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?



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.

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.
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.

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!

AVMA → Delta Society → Purina Petcare

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.

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.


Wow ... it's disturbing that the ASPCA is publishing such disinformation. I guess they, too, have been bought by Big Pet Food! My donations to the ASPCA will stop until they become more enlightened. And, by the way, my dogs are thriving on raw, dehydrated, and freeze-dried food - no way will I subject them to overprocessed kibble that is little more than meat-flavored crap.

Matt L.

The most telling thing about this article is that it makes no mention of the dangers of the typical commercial kibble, mainstream brands such as Pedigree and Purina. The main ingredient in those foods is GM corn, and many contain gluten. Dogs digestive systems are not equipped to digest those things, and they both cause allergic reactions and cause dogs to develop new allergies to other things they eat. Commercial food also contains industrial waste products. Their packages would lead you to believe that they are formulated for ideal nutrition because they conform to AAFCO's pathetic standards, but they are actually formulated for maximum convenience and lowest cost to manufacture. That is why they have so many times been found to contain contaminated ingredients from China. How many times have there been recalls on commercial food because it was making dogs sick, and how many dogs have been made sick by a raw food diet? ASPCA clearly knows which side its bread is buttered on, and it makes me angry that people will trust this article because in most other respects ASPCA is a good advocate for animals.

The people saying that dogs' nutritional needs are different from wolves lack a clear understanding of evolutionary biology. Dogs share 98% of their DNA with wolves. Zoologists actually consider domestic dogs to be a subspecies of the gray wolf, one of 27. Domestic dogs have only existed for about 15,000 years, and the gray wolf dates from the Middle Pleistocene Era, which ended 126,000 years ago. Most of the differences between the subspecies are merely cosmetic. Dogs' digestive systems evolved to process raw meat, entrails, bones, skin and fur, and that is what fulfills their nutritional needs. Most of the plant matter that a wolf consumes is the partially digested contents of the digestive tracts of its herbivorous prey. The first thing they eat from a fresh kill are the organs - liver, heart and kidneys.

Wolves' and dogs' short digestive tracts make them especially resistant to common bacteria such as e. coli, which is found in the intestines of most warm-blooded animals and is mostly non-pathenogenic anyway. However, I would be cautious about feeding factory-farmed meat to a dog raw, because most of those animals are diseased and often carry mutated, resistant strains of bacteria (because of the over-use of antibiotics), the ones that have been causing so many disease outbreaks in humans. I would hope that the commercially prepared raw food brands are getting their meat from somewhere other than the typical factory sources. I would think that at the very least, game meats such as rabbit and venison would be safe. Also, any raw meat that you give your dog should be accompanied by bones or egg shells as a source of calcium. Frozen raw dog foods typically have bone meal mixed in. Dogs need calcium to balance out the phosphorus in the meat. So if you're just tossing your dog a raw steak every night, no, that is not healthy because it is not a well-balanced diet. Your dog's diet requires a little more thought than that.


Crap! Do you know what arguement people in my country have relating to raw feeding? Your pet can catch something...ummm...something...the vet's bad you know!
If it were bad then raw feeding owners wouldn't have cats and dogs that outlived their breed's expectancy. While on the other side there are commercial feeding owners whose pets die young, obese and a slow agonizing death, so agonizing that they have to euthanize them so that they won't suffer as much. I have a family background of hunters, who fed their dogs animal intestines and bones all of their lives and they lived up to 18-20 years. My friends have cats which are fed on kibble, hell, my cat was once fed on kibble and he was obese and unable to even clean himself, how is that for a "healthy" cat?
But this is a no end arguement. No matter how many proof there is in favor of raw feeding, there will always be people who think it's best to feed kibble and crap.


However, ASPCA espousing the idea that they are dangerous is VERY dangerous, and is going to prompt me to cancel my ASPCA Guardian membership. How much did Purina donate to you to get you to say this? The supermarket dog food giants pump nothing but corn, soy, wheat and meat by-product that humans wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole into our pets. Do your own research and do not buy into the idea that feeding a quality, home-prepared (raw or otherwise) diet is unsafe. If you can't prepare at home or are uncomfortable feeding all raw, you can supplement a high quality (I prefer grain-free) kibble with raw meaty bones (raw chicken backs, raw turkey necks, raw marrow bones -- these are FANTASTIC for your dogs). Your dogs and cats need real meat to be truly healthy and happy.


My family doctor does not suggest what I eat, as he is not a nutritionist ... Why are vets, who have little or no training other than from (Big Pharma Kibble Company) being accepted as authorities on this subject??? It is all scare tactics, use your common sense people, and feed your pets appropriatly!!!