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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The list of foods supposedlydangerous to pets is so bogus. I agree that grapes and raisins shouldn't be fed, but they don't list onions which should also not be fed. But my dogs love fruit of all kinds. I've been feeding my dogs a raw meaty bone diet with various supplements since the late 90s. I never have to have their teeth cleaned and never have any anal glad problems. Canines eat raw food in the wild. It's a fact that cooking, regardless of rendered or baked commercial foods are NOT good for canines because it's highly processed food. Canine digestive systems are very different from our own in that theirs are designed to eliminat waste rapidly. So the E Coli and Salmonella issue is not a problem for canines. It never has a chance to take hold. The one exception is if the canine has a comprimised immune system. I would not and will not ever feed my dogs commercial food again. You really have no idea of what's in it. They can move the ingredients up and down the list with no repercussions. They are big business and they do NOT have your pet's interest formost in their agenda......profit is their agenda. Even veterinarians are somewhat brainwashed to feed commercial foods. But then who pays for scholarshipe etc for vets at the vet schools. Ask yourself that?

Bonnie Daut

the layout of this page is horrible the print is tiny and the color is horrible. you should fix this so people can at least see it

I prefer a rotational diet. My feeding routine involves high quality kibble, fresh home cooked, and BARF. This provides a variety that no single diet can come close to. Check with your vet, I think they will agree.


This is ridiculous! This they used t be wild, but the aren't anymore stuff is just asinine. Their digestive systems haven't gone through a metamorphosis because we brought them into our homes. And to say that raw food leads to deficiencies, come on! If you do it right and feed them organs and bones and some additives then they are getting more nutrition and a more well rounded diet than they will ever get from packaged food. Of course if you are feeding raw food it's best to make your own and use organic meet from a trusted butcher. It's what's natural for them, what they are designed for. Commercial food kills pets and gives them cancer in ever increasing numbers and cooking food destroys much of the nutrition. My guys have been eating raw food for 6 years now and I couldn't be happier with the results and neither could they. The is pure fear mongering by the pet food companies. Take a look at the cancer stats for pets. Why do you suppose they keep going up. I'm a pet sitter and have seen too many animals die and none of them of old age and none of them from eating raw food for that matter. And don't listen to what you traditional vet tells you about diet and raw food. Nutrition classes in vet schools are taught by Purina and I would never in a million years give my cats anything made by Purina even in an emergency. And I can't believe the ASPCA is perpetuating this ridiculousness. Shame on you! And Dr. Marty rocks!!

William Schmonsees

I find this discussion fascinating and must agree with the RAW advocates, although I rarely practice what I preach. I have an 11 yr old lab with a torn ACL and two 2yr old mixed toy dogs. All are getting Costco's Natures Domain kibble with turkey and sweet potato as first ingredients, along with about 50 other things, but no grains. All have good bowel habits, clean teeth and fine coats.
When my lab first tore her ACL, our holistic vet suggested chicken feet, raw eggs, yogurt, and fish oil. She did fine with that for years, until I got lazier. I also have fed them raw steak and cooked chicken. Bottom line for me: no grains, high end kibble, raw and cooked human food when possible.
When I asked about the dangers of E.coli in raw meat, vet said that she had never heard of dogs getting ill from E. coli. I am curious as to whether there are any studies of this matter. Do dogs not have an issue with E. coli?
Another minor question regards grapes. Common advice is no, but the dogs of CA vintners eat them routinely.
Great discussion.


I have had all my animals on a raw food diet for about 7 years, and
their health is spectacular. They look and act amazing for their age. Yes, you can feed them chicken bones if they are raw, just not cooked ones. The cooked ones splinter and will puncture the internal organs. I personally make my food for them. I buy chubs of ground turkey necks and ground turkey organs and make blend for them along with supplements. My only regret is that I
did not know about feeding animals raw when they were little.
If you are interested in learning about it, there is a book written by a New Zealand vet called B.A.R.F. (bones and raw food
diet) Google it.


Scientific study on the effectiveness of raw feeding- Very interesting and informative for those who are undecided:

<br>Pottenger Cat Study: <a href=",_Jr.#section_2">,_Jr.#section_2</a>


I wouldn't trust that study as later studies have proven it false. This is from the Wikipedia page that you linked to: “This article needs additional citations for verification. This article relies on references to primary sources (original materials that are close to an event, and are often accounts written by people who are directly involved. They offer an insider's view of an event).”

Judy feeding ra...

My greyhounds eat a freeze-dried Stella & Chewy chicken patty with their kibble twice a day. Does frozen-raw split the difference in this debate?


People do you realize how stupid you sound? WHAT ANIMAL ON THIS PLANET COOKS IT'S FOOD OTHER THAN HUMANS! You are so brainwashed by the pet food industry and it's killing your dogs! Just because the animal lives in your house does not mean its digestive system and nutritional needs has changed in the last 60 years that dog food became a hit. People are ignorant and would rather keep feeding a cereal to their dogs instead of what your dog thrives on. It's not an opinion it's a fact look at a biology book dogs are carnivores. The sooner you realize that animals do not cook their food the sooner you can save your dog or cat from that next bowl of crap you put down. Yes even grain free food is still processed.