendous improvements in their health, skin, and coat- with less trips to the vet!

However, a raw food diet may not work for every animal. The key is to read ingredients on everything (even us humans need to know what we are eating!) A diet based on whole, nutritious foods and not filler and by-product is most important!

I question the efficacy of the "AVMA"'s statement. I am sure that they receive a majority of their funding from the big corporatation's brands such as Iams, Eukanuba, Purina, etc. These are the foods causing the probems.

Gail Roberts

I wonder how many people are aware that, by law in America, pet food manufacturers are allowed to change the ingredients in the can or the package and have 6 months to change the label to match!?
If you are interested in having a really healthy pet then I would avoid all commercial foods and read more at PETA's web site on what goes into them, in a word, they are made out of WASTE that is not fit for human consumption.

dogs should eat high PROCESSED commercial food? Let's change that to people.. "people should eat high processed commercial food" Isn' that like saying, "you should eat mcdonalds everyday or you should eat children's cafeteria food everyday". Ofcourse it is. We have been feeding our pets semi-raw food including raw beef bone and they have never been more healthy. We also provide cooked meals that even humans can eat to our customers at barking chef. Regardless, cook real food. give them semi-raw food. Sear the outerlayers of a chicken drumstick for 2 minutes or sear slice of pork meat for 1 minute and serve. It is so easy. E coli and Salmonela often sit on the outer side (not inside) where it can easily be exposed. Why do you think when you go to a steak out, they can give you raw steak with the outer layers seared? Kills off the bacteria that it may have been exposed to (outer layer).

We do this and we feel safer. THey still get the nutrion of healthy raw meats and bones. Cooked bone is too brittle and may be dangerous but a raw bone is very hard. For small dogs, they will naw on it which is the best way to brush their teeth. Next time you think about bringing your pet to be put under so they can get a yearly teeth cleaning, go get a beef bone and they will scrape their yellow and black teeth and with in a month they will be pearly white. I have also noticed the tartar build up of the gums have practically disappeared. Everyone thinks my 7 year of rhodesian mix is only 1 or 2 because of how great her teeth are or ask me which dentist we take her to. I always say, Dr. Raw Bone!

If you are interested in more you can find more on my blog. Holistic approach to your pets life is the best choice anyone could ever make. If humans are doing it, why not your pets?


I am a huge proponent of raw food and have done tons of research regarding this. I don't have my 2 Chihuahuas on a BARF diet, but feed them dehydrated raw, while supplementing my oldest Chi's food with either a Primal nugget or Bravo patty (my youngest had liver issues in the past, so I try to keep her protein minimal). They have been on this kind of diet for over 3 years now and they have never been healthier. Most vets know nothing regarding nutrition, what they do know is what the sales reps that come into their practice tell them about their garbage food. Vets only push these foods because they get a cut of the sales, one way to boost their income, just like they push the vaccines (vaccines cost little to produce, vets jack up the prices). I became disenchanted with my regular vet when they looked at me like I was crazy when I used to refuse many of the unnecessary vaccines, and whenever I asked them questions about a particular food or nutrition, they never had answers for me. That's why today we see a holistic vet.

I have a friend who recently adopted 2 kitties, when I asked her what she was feeding them, I nearly fell over when she told me it was Hills Science Diet, on the recommendation of her vet!!! I tried vainly for several months to get her to switch to a better food, threw all kinds of facts at her, and it took (hopefully) a recent article stating that Hills was going to start adding polyethylene to their food to extend the shelf life. I am hoping that scared her enough to finally listen to me and not her uninformed vet.

Kibble is baked at high temperatures to obtain that dry, hard stage, and therefore, because it is baked at high temperatures, most of the nutrients are baked right out of it. With raw, or dehydrated diets, the food contains all of the nutritional value. Like it has been already mentioned, there has been numerous recalls of kibble because of salmonella contamination, yet has anyone ever heard of a prepared raw food being recalled because of this? The big pet food manufacturers are behind the AVMA and that is why that poppycock report was published.


It seems to me that everyone gets really upset about the food is almost as bad as politics! I have a lovely, 4-year-old sheltie. I show him in obedience and Rally and take him on long walks. he is quite fit and his coat is absolutely gorgeous. I feed him homemade (cooked) food, usually turkey or chicken, sweet potato or some whole-grain pasta or rice, green beans and yogurt. I also give him fish oil. In addition, I also give him small amounts of Artemis Fresh Mix kibble; I often use it as a training treat.
I would not choose to feed raw because I worry about the possibility of food-borne illness. I also like preparing his basic foods myself, knowing that they are lowfat and low calorie, which is good for a sheltie who gets a lot of treats! I make him his treats myself or I use reduced-fat string cheese or a good-quality sliced turkey.
Having said that, I have some very good friends who use a raw diet, and their dogs are also beautiful and healthy. I suspect there are many good choices for feeding and many bad ones. Moreover, what is good for one dog may not be so good for another. It is no different with humans. I am allergic to raspberries and any other berry in that family; I also cannot eat most raw vegetables without getting very sick. These are healthy foods but are bad for ME. My dog has no problem with eating grains; I choose healthy, whole grains for him as I do for myself. Another dog may not do well with grains. My dog cannot eat carrots; they make him vomit. Other dogs eat them with no trouble.
Let's just not get mad at each other over this!


All these statements about "oh my pets are on raw diets and they are so much healthier" are doesnt prove anything. If you go from feeding crap food to raw youre probably going to see an improvement - and when I say crap I'm not just talking about alpo and ol roy types, even Science Diet and Iams are crap. There are some very good commercially processed pet foods out there, do your research.