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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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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?
http://www.barkingchef.blogspot.com/

Nadine

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.

Lucy

It seems to me that everyone gets really upset about the food question...it 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!

bartthegenius

All these statements about "oh my pets are on raw diets and they are so much healthier" are ridiculous...it 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.

J

Actually many people I know dogs were on "High Quality" commercial food prior.

Debbie

I have fed a raw food diet for over 18 years and I have had no problems whatsoever. And if you are scared about those little bacteria that everyone one warns you about, I highly suggest you read Dr. Pitcairn's book on Natural Health care for dogs and cats. I know my vet, at the time I started, voiced her concerns and I truly appreciate her concern as that is why I go to her to talk of ideas. However, I have chosen raw food diet for several reasons, most importantly given the latest problems with commercial foods of constant recalls. With no true answers as to why this happened creates trust issues with these food manufacturing giants. Most of the foods that have been recalled are not brands I would even consider feeding as they are ladled with known toxins and carcinogens allowed even in human food by the FDA. However, the ones I have tried a couple have been recalled or at a minimum called into question. So to completely avoid that and to ensure that I know what they are getting, I choose raw and will never change. I certainly recommend consulting an alternative veterinarian for the best advice on how to approach this type of diet. There are great mixes that can be added to the raw food to create a nutritionally balanced diet. Urban Wolf is one of them. Feeding a raw diet I have experienced an almost 30% increase in their longevity. No one can do a thing about genetic, or the environment, a problem even humans deal with, so why not take control of one of the areas that you have control of and that is their dietary intake!! One of the latest issues I had to deal with that was quickly resolved by the raw food diet is one of my dogs who competes in agility had severe stress dirrhea from travel and showing. After consulting with my alternative vet, she indicated that commercial kibble is too extruded in the process and thus passes too quickly through his intestines and thus the dirrhea. And I am sure a nutritional deficit!! She highly recommended going back to the raw diet. I did and it two days his problem cleared up and had not returned. Another resource to enlighten one about commercial pet food is "Food Pets die for". If you don't want to take things into your own control after that you need to read it again!!

bartthegenius

Human food is also constantly recalled for contamination, often fresh produce is the culprit not just processed food, so does that mean we should all quit eating anything from the grocery store? We can't all hunt and forage our own food every day. I mean the argument that because sometimes processed pet foods are recalled we should not feed processed pet foods is ridiculous, it happens in human food too and it happens in RAW food. You dont here about it because there's not some big kibble company to blame who's food went out to thousands of households, it's one person here and there, but I promise you it happens. At least one person here already pointed out that a dog they rescued that was on a raw diet had giardia when she got it. It happens. If there is an argument for raw food it's not because it's safer because processed pet food is sometimes recalled. Do any of you possess an ounce of logic?

Teresa F. Roberts

People wake up! Raw diets have saved my animals! Use caution, do your research, etc. Make sure they get supplements, etc. There are many "enlighted veterinary personnel" who recommend a raw diet. And know full well of the detriminal effects of packaged food!

Cheryl

Please see http://www.truthaboutpetfood.com/articles/a-review-of-avma-raw-pet-food-policy.html

As far as I can tell, there's no hard evidence that raw food is more dangerous than prepared food: there's just a bunch of "studies" without valid control groups, instituted to obtained pre-ordained results. There are recalls of prepared food because of salmonella and other pathogens, the very reason AVMA supposedly objects to raw food, at least once a month; check out the FDA's website sometime. Nonetheless, on the basis of pseudo-research, which is nothing but big dog food manufacturer marketing in cheap disguise, AVMA has instead put every single US veterinarian in a position of risking having her license pulled if she does not to push the "no raw" party line, no matter what her conscience and research tell her is better for a particular patient, when asked. Raw food certainly hasn't caused the loss of life melamine has done, but small companies don't have the money of large companies.

Personally, I feed by-product-free, cooked, pre-prepared, name brand food and am not a raw food groupie, so I have no personal stake in raw food per se. Nonetheless, I find it troubling that what should be an independent body whose sole concern is pet health because its decisions have a direct bearing on veterinary policy throughout our country, is instead a blatant tool of big pet food manufacturers. If AVMA truly gave a rat's heinie about pet food safety, it would come out with a "recommendation" against by-products, rendered products, sugar, and food ingredients that come from diseased animals, rather than against a type of feeding that almost no one uses unles they've done a whole lot of research and care a whole lot about their animals; it's more expensive and time-consuming that opening a bag of whatever's cheapest at the local grocery. It's no coincidence AVMA's first food "recommendation" - and is it really just a "recommendation" when going against it can be reason to pull people's licenses, should a patient complain? - in years happens to be about a trend that threatened to cut into the profits of pet food giants? What about recommending against the practices of those pet food giants which have, over and over in the very recent past, caused thousands of sick and hundreds of dead animals?

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