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?




Only thing I have to say is:
For those people saying 'we shouldn't feed according to the wild, because animals in the wild don't live very long,' what do you think wild cats in zoos eat? Kibble?
Wild cats in zoos eat the same things their free counterparts do. And *in* captivity, away from the dangers of the real outdoors, they live as long as our domestic cats. Servals (which are *frequently* bred with domestic cats to produce the Savannah breed) live 20 YEARS in captivity; eating a raw diet like they were always meant to do. :)

Cindy Barnett

My dogs live on two fenced -in acres. They catch and eat birds, bunnies, and squirels. It's second nature to them. There isn't anything we can do about that. It doesn't worry me cause it's "fresh" meat and it hasn't harmed them yet. I do not feed my dogs raw anything. They get store bought and the small occaisional bite of "people" food.


Here is a much better article on the pros/cons and controversy over raw food diets. If you read it you'll see it's a complicated issue. There are a lot of things to think about. The big thing I take away is that as of yet there are no studies comparing raw diets to commercial, so any claims of success are not scientifically supported (that doesnt mean theyre not there, they just havent been studied yet). However, there are studies documenting the potential nutritional and bacterial risks of raw diets. In light of that, everyone should weigh the risks and do what they think is best for there pets and family and if that means feeding raw, fine, but dont try to tell everyone else that raw is better and it what's right for them.


My dog, Ty, is allergic to everything under the sun, and had hives so bad for a few months that he was constantly itching open lesions. My vets coached me through steroids and Benadryl, and I experimented with commercial foods, but the few that contained none of the things he's allergic to still left Ty itching. I finally put him on cooked chicken only to "reset" and see if he still had reactions... he did. Upon researching and speaking to many friends, I tried a raw diet with hopes that bioavailable nutrients would help boost his immunity, and his hives started clearing up. I use Stella & Chewy's, since they make sure it's balanced with vegetation and they test every batch for disease. My dog is healthy, happy, itch-free, and has great digestion. I'm so glad I found something that works for him (and he LOVES it!).

Nancy Goodnow

I cook either ground beef, turkey or chicken breasts and mix with brown rice and either brocoli, peas, green beans, carrots or a mixture of them. I cook it well. Sometimes I add eggs, cooked, and some canola or fish oil. My dogs are small mixed breeds. Earlier on I tried some raw and ended up at the vets. He was against it. They do very well on this diet. At times when I run short, I tried some canned food... not good. I do keep some dry food available for them to crunch on them. They eat a little of it between the two meals I give them every day. Their fur is nice and shiny, they have been healthy (ages 4 years). I did my research on cooking for them and the amount of starch and vegetables to add. I hope to be able to continue to cook their food. I cook a weeks worth at a time and freeze some, keep 5 days defrosted. Some dogs may do well raw, mine do not.

Susan Lehmann

I fed my dog raw meat for years. Never had to go to the vet. They don't like that. They need our animals to be sick or else they would make no money. My cats now eat raw meat every day for the last 10 years without one problem. Yes, our domestic dogs were never out in the wild, but unlike our teeth,their teeth have not changed and are meant to rip and tear apart meat.


The "real" issue here is REAL food, whether it is for us humans or our beloved pets. If we are not eating real food ourselves, why would we bother feeding it to our pets? Who wants to eat the same food (or kibble) for our entire lives? Animals need variety just like we do. I feed my dogs a raw diet with a variety of different meats. What many people don't realize is that dogs do not have the digestive enzyme that us humans do to process carbohydrates. All the carbs in kibble cannot be processed or broken down by their body. All it does is pass right on through. And all the fiber in kibble (wheat,beet pulp,oats,barley,etc) is robbing their bodies of moisture that they need. They do not need added fiber in their diet like we do.

And the biggest issue that freaks people out. BACTERIA. Once again, it affects dogs/animals differently. A dog has a short digestive tract that is made to pass food through it quickly. They have high acidic levels that help to break down the bacteria. They also naturally have low levels of E Coli already in their gut. Their bodies are naturally designed to eat a raw food diet. Not kibble, which was introduced in the 1950's (by Purina, I believe), as a convenience food. Dogs use to be fed scraps or had to fend for themselves before the evolution of being a "family pet".

Ask a vet what their nutrition class in vet school was and who it was funded by and ask them if they get a percentage of that kibble they are selling in their office. The kibble industry is not governed or regulated by any overseeing agency. They regulate themselves. Shame on the ASPCA for not sharing all the facts about feeding your pet a raw food diet. You're doing an injustice to a lot of animals and owners.


If you're in the upstate NY Albany area, please consider registering and learning about raw feeding from a wholistic vet and a trainer. It helped me transition my dogs with plenty of info, Q&As, and hands-on application. Learn what's really in your pets' foods. Educate yourself and then make an informed decision, not one just based on opinion and hearsay.


If you're in the upstate NY Albany area, please consider registering and learning about raw feeding from a wholistic vet and a trainer. It helped me transition my dogs with plenty of info, Q&As, and hands-on application. Learn what's really in your pets' foods. Educate yourself and then make an informed decision, not one just based on opinion and hearsay.

Patrick Oliver

Yes. My pops found out not to give cats milk.
Sorry Maya and Jun!