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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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Luanne

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.
.

anna

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.

Johanna

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

<br>Pottenger Cat Study: <a href="http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_M._Pottenger,_Jr.#section_2">http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_M._Pottenger,_Jr.#section_2</a>

Ratcoon

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?

Brittany

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.

Khat Matson

It's anecdotal at best but my 2 yr old German shephard vomited EVERY time he ate. Until he ate raw.
Now he only gets sick when he eats something he shouldn't. He also had no interest in kibble. Who would? Imagine if our food was overly processed and beyond recognition as food. Oh wait, it is, and as humans we are obese, diabetic, and all around in horrible shape. My dog is strong healthy and interested in eating every meal. That's thanks to raw.

Laura Redhawk

A Species Appropriate Raw diet (for a meat eating animal) is 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% organ, of with 5% should be liver and 5% other organs. For Raw feeders HEART meat is not considered to be an organ meat, but rather, due to the density a "Meaty Meat."

We do not feed big, dense, heavy weight baring bones, such as leg bones from LARGE animals, beef, elk, deer. These bones can crack teeth and are known as Wrecker Bones. Few beef bones are a good idea in general. However poultry, pig, goat, lamb bones are usually fully digestible by dogs. Cats tend to need smaller bones, quail, chicken (necks, wings, ribs) and, of course, feeder rodents. ALL BONES FED..MUST BE RAW. Cooking or using heat on bones causes them to become brittle and unsafe as they can then splinter into sharp shards. Raw bones are "soft" and digest.

Why not feed grains, fruits and veggies? (plant grown foods)

A lot of people feed their dogs veggies but if you look to nature, you will see that your dog wouldn't eat veggies in any measurable amounts. He might eat a few berries or maybe some grass but certainly not zucchini, carrots, potatoes or any of the veggies that many people feed. Also you must know that all the cells in all vegetable matter is covered by a think layer of cellulose. This cellulose must be crushed during the eating process in order for the nutrients in the vegetables to be available for digestion. This is called bioavailablity. The nutrients in vegetable matter is not bioavailable to our dogs because they don't have the flat molar teeth that plant eating animals do. Humans, for example, have flat molars for crushing cellulose during chewing. Dogs, cats and ferrets molars are called carnassal teeth and are not flat but work like scissors to rip and tear meat and crush bones. So, by looking at your dog's teeth, you can tell that veggies just are not appropriate food for them.

The stomach acid in a a dog is about 10 TIMES stronger than that of a human.

Commercial pet feeds OFTEN are recalled because they have " dangerous bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella, just to name a few" in them. The manufacturers are not worried about our dogs and cats getting Salmonella, their guts can deal with that. The manufacturer is worried that YOU AND I will handle the food, especially dry pet food, and because it IS "just dry food" we won't think to wash our hands and then we make a sandwich or do something else that transfers the salmonella to US...we get sick and SUE THEM.

Also, I think it's fair to share that most Vet Schools accept grants and large donations from two important companies (in the USA at least), Pet Food Manufacturers and Pharmaceutical Manufacturers.

Because of their generous donations, both industries are allowed to often TEACH or at least present information about vaccines and, important for this discussion...IDEAL PET DIETS/Nutrition.

FOLLOW THE MONEY... Who stands to gain or loose according to what you choose to feed your beloved companion animals? Who will gain or loose MONEY according to your choices? I think it's pretty clear here! If a Vet pays a pretty good amount of money to attend Vet School, and invests their time and money, is it not reasonable for them to ASSUME they are being given the best, right, correct information? You can't hardly blame them for believing what they are told!

But, remember...those zig-zag teeth DO NOT grind through the cell covering on plant grown foods...the nutrition is NOT bioavailable to our dogs, cats or ferrets!

So, why aren't all those commercial fed dogs and cats dead already? Because the manufacturers ADD broken-down already supplements to their food. Of course, they also add some other "interesting" things too.
http://www.homevet.com/index.php/diet-discussion/item/315-an-excerpt-from-the-book-food-pets-die-for

http://leda.law.harvard.edu/leda/data/784/Patrick06.html
The second link, I especially love. The writer is not for or against Raw feeding. He was simply doing research on the facts surrounding Commercially produced Pet food for his LEGAL paper at Harvard University! This is not a short read. However, you maybe surprised at what this guy uncovered in his search for the truth WE never hear about, as to what, exactly can be in our dog's food.

http://rawfed.com/myths/index.html

That is not to say that there are some things to learn...if you want to feed a Species Appropriate Raw Diet...

Cats need to mostly eat RED MEATS, beef, pork, deer. Feeding your cat or kitten almost nothing but chicken, is NOT a healthy, proper meat diet. They need Taurine and that's only found in Red meats! http://www.vetlord.org/taurine-is-essential-for-cats/

AVMA → Delta Society → Purina Petcare
http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/07/25/no-to-raw-feeding.aspx

At the end of the formal AVMA policy linked above, there is a statement about the resolution which says in part:

“At its spring 2011 meeting, the Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine (CPHRVM), drafted a new policy to address an issue brought to its attention by Animal Welfare Division staff and the Delta Society (a non-profit organization that works with companion animals for animal assisted therapy, service animals, and other volunteers). Having a policy specific to raw diets and associated public health concerns, the Delta Society inquired if AVMA had a related policy.”

More than a few raw feeders and others interested in the issue of species-appropriate pet nutrition are questioning the Delta Society (now called Pet Partners) link.

I published an article two years ago when Delta Society banned raw fed pets -- and any pet living in a home with raw fed pets -- from its highly regarded Pet Partners therapy program. It was an unanticipated move that stunned Delta’s membership, affiliates and raw pet food enthusiasts across the U.S.

In researching possible explanations for this ill-advised decision, I uncovered a few clues:

On the home page of the Delta Society (Pet Partners) website you will find the following sentiment: "Thank you to our incredible partner, the passionate pet lovers at Purina." It's a safe bet the Purina logo is prominently featured on other Delta Society/Pet Partners marketing materials as well.
On the Delta Society's Board of Directors, you'll find Purina's Marketing Director.
In the Delta Society Medical Advisory Group, you'll find member Dr. Deborah S. Greco, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, of Nestle Purina Petcare in St. Louis, Missouri.
In 2008, Purina gave the Delta Society $400,000 – the largest grant ever received by the organization.
On the Purina One website, you'll find their marketing position on "Why You Shouldn't Feed Your Pet Raw Meat".

Clearly, Delta Society/Pet Partners is influenced by Nestle Purina. And according to the AVMA, Delta Society is one of two organizations that brought the “issue” of raw feeding to their attention, prompting the about-to-be-voted-on formal resolution against raw feeding.

To learn the truth about Raw Diets feel free to check out this group where you'll find about 25,000 people worldwide, who feed Raw. Some have been doing it for the past 10 to 50 YEARS. None of them stand to profit by what YOU choose to feed your animals.
http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/rawfeeding/

Enid Seed

The biggest problem with food - both for humans and animals - is the way it is processed. Meat and milk are dangerous to consume raw because of e-coli and other harmful bacteria. Hundreds of dairy cows and chickens, pigs and cattle are handled in a very fast manner. Regardless of whether you are opposed to factory farms or not, the huge number of animals and the sheer speed of these operations results in less than sanitary conditions. And if just one animal is sick, the entire food supply is contaminated because milk, ground meat, and the by-products in commercial pet food are mixed together. So the problem with raw food boils down to modern food processing.

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